As part of our Autumn/Winter Clothing Special, I’ve taken delivery of a full women’s winter outfit from dhb. As well as being part of our seasonal review, this outfit is for ladies only! This is part of an effort by us here at CycleTechReview to include more female specific reviews. dhb have a good reputation for providing women with quality kit and we’ll be looking for dhb’s Aeron women’s winter clothing to carry that on.
Winter is coming in fits and starts down here on the South Coast, we’ve had temperatures dip below zero and then head back up into double figures. Throw in wind, rain, fog and even some icy roads and it’s all very confusing. What’s a cyclist to do?
Well you can start by making sure you’re dressed properly. As Mark quoted in our opening Autumn/Winter preview, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”. To this end dhb have kindly provided us with everything a woman could need cycling at this time of the year.
Our kit comes from the Aeron range, which sits just below dhb’s top end ASV range. The Aeron range is “refined for high performance”, my experience with Aeron would confirm this. The Aeron range is quality kit, with an athletic cut and attention to detail making it perform at a level above what you might previously have expected from an in-house brand. This attention to detail has led to a full woman’s range, rather than just a pair of shorts and a flowery summer jersey.
Our bundle is aimed at our guinea pig rider; a runner looking to take to two wheels for cross training benefits. She is looking for a performance range that will allow her to train through the winter. As a runner most of her running clothing isn’t suitable for cycling’s demands, so cycle specific kit is needed. While she could get away with using some running kit during the summer, winter riding needs ‘proper’ clothing. Starting from the bottom and working our way up, let’s take a look at what she will need.
Let’s start with socks. I hate cold feet. Cold hands I can deal with, but feet? Quality warm socks are a must and dhb have sent us a pair of their Winter Merino Socks. They are slim fitting, so should fit nicely into tight cycling shoes. You don’t want anything too bulky down here, as it interferes with your shoes fit. They come in four colourways and are a sensible length; let’s not get into a sock length discussion here.
Shoes, modern pedal systems allow you to be connected directly to your bike via a binding system, rather like skis. Referred to as clipless pedals, these binding systems need specific shoes with a sole drilled to take the cleats that connect with the pedals. Cycling shoes are stiffer than normal shoes, you need to keep your foot stiff, so as not to waste any of your energy when pedalling. This makes them a pain to walk in, but hey! we’re riding our bike. Fortunately our test subject has her own shoes. A pair of Specialized mtb shoes allow for an efficient pedal stroke, while still allowing you to walk.
And if you’re riding in the winter you’ll need over-shoes to cover those shoes. Stuck way down at the end of your legs, your feet will be subject to road spray and wind chill. Water from the road will make your lovely new shoes look bleurgh! The water will soak into your socks and after a four hour ride, your feet will be lumps of ice. Cycling shoes don’t have much going for them as far as protection from the elements goes, so a good over-shoe is a must.
Over-shoes come in various types. There is the aero, summer cover. These are really just to add a minimal aero advantage to your ride, they also help keep your shoes clean. Next up is the water-proof over-shoe, with minimal heat retaining, designed to keep water off your shoe. Then we have the traditional neoprene over-shoe, which is what we are testing. These use various thicknesses of neoprene to insulate your feet from the cold and rain, ours are 3.5mm. Usually not that waterproof, these dhb Extreme Weather over-shoes have a TPU coating to keep the rain out.
Moving up and away from your feet we are onto the dhb Women’s Roubaix Halterneck Tight. Roubaix material is something you’ll see a lot in winter clothing. It’s a synthetic fabric that is smooth on the outside, with a soft brushed inside. The fleece traps air on the inside, keeping you warm and helping move sweat away from your skin. Most bib tights can be worn without shorts as they include a pad, or chamois (back in the day the pad was manufactured from a piece of chamois cloth, actually very fine, soft leather. It was a pain to clean and had to be moisturised after washing, speaking from experience here!).
dhb have a female specific pad in their tights and if they’re as comfortable as their men’s, should guarantee chafe free riding. As their name suggests, bib-tights have bibs. These straps hold up the bottom half of the tights. With men’s tights strap placement isn’t an issue, women’s tights however? Various layouts have been tried to avoid discomfort, however dhb have come at it from a different angle and their solution shows that their designers are actually riders!
During long winter rides, full of energy drinks and coffee from your mid-ride stop, you’re going to feel the need to off load some of that liquid. For us boys this is a simple issue, but dhb realised the layout of standard bib-tights didn’t allow for easy ‘comfort breaks’. Their halterneck straps are made from a super stretchy material that allows the back of the tights to lowered without removing any straps or outer layers. Simple!
Next up we have an important part of your cycling wardrobe, the base layer. We have a dhb’s Aeron long-sleeved Merino base layer. This super fine Merino wool item has a hard job to do. The base layer has to keep you warm, but it also needs to move sweat away from your skin and on to the other clothing layers. Once there it can evaporate, keeping your warm and dry. When you’re working hard this process often breaks down, but without it you would be a lot wetter under all your clothes. Wet clothing and windchill are not a good combination.
This base layer uses dhb’s 37.5 technology, which “greatly increases moisture transfer and increased durability”. I’m not sure what the technology is, but we’ll try to find out. 37.5 materials are used across the dhb range. When choosing your base layer, you’ll want a good close fit, so that it can work properly. dhb have used a stretchy fit with smooth seams, providing a tight fit without any annoying rubbing. And with all this work and sweating going on, it’s handy that Merino has natural anti-bacterial properties. Stopping you offending others when you stop at the cafe!
So with your bottom half and base-layer sorted, it’s onto your mid-layers. Here you need to check the weather. Dry and sunny, but cold? A jersey like the dhb Aeron Women’s Roubaix Long Sleeve Jersey should see you through most conditions, with the addition of a gilet or lightweight jacket. dhb’s Roubaix jersey ticks all the boxes for winter. Warm and breathable, with an athletic cut and long sleeves, the jersey should provide a comfortable ride. Four pockets across the rear, one of which is zipped and waterproof, provide plenty of storage. Hi-viz patches on the rear help get you noticed when riding low light or at night. A silicone waist gripper on the bottom edge will help keep the jersey in place.
Your mid layer might need a little help if the weather changes or you need to stop – don’t mention the ‘P’ word! For this we have the dhb Aeron Women’s Super Light Packable Windproof Gilet. That’s a big name for such a small item. This gilet packs down incredibly small, I can squeeze it and some arm warmers into one pocket. Again the fit is close to the body, which helps keep any annoying flapping to a minimum. A gilet is a great item to bring along and adds an extra bit of warmth with very little bulk.
If you’re intending to ride all the way through winter, then you are going to get wet. It’s winter, it rains, deal with it. One of the ways of dealing with it is with dhb’s Aeron Women’s Tempo Waterproof Jacket. According to dhb this jacket was “12 months in the making” to produce a jacket “which leaves no room for excuses not to get out there!”. So there.
The Tempo jacket ticks all the boxes for a cycling waterproof jacket. It’s water proof with taped seams, why taped? If you don’t, water gets in through the seams, taping seals these holes. It’s breathable, important when riding hard. Under-arm vents help prevent over heating, which will help keep you drier under the jacket. The Tempo was designed with “high tempo rides in wet weather” in mind. This is a hard job for any jacket. High tempo rides mean you’ll be sweating hard and that neat and sweat need to be dealt with, while keeping the rain out. A hard job and we’ll be interested to see how the Tempo copes.
With your body and feet warm and dry it’s time to take a look at gloves. dhb have four winter gloves in their range, at the coldest end is the Extreme, while their Roubaix Liner gloves are for more clement weather. We have a pair of Rain Defence Gloves, these should cover all but the most freezing conditions, with the added benefit of being water-proof. They have a close neoprene cuff to stop any draughts creeping up your sleeves and a padded palm for riding comfort. Winter riding brings winter snivels and a micro-fibre panel on the back will deal with those annoying drips.
A little item that many riders find indispensable on cold frosty rides is a neck tube. Whether it’s over your mouth keeping your face warm and warming the air before it hits your lungs, or worn as a hat when off the bike, these are useful little numbers. The dhb Merino Neck Tube uses a mid-weight 200gsm merino wool and is a one size-fits-all item.
Last up is a helmet. No cycling outfit is complete without one. dhb’s Aeron Road Helmet has been designed in collaboration with Kask and is a smart-looking number. Made in Italy it has twenty-four vents to keep you cool, not often a problem in winter! It has an min-moulded shell, which means the outer is bonded to the inner, protecting the inner foam and looks a lot nicer. Straps and rear adjustment allow for plenty of adjustment to get your fit right.
So there we have it, dhb’s Aeron Women’s Winter Clothing. We’ll be getting our eager new rider to try these out over the winter and reporting back on how they performed. She’ll be looking not only at how they perform their roles, but how well they work as female specific items.
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