Cold Riding: Avoiding the Shrivel

It’s mid-20s all week here in Le Sud, but I know there’ll come a day sooner or later that I’ll have to start covering up. It’s with that depressing thought that I turn to you, person who sees the words and not just the photos.

I’ve been cycling through winter for many years, but have always worn something like this:


In fact, what I have now has been keeping my private parts more or less unfrozen since I came to France in 2008. Sadly, they’ve finally bitten the dust so I’m turning my attention to other alternatives. What I can see is:

1. More of the same.

2. Buying myself a pair of winter legs.


Number 2 is by far the cheaper option, at least in the short term. But here’s my question: I understand that my legs will be warm, given these things are built for winter, but what about the space between where they end at the top and where the upper body begins, i.e. those private parts I spoke about earlier?

Is there some undergarment to be worn under regular shorts? Are there winter shorts? How do you guys (girls, you’re welcome to contribute, too) manage it?

31 thoughts on “Cold Riding: Avoiding the Shrivel

  1. Finally asking something i know a little about. Personally I wear my regular bib shorts underneath a full length bib as shown in the top photo. The full length version does not come with a Chamois so it makes it a cheaper alternative. I don’t personally like the leggings because they seem to slide down at some point. I can’t figure out how guys keep them snug under the bib shorts. I guess that’s a personal thing!

    • A bib with no chamois…how novel! I’ve done that once or twice with the one I have now, doubling up on chamois, which wasn’t all that comfortable, but did keep me warmer. I can’t really imagine needing to take off leggings on a winter ride, so full length appears to be the best option so far (except for the cost).

  2. One option are short bibs out of roubaix material. Castello gabba ans the likes. I never understood legwarmers amd summer bibs… Up here you Need the deep Winter stuff
    lucky you can safe money for boras. ;0)

    • Yeah, I looked at that, but then it’d be new shorts AND new leggings, which would be even more expensive than a full winter bib. And as for Boras…can you loan me some euros? 😉

  3. I use Lusso fleece lined tights which are warm enough down to 4 degrees C and have the added advantage of keeping warm even in the coldest rain. Like me, mine are now old and wrinkly but unlike me still seem to be up to the task.

  4. Not so sure why you offered this up to girls too, but below 0C (is it ever below 0 there?) I wear Terry’s windproof fleece leggings with chamois. Above 0 they have a cool weather version that I wear up to about 16C. Some people wear cross country skiing clothing, but then no chamois … a problem for me. Someone must make something similar for men …

      • Oh sorry, I didn’t think of that confusing vocabulary. No, they are called leggings, but are not cycling leggings. They are full pants, skin tight … heavier than the “leggings” that women wear sometimes instead of tights, but the same shape and constructed like cycling shorts, for the seams and chamois. I hate being cold am very intolerant, and would never risk bare skin. The very thought of cycling leggings in my winters gives me goosebumps. These are very warm.

  5. The Pro Peloton use Castelli’s Gabba Jersey combined with their Nano Flex Bibs and Arm Warmers if it’s cold; throw on some Nano Flex knee warmers if it’s really cold, and if it’s really, really cold go for their leg warmers. That said, I rarely use knee or leg warms, as I’m a big fan of embrocation and I use it to temperatures down to 0C. But that’s just me.

    • I really need to try out some Castelli kit, so maybe this is my opportunity. I understand why pros need to have bits and pieces to wear, since they often have to shred stuff, but in normal winter riding the temps on my rides don’t fluctuate so much. I’m questioning the need for arms/legs, etc.

  6. I’ve thought of cutting down some old waterproof trousers as it’s the wind that chills, still haven’t though. I use both bib longs & some cheap winter legs I got from Aldi. Both work OK for me, sometimes with extra shorts as well. Can get very chilly up here in Scotlandshire!

  7. In lieu of buying ‘Armstrong sponsored by Castelli’ apparel, sublet your apt., tell Shoko to bring her camera and take Ryan Air to Majorca for the winter months. Will be great fodder for the blog and the riding… can imagine I’m sure. I think the flight will be cheaper than the winter clothing.

  8. Gerry, who said cycling is a cheap sport? In my experience buying low cost is buying tripple. Go gor gabba or indoor Training;0).
    If yoe are ever interested in carbon wheels: I migght sell my citec 6000

    • I won’t go low cost, don’t worry, but if I could get away with something ‘middle ground’ (like running undies and legs, for example) I might try it. Not much winter down here, don’t forget!

  9. My first thought was “good luck” – because I believe there is just no way to avoid the shrivel. You can increase the general level of comfort, and thus keep performance up, that that’s about it.
    As for garment choices, I’d absolutely recommend a pair of leg warmers. Mine were just perfect so many times that they are in my top 5 of “best gear purchased ever”. For me, they are good until around 10 degrees. Below that, I wear a pair of normal cycling shorts and a pair of tights on top. I’ve got a pair of MEC cycling tights (a little thicker) and a pair of Decathlon running tights (a little thinner) for 4-5 winters now and both are going strong. Wearing something *under* the shorts? I’m surprised that there is no Velominati rule about that.

    • I was thinking the same thing about ‘under’. Mine are so tight right now I don’t think it’s really an option. No-chamois tights might be interesting. That way you know you’re going to ride with a chamois you like (those of your shorts). There sure are a lot of options out there…

  10. I’m happiest cycling indoors in the cooler weather. A fan, a towel and just my bib shorts. No wet cold feet. No mud and grit to clean off me and the bike. No scary wet leaves to skid over. Yeah a bit of a wimp. Although I do get the mountain bike out and will sport bib tights. But I am planning a little more outdoor riding this year and was just checking wiggle for their bib tights.

    • I kind of like staying indoors, too, Luc, although it’s nice to get out on a sunny weekend to clear the head and be sociable. I just realized I will need a new winter jacket this year, too. This is getting pricey!

      • That I can recommend. My Windstopper soft shell Gore Bike Wear with removable sleeves is the best. Easily get down to 0-5C with only a base layer underneath. Excellent.

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