Winter clothing [Tights over shorts/bibs]

In winter I wear my normal cycling shorts and over them Altura thermal cycling trousers (no pad on the trousers).
I find that the area of thigh and glutes covered by the Lycra cycling shorts is very cold while the rest of my legs and body are warm. I can’t understand the reason for this or a solution. Any suggestions?

Not alterations should read Altura!

Are your thighs sweating too much ? Once damp things can feel quite cold. Perhaps elsewhere where you only have one layer moisture is wicked away from the skin better.

Thanks thats a really good answer. But no I am was not sweating today on an endurance ride at 50 degrees.

At 50*, I would only be wearing shorts and knee warmers. Everyone is different, but wearing thermal tights and shorts sounds like you are overdressed.

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Accepting that threshold for cold varies – compare winter cycling temps in southern Spain with eastern Switzerland, for example – my first thought here is the breathability of your kit, specifically your outer layer trousers. You probably didn’t have a problem on the endurance ride because your quads weren’t working as hard (ie generating as much heat).

My second thought is the trousers are intended for much colder temps, which ties back to the breathability point above. If they are intended for much lower temperatures, this would likely mean they are intentionally less breathable to be fit for purpose (though some breathability is still required since you don’t want that boil in a bag feeling, so it’s relative). Wearing my winter kit at 50º – whether running kit or cycling kit – is simply a no-go. I’ve got kit that I simply cannot wear above 40F.

At 50º, I wouldn’t be wearing knee warmers, just bib shorts but I would probably have lightweight gloves in addition to a long-sleeve, and maybe a gilet. That said, 50F was very cold when I lived and rode and ran in Southern California.

How many watts?

When I was getting into occasional winter riding I used this guide to help me figure out what to buy/try for different weather.

That plus wiggle, merlincycles, etc sales helped me a equip a variety of items I can mix and match.

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Those suggestions are good 10-15* warmer for the clothing recommendations than I would ride. I would be soaking wet and miserable if I followed them.

But again, everyone is different and you have to experiment to find out what works for you.

Riding in winter conditions, just like ogres and unions, is all about layers.

Thermal bib tights. Mine are rated 0-15C / 30-60F and are made with breathable fabric.

I have a similar pair that are waterproof and they make me sweat. I don’t like them.

Many coaches recommend using knee warmers somewhere around 19C / 66F. Your knees have no protection from fat deposits, just a thin layer of skin. Protect your knees.


Apparently the lack of nerves sensing temperature in your legs is a thing too, so best to layer your legs before you feel cold.

I increased my layering about two years ago and I reckon I’ve been better for it. Initially it was a bit odd feeling hot and sweaty in the cold but I soon got used to it.

One thing I have found over the years is to get dressed a fair amount of time in advance of leaving the house, especially if you are layering. This includes gloves.

This gives you time to build the warmth up inside the fabrics / layers, which is the foundation for keeping warm.

If you throw on everything and then bounce out the door, your initial riding is gonna be spent trying to build up those warmth layers and you’ll feel colder at the start.

I suspect not not everyone will agree with this, but it works really well for me.

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A lot of things factor in to what works best including individual variations (eg tolerance for cold, how hot you run) and specific weather factors beyond just temperature (rain, humidity, altitude, wind, cycling speed, sun vs shade, etc.).

Play around a bit and experiment. Eg, next time go ride for 30 mins with no bib shorts and just the thermal cycling pants. Or replace the pants with leg/knee warmers. That’ll test the hypothesis @HLaB proposed.

Also, how cold was cold? A little uncomfortable, or stop-the-ride cold? Usually when riding in winter, I’m rarely fully comfortable for the entire ride - there’s usually something that’s not ideal. But once I acknowledge that reality, it makes it easier to just get on with the ride.

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When I remember I put my kit in the airing cupboard the night before a cold ride so it’s toasty and warm when I put it on, particularly nice for shoes! I actually find the worst bit at the start of a cold ride is my eyes, always have 5 minutes of them streaming before they adjust, close fitting glasses help a bit but not much.

Yeah, I’ll leave my gloves on top of a space heater and my shoes next to it to “jumpstart” the warming process.

Defeet wool knee warmers or

This is a common place to get cold. If you want a layer - Defeet makes a pretty unique wool knee warmer that you can wear almost upper thigh to just below the knee or lower thigh to ankles.

Another option is to get some space between the wind layer and your thigh. I’ve bought grid fleece long underwear and just cut them down into shorts.

Are the trousers tights or pants? Is there a shell layer or is all just fleece material? If fleece/knit material, you need a wind blocker there. Short term, you can try putting a light layer of wax on the front thigh while you’re wearing them. This should clog some of the holes in the knit.

When i wear my tights over my bibs every 10 mins or so i find the tights always fall down a bit. As a cheap way to fix this, has anyone got any experience with using trouser braces to try and hold the tights in place?