How do I Choose the Best Winter Cycling Jacket?

Dan Cavallari

A cycling jacket is cut differently than other types of jackets, and is even different from other athletic jackets. When choosing the best winter cycling jacket, be sure to choose the right cut: the back of the jacket should extend low over the lower back and buttocks, since bicycle riders lean forward and a normal jacket will leave the lower back exposed. Aside from the correct cut, a good winter cycling jacket will be waterproof and breathable; some jackets are insulated, but most are not insulated to allow the cyclist to take the less bulky jacket off and stow it easily if necessary.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

The fit of the winter cycling jacket is of vital importance for comfort and performance. The sleeves should be long enough that they do not ride up when the rider leans forward to grasp the handlebars, and the back of the jacket should extend low on the hips and even onto the buttocks. Choose a winter cycling jacket that features vents, or zippered openings that can be closed during cold weather and opened during warmer temperatures or during intense physical activity. The collar of the jacket should be high enough that it will fit snugly around the neck and chin, and the zipper on the front of the jacket should be high-quality and possibly covered with material to prevent wind from breaking through the zipper.

The decision whether to purchase a winter cycling jacket that is thick or insulated, or whether to purchase one that is thinner is up to the rider. Most winter cycling jacket models are thicker than normal cycling jackets, but still thin enough that they can be rolled up or packed tightly and stored in a cycling jersey should the weather warm up. Insulation can be achieved by wearing several layers underneath the jacket. It may be necessary to choose a jacket that is larger than the size you would wear for a spring riding jacket, due to the layers you may wear underneath.

Consider other features that will make the jacket functional. Some winter cycling jacket models feature reflective piping or designs that will become bright when a car's headlights fall upon them. Such reflective material is a great safety feature built into many cycling jackets. Pockets should be large enough to fit a gloved hand inside, and a pocket across the back of the jacket with a built-in zipper will work well for storing larger items such as an extra layer or some types of food.

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Discussion Comments


There's no such thing as terrible climate, but simply awful attire, goes the old saying that dependably does the rounds as of now of year. After unimaginable advancements in materials over the previous decade, there's no motivation to wear awful cycling attire any longer and there's an expansive determination of winter jackets that'll keep you warm, dry and agreeable.


It doesn't matter if I am buying motorcycle gear for summer or winter, I make sure I have some kind of protection. If the jacket doesn't come with any kind of reflective strips, I will often wear a vest or find some way to make sure I am seen.

Anything that I can do to make sure I am easily spotted on the road can help cut down on my risk. I also always make sure I have a cycling rain jacket with me.

Even if I leave on my motorcycle, and there is not a cloud in the sky, I never leave without some kind of rain gear. More than once I have been caught by surprise, and it is never fun getting soaked when you are riding on the motorcycle.


I had to try on several jackets before I found a cycling winter jacket that would work for me. I am not very tall, so many of the jackets were too long for me.

There is also a fine line between finding a jacket that fits close enough to your body without being too confining. There has to be enough room for your arms to move around.

Another thing that I look for in a cycling jacket is that anything around my face needs to have a way to be secured. There is nothing more annoying and dangerous than something by your face that keeps flapping in the wind.

Once I find a cycling jacket that fits me right, I will wear it for many years. They are not usually very cheap, and I figure I am going to get my money out of it.


I quickly learned how important it is to have the right cut of jacket when it comes to winter cycling clothing. When I first started riding a bike I would just wear whatever I had around the house.

Once I borrowed a jacket from someone that was made specifically for riding a motorcycle, and I couldn't believe how much better it felt.

Now I like having a jacket that comes down far enough in the back so my back and legs are not so exposed to the elements. Wearing the right gloves is also a must for me when it comes to motorcycle gear.

Some people don't wear gloves at all, but I find that I have much better control, and can ride longer when I have the protection and grip that a good pair of gloves gives me.


We definitely have different winter cycling gear than what we wear in the summer. Even though we don't ride a lot in the winter, it is nice to have the right gear when we do.

My husband usually removes the insulation from his winter cycling jacket. He usually stays warm enough and doesn't like such a bulky feeling.

I get cold much easier than he does, so I like to leave the insulation in the jacket. On really cold days, I also wear a heated liner that plugs in to the bike. That really does a good job of keeping me warm without adding a lot of extra bulk.

When you are on the motorcycle, wearing the appropriate gear can make a big difference in how comfortable you are. If you are miserable, you won't enjoy it as much and it can also be a distraction, which is never a good thing when you are on the back of a bike.

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