Welcome to Fall. Unless you're one of the fortunate few (or unfortunate, depending on your tastes) who lives in summer year around, the leaves are falling, the rain is getting a bit colder and you're now able to see your breath on your daily rides. For me, personally, this is the time of the year where the real work begins. Longer and slower (in my case, much slower) base mile rides to build form for the new season ahead is the norm. Tack on the fact that living near some big hills means sweating our way to the top only to freeze our way back to the bottom. At this point, the most important component in your quiver is not the latest wheels or electronic this or that, but the clothing that is on your back.
Fall and winter (and spring for many of us) is by far the most challenging test for clothing companies. They have to take into account so many variables, from cold wind, to heavy rain and, in some parts of the country, snow and sleet. They also have to deal with the already mentioned changes in terrain where you are hot and sweating and warm one minute, to freezing your butt off while descending the next. Good clothing is so important in keeping you healthy so you can hit that next ride instead of sitting it out while battling a cold or worse.
Luckily, we get to work with one of the top talents in the cycling apparel world, Luigi Bergamo, founder of Q36.5. Q36.5 is a relative new-comer in the cycling apparel game, but Luigi is not. Having spent a good part of the past two decades designing everything for the Swiss company Assos he left that comfy world and a steady paycheck to dig even deeper and now designs and manufactures some of the best cycling clothing out there. We'll cover his history a bit more in depth soon enough, but for now we want to present the 2015 Q36.5 fall range so that we can help you be better prepared for all of your rides this time of year. Please note that we have the full stock of all the fall/winter Q36.5 apparel available now and if your fall is more like our winter we still have you covered!
In the above picture we have James outfitted in a kit that will have most of you covered in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 65 degrees Fahrenheit comfortably. Of course, we all are different, and if you tend to run a bit colder or hotter than most, we can help customize the best combination to keep you comfortable this season. Following is a piece by piece rundown of Q36.5's fall range.
Starting from the top and working our way down we have the Q36.5 fleece headband. This is super thin and fits easily under the helmet. As you all learned from a young age, keeping the head warm goes a long way to keeping the entire body warm. In a pinch it also works great as a neck gator. You can find the fleece headband on our site here.
Next up we have what could be one of the most misunderstood pieces of cycling kit; the base layer. A lot of companies make thicker and warmer looking and feeling base layers which on the surface makes sense. It's cold out and it feels really good to put this on before you head out on a chilly day. But Q36.5 approaches the base layer differently. In their case, the base layer should perform the same function in the cold as it does in the warm and hot weather which is move as much of your perspiration AWAY from your skin as possible. The warmer and thicker base layers tend to keep it right next to your body. So, what feels super nice and warm as you roll out the door, turns out to be hot and sweaty during the first hard effort of the ride and then sopping wet and freezing while descending or recovering later. This makes more sense, let the base layer do what it does best and rely on the outer layer to take care of the rest. We've been testing the Q36.5 base layers for two winters now and can attest to the fact that this works best for us and leads to full ride comfort. We have sleeveless, short sleeve, long sleeve and even a long sleeve base layer with a hood and gloves attached available here. Also, note that all the Q36.5 base layers are the same material, density and thickness regardless of being sleeveless or long sleeve. In fact, you can cut the sleeves off of the long sleeve and it's now the same as the short sleeve version.
On top of the base layer we have the Q36.5 Hybrid Q long sleeve jersey. This is one of the most versatile tops we've ever worn. It's good for a wide temperature range and is extremely thin and light for how well it protects. It is a performance piece and as such is form fitting, though not constrictive at all. It has three large pockets plus a zippered pocket for valuables. The front is made from a material that is wind proof and also very good at shedding light rain while the back is light enough and ventilated in order to shed excess body heat. This is one of the staples of Q36.5's fall line and for Northern California at least is good from late October through June. You can find these on our site here.
Q36.5 makes one vest that works in pretty much any situation. On top of a summer jersey for chilly mornings in the summer to an extra layer on top of the Hybrid Q down to the low 40's. The L1 Essential vest is the one piece you can use year around in any condition. For most of our winter rides, we just unzip for the climbs and it feels like nothing is there, then zip it up for the descents and none of the cold wind gets anywhere the vest covers. It's light enough to stow in the jersey pocket for the longer rides where the temperature really climbs. If you keep it on the whole ride, it has slits in the back that makes it easy to get to the two outside pockets in your jersey for your ride food. It comes in the camo version seen here or an all black version that Q36.5 makes exclusively for us. You can find these in our store here.
Moving on to the lower half of the body we have the brand new Wolf Hybrid thermal bib short. You can hit the link to get more detail but in short what you have here is a great cold weather bib short that will streamline your options depending on the elements. If it's not really cold enough out for full on leg warmers you can use knee warmers with the Wolf Hybrid bibs and you effectively have knickers. But if the temps kick up during the ride or if you just wanted the knee protection for warming up you can pull the warmers off and still have a bib that offers more protection. Or, you can use leg warmers and have the same protection as a full pair of tights though with more options. For places like Northern California where we can have wide temperature fluctuations these are a great option. If you ride in temperatures that you know you will not remove the warmers and do it often enough, then investing in full tights is the way to go. But for everything else, the Wolf Hybrid is a great option.
The Q36.5 UF Hybrid Shell leg warmers are the most technically advanced leg warmers I've personally used to date. The front of the warmer is made of the same material as their Long Salopette tights. This material is wind and rain resistant and dries exceptionally fast. The rear of the leg warmers is the same material as the knee warmer and is very comfortable and non binding. Paired with the Wolf Hybrid bib short you have a combination that I've found comfortable in the upper 30's. Below that, the Q36.5 Termica bib is the way to go.
For those chilly fall morning rides we've found the Q36.5 Plus sock to be a great option. I'm sure you have all felt it before, you can be totally warm and comfortable from the ankle up, but if your feet are freezing the ride can be miserable. Done right, you shouldn't have to feel that again, unless riding in the Iditabike is your idea of fun in which case there is no helping you! The Plus sock is a superior thermic merino wool/silk mix and are incredibly comfortable and warm. For me, riding without shoe covers I'm good down to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course we're all different, especially concerning hand and feet comfort, so try a few options and see what works best for you.
Most cycling shoes now are vented which is great for hot summer days but not so great for fall and winter riding. The first level for keeping your feet warm from Q36.5 are the Copriscarpa overshoes. These are made from a polypropylene/polymide mix, have a 3M reflective stripe around the top and come with pre-cut holes for your cleats. These are a simple way to keep the elements off your feet and as a bonus keep your shoes cleaner which helps them last longer. I've found them to be very durable, and go through one to two pairs a year. The heel can wear through quickly if you walk much, but that does not hinder how they work. Perfect for this time of year, but really, can be used year round.
Gloves are another piece of cycling kit that personal preference plays a large part of. I've seen cyclists who don't use gloves in the lower 40's and even colder and I've seen others wearing thick gloves into the 70's. There really is no right answer here, you just need to find what works best for you. For me though, the Q36.5 Termico glove is a great glove for early morning fall rides. Our temps for those rides range generally from 45 to 60 degrees. If I start my ride at 6am it's pretty cold, and these are perfect and as the temp gets closer to 60, I take them off and stow them in my jersey.
These gloves are pre-shaped which makes them very comfortable while holding onto the bar. They are wind and rain resistant, though in a downpour you will still get wet but you'll still be warm. Q36.5 makes 3 models of fall/winter gloves, the colder weather Be Love 0 and the warmer condition Hybrid Q. Give us a shout and we'll help you pick the one that is perfect for you and your conditions.
Remember, these are the items that work best for us, if your circumstances require a different approach feel free to contact us and we'll work out what works best for you. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for our Q36.5 winter clothing recommendations!