Fall is probably my favorite time of the year for riding. The oppressively hot and humid dog days of summer are in the rearview mirror. Most of the days are still warm, but the weather is turning cooler. The leaves will begin to change color. The skies will get a little grayer. It’s transition or shoulder season. That means you have to be prepared for both warm or cool temps over the course of a ride — in my neck of the woods, anything from the low 50s to low 70s F. And maybe some wind.
As the Norwegian saying goes: “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær.” Translation: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Fall isn’t bad/horrible weather, but it still demands the right clothing. When the temperature could swing as much as 20 degrees over the course of a ride, that means appropriate layers.
What follows is a “how to” for appropriate kit for fall riding. Keep in mind that we’re all different with different tolerances for heat and cold. As I am a 5’8″, 130 pound ectomorph of Asian (Filipino) heritage, my DNA is more tropically oriented so I get cold more easily than my riding companions of more hardy, Northern European stock. So YMMV, but the basic principles apply.
At a minimum (unless you intend to do the World Naked Bike Ride), you’ll need a pair of bib shorts (does anyone wear regular shorts anymore?), a jersey, and a pair of socks. I include a base layer (see above), but that may be optional depending on the temp and your tolerance for cold.
- MAAP Training Bib – $190
This is a “basic” bib short but that’s a good thing because there’s no sense with messing with a tried and true design for bib shorts:
- High-ish cut front
- Wide Y-back
- Wide bib straps
The short section consists of 5 panels with 4 cm wide leg gripper sections that have silicon dots on the inside for additional grip. The Y-back section is a mesh fabric. The bib straps are a combination of mesh fabric and regular “solid” stretch fabric. And the straps are seamed, not lay flat laser cut. Even though I’m a fan of the latter, the seamed straps didn’t dig in and weren’t uncomfortable.
The chamois has a soft, felt-like surface and has denser padding in the sit bones areas, but doesn’t have a distinct center channel (although the padding is softer/less dense down the middle). It may not be as “high tech” as some other pads (in MAAP and other bibs I have), but I can attest to it being comfortable for 5+ hours in the saddle.
Fit-wise (I wear a size small), the Training Bib has what I call medium compression that grips comfortably. Which is to say that it’s not “race fit” super firm compression (hence the Training Bib moniker). I have to say that the lighter compression is a nice change of pace from many of my other bibs.
- MAAP Thermal Base Layer Vest – $65
If it’s a warm enough day, you may not need this. Or opt for a “regular” base layer, such as MAAP’s Team Base Layer (which I wear in hot weather). But once the temp drops into the 60s F, I want a base layer with a little more “base.”
The MAAP Thermal Base Layer Vest (size small for me based on MAAP’s size guide) is a sleeveless base layer but made with a more “substantial” material. In this case, Polartec Power Grid Technical Fleece. It’s a lightweight stretch knit material designed to insulate but still breathe/wick. MAAP rates the Thermal Base Layer Vest for ~50-70F, so definitely for cool versus winter cold temps.
The base layer has venting but is more opaque than sheer
Speaking of base layers, I couldn’t get this out of my head writing this section:
I know it’s bass, not base (layer) — but it’s still about that
- MAAP Vector Pro Air Jersey – $170
As the name implies, the MAAP Vector Pro Air Jersey is warm/hot weather jersey designed to provide effective airflow and efficiently regulate body temperature (MAAP rates this jersey for 70F+). And why I would want the above base layer for riding in it in cooler temps.
Design-wise, the Vector Pro Air Jersey is the same design as the MAAP OffCuts Evade Pro Base Jersey I previously reviewed (but isn’t made with leftover pieces of material from prior jersey production runs). So that means:
five body panels (if you count the front as one panel divided by a full-length YKK zipper — the gold standard of zippers). The back is actually two panels with the upper part (above the pockets) a solid material and the lower (where the pockets are) a honeycomb mesh material. The sleeves are also a honeycomb mesh material. All the seams are serge stitched — except for the hem/gripper panel, the stitching for the pockets, and the sleeve ends, which are flat stitched.
Definitely a warm/hot weather jersey with mesh material
Fit is also the same:
Fit-wise, the Evade Pro Base Jersey is race fit. Meaning it fits like a second skin (so no hiding any excess pounds/kilos). But it’s not so tight that it feels like you’re wrapped up in saran wrap. The compression is firm but still allows for easy freedom of movement.
I went with size small (I’m 5’8″ and weigh 130 pounds) based on my chest/waist measurements per MAAP’s size guide. One thing worth noting per MAAP: “If you’re on the borderline between two sizes, order the smaller size for a tighter fit or the larger size for a looser fit. If your measurements for chest and waist correspond to two different suggested sizes, order the size indicated by your chest measurement.”
Lots of info on the inside of the jersey
You’ll have to decide for yourself if you like the multi-color/patchwork-like design of the Vector Pro Air Jersey (I do, but there’s no accounting for fashion taste). If not, MAAP has other jerseys in solid colors or with more “muted” graphics.
- MAAP Dash Sock – $22
The MAAP Dash Sock is much like the Division Sock I previously reviewed. Construction-wise, they look the same to my eye:
The top panel of the sock is a visible mesh knit for breathability. The back of the sock, bottom, heel, and toe are a little more “solid” knit. And there’s some padding on the sole. The compression is lighter than most of my other cycling socks, but they still grip with no slip. And the cuff is doubled knitted to help keep the socks up.
The pair of Dash socks I got were gray with touches of coral and olive, so pair well IMHO with the Vector Pro Air Jersey. These are considered warm weather socks but MAAP rates them down to ~50F. If you have “popsicle toes” in cooler weather, you’ll have to decide if you’ll need shoe toe covers or even full shoe covers to ward off chill.
It’s also worth noting that based on my previous experience with the MAAP Division Sock, I went with size S/M socks even though MAAP’s size guide puts me (US shoe size 9) in their L/XL size socks. For me, the smaller size fit with a little more compression (but not too tight or constricting), which is more to my liking.
Against the wind
- MAAP Draft Team Vest – $130
The more I’ve ridden, the more I’ve come to appreciate the utility/versatility of a lightweight vest aka gilet. In cooler weather, a lot of times I don’t feel the need for longer sleeves but want to insulate my core. A vest is perfect for that. And unlike a jacket, it’s a lot easier to roll up and stow a vest in a jersey pocket if it warms up enough.
The MAAP Draft Team Vest is a stretch vest so hugs your torso like a jersey (I went with size small since that’s my MAAP jersey size) . But it has enough stretch such that if you have stuff loaded in your jersey pockets, it will stretch to fit over them. The full-length zipper is YKK and is a double zipper so you can unzip the vest from the bottom to gain access to your rear jersey pockets.
The front of the vest is a solid 2-way stretch material that MAAP says is “highly wind resistant.” The back yoke and side panels are the same material but have perforations for ventilation/wicking. The lower 3/4+ of the back of the vest is a different stretch mesh material for ventilation/wicking. It may seem counterintuitive to have “venting” in a garment designed to keep the chill off, but you need that — otherwise any sweat build-up would just stay on your skin/jersey and you’d end up being wet on the inside and feeling clammy.
The mesh is more apparent when held up to light
MAAP rates the Draft Team Vest to 50F plus-or-minus and that’s about the temp when I would add a vest as a layer. But it’s not just temperature — wind (and wind chill) is also a factor. My experience wearing vests is that they’re more about keeping the wind off your chest (which helps keep your core warm) than about thermal insulation per se. Overcast skies are another factor. If the sun isn’t out, it will feel colder than the actual ambient temperature.
MAAP says the Draft Team Vest has a “DWR [durable water repellant] water resistant coating” so light to moderate rain/road splash will bead up on and roll off it. But it’s not waterproof, so don’t expect it to keep you dry in a downpour (although it will be better than not having it) — especially with the mesh back.
Warding off chill
There’s nothing more EuroPro than arm and knee warmers versus wearing a long sleeve jersey and tights (the latter have their place in true cold weather dead of winter riding but can be too much during the fall).
The MAAP Base Arm Warmers have a soft, fleece-like lining and are rated by MAAP for 40-60F. The gripper section is wider than what you’d find on most other arm warmers at 4 cm wide and lined with tiny silicon dots on the inside. That’s the same as the leg gripper section of MAAP Training Bib — so plenty of grip. MAAP claims they “sit flatter and more comfortably beneath your jersey sleeve.” The cuff ends of the arms warmers don’t have an elastic cuff (as some of my other arm warmers have) and instead are held in place by the compression of the stretch material.
The MAAP Base Knee Warmers are the same material as the arm warmers. And they have the same 4 cm wide gripper section to keep them up underneath your bib shorts. The lower part of the knee warmers are held in place on the calf just by the compression of the stretch material (this is also the case with all my other knee warmers from other manufacturers and I keep waiting for a pair that has gripper like in a pair of bib shorts). I went with knee warmers rather then full-length leg warmers because — for whatever reason and despite being of tropical ethnic heritage — knee warmers work for me in cool/cold weather (the temp has to be butt freezing cold for me to don full-length thermal tights).
I went with size small for both arm and knee warmers based on MAAP’s size guide:
For Arm Warmers your size should correlate to same size as your jersey size. If you have a skinny frame consider sizing down one size. Leg and Knee Warmers should correlate to same size as your bib short size. If you have a skinny frame consider sizing down one size.
Size small fits me well enough. And both the arm and knee warmers grip better than any others I’ve used. There’s definitely no chance that they’re going to slip down. Of course, that means rolling them down isn’t quite easy-peasy. I had to work a little bit more at it but didn’t have any problems rolling down the arm warmers while riding. But there’s absolutely no way I could do what the pros do and remove the knee warmers while riding.
What about gloves?
PEZ readers who “know” me know that I’m like Tornado Tom and prefer to ride sans gloves. I just like having that more immediate connection/feel with the handlebars. And with high quality padded bar tape, I don’t feel the need for gloves (maybe I would if I was riding Paris-Roubaix). So even as the weather turns cooler, I continue to ride without gloves until I just can’t.
For when the temps drop low enough, I got a pair of MAAP Base Gloves ($60). Rated by MAAP for 50F plus-or-minus, they’re made out of a mid-weight stretch material with a fleece-like lining. The fabric is DWR coated. And the palms (and index and middle fingers) have silicone “lines” across them to aid with grip.
Size small (based on my hand measurement) fits comfortably snug without being too tight/constricting. And I went with black (instead of matching the blue of the Base Arm Warmers) just in case I have to handle anything dirty/grimy/greasy while wearing the gloves. Because that’s never happened to anyone on a ride … ever … right?
Relaxing coffee stop
Noteworthy about MAAP kit
It’s worth noting that all of the above MAAP kit use BLUESIGN approved fabrics:
BLUESIGN is a system that provides safer and more sustainable environments for people to work in and everyone to live in. Powered by a holistic approach, BLUESIGN traces each textile’s path along the manufacturing process, making improvements at every stage from factory floor to finished product. BLUESIGN changes the environmental impact of textiles for good.
That means MAAP kit is made from materials that are produced only using chemicals and processes that are safe for people and the environment, minimizing the impact on air and water emissions from the manufacturing processes.
In particular, the Vector Pro Air Jersey is a recycled product:
The MAAP line-up of recycled cycling jerseys started out as recycled plastic and fibres, which we turned into yarns that make up the majority of the premium fabric we wear today. Engineered into premium performance fabric that lasts even under heavy use, we’re consciously putting out less waste into the environment – and we’re working on doing better each day. What started out as one recycled cycling jersey, has turned into a commitment that underpins every move we make. Ultimately, our goal is to create 100% of our on-bike apparel from recycled yarns.
There’s also this that I love about MAAP kit (that has nothing to do with the environment): they use safety pins to attach their tags. No having to cut little plastic tag pins that are attached with tagging guns. Chapeau!
Tags attached with safety pins are so much more elegant and easier to remove
Ready, set, ride
Unlike dead of winter riding that’s all about layering up to ward off the freezing cold (been there, done that — especially when I’ve ridden Freezing Saddles), fall riding is more about mixing and matching layers to suit the temp/weather. So with that in mind…
Indian summer like day? Bibs and a jersey are probably all you need (with or without a warm weather base layer based on your preferences).
If it’s cool enough that you feel like you need a little more insulation under a warm weather jersey, wear a thermal base layer
Some light wind or just need a little more insulation for you core? Throw on a vest/gilet.
Cool enough that you want long sleeves to start the ride but want the option of short sleeves if the temp gets warm enough? Arm warmers.
Need to keep your arms and core both a little warmer? This is fairly standard for me for fall riding.
One of the adages for riding in cooler temperatures is to protect your knees against the cold. So if it’s cool enough, add in knee warmers.
Full Monty for fall riding
Everyone is different so mix-and-match to suit how your body does in the cool/cold. We just had the final Monument of the year — Il Lombardia aka Classica delle foglie morte aka The Race of the Falling Leaves — and you can see from many of the race pics that riders wore different combinations of layers (although I don’t remember seeing anyone with knee warmers).
World Champion Julian Alaphilippe started Il Lombardia with arm warmers and a gilet … so definitely not that warm a day for him
We all can’t be riding in bella Italia, but we should all be enjoying fall riding. Just make sure you’re kitted up properly. If you’re in need of kit, MAAP has you covered.
Note: If you have other experiences with gear or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews or a slap in the head if you feel the need!
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