Nothing can ruin a bike ride like cold feet. When you’re cycling in winter, or cool, wet autumn or spring days your feet and toes can be the first part of your body to suffer that’s because
your body’s priority is to maintain its core temperature, blood gets diverted away from the extremities, leaving your toes feeling like blocks of ice. Windchill makes it worse and, if the roads are wet, the spray coming off your front wheel hits your shoes first.
Luckily the right pair of overshoes can really help protect you feet from the wet and cold. If your feet are warm and dry from the beginning, the circulation will be much more likely to flow to your feet and toes, allowing you to enjoy your ride in comfort.
Overshoes supply an outer layer of warmth and waterproofing for your cycling shoes. As with most types of cycling clothing and equipment, they are available in different designs, fabrics and weights to offer various levels of protection for different riding conditions. For example, a toe cover or half-overshoe with a waterproof coating and fleecy lining will be sufficient in late autumn or early spring, while for deep winter a full overshoe made from 5mm neoprene will supply a high level of insulation against the cold.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s best for which types of weather conditions.
Rainy but mild
For rainy riding in milder weather it’s all about the waterproofing. The Shimano S1100R H2O overshoes are made from a thin polyamide with a fleecy lining and a waterproof polyurethane coating to keep the rain and spray at bay.
Spring or autumn
If you’re mostly looking to keep road spray off your shoes so that they look fresh for a bit longer or to keep out the chill on the morning commute, the Shimano T1100R toe covers are perfect for the job. Made from polyamide with a brushed fleece inside they have a water-repellent PU outer coating. They’re super versatile since they can be whipped off and stashed in a jersey pocket if they’re not needed.
Synthetic fabrics such as neoprene are perfect for cycling overshoes because of the excellent insulation for a low weight that it offers. With a waterproof coating it keeps out the water too, and if water does get in – usually via the soles where there are holes for clipless pedals – neoprene stops it from chilling. The Van Rysel 100 Neoprene Overshoes use 2mm neoprene and is great for early-winter temperatures, while a water-repellent coating keeps out light rain and tyre spray.
You’ll also find overshoes made from a synthetic rubber mix such as the Van Rysel RoadR 500 Overshoes . With 2.5mm fabric, taped seams and a highly water repellent coating these will take you into mid winter.
The Van Rysel 900 RoadR Overshoes are made from 5mm thick neoprene and are for riding in very cold weather down to 0°C. They have taped seams and a water-repellent PU coating
Look out for
For cold weather go for neoprene – the thicker the neoprene the warmer they’ll be – but for milder rainy conditions when neoprene might be too warm, a polyamide overshoe with a PU coating is best for keeping water out. Choose toe covers for a bit or extra protection in spring or autumn.
Which overshoes will fit over my cycling shoes?
Overshoes have to fit snugly over your cycling shoes so that that they can trap warm air and stop water getting into any gaps – at the ankle, for example. Road overshoes are designed to go over slimmer road shoes and have a hole in the sole big enough for the three-bolt delta cleat type. Just as road cycling shoes are not designed for walking around, neither are road overshoes.
However, if you use SPD pedals and shoes that are designed for walking as well as for clipping in such as mountain bike shoes or road shoes like the Triban RC 500 SPD Road Cycling Shoes, both the Van Rysel 100 Neoprene and the Van Rysel RoadR500 overshoes [links above] have wide openings at the sole to accommodate a chunkier tread.
Look out for
Each overshoe size is designed to fit a range of usually two cycling shoe sizes. If you’re between sizes because your shoes are in a half size, for example, it’s best to go for the bigger one. Try them on in store with your cycling shoes if you can, and make sure you can close up in any gaps at the ankle that might let water or cold draughts in. An extra Velcro tab can be useful for this.
Do I need high vis?
Even if you’re not a fan of high-vis clothing, in bad weather or on gloomy winter days a pair of fluro overshoes like the Van Rysel 500 RoadR Neon Overshoes can help make you stand out because they’re moving up and down as you pedal.