How does indoor cycling impact demand for winter cycling kit?

It's a question that my business partner and I discuss in depth every year. 

Indoor cycling is awesome. 2 years ago, we bought a cheap smart turbo trainer, hooked it up to our laptops and rode on ZWIFT for a few months. The experience was vastly superior to the old dumb turbo trainer sessions. We even (briefly) questioned the need to ride outside in the real world.

The ZWIFT platform has evolved and improved since then and the available hardware that goes along with it has come even further. We've been watching these developments with interest and it has made us put off launching a range of winter gear. If cyclists allocate more financial resources to building an indoor cycling paincave, bad weather outdoor cycling would naturally decrease and demand for winter kit should follow suit. 

I believe our customers, who are hardcore all-season athletes, would appreciate a pair of long distance deep-winter tights from RedWhite, which is the only reason we are developing one for release in winter 2020 (on condition that the prototyping goes smoothly). 

Beyond our fans, the big questions remain unanswered :

  • As indoor cycling gets better and better, would anyone want to ride outdoors during bad weather?
  • Would the demand for winter kit weaken?
  • Will more cyclists allocate more financial resources to building out a ZWIFT paincave?

Do you ride outside no matter how awful the weather is? Or are you meek like Yuva and jump on a turbo trainer hooked to ZWIFT if the weather looks dodgy? Do you even want thermal long tights from RedWhite Apparel? Leave your comments below.

28 comments

I live in Sweden and commute year round. I own definitely more winter than summer clothes ;-) . One advantage with winter cycling is that I can wear worn out RW bib shorts under a pair of tights without chamois. For me the RW lycra gets transparent in certain places long before the pad is worn out, and then they go into the winter drawer…

Ben December 14, 2019

I ride year round in Sydney. In winter I wear (over my RedWhite bibs) some dhb Flashlight tights. These are covered in massive 3M reflective panels such that I’m lit up like a light shop when hit by car headlights at night. If you know what Sydney drivers are like this is rather important. I’ve seen quite a few other riders around my neck of the woods in this kit – quite popular for commuter riders as many journeys are before sun-up or after sunset.

The only downside is they are not bibs. Consequently, I need to use my late father’s 1960’s elastic trouser suspenders to keep them up. Not sure what I’m oto do when they die.

So if you’re going todo this (and I’m a buyer if you do) can you please make them bibs, and covered in 3M reflective panels. And I do mean covered.

Love your work.

John Hawkins December 12, 2019

I have way more summer gear than winter gear as I try to do a bit of commuting during the spring to autumn as well as weekend rides, however I still go out every weekend during the winter. My winter gear is therefore in quite good condition despite being in its second year. So to answer your question, yes there is a market, just a lot smaller than the summer market.

will, UK December 12, 2019

@Yuva, most places use salt to de-ice roads, so a thorough cleaning and drying after each and every ride is required to prevent aluminium & steel parts from corroding. Most people don’t want to torture their bicycles in that way or take the risk that they’ve missed a spot until oxides appear.

Ian Michael Yovdoshuk December 12, 2019

Vorming from The Netherlands winters are mostly cols and wet. Not so colt that your ass freezes off and you have to dig to a snow layer. So winter is certainly more indoor riding than The rest off The year. For me The early darkness is more a Reason to ride indoors. So outside riding Is stil an option on schorter daytime period. I certainly Will need a more specific winter bib for Rhode rides. Would-be be nice to have one from my favorite bib brand 👌

Richard van Dijk December 12, 2019

Indoor riding.Im in southern South Australia and ride outdoors year round. There certainly is a place for winter thermal bibs. I sometimes leave with the temperature -5 degrees and the thermals are great but I am yet to find gloves or socks that are good enough. However I’m 67 years old and I fear technology is ready to takeover.

Peter Blaser December 12, 2019

Personally, I’d love some thermal bib shorts. Super versatile, paired with leg or kneew warmers (which can then be remove if the day warms up). Not a fan of the trainer. I prefer to get wet and muddy (gravel and MTB) although I don’t ride if it is icy.

Jem December 12, 2019

Interesting as I have been thinking the same thing, watching the growth in users on zwift. I think your summation could well be correct

I zwift for structured training purposes year round as it gives me the flexibility to ride when I want around the other life duties.

I still ride outdoors year round but winter where I am in Australia sees days usually in the 20’s C so it is only the morning chill when it gets below 10 C that you need the leg warmers etc. that you can rip off later in the ride.

Simon December 12, 2019

I live in Oregon it rains from October to June , I have tried trainers can’t stand them . I ride in all weather except ice . I do have a summer kit of yours and will look at your winter line. Have over 6k miles this year, keep putting out a winter line I still need it , but you do need to cater to the indoor riders I know lots.i like riding in the rain with good gear , I won’t melt.😀🚵‍♀️

Mike Cardwell December 11, 2019

Interesting conversation. Living on Vancouver Island, our climate lends itself to year-round riding. Once the days shorten and the rains begin, I move from the road to gravel. On snow days, I’ll ride on a turbo trainer. My preference is “outside” first. Winter kits are essential to comfort and safety. Weather-proofing, rain-resistance with additional visibility are key attributes that I would look for. BTW, love my RW bibs :)

Peter Donkers December 11, 2019

It’s an honest question worthy of an honest answer. The truth is that I have not ridden outside in cold weather for a number of years, for a myriad of reasons. I just recently tried your bibs looking to make those long indoor sessions more bearable. After a couple of 3-3.5 long indoor rides, I promptly ordered more. Yet, I cannot envision myself purchasing long thermal bibs should you start selling them. Best wishes.

Rickey Thompson December 11, 2019

I am a new customer to your gear just receiving my first set of bibs worn one time so far. Guess what, they were worn indoors on a trainer bike. You see I teach indoor cycling classes in addition to my outdoor rides . The bibs worked and felt great and I can’t wait to use them in a ride . Now to your point today , I live in Southern California and we have mild winters . My winter riding gear is limited. I have several die hard riding friends who ride at night and virtually all weather. So there is a market albeit smaller . I have often wanted to try bib knickers that extend to mid calf as a winter alternative to just using leg warmers which always get uncomfortable for me . I guess I would want them to not be a thermal version just a bit longer .
Have you considered marketing specific products for the indoor rider? I can see a market there. Not only do you have riders on their trainers alone with Zwift and other versions but you have a growing base with the chain gyms offering cycling classes, boutique gyms, and services like Peleton . As a instructor of classes for 20 years now I often advocate the use of cycling gear for the classes , Especially bibs and cycling shorts . I will now add your product to my recommendations. I will likely order another pair soon. Once I advocate products I often shortly see members show up to class in new kits . The ladies appear especially responsive . (A ladies line of gear? )
Thanks for a great product, I was questionable to try it out since I knew little about your products but I really like what I see here and will continue as a customer

Rob

Robert Cole December 11, 2019

I would buy them. I have been riding more indoors in the winter as I have aged (63) but try to get outside in the winter as long as the rides are not too icy or covered with snow just to keep my sanity as I am inside all week long at work. The brevet season for me starts in March and I struggle with the first rides if I don’t put in some longer distance rides outside before.

Some suggestions: zippers on the legs and some reflective material around the ankles and knees. Also maybe a small phone sized pocket on one of the legs.

James Bondra December 11, 2019

I have bought a turbo trainer this year and use it once or twice a week in the evenings but I still commute by bike and go out for a ride nearly every Sunday.
I live in the UK so the only thing that stops me riding is the occasional snow or ice. Otherwise bring on the winter gear

Martin December 11, 2019

On one hand Zwift may eat away at a little of the winter gear market by keeping some folks inside, while keeping others in top form and driving them outside whenever road conditions permit.

Last season I squeezed out New England roads through January, then picked back up outside in March, with only the elliptical to maintain fitness. Finally this fall I broke down and purchased a smart trainer and got Zwift. I still pull on the tights, balaclava & tech jacket and hit the road (or woods) whenever the roads/weather permits. The trainer does help maintain the summer conditioning but it can’t replace the feel of the road.

I do find the more static trainer time in the saddle a little tougher on the…eer…saddle. Might need to pitch your R&W as an “Indoor cycling line” like that big expensive Euro brand now has, lol.

Steve December 11, 2019

I love your bib shorts. They are my absolute favorite! I live in Arizona where during the summer months I’m outside cycling in 115° weather. In the wintertime there are mornings we ride and it’s down in the low 30’s. For two years I had been searching for the perfect pair of knickers and tights and I finally found them…in another brand…before you have ever announced you would be selling yours. Keep your on the market and when my current high dollar winter kit wears out I know where I’ll be buying my replacement from. On, and I do Zwift. There are days I’m physically unable to leave the house due to medical issues.

Tracy R Adler December 11, 2019

It isn’t zwift…it’s direct drive trainers that let you use any system to train without danger of ice and narrow roads (from snow/debris) and limited daylight.

Jake Ryan December 11, 2019

This is my first winter riding outside. I do have a smart trainer but I don’t feel like it provides everything I need to prepare for early spring gravel races. Part of my training this year is to know how to dress for any weather conditions that may come up at a gravel race. March and April can be ugly at some of the biggest events in the central US.

Kevin Estes December 11, 2019

@NICK GRECIAN : Better gear can allow you to get out there even when it’s wet, but there’s a limitation for sure. Lycra has come a long way, but not the the point of there being a 100% waterproof version that also breathes well to keep your legs dry. There are some promising new fabrics that are better at keeping the rain off you, but they do eventually get wet in a downpour.

YUVA | FOUNDER OF REDWHITE APPAREL December 11, 2019

@BRYAN STEEDMAN & @NATHAN : It’s interesting that both of you mentioned gravel riding in winter. I assumed it would be a year round activity rather than increasing during the winter. Any reason for mentioning this?

@MICHAEL : Definitely based on The BIB. The pad and bib strap will be the same, but the fabric will change to a heavier water and wind resistant thermal fleeced lycra.

@DAN : I’m pretty young and hate the cold as much as you.

@IAN MICHAEL YOVDOSHUK : What about riding de-iced roads in winter? They’d keep those ice free for vehicles right?

@TOM AMBROS : You know, this is the first time i’m hearing about Bkool. Thanks for posting about that here. What sort of unlikely conditions do you find yourself out in these days vs the past?

@ANDRAS VASZULA : Any reason you’ve not purchased a full length bib tight with an integrated pad?

Yuva | Founder of RedWhite Apparel December 11, 2019

As a recent Zwift convertee, I find it useful for those days when I can’t face the wet winter we are having but it is best for when you can steal 30-60 minutes for a quick burst of activity. Otherwise, if the opportunity is there to get out on the road, that is always the first choice.

Nick Grecian December 11, 2019

Sure. Atm i wear a long bib wo pads over the kneewarmer and bib. Zwift is not my thing, also i minimalise the turbo use. Riding outside hardens the one.

Andras Vaszula December 11, 2019

“Build it and they will come.” I’m in the Appalachian mountains with miles of gravel. My group rides all winter long and we all have trainers. I’d love to see what you crank out!

Nathan December 11, 2019

I am more likely to take advantage of the few rideable days over the winter because I am maintaining fitness down cellar using Bkool (I like the choices of several million routes…) and have a lot less inertia as a result. Combined with how good winter gear has gotten I find myself out there in very unlikely conditions.

Tom Ambros December 11, 2019

It’s most certainly a dilemma. I’ll ride on the pathways in Seoul until surface water freezes, then it’s onto ZWIFT to avoid any chance of falling injuries. I have a pair of off-season full-length bibs that get me to 2* and they get worn 4-8 weeks a year.

Ian Michael Yovdoshuk December 11, 2019

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