There is nothing worse than putting the bike away in the garage knowing it could be weeks or even months until you ride again. But the cold days of winter no longer need to keep you off your bike. Wearing winter cycling gear can allow you to enjoy winter rides throughout the winter, which means you won’t experience the annual cycling setback that the cold brings to so many bikers.
Start with a cycling base layer. It doesn’t have to be expensive, though the pricier ones may do a better job of keeping you both dry and toasty. They protect against wind and are constructed of breathable fabric to help keep you dry.
They are designed to fit snugly against the body, so don’t be turned off by the extra-tight fit. Remember that this base layer is going to be worn underneath several layers, so you want it to fit without bunching up.
Next use a glove liner like Teramar Thermolater Glove Liner. Again, you want a tight fit that will stand up to heavy use and these glove liners fit the bill. Alone they won’t provide adequate thermal protection, but when paired with gloves, they will keep your hands toasty and fully functional.
Wool socks or dry liner socks are beneficial for protecting your feet. Your extremities are prone to get cold and even frostbitten if it is frigid enough. When your fingers and toes get cold they lose flexibility and nimbleness. Wool socks, especially when paired with a pair of dry sock liners, will keep your feet both warm and dry.
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Waterproof or water resistant booties should be worn on top of your shoes. They will keep your feet both warm by adding an extra layer over your shoes and insulating for warmth. They will also keep your feet dry, and wet feet are prone to getting cold quickly. Bontrager Waterproof Softshell Booties are meant to keep your feet warm in temperatures as cold as 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Winter tights come in a couple of different varieties, both with and without pads. The ones with pads will provide you additional warmth but also must be washed more frequently. They are also a heck of a lot more expensive. Further, they limit the use of these winter tights to the very coldest of days (yes, you really can be TOO warm!).
Instead, we recommend that you opt for the winter bicycling tights without pads. They can go a couple uses before a washing, are less expensive, and allow for wear throughout much of the year.
Knee warmers are a great addition to your winter cycling gear. Similar to leg warmers, knee warmers are worn over the knee and the bottom part of the upper leg. Although you can find knee warmers for less than ten dollars, quality pairs go for 40 dollars or more.
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A good, wool hat is a piece of essential cold weather cycling gear. Be sure to purchase a hat that fits firmly over your head as that will allow for better insulation. You may want to get one that has ear flaps, but be sure that they are thin enough that they will not impact your ability to hear road noises. These hats are great because they will stay warm and dry, even when you are working up a sweat.
Winter cycling gloves are critical. They should be worn over your base gloves for additional protection from the elements. Be sure to invest in a pair that provides good dexterity as you need flexibility in your hands and fingers. A good option are the Pearl Izumi Ride Pro AMFIB Lobster Gloves.
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When wearing these gloves, your thumb is alone, your index and middle fingers are paired together, and then your ring and pinky fingers are paired together. This really does seem to increase the warmth while allowing for good flexibility. They also have built in reflectors which is a great idea for any cyclist no matter the weather conditions.
There a number of different winter cycling jackets on the market. These are meant to be worn as an outer layer, so be sure to purchase one that is the appropriate size. Winter cycling jackets are meant to be breathable, allow for insulated warmth and flexibility.
Most jackets come in bright colors or have reflectors on the fabric. Prices vary from as low as $30 to well over $100 based on the fabric and the temperature rating.
Beyond gear to keep your body temperature up, it is also important to prepare your bike for the winter conditions. Studded tires, although a bit pricey, allow you to have much greater traction. This is important in slick, icy, and slushy conditions. If you are a regular winter cyclist, they are a great addition.
Also, make sure your bike lights are clean and working properly. Snowy and dark winter days make it even more difficult to see bicycles on the road. Lights are key, but remember that road salts can accumulate a film that can obscure your lights. Use a soft towel to wipe off your lights and keep them and your reflectors clean and clear.
When cycling in the cold, winter cycling gear is key. But that does not mean you should sacrifice when it comes to safety. Be sure to purchase cold weather cycling gear that allows for free, unrestricted movement as you need to be able to move your body so that you can maneuver the bike quickly if you are at risk of crashing. Safety is key, no matter what the season.
Finally, do not forget to bring your water bottle along with you. People tend to drink less when riding in the cold, so try to remember to stay hydrated. Even though you will not notice perspiration as much in the cold, your body will still perspire due to the increase aerobic activity and body heat.
At the Law Firm of Kass & Moses, we work with individuals who have been injured in bicycle crashes so we work diligently to inform cyclists about safety issues. If you have questions about a bicycle crash or have been involved in one, contact our experienced team today for a free consultation.