Cold Weather Cycling Gear: Why Ride in the Winter?
For many cyclists, riding their bike isn’t just a weekend activity: it’s a way of life, and skipping a ride is never option.
Whether they ride for training purposes or daily commutes, some cyclists simply can’t afford to take a day off, so when winter arrives and the weather turns ugly, serious cyclists have no choice but to face the cold.
However, with the proper preparation, riding in adverse weather conditions like rain and snow doesn’t have to be a horrible experience. In fact, riding in the winter can be even more rewarding than riding in the spring or fall when the weather is more ideal.
Even though it requires more work and preparation, a successful winter ride can provide a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that fair-weather riding simply can’t; after all, who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of pushing through adversity to reach a goal?
Additionally, winter landscapes offer some of the most majestic and scenic views of the 4 seasons, so skipping a ride due to poor weather will mean that riders will miss out on an experience that only comes once a year.
Picking the Right Winter Cycling Gear
When preparing for a cold weather ride, many inexperienced cyclists will make the mistake of bundling up too much in an effort to stay warm.
This is a mistake.
The human body produces a substantial amount of body heat, especially during times of mild or intense activity, so the key is to not overdo it.
Instead, it’s important to wear clothing that will warm up over time to prevent excessive sweating. After all, being sweaty and getting hit by freezing wind is definitely not something any rider wants to experience.
This may mean that you’ll be a bit chillier than you might prefer at the start of your ride, but this feeling will quickly fade as you start building body heat and warming up further into the ride.
Best Winter Bike Riding Gear
To help our readers learn more about the best cold weather riding gear on the market, below is a quick guide to the kinds of gear winter cyclists need to get the most out of their winter cycling adventures.
Cold Weather Cycling Clothing Guide
The base layer is one of the most important clothing items that cyclists should pay close attention to, as it can make or break your winter cycling efforts.
The base layer includes items like cycling tights, pants, shirts, socks, underwear, etc., etc., and when choosing these items, it’s important that cyclists consider materials like Merino wool or something synthetic.
Why not cotton?
Cotton is pretty much a sponge for liquids, which makes it a complete no-go for rainy weather, but also for activities that will result in lots of sweating, like cycling.
Also important to note is that your summer base layers will often work in the winter, especially if you have appropriate outerwear to handle things like rain and snow.
For really cold days, then you’re going to want to invest in capable cycling tights and long sleeve cycling shirts.
For tops, we recommend something like the Rapha Winter Base Layer, as it is made of Merino wool and is suitable for both summer and winter cycling. And for bottoms, we recommend something like the Lusso Termico Repel Bib Tights, as they will help keep riders warm (Temp range -2C to 15C, dry, and comfortable for longer rides.
The 2nd item of clothing that riders need to be become well acquainted with is cycling outerwear.
Outerwear is basically a “shell” of sorts that provides riders with protection from the elements (i.e., rain, snow, etc.) while also being ventilated enough to prevent overheating.
Coupled with a warm base layer, and riders should have all the warmth and protection that they need from the elements.
Helmet Liners & Caps
Unlike cycling helmets, helmet liners and cycling caps are something that’s often overlooked.
While it’s true that a rider’s hair underneath a fitted cycling helmet is often all that is needed to keep your head warm, there are some added benefits to wearing either a liner or a cap during the winter.
Cycling helmets are built to be as lightweight and as aerodynamic as possible, which is why they often feature a variety of different size holes—perfect for the rain to make its way into and drip into your eyes.
However, with a cycling cap, the bill of the cap can help prevent rain and sweat from getting into the rider’s eyes. Additionally, a helmet liner can provide some further protection from the elements, especially for those with shaved heads.
For recommendations, we suggest something like the Velo/City Cap, as it’s made of wool and features moisture-wicking fabric, perfect for rides in both hot and cold weather.
Regardless of the season, gloves should be something that all cyclists are familiar with. After all, a well-cushioned glove can provide protection from falls and help mitigate issues with grip fatigue on longer rides.
However, winter is the time of the year when cyclists might want to ditch their fingerless gloves for full gloves, as the extra material will not only help keep your fingers nice and toasty but also provide additional protection against falls.
When choosing your perfect winter cycling gloves, make sure that the palms and fingers of the gloves are constructed to be as grippy as possible, as this will help riders maintain control of your bike if the handlebars get wet.
Given the above, the Sundried Touch Screen Gloves are our top pick, as they are grippy, well-insulated, and don’t limit the rider’s range of motion, which means that you can operate brakes and gears without any trouble at all. As an added bonus, these gloves also work well with touchscreens (not that you’ll be using your phone on your ride, right?).
Cold Weather Cycling Gear
Cycling footwear serves a variety of functions, such as increasing your power output, reducing fatigue, and protecting your feet; however, they’re not always the best when it comes to keeping your feet dry and warm.
For warmth, we suggest having a separate pair of cycling shoes that are a bit larger than your normal shoes, that way they can accommodate thicker, wool socks. For less serious cyclists who are used to biking in normal shoes, we suggest using a heavier duty shoe, like a hiking shoe or a shoe made out of a tougher canvas material, as these materials in conjunction with a wool sock should be enough to keep your feet warm.
For serious downpours, consider wearing some overshoes, as this will help keep your feet dry from the rain above and from splashes below.
Winter Bicycle Helmet
In general, any cycling helmet will be suitable for cold weather cycling so long as a helmet liner or cap is used.
However, if you’re the type of rider who believes they would be bothered by this two-piece arrangement, then there are options like the Lazer Dissent Winter Helmet that features a built-in liner and bill.
When cycling in cold weather, any bike will do, though, riders must keep in mind that regular maintenance becomes far more important during rough weather.
Riding in the winter means that your bike will be exposed to water, ice, snow, mud, salt, etc., so it’s important that you give your bike a good wipe down after every ride, and before hitting the road, you’ll certainly want to check to ensure that the bike’s drivetrain is working properly.
If you’re not training for an upcoming competition and simply need your bike for commuting, it might be worth it to invest in a single-speed bike, as a less complicated drivetrain will mean that you will spend less time maintaining and cleaning a more expensive, performance-oriented bike.
Finally, the last piece of winter riding gear that riders should pay close attention to is the tires on their bike.
Indeed, while many of us remember to change the tires on our car during the winter, some of us forget that our bicycle tires also need to be changed as well.
For example, if your bike is set up to for road cycling, when the weather turns bad and rain or snow are on the forecast, you’re probably going to want to swap your tires for something with a little more grip and tread, like a mountain bike tire for example.
Additionally, cyclists can also decrease their tire pressure during the winter for more grip, which is especially important when the road becomes bumpy, uneven, or is filled with potholes.
Ride with Sena!
As the industry leader in Bluetooth accessories for powersport activities like motorcycling, atving, and more, we pride ourselves in our dedication to providing customers the most innovative and technologically advanced products on the market—and we’re always looking to do more!
Take our latest and greatest Smart Cycling Helmets: with their sleek design and top of the line features like fitness monitoring, Bluetooth intercom, and HD video recording, riders will wonder how they ever got along without it!