If you love cycling, you’ll be excited to learn that it’s an activity that can be done year-round. Preparing to cycle in winter takes a little more planning than hopping on a bike during the summer does, but with the right gear, cycling in winter is totally doable and enjoyable. In order to stay safe and warm, winter cyclists should use each of these pieces of essential gear for winter cycling.
When you’re cycling during the winter months, you don’t want to get too cold, but you won’t want to wear such warm gear that you overheat either. Here are some essential pieces of winter clothing for cyclists.
A base layer is designed to wick away sweat and keep you dry which helps to keep you warm during activity. A good base layer is especially important during winter cycling because cycling can be a high intensity activity that causes you to sweat, even in winter. Any unabsorbed moisture on your body will cause you to lose heat much more quickly than you would otherwise. Men’s, women’s, and youth base layers are all available so you won’t have to worry about any member of your family getting cold.
A mid-layer is worn over the base layer and provides you with another layer of warmth. If the winter weather is mild and your bike ride will be fairly intense, your mid-layer can also serve as your outer layer. Mid-layers should be well insulated, and, if worn as an outer layer, weatherproof.
Cycling outwear is the outermost layer of clothing worn when cycling. Since this layer is the final one between you and the weather, it should be warm, water resistant, and wind resistant. It should also have good ventilation so that you don’t overheat and should be longer in the back than in the front.
Thermal cycling tights or thermal bib tights are worn on the legs. These tights should be both sweat wicking and effective at locking in heat.
Gloves keep your hands warm while biking in cold or rainy weather. Even in milder winter weather, it’s a good idea to wear a pair of gloves since the wind created by the activity of cycling will quickly make your hands cold. Choose a pair of gloves that allows you to keep a good grip on the handlebars and effectively operate the brakes and gears of your bike.
Be sure to keep your head and ears warm while cycling by wearing a hat, headband, or earmuffs. Choose a piece of headgear that you can wear with your helmet. If you’re willing to spend a little extra money, a cycling cap is a good choice. These caps fit well beneath helmets and will keep your head, ears, and neck warm.
If the hat and jacket that you wear leave your neck exposed, add a scarf or neck warmer to your winter cycling outfit. Choose a scarf that is soft, breathable, and fits in such a way that it won’t be a hinderance to you as you’re biking.
If the winter conditions that you are cycling in are particularly wet, you’ll want to wear a pair of waterproof overshoes. Overshoes fit over your normal cycling shoes and keep the snow and slush from soaking through your shoes. Plus, keeping your feet dry will also help them to stay warm.
The right socks will also help to keep your feet warm during a winter bike ride. Wear warm socks that don’t absorb water easily, like wool or a similar material. Avoid cotton socks at all costs!
Now that you know which clothing to wear as part of your essential gear for winter cycling, let’s move on to some essential pieces of bicycle gear that you’ll want to have.
Obviously, you need a bicycle for winter cycling. But since the winter terrain is an entirely different story than the terrain you cycle on in other seasons, you’ll need to make sure that your bicycle is properly prepared for winter. Riding through slush, snow, and salt covered streets causes your bicycle’s drivetrain to quickly become dirty during the winter months. Be sure to clean the grit and grime off your bike after every ride, paying special attention to the moving parts like the chain and the gears. Other options include riding a single gear bike or a bike with an internal gear hub to avoid damage to your drivetrain.
Be sure to choose the right kind of tire for the slippery winter conditions. The kind of tires you choose for winter may vary based on the condition of the area you will be cycling in, but all winter tires should be able to grip the ground effectively. If the weather conditions are particularly bad, consider using a set of studded bike tires during the winter months.
If you plan to cycle at all during the winter, do yourself a favor and get your bike some fenders. Fenders should be placed on both the front and back wheels of your bike to keep the snow that your wheels kick up from spraying you during your ride. You’ll be grateful that you added them when you’re not covered in a layer of wet dirt at the end of your ride!
The winter months tend to be darker than the other months of the year, so having good lighting on your bike for a winter ride is important. Lighting allows you to see better, but it also allows cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists to be able to see you better, too. Installing lights on your bike is simple and is worth doing for the extra safety that it provides.
Using all these essential cycling clothing and gear will keep you warm, dry, and safe on your cycling adventures during the cold winter months. Hot Chillys stocks a variety of quality winter gear and accessories, from thermal base wear to face masks, and we’re happy to help you choose the right gear for the winter conditions. Don’t let the winter weather stop you—gather your gear, tune up your bike, and go out and enjoy the great outdoor activity that is cycling!