Cold Weather Cycling Apparel
If you’re an avid cyclist like I am, about the only thing that stops you from riding is cold weather. For me, once the temperature drops below about 45 to 50 degrees, for the daily high, It’s time to hang up my cleats until winter is over and the days get warmer.
Even when the temps are in the 50s, cold weather cycling clothing is a must. Here’s what I wear when the days turn colder.
I’ve learned that my legs don’t feel the cold as much as my upper torso. A pair of full leg cycling pants or bibs is usually enough. I have a regular pair and a fleece lined pair. I like them both, but the fleece lining definitely keeps my legs warmer.
I also wear a long sleeve jersey. Wear a shirt or sweatshirt, if you don’t wear cycling jerseys. The importance here is to buld up layers. I usually wear a second shirt either under or over the jersey, and then a jacket or windbreaker. Sometimes I add a vest. If you want to ride in really cold weather, a winter coat will work, but remember that you will probably work up a sweat inside it.
Remember, even on temperate days you will be generating your own wind chill as you ride. The faster you go, the more relative wind you generate. If you’re a sedate rider, and like to go slow, that’s not much of a problem. If you like to go faster, then the wind chill becomes significant.
For example, if you are out riding in fifty degree weather, and you are going 15 mph, then the wind chill will bring the “feels like” temperature down to 35 degrees, just 3 degrees above freezing.
That means that your face and ears will get cold. My ears are what I notice getting cold first. Since you’re wearing a helmet, you can wear a balaclava under it and cover your mouth and nose, or a skull cap that goes down over your ears. That will help a lot.
You will probably have to adjust your helmet to allow for the extra cloth on your head.
My experience with a balaclava is that I end up pulling it down to uncover my mouth. Breathing through the fabric causes moisture to accumulate and it gets too warm for me. If I were riding in temps below 40 degrees farenheight, though, I would probably keep my mouth covered.
The next problem is my feet. My cycling shoes do not keep out the cold at all. The options are to get insulated shoes, or to get shoe covers, or to wear thermal socks. I opt for the socks, because they cost less than the other options. UPDATE: I finally broke down and got some neoprene booties. Giro brand. They fit over the shoes, and are waterproof as well as windproof. I’ve worn them 4 or 5 times now, and while they take a few minutes to pull on and zip up, they work great. In fact, they work almost too great. If I put them on too early my feet start to sweat before I get out on the bike. I highly recommend them.
If I were to ride more in cold weather, or to ride in colder temperatures, I would invest in insulated shoes.
I bought some toe covers once that covered the toes of my shoes, but they didn’t do much. If you want to go that route, don’t do what I did. Invest in something that works. The products are out there.
Now for gloves. Winter cycling gloves work well, or even cotton gloves either under or over your riding gloves. Do what is most comfortable for you.
There’s really no secret to dressing warmly for cold weather riding. A little forethougth and you will be able to go out and enjoy your rides. Evaluate your choices after your ride and you can adjust what you wear and make the next ride even more enjoyable.
A good website for getting good cycling wear at very reasonable prices is ttdeal on eBay. They ship from Hong Kong. The jerseys and bibs that I have bought from them have been great so far. I’ve got a great set of bibs with a long sleeve jersey that are insulated. I’ve also got a set that aren’t. The prices at ttdeal are really great. Just remember it’s probably a good idea to buy a size larger than you normally wear. Sizes are different in Hong Kong. Here’s a link.
To top this post off, here’s a You Tube video by GCN on cold weather cycling tips. It’s more for the avid road cyclist, if you’re a casual rider and ride a cruiser or something similar, this type of clothing not be what you’re looking for, but the tips are valid, and the narrator has a cool British accent.
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment below if you have some good ideas too. Enjoy your rides!