Cold Weather Cycling Tips

Cold Weather Cycling Tips

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.Cold Weather Cycling Tips

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!

I’m Grant



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  2. Wealthfather

    This is an informative and educative article. You have thoroughly put everything in perspective for anyone reading this post to understand the points. I love the fact that you shared your personal experience with us. This is an eye opener for me and I learnt alot from your article.

    Thanks for the eye opener 

    1. admin

      Thanks for reading my post and commenting, Wealthfather.  I appreciate it.  Maybe our paths will cross again someday.

  3. Louis

    Hello Grant,

    Thanks for this tip you’ve given out on winter cycling. It’s good to see more experienced people like yourself sharing valuable knowledge with the next generation. I enjoy cycling the most during winter because of the ice and cold, however I’m not kept as warm even by my warm clothing. You mentioned that sizes are different in Hong Kong, how will I know the right fit for me? Expecting your feedback, regards

    1. admin

      Thanks for reading my post, Louis.  Regarding size differences overseas, in the far east add two sizes up and you should be fine.  I am XL so I order 2XL from Hong Kong, and the fit is fine.  I’ve got three or four jerseys and some bibs from there and they are holding up great.  They look great too if that’s important to you, and you can’t beat the price.  You can get a riding set for $35-40 that you would pay $125-$150 for in a bike shop.

  4. Linus Udochukwu Marvellous

    I don’t know much about cycling but this I know. Cycling is a great sport for those who wants to ease stress, think clearly and loose some fat. Cycling is very important to some people as it is part of their life and so it had become a way of life. I don’t think one can just go cycling in cold weather without having any knowledge about cycling in such weather so I think thses tips will really help a lot of people.

    1. admin

      Hi, Linus.  Of course you’re right, you don’t just jump right in to cold weather cycling.  It’s more for the “hard core” cyclists who feel the urge to get out on the bike no matter the weather.  I’m kinda that way, but rain and snow will keep me indoors.  If the wind is really bad I won’t ride either, but I usually am able to log three or four thousand miles per year on my bike.

  5. Paul

    Hi Grant,

    I can’t even contemplate living somewhere that gets that cold. I travel and avoid winter like the plague. Whenever and wherever I’m riding a pushbike it’s wearing a singlet and boardshorts and I’m sweating. However, everything changes and I know at some hour I will be faced with this extreme weather and wherever I am my pushbike goes with me. You have some great tips here and  as I ponder visiting Ireland one day I’ ll be heeding your advice

    Great job mate 


    1. admin

      Thanks, Paul.  Out here in western Colorado it does get cold in the winter.  Even though you are a warm weather person I appreciate you reading my post and making a good comment.  Enjoy the warmth!

  6. Vapz

    I am not much of a cycling person but my friends are. I’ve never really asked them how they cycle in the cold. I went out with them a few times but the cold didn’t let me do it that often. I noticed my ears got cold first,like really cold that I almost thought it had frozen over. my feet was just fine because I don’t get cold in the feet that quickly. I like these cold weather cycling tips. I would hit up ttdeal on eBay and see if I can buy some of those wears for the next time that I get the courage to go with my friends.

    1. admin

      Thanks for reading my post, Vapz, and thanks for commenting.  I’m with you about the ears getting cold first.  Ear protection is easy to use though.  Unlike you, my feet are my main problem.  I bought some neoprene boots to go over my shoes and that helps, but they still get cold.  I don’t ride if the temperature is below 45 degrees, 50 is better.

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