“Aren’t you cold?!”
That's a question often asked of those who choose to ride during the colder months.
Yes, the thought of riding through rain, snow or just freezing temperatures may sound daunting, but a cold bike ride can be incredibly invigorating and, with the right clothing, perfectly comfortable as well.
Whether you’re cycling to the office or going out for a longer ride, layering up works. What you wear will depend on the temperature, but it is definitely worthwhile to invest in some key pieces to ensure you enjoy your bike rides all year round.
Here are a few ways that you can dress to tackle the elements:
1. Pick the right base layer
Avoid cotton fabric for your base layer, as this soaks up sweat. Instead, opt for something that hugs your body and keeps you dry. Wool, nylon, polyester or spandex is the perfect fabric for a base layer top and bottom. And just to be safe, carry a lightweight fleece pullover for days when the wind is extra strong. Layers are your friend.
2. Opt for water-resistant outerwear
In many European countries the winters call for rain and snow, so the best outerwear option would be a waterproof shell. Look for breathability, as well as wind and water resistance.
A good thick coat or jacket will help tremendously against the cold, and since you’re legs are moving while pedalling you will find that keeping them warm is an easy task. Find a non-insulated pant that is also resistant against wet weather, so you’re not sitting with damp trousers when you arrive at work or while running errands.
3. Prepare for rain
Not much can save you from a heavy downpour, but if you’re lucky enough to find a good quality rain poncho this could end up being a great investment. If you can find something with great ventilation, that is heavy enough to not flap around in the wind, you’ll be well protected from the rain. Some people swear by a rain cape because it protects their entire body from the rain, and it’s an inexpensive item. Others find that it makes them look dorky and sweat profusely. So, depending on your personal preference, a good shell jacket and pants may be all you need.
4. Protect your head and face
Your head, along with your hands and feet, are prone to losing body heat, so it’s important to be covered. If you’re a man, and are capable of doing so, grow a beard! It’s free and it helps keep your face warm. For everyone else, a balaclava or snood is a great accessory to have. This will help protect your face, neck and ears from the cold.
5. Keep your hands and feet well insulated
When you’re riding, nothing is more painful and uncomfortable than cold, wet hands or feet. For your hands, opt for a thick pair of insulated, wind resistant gloves that allow for dexterity when you adjust speed, grip the brakes or ring your bell. It is often recommended to try silicone grip for secure contact to your bike controls.
For your feet, try overshoes or oversocks to help keep your toes warm and prevent water from getting into your shoes. And, of course, a good pair of Winter boots are an absolute must-have whether you’re on a bike or not.
6. Guard your eyes
Lastly, protect your eyes! While summer rides are all about sun protection, winter eye protection will save you from snow glare and keep icy wind off your eyeballs.