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How to dress for winter cycling

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How to dress for winter cycling

Winter cycling is one of our favorite activities. The air is fresh, the pace is usually pleasant and the positive feeling of belonging to a unique group of people who cycle all year round is noticeable. Cycling in the winter is also a perfect way to gather miles for the spring and summer season.To fully enjoy the winter workout, however, it is important to dress properly. Our general clothing guide for cycling (link) applies also to the winter season, but during the cold months there are some things you should pay extra attention to.

Dress properly from the inside and out

Just like for all outdoor winter training, it is important that during winter cycling you dress in several layers. It is also extra important that the garments are made of functional materials that transport moisture away from the body. Otherwise there is a great risk that the garments will quickly get wet and you will thus start to freeze.

Remember that it’s always better to use thinner garments and wear multiple layers. This creates layers of air in between the garments that provide more warmth than one thick garment. And if it gets too hot, you can easily remove a layer. By dressing optimally all the way from the inside out, you will stay both dry and warm, allowing you to work out harder and perform better during a longer period of time.

Adjust your outfit to the outdoor temperature

In really cold conditions, or if you plan to ride a little slower with several starts and stops, we recommend that you wear a wool-based base layer closest to the skin. However, if you plan to ride fast with high intensity, wear a base layer made of synthetic fabrics for a more efficient moisture transport.

On top of the base layer you add a cycling jersey as well as a pair of cycling tights with a brushed inside. The brushed inside provides extra insulation, warmth and comfort.

Cycling tights are available both with short and long legs. The cycling shorts can be combined with leg warmers for quick and easy adjustment to colder temperatures. Another great alternative is long-legged cycling tights with wind protection at front, which offer slight protection against precipitation but more importantly provide extra warmth as they protect against the wind chill. True lifesavers on long winter rides.

Cycling jerseys are available with both a brushed inside for extra warmth and with traditional fabric for efficient moisture transport and ventilation. Choose the garment that suits you best based on the prevailing weather conditions.

At really low temperatures, the cycling jersey can be replaced with a tight fleece sweater for extra warmth. However, our recommendation is to wear a bike-specific jersey or jacket as they in most cases come with pockets, which is an advantage as winter cycling often requires you to bring some extra stuff.

To protect against cold temperatures and the wind chill factor, wear a windproof and padded/lined cycling jacket on top of the cycling jersey. If it is really cold, top off with a vest outside of the jacket.

Keep your hands, feet and head warm

Hands, feet and head easily get cold if you dress incorrectly when cycling in chilly conditions. We therefore recommend you to always wear wool socks during the winter season. If possible, bring an extra pair of dry wool socks in a plastic bag so that you can change if your socks and feet get wet. The best way to protect your feet from the cold, however, is to use warm and waterproof shoe covers made of thick neoprene.

Another advice is to replace the regular soles in your cycling shoes with classic aluminum/felt soles. This way you get great insulation from underneath the feet.

A thin hat that covers the ears and has a windproof front and brushed inside is a must underneath the bike helmet in cold conditions. Add a headband for extra warmth. For the hands, there are several types of gloves and mittens made of functional materials that offer great warmth and weather protection. If your fingers tend to freeze easily, we recommend lined gloves with a 3-finger design. Then you get a construction that warms almost as well as a mitten while you can still use your index finger to change gears, brake, drink water, etc.

Remember that both the hat and gloves must be made of functional, moisture-transporting materials. Otherwise the garments will get wet from sweat and you will quickly start to freeze.

Regulate the temperature

When weather conditions and intensity change, its’ great to be able to use the clothes to quickly and easily adjust body temperature. Hats and gloves/mittens in various thicknesses and a thin vest are great garments and accessories for this purpose. A so-called neck tube is also an excellent item for regulating body temperature; pull it up to cover your face and ears if it’s cold, pull it down to protect the throat or put it in a pocket if you get too hot.

Make sure you are visible

If you ride your bike on busy roads and in low-light conditions, it’s extra important that you are visible. The light from car headlamps is distributed close to the ground, so the lower the reflective details are placed on the body/garment the better. And by wearing reflective clothing on moving body parts, such as feet and calves, you become extra visible in the dark.

Other tips and tricks

Make sure to add fenders (mudguards) to your bike when cycling during the winter season. Spraying your fellow riders or yourself with cold water or snow is a perfect recipe for freezing. 

Glasses are a must during this time of year, protecting your eyes from cold wind as well as from dirt and water/snow on the roads.

Fill your water bottles with lukewarm or even hot water or lemonade if you know the ride will be long and cold.nnRemember to ride extra cautiously on winter roads. Studded tires at the front wheel can be a lifesaver, offering extra traction in slippery conditions. Ice and snow, take it slow!

Stop only when necessary. It is often when you stand still that you start to freeze, so try to minimize your stops and breaks. If you stop for a break, however, always take off and dry wet and sweaty gear.

Cell phone batteries tend to quickly discharge when exposed to cold temperatures. Use a sock, a small plastic bag or some other protection to keep the cell phone and battery less cold.

Enjoy your winter ride!

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