Winter bike gear: How to stay cruising in the elements
Invest in quality options to keep you warm and dry, and you won't need to spend as much
Although winter is in full swing, there's no reason to suddenly stow away your bike. And until snow hits the road, you certainly needn't swap your fresh-air commute for a slower and sedentary one by car or public transit.
The key to riding through the winter comes down to the proper gear. Think of it this way: Invest in quality options to keep you warm and dry, and you won't need to spend as much on public transportation, or gas, for years to come.
After suiting up, winter cycling is all about adhering to a few basic safety principles. Get those lights flashing (front and rear) and put these tips to use to keep you cruising into spring.
— Use layers with the right materials. "With the right apparel, you can ride in any temperature or any climate, and Invest in quality options to keep you warm and dry, and you won't need to spend as much on public transportation, or gas, for years to come.
you can do it comfortably," says Sean Burger, product specialist at Philadelphia Bikesmith and Main Line Cycles, and a city commuter of six
years. "Yes, it's getting very cold, but there are other places that are colder and people ride year-round — there's apparel designed for all temps."
Burger says a good rule of thumb is to find breathable fabrics that wick moisture away from the body while being thick enough to strike a
balance between warmth and mobility.
"I use a lot of merino wool from brands like Smartwool and Ibex," says Burger. "It transfers the moisture from your skin into the next layer of your clothing rather than soaking it up and leaving you wet and cold."
Burger's next choice is synthetic fabric used for a lot of athletic thermal gear by such companies as Under Armour, the North Face, and Patagonia. Like merino wool, the fabric is designed to wick away perspiration, unlike cotton, which readily absorbs it. (Cotton can absorb about 25 times its weight in water).
"Synthetic gear can often be very thin yet also superwarm," notes Burger.
A wide range of athleticand outdoor-oriented brands make apparel from both merino wool and synthetic fabrics. Whether it's fleece, a longsleeved shirt, or a vest, check the tag before buying.
— Don't underestimate the power of a good-quality jacket
Layering is essential, particularly for longer rides, but investing in a heavy-duty winter jacket will make life easier and more comfortable. Burger suggests one filled with down.