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  1. #1
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    Cold Gear for (inexperienced) Tall Commuter

    I realize that all people are different, but I'd really like some general guidance for cold-weather gear. I rode to work this morning and thought my feet and hands were going to need to be amputated.

    I am 6'6" tall, 180 lbs, and wear a 16 or 17 shoe. This makes my apparel options difficult. I have a pair of full-fingered gloves on the way, so I think I'm covered there, but I need to get something figured out for the rest.

    Currently, I only have running shoes, which are made to breathe and not for cold. Should I get new shoes for riding, or some kind of liner to go under them? What about pants? All I have right now is a cheap pair of unlined windpants, but they are pretty loose at the bottom and I'm worried that they're going to get caught in the chain or spokes. Will jeans be too restrictive? Should I consider cargo pants? What about a base layer? Should I just go with thermal underwear, or will any tights fit? I have a regular windbreaker, which (when combined with a long-sleeve T underneath) seems to work fine for now. Any suggestions there?

    I have a balaclava already, so we're covered there also.

    Thanks guys!

  2. #2
    uke
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    I wear jeans. The only thing you've got to remember is to roll up the right pant leg a bit, or use some kind of ankle wrap. I do neither, and now and then, the ring tears a bit of the pant cuff.

    JesseDuncan:I just love how "cars will be forced to cross the double yellow lines on dangerous limited visibility roads".

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  3. #3
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    I use 3/4 length pants or "knickers" that are taylored from my old clothes. Costs me $14 a pair. Great for commuting and works well with leg warmers when it gets real cold.



  4. #4
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    What temps are you preparing for?

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    The temp this morning was in the low 40's, but my ride is on busy road shoulders where it can get quite windy. I'd like to keep riding as long as temps stay in the 30's or above.

  6. #6
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Depends a lot on the person. In the low 40s I'm still comfortable with half-fingered crocheted backed gloves, and some people don't even put on leg warmers until they get down to 40 or so.

    Yeah, running shoes are cold. Get some shoes that aren't so windy. I wear Shimano mountain cycling shoes most of the time, but that's largely because I'm using SPD clipless. But they're a lot warmer than running shoes, they're durable, they'd be great even on platform pedals, and they put up with getting wet better than most shoes. And they're only $40 or so. I've been riding with mine for over 3 years now.

    When it gets down to about 40, I switch to some light full fingered gloves. Below 30 or so, I switch to some cheap house brand "windproof/breathable" $10 sports gloves that I got at Kohls. Below 0*F I will switch to some heavier gloves.

    On the feet, I ride with my Shimano shoes 3 seasons, when it gets down below 30*F or so, I'll put on a single layer of wool socks. Below 10*F or so, I'll put a thin liner under that. Below zero, I switch to platform pedals and wear high top leather thinsulate lined hunting boots (buy them when deer season starts up shortly, they're pretty cheap then).

    On my head, I use a sort of poly tube thing I got from Nashbar; it's open on both ends, and it can make a gaiter or come up for a sort of a balaclava. When it gets colder, I switch to a fleece balaclava. Down around 5*F or so I'll throw a scarf on to give my neck a little extra warmth.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    The upside of cycling shoes like road shoes or mtb shoes like these is that you can pretty easily get toe or shoe covers. The shoes are expensive, though, and the shoe covers are expensive too. This is almost only for someone who insists on a clip-in ("clipless") pedal/shoe system.

    With your current shoes, you can wear plastic baggies over your toes or over your whole foot. The only problem with that is the plastic may often tear and you might have to keep replacing them. Not an expensive problem but annoying.

    You can also just get some waterproof or otherwise windproof socks and add them to your current shoes.

    If you use base layer pants, try what you already have but if you are buying something new, get something with some spandex woven in. REI's synthetic underwear is like 7% spandex and it allows freedom of movement.

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    One speed: FAST ! fordfasterr's Avatar
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    I'm a tall commuter when I ride my tall bike.
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    Will cargo pants be too restrictive, or should I go with nylon windpants? Should I use a windbreaker over multiple other layers, or go with a heavier jacket?

  10. #10
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by g33k View Post
    Should I use a windbreaker over multiple other layers, or go with a heavier jacket?
    Layers, always layers.

    This allows flexibility as you warm up from exertion. Removing a layer lets you balance cooling and heat retention across the whole body.

    With a single heavy jacket, all you can do is unzip the front, so you get a cold chest and a sweaty back. Not good.

    I use a windbreaker over layers all the way down to 4°F. Hasn't gotten colder than that in the past two winters, so I don't know how much colder I can go with the combo.

    Edit: Look at my avatar. That photo was taken last February, and the temp was around 25°F as I recall. I rode about 35 miles that day. I'm wearing a baselayer, long-sleeve wicking t-shirt and my BikeForums.net Great Lakes Region short-sleeve jersey. The three layers on my torso keep me warm. The two layers on my arms allow for some cooling so I don't overheat.

    Commuting, a short-sleeve t-shirt, business shirt, and windbreaker would give the same coverage, and in fact, that's what I wear on top in winter commuting.
    Last edited by tsl; 09-30-08 at 12:58 PM.
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  11. #11
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    I will chime in at 6'6" but much heavier cyclist. For my rides when it is 40-50 degrees out I normally wear a pair of knickers with or without padded cycling shorts underneath them, wool socks, long sleeve smartwool shirt, long sleeve wool cycling jersey, and then over it sometimes another long sleeve jersey or a light jacket. The outer jacket and the wool cycling jersey have zippers so I can regulate the amount of warmth I have as I start to ride. For even colder conditions I will wear tights underneath the knickers or my winter bibs. For the upper body I stay with the smartwool, long sleeve wool jersey, and then add a long sleeve windproof wool jacket. I have really only felt cold on a few occasions and it is mostly my feet or my hands. I only wear a 14-15 shoe and normally wear MTB shoes (Sidi). Even with shoe covers and wool socks my feet get cold. This year I am really thinking about buying a set of Winter boots like the Lake's.

  12. #12
    Senior Member capejohn's Avatar
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    Nothing special. Long johns and wool socks work fine.
    Bike riding Northern gentleman.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Grim's Avatar
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    http://www.nashbar.com/ is having fall clothing sale.

    Layers

    Most sporting goods stores will have "under armor" "cold guard" or similar. Thats a good start. Keeps the moisture out keeps the heat in. Then a slightly loose layer over it. Some bike pants will have a wind breaker material on the fronts of the legs but conventional fabrics on the back to help evaporate moisture.
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  14. #14
    n00b M. Rhoten's Avatar
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    I have had really good luck with running tights. They are un-padded, so you can layer them effectively over a pair of cycling shorts. Anything below about 40-45F and I'm glad I have something covering my knees.

    In the 30s you may want to get an inexpensive skull cap to wear under your helmet. This will save an incredible amount of heat, so you may have to stop to strip it off if you get hot.

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    I'm 6'3" with ape arms. Only piece of clothing I own that fits me correctly is my latest purchase from Lou at www.foxwear.net. He was awesome!! Custom made jacket that is designed for cyclo commuting in Colorado that is the same price (actually probably cheaper) than anything commercial I could find. I also had him make me a pair of socks that will cut the wind (my toes are wimpy and seem to be the one thing that I struggle keeping warm).

    I suspect I'll get either some tights or pants of some sort from him soon too...maybe some arm warmers. His work is top notch and I'm just so excited to have something that actually fits me length-wise that does not assume I also have a large circumfrence!!

  16. #16
    cyclist
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    Shoes... An investment to concider is clipless pedals and shoes. Granted thats a chunk of change, but its better for biking and then you get options of a whole bunch of shoe covers.
    I the mean time, long underwear and wool socks. Bike shops should have cheap elastic bands for your ankles. The problem with cotton (cargo pants, I'm assuming) is when it gets wet, it tends to stay wet and remove heat from you. In real bad conditions, cotton can be dangerous. When getting long underwear avoid cotton of any amount. Depending on where your at, farm supply stores (tractor supply, farm and fleet, etc) have synthetic long undewear for cheap. Target and generic sports stores often have them as well.
    Scott

  17. #17
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Don't forget a balaclava or neck tube. Gotta keep the neck and ears covered.

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  18. #18
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    my favorite item of cold weather apparel is wool long underwear.

    http://www.icebike.org/ - great advice for cold weather riding.

  19. #19
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    Folks, you are either missing the part where he said he wears a US16/17 size shoe, or have never shopped for such. That is somwhere around an Eu-56. Shimano shoes? It is to laugh! I wear "only" a 14 and had to wait a decade for clipless shoes to appear in my size. Even Today. there are only a couple three options available to me in SPD compatable shoes, and I haven't seen anything larger than a 14 at all. Sidi seems to be your best bet. Good luck.

    FWIW the windproof toe covers do help a lot. The mesh of a ventillated shoe becomes insulation if you can block the wind. You might need to cut the heel strap and add an extension. These probably won't wear well under straps or toe clips though. (clipless is likely not an option in this shoe size) If you can sew, or know a seamstress, it wouldn't be to hard to make shoe covers out of nylon.

    You might look for some leather basketball shoes. I had a pair of leather Converse for a while, and they were nearly useless for basketball, as they were too hot. I think they were either intended for use on outdoor playground courts in the winter, or just for urban fashion. Anyhow, as I am sure you are aware, basketball shoes are the easiest of all shoes to find in large sizes.

  20. #20
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    I'm 6'4" 185, so perhaps like me you have a hard time finding jackets with long enough sleeves. As a workaround, consider gloves with a long cuff so you don't have that gap around your wrists for cold air to get in. Ski gloves often have pull-straps so you can cinch the cuffs tight.

  21. #21
    Goathead Magnet aley's Avatar
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    I'm 6'5", 240 lbs., so I have some of the same fit issues as the OP (although my shoes are only an 11 - and no, it's not true what they say about people with big hands and feet!) I've got a Gore Bike Wear jacket that I bought several years ago that has the longest sleeves of any jacket I've ever owned - they're almost too long for me, and that's never happened before. It's cut for somebody skinnier than I, although it does fine if I'm OK with the sausage casing look. Under that is a short sleeve jersey, and under that is a long sleeve polypropylene shirt from REI when it drops below 45 or so. When it's below perhaps 25 I also layer a down vest under the jacket.

    For pants, I like cycling tights with no chamois, which I wear over padded cycling shorts. This gives me flexibility to take off the tights mid-ride, and cuts down on the number of tights I have to own since I don't feel compelled to wash them quite as often as something with a chamois. When it gets below freezing, I typically layer a set of polypropylene long underwear (which are cut almost exactly like the tights) and a pair of over-the-calf wool socks made for skiing. I wear Shimano mountain shoes, but as another poster pointed out, these are likely to be difficult to find in your size. Maybe Thinsulate-lined boots and platform pedals would do the trick for you.

  22. #22
    Subjectively Insane MilitantPotato's Avatar
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    I'm 6'8" 230lbs.
    I don't wear much bicycle specific clothing.

    My winter gear thusfar, that has worked well in ~25F weather:
    Windbreaker jacket $40
    Waterproof Jacket $60(Columbia Thunderstorm II) New this year
    Waterproof pants $25 on sale (Columbia Thunderstorm) New this year
    Skii gloves $??(wind/waterproof, with liner)
    Leg warmers $30?
    Wicking sports T-shirt from target (~$15)
    Cotton thermal long sleeve shirt
    Two fleece jackets. One mid, one light wight.
    Coleman m2105 size 16 waterproof insulated hiking boots ($40-70.) They're low enough to not mess with my ankles, but high enough for my pants to slide over.
    Neck gaitor ~$5 (need a thicker one)
    Cycling cap ~$20
    Whool/synth blend socks, $5 from wallyworld.


    I need a balaclava for colder days, and some form of fleece tights (nashbar has some I'm eyeing,) and maybe some wind pants for days it's not wet.

    The shoes I got from Casual Male, but they're all I could find selling in my size locally, everything else was bought on-line. The outer layers I buy Two sizes too big, fleece jackets I bought one size too big.
    You've got a bike, so you gotta move.

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