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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 10-06-04, 10:34 AM   #1
Hemlock
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Cold (not very) weather gear

I have a question about what kind of gear you use to stay warm and dry in the winter. Not you ice/sleet/snow guys, that's way too hardcore! I live in Florida. . . When it does get cold here, it is still quite humid. This makes the cold seem to cut through me more. Any recomendations for a jacket and tights for this climate?
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Old 10-06-04, 10:47 AM   #2
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If its not raining, then use a windproof jacket over a long-sleeved jersey. Windproofs are cheaper, more comfortable and will save wear and tear on a breathable waterproof.
Microfibre windproofs (polyester or nylon) are good.
For leggings then if you want the cycling-look, then any long or over-knee leggings will do. Very few are made for arctic conditions. Unpadded ones are worn over shorts and can be used without daily washing.
Full gloves, a neck-warmer tube and winter shoes with woolen socks will keep your extremities warm. Winter shoes should be a looser fit and have non-mesh material.
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Old 10-06-04, 11:20 AM   #3
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Either way (windproof/breathable or wind&waterproof/breathable), make sure they have pit zips. Even windproof gets hot and it's crucial to be able to vent. Same for pants if you get windproof/breathable or wind&waterproof/breathable. Vents of some kind, like side zippers.
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Old 10-06-04, 12:57 PM   #4
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Hemlock,
I live in New Orleans so our climates are about the same. Because we have so little, my first year or two of commuting I over dressed for cold weather before I kind of got things dialed in. Here's more or less my "cold" weather regimen. You guys from Minnesota don't laugh!
60 and below - keep knees warm with knee warmers or knickers
As needed add arm warmers
As needed add chest warmth. This could be a fleece vest which provides chest protection while allowing some air circulation, avoiding perspiration. But I have found that even a fleece vest causes some back perspiration so what I actually do is use rectangles of fleece material under my jersey for torso warmth. Kind of like the pros stick newspapers under their vests to prepare for a cold descent. This seems perfect. Keeping the front warm without causing perspiration in the back. I add layers as needed. Once I get to 3 layers it is time for the fleece vest and layers as needed.

If it seems too cool for a fleece vest and a couple of the fleece layers I add a wind vest.

The beauty of the fleece fabric layers is that if you start getting warm you can just pull one out and stick it in a jersey pocket to avoid overheating. It is better to be a little cool than to overheat and perspire which could cause a chill.

My legs are pretty much fine with the knicks, though if it gets below freezing I add layers of the same fleece fabric in front of my knees under the knicks. Again, works great keeping knees warm without causing perspiration. All last year it did not get cold enough to need tights. The lower legs just don't feel the cold very much at, say, 30F.
For hands I was lucky enough to pick up some waterproof fleece gloves and convertable mitts, the kind that flip back off the fingers if needed. These are great. I got oversized ones so I can wear them over cycling gloves.

In cooler weather I also always keep my goretex rain jacket in a pannier in case I have to change a flat or if it turns out to be colder than I thought. It's not good to get warm then have to stop in the cold for a while to change a flat. I have pulled it out a couple of times when I made a turn and found myself facing a cold headwind.

Hope this helps.
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Old 10-06-04, 01:03 PM   #5
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I was going to add this to the above reply but decided to post it separately. If anyone is intested, campmor.com has lightweight varitherm tights for $7.97. Varitherm is a very effective wicking fabric very similar to coolmax. I have a couple of lightweight long sleeve varitherm t-shirts I use in cooler weather. I forgot to mention them above. I forgot to mention that I add them somewhere along the way when arm warmers alone are not quite enough.
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Old 10-07-04, 06:01 AM   #6
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Thanks for the info RainmanP. I was unsure how much "wind blocking" I'd need before it just got me to riding in my own personal sauna.
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Old 10-07-04, 06:47 AM   #7
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Hemlock,
To me the fleece is just about perfect for our climate. A yard costs about $5 and makes a bunch of rectangles, which only need to be about 12x15inches or so. The fleece provides a good combination of wind blocking and insulation while allowing some air penetration to keep you dry. And as I said, works on knees, too. Just little pieces about 5x7. The fleece in front of torso actually feels nice and cozy without being stuffy. I always wear a wicking t-shirt under my jersey, summer or winter, so the fleece is not actually against my skin. I also wear bibs all the time, whether shorts or knicks. I make the fleece rectangles wide enough to tuck under the bibs with an inch or two extending beyond the suspenders. This keeps them securely in place.
FWIW,
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Old 10-07-04, 07:37 AM   #8
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The main trick, as rainman says, is to figure out exactly how much you need to wear in a given situation. (Seems I have to re-learn this one every fall). Agree on the fleece and wicking undergarments; a wicking t-shirt is so much better than cotton one, simply because you don't freeze from your sweat.
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Old 10-07-04, 09:56 AM   #9
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I usually wear a t-shirt and bike shorts. I think I'll look into a wicking type shirt for the cold season. If all works well, I may consider a real jersey after that. Do they really offer a whole lot of benefit over a t-shirt? I have no comfort complaints with my current attire. I also don't like the idea of looking like the full on roadie. Or at least a bit more understated, not quite so sci-fi.
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Old 10-07-04, 10:37 AM   #10
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I really like jerseys because of the convenient pockets and wicking fabrics. Even if you don't go with a real jersey, at least get wicking t-shirts like coolmax, varitherm, hydroduct which are similar fabrics. They are all polyesters just different fiber shapes. Sierratradingpost.com and campmor.com often have very good prices on such things, especially on clearance, like coolmax t-shirts for $6-10 that are the same as other places sell for $25-30. I may have some unopened spares that I picked up cheap that I will make you a deal on, both short and long sleeves. You can email me if you like.
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Old 10-08-04, 05:41 AM   #11
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It's been cool and damp for the past few mornings here in Atlanta and I've worn a base layer undershirt ($6 from STP) under my s/s jersey. Arm warmers too.

The key to staying warm is to dress in layers. That way you can peel something off if you get too warm.

If you're too warm when you leave the house, you're wearing too much.
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Old 10-08-04, 02:57 PM   #12
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I switched to all wool and other natural fabrics and much prefer that. I bought most of the bike specifics from Rivendell and they have served me well. I just got the wool leg warmers which I've used a few times and like a lot. I use wool tights as it gets cooler as well as a wool sweater. You really can't go wrong with wool for warmth and no funky synthetic smells.
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Old 10-09-04, 10:28 PM   #13
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does your wool products serve as insulation and/or a wind barrier? I'm thinking they'd be more for insulation and not so much to cut through the wind. Hopefully you'll prove me wrong...

Just trying to figure out my winter commuting attire (in NJ)
~ellis
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Old 10-10-04, 07:06 PM   #14
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I live in a sububurb of Atlanta, and I'm looking for some moderately cold weather AND BRIGHT gear. I probably won't be up for riding below 40F, so serious cold gear won't be needed. Anybody using Alert Shirt stuff? www.alertshirt.com It looks bright, has moisture wicking properties, and is available in short and long sleeves, sweatshirt, with and without reflective strips. Any experiences with this stuff?
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Old 10-10-04, 07:30 PM   #15
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So far I have been using arm warmers. I can peel them off after a few minutes when I warm up.

For really cold (so cal) weather I can't tell ya because I haven't done it yet. But when hiking I use polypropeline as a base layer, then layer other wicking fabrics on top. Peel them off as I warm up.

Layers is the key. Stay away from cotton.
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Old 10-10-04, 08:58 PM   #16
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I'm with Kodama, hard to beat wool. You can get it in different thickness & in tight or more open knits. An important characteristic for the type of weather you mentioned is that wool keeps you just as warm if it gets wet. That's why its so popular in our NorthWest maritime climate.
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Old 10-10-04, 09:11 PM   #17
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leg warmers? Sounds like a good idea. So like for the leg warmers how do you get those off once the commute is under way? Can't just drop your pants!

Edited: OK I see. They only can be worn with shorts or bibs!

Last edited by vrkelley; 10-10-04 at 09:23 PM.
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