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Old 10-27-08, 09:09 PM   #1
mikejody
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What to Wear in Winter

Greetings, I'm from Ohio and want to begin biking. Our temperatures right now are in the mid 30's with winds up to 15 MPH. How do you stay warm when biking without wearing your winter Parka?
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Old 10-27-08, 09:15 PM   #2
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There's a Winter Forum here ... have a look:

http://www.bikeforums.net/winter-cycling/

And BTW - it's all about layers.
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Old 10-28-08, 06:43 AM   #3
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Winter forum is the way to go but I will give you a few suggestions because you asked.

1. Layers
2. Wicking Base Layer
3. Breathable Top Layers
4. Wind Breakeresque shell (water resistant if necessary).

I went with some gear from EMS and have been very happy with it, all through the winter in CNY last year.
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Old 10-28-08, 08:04 AM   #4
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No cotton!!!
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Old 10-28-08, 08:10 AM   #5
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No cotton!!!
+ 1000

Also check the Commuting forum for suggestions on what to wear.
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Old 10-28-08, 08:11 AM   #6
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My search is for what will keep you warm at 35, yet light enough; you can easily start peeling off layers as it warms to 55 ..
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Old 10-28-08, 08:29 AM   #7
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I just discovered how wonderful arm warmers can be.

I just picked some up from Nashbar and I really like them. They can be removed and shoved in a jersey pocket without even stopping the bike. They offer a suprizing amount of insulation considering how light they are.

For the budget minded- In the "hunting" section of my local Wal-Mart I picked up a couple pairs of insulated leggings. These were designed to be worn under long pants by hunters but they work fine for cycling as well and they cost less than 1/3 of what "real" cycling tights do. The ones I got were Remington brand and they are fine to ride in with just a pair of athletic shorts thrown on over them.

Gloves! I splurged on a pair of "split mitten" style bike gloves from the LBS (about $50 but well worth it). They come with removable liners and they appear to be abrasion resistant although I haven't tested them out in a crash yet. The "split mitten" design keeps your fiingers warmer that 5 fingered gloves but allows normal operation of brake levers. Good stuff.
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Old 10-28-08, 03:11 PM   #8
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I don't live in nearly as cold of an area as you, but I am a skinny, "cold-natured" person, and will echo those who recommend layers. Ditto the arm warmers, and leg warmers are very important, too. My knees feel cold the quickest, followed soon by my hands.

Assos products may be beyond the budgets of many, but their website and catalog are very informative regarding layers and the various garments suited to different temperature levels. Even down here in coastal Texas, it can get windy and cold suddenly, if not as cold as Ohio, and I highly value my Assos Roubaix bib tights, which are knicker-length, covering my knees. (USA definition of knicker, not European) Colder climates and longer rides may indicate full-length bibs/tights.

When layering, don't forget a wind-blocking layer on the outside. Some stuff that is quite warm in still air is not wind-proof.
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Old 10-29-08, 08:05 AM   #9
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Ditto the above, I'm in Columbus OH, rode yesterday in upper 30's, windchill around 30. Wicking tee, fleece pullover (med weight), ski parka with pit zips light insulation. Pants: BDU's, these are great for cycling if you're not going spandex as they are 65% poly (wick and dry quick), and have built in ankle straps (boot blouse straps) that tie the ankle tight and keep it out of chains way. Having little hair left a silk balaclava under the helmet (also keeps the wind out of the ears and off of the neck). Actually started with the helmet cover on too but pulled it after getting warmed up. Summer riding gloves (mesh, padded, fingerless) with GI wool glove liners over them. Stayed comfortable and dry at light/moderate riding for me (it was a light ride day).

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Old 10-29-08, 08:17 AM   #10
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Don't forget about the especial vulnerability of extremities: hands, fingers, ears. As Machka mentioned, there's a world of conversation elsewhere on BF on this matter. Remember that half of us have one additional extremity to deal with, so have a care if that applies. Mind also the advice on layering. You'll often find that after a few vigorous minutes in the saddle your "furnace" is really turned up and you'll be sweating.
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Old 10-29-08, 06:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
My search is for what will keep you warm at 35, yet light enough; you can easily start peeling off layers as it warms to 55 ..
I consider a windbreaker essential. Mine happens to have been made by Trek. It's a windproof shell, and nothing else. Saw something similar by Pearl Izumi. I wear a size large shirt, and extra large works just fine for this.

Unlike the rest of the crowd, I don't do well with synthetics against the skin in winter. Skin gets way too dry, and sometimes developes into a rash. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 10-30-08, 05:19 AM   #12
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My search is for what will keep you warm at 35, yet light enough; you can easily start peeling off layers as it warms to 55 ..
For me 35-55 doesn't require much in the way of peeling off layers. I can tolerate tights and a long sleeved jersey in the full range with the need for a windbreaker at the lower end of the range. As it warms up to 55 unzipping the windbreaker is usually enough, but I might take it off and stuff it in a jersey pocket.

As the temperature drop lower (below 32) I add a layer on top or use a heavier jersey. That is adequate down to at least 20 unless I need to be standing around in the cold. If the shoes have a lot of mesh, shoe covers are needed as it gets much below freezing.

Last edited by staehpj1; 10-30-08 at 05:24 AM.
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Old 10-30-08, 07:14 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by mikejody View Post
Greetings, I'm from Ohio and want to begin biking. Our temperatures right now are in the mid 30's with winds up to 15 MPH. How do you stay warm when biking without wearing your winter Parka?
Cold-weather bicycling clothes are always synthetic (or sometimes wool). Additionally, the outer-most layer is usually made with "wind breaker" type fabric covering the front surfaces, but is just regular fleece on the back sides.

The good news is that you can ride quite comfortably in very cold weather with the right clothes. Back a few years ago when I had the clothes for it, I was going out riding the MTB when it was ~20 F (-6 C) and the only part of me that got cold was the tip of my nose. I did have some ski goggles; my eyes are pretty sensitive to rushing air and especially COLD rushing air.

You mustn't wear ANYTHING that is cotton at all--not underwear, not even socks. Cotton absorbs sweat and then gets COLD. When I was out riding I would feel the sweat dripping down my back, but the synthetic fabrics don't get cold when they get wet from that.

You may find cheaper fleece shirts and pants at the sports department store, but these won't work well for bicycling use. They aren't cut long enough to fit properly when you're leaned over forward on a bicycle, and they leave your lower back exposed.

You don't need a lot of clothes either--an outer layer, a thin and a thicker inner layer, in both tops & bottoms. Over-sock booties will help feet your feet warmer, and then some gloves and head wear (and all these should be 100% synthetic). A gore-tex rain cover over a regular bicycling helmet will eliminate the usual wind chill, and you'll be wearing a thin balaclava or skull cap under the helmet as well.

Ski goggles are the best-vented goggles I ever found that work in the cold, and you can find them for $20 a pair. Ski goggles are double-lens (they use two lenses with dehumidified air sealed in-between, like thermal windows have) which means that they will not fog or frost up. Any single-lens goggles aren't going to work in sub-freezing temps.

Normally you will be fairly cold just standing around, but when you get on the bike and are moving, you will warm up some. The sensation is rather odd, you don't really get "too hot" if you are over-dressed, you just tend to sweat more. Which definitely has consequences of its own, but it's not what you are really expecting the first time.

-----

I kinda lost interest in cold riding, and have since moved to recumbents, which are not as easy to handle in poor traction situations.
...Plus I am eventually moving to a low desert, and hope to never see snow darken my doorstep again.

But you can comfortably go riding in very cold weather, if you have the right clothes for it.
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Last edited by Doug5150; 10-30-08 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 10-30-08, 11:38 AM   #14
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Just experiment and see what works. When exerting, it can help to have rather porous clothing, rather than plastic-bag-type clothing, which is not necessarily what you'd pick to stay warm otherwise. Consider mittens as opposed to gloves. Consider platform pedals with warm footwear of your choice. Try short rides, and go longer. Start when it's cool and work your way into "cold". Check the forecast.

One of the challenges I found while snowshoeing in years past was that with the layering method, it was hard to tote enough clothes to layer up and back down for all the conditions you'd face.
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Old 10-30-08, 07:04 PM   #15
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Just experiment and see what works. When exerting, it can help to have rather porous clothing, rather than plastic-bag-type clothing, which is not necessarily what you'd pick to stay warm otherwise. Consider mittens as opposed to gloves. Consider platform pedals with warm footwear of your choice. Try short rides, and go longer. Start when it's cool and work your way into "cold". Check the forecast.

One of the challenges I found while snowshoeing in years past was that with the layering method, it was hard to tote enough clothes to layer up and back down for all the conditions you'd face.
Snowshoeing? Tried it once, and that was the only time I had problems getting drenched in sweat in that kind of weather. That was a workout.
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Old 10-30-08, 08:45 PM   #16
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Well, I'd go out and it was maybe 25 degrees. I'd go up a steepish slope, out of the wind, in the sun, with sun reflecting off the snow, and I could have been sweating if I was naked (not that I tried snowshoeing naked, mind you). Then I'd get 5 miles up the trail, and sit down in the shade by a frozen lake with the wind whistling across the lake, with my inner layer sweaty, and put on every stitch of clothes in my backpack trying to keep warm. And yes, it was a workout; I'd normally average about 1 mph on fresh snow. This was on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park, where snow cover is not usually that heavy.
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Old 11-01-08, 08:09 AM   #17
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+1 for Assos gear, the best.
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