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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 01-03-09, 01:10 PM   #26
LesterOfPuppets
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55 degrees for me. Sometimes I roll out in just shorts when it's only 50 or so in the morning.

My knees have made it to the ripe old age of 40 and endured tons of skateboarding and bikeriding with nary a problem.

I'm guessing there is some variance from person to person as to what would be the danger zone.

I can't imagine sub 45 being good for anyone on the planet.
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Old 01-03-09, 02:03 PM   #27
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Your brother was talking about runners who typically travel a long slower than cyclists. Factor wind chill into the equation and you might discover that 60F is closer to the right zone, not the 45 he indicated. Of course, I would subscribe to the "whatever works for you" theory... but in my case it's about 60F.
+1

And ... when you're running, the knees aren't sticking out into the wind like they are when you're cycling.



Dave is very young ... he doesn't know knee problems yet, and doesn't understand the importance of protecting the knees. Just wait till he gets into his 40s and 50s.
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Old 01-03-09, 02:22 PM   #28
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When you ride in cold temperatures maintaining a steady core temperature is crucial... whereas your legs are generally well insulated your knees are not and like your head, feet, and hands... is a place that one can lose body heat very quickly.

If you cannot keep your knees warm it is also very bad for the joint, muscles, and tendons.

I was riding in shorts until early December when the temperatures were in the 5C / 40F range but have some nice knee warmers and carry shell pants and additional leggings should the weather become too cold or if my activity level drops.

At 18C / 65F I don't feel any need to wear knee warmers.
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Old 01-03-09, 04:10 PM   #29
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One of the honchos in my bike club is always on me about protecting my knees, but I don't think he bares is legs at anything less than 65. Wimp.
I verified that this morning. Here he is putting on his leg warmers.... temps in the mid 60s.

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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 01-03-09, 06:44 PM   #30
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Just asked my brother who's a doctor and he says runners can safely wear shorts down to 40 and cyclists to 45. Suspected it must be in that area. When hiking, the temperature feels 20F warmer than standing, and cycling is more vigorous still, so probably more like a 25-30 degree difference running across, so 45 would feel like 70-75.
Sorry to disappoint you guys but I've talked with a qualified doctor, and the little "60-65" joke's over. I'd thought this was meant to be a sensible forum.
Dave,

Depending on the type of doctor your brother is he may not have an advanced knowledge in bio-mechanics and related issues. Most doctors are taught to diagnose pathology and are not experts in sports medicine type of issues unless they are a specialist which overlaps this field.

Also, as was probably stated in prior posts there is some variability here. For instance cyclist do exert much more stress on the knee and use it over a longer angular magnitude than do runners (unless they are sprinting, which is short duration). I have seen some recreational cyclist who are fine riding for an hour or so in shorts at 45 degrees. Others will experience pain in this condition and must have some kind of insulation on the knee at around 60 F. When you factor in time and wind chill on a bike the knees can become quite cold after an hour when it is below 60 degrees. This is what is generally recommended for professional cyclists who are often on a bike for 4-5 hours.

Now in your case where you are only on the bike for a few minutes it is probably not a big deal to wear shorts at 45 F as long as it doesn't cause you any problems or discomfort. However, if you are riding fast to school and doing some short sprints it can be hard on the knees if they are not warmed up first. But you are young which means that your body is more capable of dealing with this stress. I would not worry too much for the short time you are on the bike. Just use some common sense and you will be OK.

Last edited by Hezz; 01-10-09 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 01-04-09, 10:10 AM   #31
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My mother dated a bike messenger who apparently wore shorts all year round in Denver.
I'm assuming he wore knickers in the winter though.
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Old 01-09-09, 02:57 PM   #32
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. Can I have some more realistic answers please?
cant beleive i just read that... some guy posts a 'when should i wear shorts' question on the winter bike forum IN the middle of winter AND wants realistic answers! if you can just think of wearing shorts now: you are on the wrong forum.
ok, ok. my realistic answer is: in 4 months from now.
but wait, i wore shorts today! (over polar pants and insulated tights)
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Old 01-09-09, 04:34 PM   #33
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well if you want a realistic answer. if its above 35'F i consider shorts. its also cold as **** here. depending on where you call home the answer is always different. florida=60'f northern uinted states/canada= above freezing
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Old 01-10-09, 03:09 AM   #34
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It seems there's such a variety of answers from the minute it gets above freezing up to 70. There will always be differing opinions. If I go with when it causes knee pain to ride in shorts, that would set my lower limit at 40-45. i have ridden in them when it's been quite cold before for several hours and not had any knee pain at all. A lot of cyclists I've spoken to in England seem to think 45. Yesterday's high was only 36 and last night, it got down to 17 (abnormally cold for where I live, and the coldest all year). It's still in the 20's, so I won't be wearing shorts for a while.
That said, I do have long cargo shorts which partially cover the knee. Sometimes, I have tried feeling under the knee. There's perspiration, so even the joint must be getting warm.
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Old 01-10-09, 01:48 PM   #35
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depending on where you call home the answer is always different. florida=60'f northern uinted states/canada= above freezing
I'm from Canada (the cold side of the prairies), and my answer is above 65F. Yes, I wear tights, leg warmers, or knee warmers most of the year.
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Old 01-12-09, 05:36 AM   #36
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45F. That's my final cutoff.
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Old 01-12-09, 09:02 AM   #37
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i have ridden in them when it's been quite cold before for several hours and not had any knee pain at all.
I'm sure people with lung cancer didn't feel the pain when they started smoking either. Just because you don't feel pain does not mean you are not doing damage.

Anyways, it doesn't appear you came here for an answer, you already had your mind made up, and just wanted confirmation, which pretty much everyone who responded disagreed with your assessment. But go ahead and wear shorts till you feel pain, then stop. Its a simple concept and I'm sure will serve you well.
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Old 01-12-09, 10:05 AM   #38
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Here's a nice chart on wind chill:
http://www.weather.gov/os/windchill/index.shtml

At 40F, a 20mph wind feels like 30F. factoring that into your brother/doctors comment, I'd say 45-50F is a reasonable cutoff for shorts on a bike. From my experience, low 50's in a bib (which is minimal warmth) was chilly when stopped and I would have preferred something a little warmer (especially in the crotch). If your shorts are a warmer material, that could make a big difference. Maybe a knicker that goes past the knee is a good idea.
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Old 01-12-09, 11:49 AM   #39
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I did some googling and looked in my exercise physiology book and found ZERO support that knees need to be covered in cool temperatures. I even found one study that suggested that keeping hard working knees COOL may be beneficial. (reduces negative enzymatic activity)

Found one 'bike expert' site that said he had heard the idea but it was baseless.

This whole idea really took me by surprise as I've been reading about many other sports for 30+yrs and never seen this concept. I believe this is bike-specific folklore that came from one unsubstantiated authoritative statement from a high-influence coach. I could be proven wrong by one good pubmed reference, though.

Analogy to cigarrette smoking or whatever are nonsense unless the cold knee hypothesis is supported by the same immense body of evidence as the tobacco-cancer connection is.

My answer to the OP is stop wearing shorts when your bare skin HURTS from the windchill.
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Old 01-13-09, 06:10 AM   #40
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Thanks bcbcbc for your sense talk. I have had enough joke posts on here to make me rather annoyed
I will work on preventing "negative enzymatic activity"
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Old 01-13-09, 12:36 PM   #41
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Thanks bcbcbc for your sense talk. I have had enough joke posts on here to make me rather annoyed
I will work on preventing "negative enzymatic activity"
Well, I certainly DO NOT share your attitude toward the other posters. I didn't see a post that I thought was not well intentioned and based on honest belief, logical thinking or admitted personal opinion. I'm happy to be exposed to this new idea and will keep an open mind toward any objective scientific evidence I may have missed in a brief search.
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Old 01-13-09, 02:46 PM   #42
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There is no "one size fits all" answer to this question. It definetly depends a lot on your ability to tolerate cold and being able to tolerate cold is both genetic and adaptive. I've spent a lot of time cycling through very cold winters and have worked in the field in northern Alberta, Nunavut and NWT in the winter and during that time, I've seen a huge variance in what people can tolerate (for example, I worked with one Inuit dude who didn't need a toque (hat) when it was -20c, said it made him way too hot).

I don't even need to think about goggles/balaclavas above -15c, but I know people who can't function without them below 5c. When it comes to shorts, depending on what I've been doing all winter, sometimes I feel I need knee warmers when its 10c and sometimes I can survive without them at lower temps than 10c. Its all about what you feel you're comfortable with.
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Old 01-13-09, 03:29 PM   #43
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I did some googling and looked in my exercise physiology book and found ZERO support that knees need to be covered in cool temperatures. I even found one study that suggested that keeping hard working knees COOL may be beneficial. (reduces negative enzymatic activity)

Found one 'bike expert' site that said he had heard the idea but it was baseless.

This whole idea really took me by surprise as I've been reading about many other sports for 30+yrs and never seen this concept. I believe this is bike-specific folklore that came from one unsubstantiated authoritative statement from a high-influence coach. I could be proven wrong by one good pubmed reference, though.

Analogy to cigarrette smoking or whatever are nonsense unless the cold knee hypothesis is supported by the same immense body of evidence as the tobacco-cancer connection is.

My answer to the OP is stop wearing shorts when your bare skin HURTS from the windchill.

I know info found on the Internet can't be taken as gospel, but I haven't been able to find much scientific info one way or the other. There are plenty of references to cycling coaches and such recommending cyclists cover their knees below 65 or 70. One reference said there was a German coach who did this back in the 1960's which leads me to believe this recommendation doesn't come from the field of sports medicine.

There are a few reasons I'm skeptical. Has anyone actually studied the temperature difference underneath the skin while cycling without leg warmers at 50 degrees and cycling with leg warmers? My guess is that it ain't much. If a little lycra can make the surface of your skin feel warmer at 50, your skin is probably enough to keep the working bits of your knee warm, especially since there's warm blood circulating through there.

Further, has anyone studied how the mechanisms of the knee react to temperature changes between riding with leg warmers and without at 50?
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Old 01-13-09, 05:29 PM   #44
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Thanks bcbcbc for your sense talk. I have had enough joke posts on here to make me rather annoyed
I will work on preventing "negative enzymatic activity"

I have read most of the posts in this thread and haven't noticed any "joke posts". If that's the way you feel, perhaps you had better not post here.
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Old 01-17-09, 02:07 PM   #45
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Is there a temperature below which I absolutely mustn't cycle in shorts, even if it's going to warm up later? I don't really like wearing trousers (though I'm cycling in them now, because it is below freezing at night and only upper-mid 30's during the day), e.g. if it's 40 degrees, can I cycle to college (1.5 miles) in shorts, if it will be 55 on the return trip, or do I need to be a bit more patient?
Get a pair of fleece pants http://www.hudsontrail.com/viewSearc...Any/Any/200/0/

They are like gym pants. I will wear a pair of athletic shorts under them. I will also wear a pair of wool socks, a t-shirt, sweater, reflective jacket and, ski gloves.
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Old 01-19-09, 01:44 PM   #46
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Just asked my brother who's a doctor and he says runners can safely wear shorts down to 40 and cyclists to 45. Suspected it must be in that area. When hiking, the temperature feels 20F warmer than standing, and cycling is more vigorous still, so probably more like a 25-30 degree difference running across, so 45 would feel like 70-75.
Sorry to disappoint you guys but I've talked with a qualified doctor, and the little "60-65" joke's over. I'd thought this was meant to be a sensible forum.
Speaking of sensible, whatever happened to plain common sense? If you are comfortable, wear shorts. If you are uncomfortable wear something warmer.
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