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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 10-10-10, 05:38 AM   #1
billmc40
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Winter Ride Help

I have noticed that when it is 60 degrees out you stay perty warm while moving. Since I really love to ride my bike, I am wanting to comtinue to ride this winter and keep losing some weight or at least not put any back on. I plan on riding mainly on the weekeneds and only if it is dry. I am so confused over what to buy. I am in Kansas and proballly more then likely won't ride below 35 degrees and and only when dry. I have learn from this summer's heat I need to wear bike shorts, so I dont want to go with out them or pants. I have heard everything from go to Wal-Mart and buy under armour tights to wear over the shorts to pants so please help me.
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Old 10-10-10, 09:00 AM   #2
xtrajack
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I ride all year round in the state of Maine, down to about 0 F, I don't have any bike specific clothing. I wear long underwear in the colder temps. If you aren't planning to ride below 35 degrees, I would think that you would be okay with almost anything over your shorts. I find that at around 35 degrees I need to wear my 180's earmuffs and my leather insulated gloves (unless it is raining, then i go with my wind/waterproof gloves), my ears get cold and my fingers get cold. Other than that I am okay with regular clothing.

I have found that in the winter after about the first mile or so, I have plenty of heat. YMMV
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Old 10-10-10, 10:04 AM   #3
tsl
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If you're going to ride only above freezing and in the dry, there isn't an awful lot you have to do.

You already know you make your own heat. that's half the battle right there. It helps if you think, not of keeping warm, but of managing heat and sweat. The idea is to remain cool enough that sweat does not become an issue. In that regard, cycling at 10F is no different than cycling at 110F. The difference is that you'll want to retain some heat.

The general principle is to underdress slightly, then use the heat generated by pedaling to keep warm. The standard advice is that when you step outside, you should feel a chill. If not, you're already dressed too warm.

Then, you should feel cool for the first two or three miles. If you warm up before that, you're dressed too warm.

In low, yet above-freezing temps, starting from the top, I use a cycling skullcap under my helmet.

I don't own any long-sleeve jerseys. Instead, I'll wear one or two long-sleeved wicking t-shirts under a regular jersey. Add armwarmers as needed.

Alternatively, on my commute, I wear a cycling-specific jacket over a single wicking long-sleeved t-shirt. Cycling-specific jackets have are cut to fit when you're riding the hoods and drops, with gorilla-length sleeves, a shaped neck, and a long tail. They also have extra venting options. Most have at least pit zips that open and a rear vent.

There are four things I look for when buying tights.
  1. Wind-front tights. Plain tights only seem to filter the breeze as it passes through them.
  2. No pad. I wear them over my shorts. This way, not only do I have a double layer for the boys, but I don't have to wash tights after every ride.
  3. Bib-tights are a must for comfort. Two sets of elastic waistbands squeezing the same place makes it uncomfortable for me. I don't mind regular shorts, but I can only wear bib tights.
  4. Contoured or articulated knee. Particularly when layering (below-freezing), this helps prevent binding across the kneecap, and bunching in the back.
If cycling only occasionally, and only above freezing, you can probably get away without numbers three and four. Nashbar makes some inexpensive windfront tights.

I also use wind-front gloves. Cannondale makes nice ones--their Slice glove. Around the mid-20s is where I change to double-gloving. I wear regular summer-weight long-finger gloves inside a larger pair of wind-front gloves.

On the feet, there are two things to consider about your regular summer cycling shoes.
  1. They're designed to keep your feet cool. You have to work against their design to keep your feet warm.
  2. You probably have a nice, snug fit. This eliminates the possibility of wearing extra or thicker socks. It's the extra air space that keeps your feet warm. Compress that out, and you get cold feet. Plus, extra socks inside tight shoes compresses the blood vessels that supply heat to your feet. Double whammy.
I advise a second pair of cycling shoes for winter. Above freezing you'll certainly be able to get by with a cheaper (read: less well ventilated) three-season shoe, a size or two larger to accommodate warmer socks, then booties to keep the wind and wet out.

Going below freezing, then into the single-digits requires more stuff, and some different stuff, but the principle remains the same, managing heat and sweat.

Last edited by tsl; 10-10-10 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 10-10-10, 10:34 AM   #4
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Easy to do - even with regular clothing.

Stuff I like to use:

extra long hooded sweatshirt - more length to cover your rear and longer sleeves

skull cap with ear covers - wear under helmet when it's below 20F

wind pants/joggers pants - the cheap ones at target or something

long john shirts - under t-shirts for warmth

That's about all I use. You can wear basically anything, just don't overdress and end up sweaty.
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Old 10-10-10, 07:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billmc40 View Post
I have noticed that when it is 60 degrees out you stay perty warm while moving. Since I really love to ride my bike, I am wanting to comtinue to ride this winter and keep losing some weight or at least not put any back on. I plan on riding mainly on the weekeneds and only if it is dry. I am so confused over what to buy. I am in Kansas and proballly more then likely won't ride below 35 degrees and and only when dry. I have learn from this summer's heat I need to wear bike shorts, so I dont want to go with out them or pants. I have heard everything from go to Wal-Mart and buy under armour tights to wear over the shorts to pants so please help me.
BillMc
You can get by with cheap everyday clothing if you are riding short rides and not sweating much. However, if you are getting sweaty and riding far enough away from home to not easily be able to walk home you need to dress properly. You will be most comfortable if you buy a Goretex or equivalent cycling jacket and some medium weight winter cycling tights. I would stay away from non-cycling tights. They do not perform properly while cycling. An inexpensive helmet cover and cycling specific skull cap are nice to have. For most people, when it gets down around freezing the feet and hands are the hardest thing to keep warm on rides over 20-30 minutes in length.

Unfortunately, cycling jackets are not real cheap and start at around 110 USD for one that will work well. Though sometimes you can get them for less on sale. Medium weight winter cycling tights start at around 40-50 USD. You can layer cheaper discount clothing or things you already have under the cycling jacket.
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