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  1. #1
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    Must have cycling specific winter clothing question.

    Looking for the must have cycling specific winter gear. I can find all kinds of reviews and layering tips. But I am on a budget. I can't buy an awesome full set all at once. I don't need a cycle coat of the bat or lake boots. I can use normal winter gear. If you had to pick one or two must haves that are cycle specific what would they be? Thermal bib tights? Gloves? I Will eventually build it all up but I'm just starting my cold weather gear. Where should I start?

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    My experience is that a wind jacket is the first thing to get. It allows the under layers to do what they're supposed to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doctor j View Post
    My experience is that a wind jacket is the first thing to get. It allows the under layers to do what they're supposed to do.
    Yeah, windproof jacket and gloves were the most important to me as well. Keep your core warm, and your hands are the most exposed to the wind out front (or perhaps it's the thinness of the fingers and distance away from the heart - whatever it is, good windproof gloves make the top spot for me).

    It kinda depends on your body though, I have fairly warm feet, neoprene shoe covers is all I need in the winter.

  4. #4
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    You can get by on good quality outdoor gear; you don't really need cycling specific gear and, in fact, it may not be any better than the gear you already own. Just use some common sense, use thin layers, and stay away from cotton.

    You need a base layer, an insulation layer and something to help cut the wind down. The last layer is a problem because laminates will help with wind and water but they also interfere with sweating. I keep a waterproof/breathable hard shell in my bags but I can nearly always get by on something much more breathable as my outer layer. I've been pretty happy with a pearl izumi barrier jacket as an outer layer.

    You'll need something that will fit under a helmet so that's a bike specific piece of gear. I'll use a balaclava if its really cold; otherwise some kind of winter cycling cap (perhaps even one with a laminate to block out the wind). Hands and feet are tough to keep warm. For my hands, I use a thin pair of gloves under a pair of outdoor research mittens and that's been working OK. Some folks really like the planet bike borealis gloves. I might pick up a pair; it has fleece and a windproof/waterproof liner. Feet are tough as well. I like platform pedals in really crummy weather and wear boots. YMMV. If running cycling shoes, neoprene booties and wool socks work pretty well.
    Last edited by bikemig; 01-01-15 at 11:25 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member SalsaShark's Avatar
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    Jacket is the first thing I would buy. Layers underneath can be non-cycling compression type shirts. I use some bought at Target underneath my jacket, and they work well. Standard merino wool socks can be bought at numerous stores and are a must no natter what the footwear. Wool gloves (or wool liners under mittens for coldest days) work nicely in lieu of expensive cycling mitts. Make sure everything you wear will breathe and wick, this is important. Cotton and fleece on the skin will feel cold and damp, whereas wool and newer 'tech' fabrics will not feel as warm at room temperature, but will be plenty warm on the road and will keep you drier from the inside out, thus keeping you warmer in the long run (but not too warm....you don't want to get hot and sweaty!) I wouldn't worry too much about your legs, I don't think I have ever had cold legs, even on the coldest of rides.

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    I've found that everybody is quite different. One time biking with a friend, he commented that his hands were cold but his feet were warm. I told him my hands were warm but my toes were freezing.

    A windproof jacket is key, but other than that I would focus on your toes, fingers and face before getting too fancy with other gear. Covering your mouth and nose with a scarf is fine. Personally I have a face mask by Seirus that cost about $20. Love it.

    For fingers and toes you may want to consider getting hand and foot warmers. They look like teabags and cost about $1 per pair in the hunting or sporting goods section of department stores. Just stick them inside your gloves or mittens and shoes. After each use you can put them in ziplock bags and reuse them for a few days. If you're fingers get cold like mine, mittens will keep your fingers noticeably warmer than gloves. I once bought a pair of thin "windproof" cycling gloves. They didn't block the wind at all. After about 10 minutes of biking in the cold I had to take the gloves off and blow on my freezing fingers. With mittens you do lose a lot of dexterity when it comes to braking and shifting gears, but I do it anyway.

    If you'll be riding fairly long distances and exerting yourself to go fast you will sweat and want to avoid cotton undershirts. However, if you're more of a casual, slow paced biker you won't sweat much, if at all, and cotton is no longer an issue. At the first hint of getting warm I unzip my windbreaker about 3/4 of the way down to prevent sweating.

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    If you're on a budget you may want to consider checking out thrift stores and Goodwills. I've found some great wool sweaters at Goodwills for about $10-$15 each. One last thing: wool socks are great. They keep your feet warm even when wet (reasonably so), and you can wear them several times in between washes before they ever start to stink. Wearing two layers of socks is another trick to keep your feet warm. Just make sure you have wiggle room for your toes. If your toes don't have wiggle room they can actually get colder despite wearing an extra layer of socks. Some people get separate winter shoes that are 1/2 to 1 size larger for the sake of wearing two pairs of socks.

  8. #8
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CompleteStreets View Post
    Wearing two layers of socks is another trick to keep your feet warm. Just make sure you have wiggle room for your toes. If your toes don't have wiggle room they can actually get colder despite wearing an extra layer of socks.
    I find that a pair of liner socks adds quite a bit of warmth to any other sock that I've tried. They are very thin still leave the wiggle room even in my road shoes.
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  9. #9
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    The main cycling specific winter clothing I use are pants. Mine are slightly loose to fit over shorts, but tapered legs to avoid getting tangled. Everything else is just normal-non-cycling stuff...except cycling shorts

  10. #10
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    I'd start with tights, to keep legs warm without getting tangled up in the chain. Cycling gloves would be second, to keep hands warm, but also padded, if you're going to ride more than 5 miles or so at a time. Ear warmers are very nice, and pretty cheap.

    You've probably got 2-3 jackets of increasing warmth already. They'll do fine, as long as you wear the one for warmer weather than what you're riding in. Cycling jackets with pit zips are really, really nice, and well worth the money when you get around to them, but you can do a first-order heat adjustment with buttons or zippers on regular jackets.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Indytona675 View Post
    Looking for the must have cycling specific winter gear. I can find all kinds of reviews and layering tips. But I am on a budget. I can't buy an awesome full set all at once. I don't need a cycle coat of the bat or lake boots. I can use normal winter gear. If you had to pick one or two must haves that are cycle specific what would they be? Thermal bib tights? Gloves? I Will eventually build it all up but I'm just starting my cold weather gear. Where should I start?
    In my opinion the only thing that you need that is cycling specific for below freezing temps would be winter cycling tights. Regular cycling shorts work well combined with them. usually you need two pair of different thicknesses to use alone or layered.

    General purpose gloves work better for cold weather than cycling specific gloves. Cheap skateboard type of helmet is better for winter. It's warmer and has better coverage and less venting. You can find these cheap on sale on Amazon and Price Point. I bought one for 5 bucks a couple of years ago.

    The next thing would be a cycling specific balaclava. The cheap fleece balaclavas are too hot in most conditions and are not wind resistance enough. This is 30 bucks USD well spent as opposed to the 5 dollar cheap fleece balaclava from the local discount store. Unless you are riding in extreme cold use a cycling specific balaclava.

    Cheap fleece or wool sweaters work better for below freezing conditions than cycling specific gear for insulation layers. Inexpensive soft shell rain jackets work well for the outer layer in below freezing conditions. I use a 10 dollar construction workers high visibility vest for night riding.

  12. #12
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    The answer depends a lot on where you live, how cold it gets and what temps you plan to ride in. For me, the single most important winter gear is a good set of gloves -- actually several of them for different temperature ranges. Your fingers will get cold faster than any other part of your body. I would consider a good jacket the next most important item, closely followed by base gear and tights. My feet are fine with wool socks (DeFeet Wooly Boolies) and toe covers. I wear a balaclava in temperatures below 40 F, but they are not expensive.

    If you need winter tights, I highly recommend Pearl Izumi Amfibs. I used their bib tights with no pad, worn over regular cycling shorts. I've got several jackets that I wear, but if I had to pick just one it would be my Showers Pass Elite 2.1. Although I bought it as a rain jacket, I find it very useful in cold temperatures because it is so breathable and I can layer clothes under it.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for all the tips. I have wind proof gloves. I think im going to get some tights.

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    I'll probably be repeating what may have been already mentioned. If you're on a budget don't go buying bicycle specific clothing from any bike store or place that sells new clothing.

    Scrounge around the house for old clothing - look for wool and nylon shells or camping clothing and go to 2nd hand stores like Value Village or Goodwill. Pay a visit to army surplus stores too.
    Last edited by Daniel4; 01-11-15 at 07:27 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member kingston's Avatar
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    The only must have cycling specific piece of winter clothing is pogies (I use moose mitts). General purpose winter clothing will work for everything else.
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