Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

How cold is too cold to ride with only shorts and a shirt?

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

How cold is too cold to ride with only shorts and a shirt?

Old 11-13-10, 05:08 PM
  #1  
slipknot0129
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 346
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
How cold is too cold to ride with only shorts and a shirt?

Right now its 54 degrees outside. Could I ride in 40 degree weather with only shorts and a shirt? Wouldnt the workout making the body sweat negate the cold weather at 32 degrees?
slipknot0129 is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 05:39 PM
  #2  
hyperlitenerd
Senior Member
 
hyperlitenerd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 89
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Last winter I did a ride when it was 44*F outside. I only road for 30 or so minutes. But even with a hot shower, and hot meal, it took my core over an hour to not be cold to the touch. I lived, but I would not recommend it.

edit:

I was only wearing a jersey and shorts, maybe arm warmers.
hyperlitenerd is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 05:49 PM
  #3  
StephenH
Uber Goober
 
StephenH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Dallas area, Texas
Posts: 11,759
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 187 Post(s)
Liked 33 Times in 26 Posts
40 degrees is too cold. 54, might depend. For me, 60's and sunny is okay with just shorts and jersey.

In general, the fatter you are, the lower the temps you could ride in comfortably with less clothing. And people of similar builds vary, too. And it depends on the wind and all, too. You have to experiment a bit to find what works for you, and once you do, it doesn't matter what makes the rest of us comfortable.

It can also be noticeably colder down in a valley from what it is on the hill, or riding with a tailwind, then turning around and riding back will make a difference.

If it's cold and supposed to warm up, I'll be more inclined to try to get by with less clothing.

I've read in a place or two that you should keep your knees covered below 60 degrees, don't know how true that is.
__________________
"be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."
StephenH is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 05:49 PM
  #4  
mvnsnd
Senior Member
 
mvnsnd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: WNY
Posts: 2,987

Bikes: Caad10, Caad2

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 283 Post(s)
Liked 46 Times in 34 Posts
40 is too cold for just a shirt and shorts. I rode today in a lightweight long sleeve shirt and shorts. The temp dropped from 58 to 52. While it wasn't too bad on the way out, the return was a bit cold. I think you need to factor in the windchill temperature while riding as that is what exposed skin will experience.
mvnsnd is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 05:58 PM
  #5  
ARider2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 420
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 36 Post(s)
Liked 47 Times in 36 Posts
For me anything much under 55 to 60F is too cold to wear just shorts and a short sleeve shirt. At around 50 to 55F I like to wear long leg bib tights and up top a long sleeve base and a zip up cycling jacket. I usually pedal inside at the gym when the temps get below 45F.
ARider2 is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 06:31 PM
  #6  
Rumpled
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 903
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I'm usually good to about 50, though I have MTB'd in the 30's so equipped and been fine on a long climb.
Rumpled is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 06:59 PM
  #7  
slipknot0129
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 346
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I need a crank guard to wear pants. Are those easy to put on?
slipknot0129 is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 07:15 PM
  #8  
downtube42
Senior Member
 
downtube42's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 2,609

Bikes: Soma Fog Cutter, Volae Team, Priority Eight, Nimbus MUni, Trek Roscoe 6.

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 376 Post(s)
Liked 651 Times in 346 Posts
You're going to have to figure cold weather clothing out for yourself, because everyone is different in terms of cold tolerance. Terrain, speed, wind, moisture all come into play as well.
downtube42 is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 07:27 PM
  #9  
BlazingPedals
Senior Member
 
BlazingPedals's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Middle of da Mitten
Posts: 11,720

Bikes: Trek 7500, RANS V-Rex, Optima Baron, Velokraft NoCom, M-5 Carbon Highracer, Catrike Speed

Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1230 Post(s)
Liked 333 Times in 221 Posts
My rule of thumb is, I'll suffer temporarily in the 50s if I'm expecting it to go over 60F soon. Otherwise, it's tights and a windbreaker - or more. Like Downtube42 says, everyone's cold tolerance is a bit different. You want to be slightly chilled while sitting still; that way when you're working and generating more heat, you don't get too sweaty.
BlazingPedals is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 07:46 PM
  #10  
Bikealou
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 85

Bikes: Mongoose passed on to my son, Miyata, Tailwind, V-Rex, De Rosa, Safari, just added a Bike Friday

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I use knee warmers starting around 65F, long sleeves or arm warmers about there as well. I find cold air (wind chill on a moving bike) on my chest uncomfortable. I rode today at about 65F, sunny and calm, in shorts, light weight long sleeve jersey, and a wind vest. Probably cooled off to closer to 60 as I got home. I was just chilled starting out, then comfortable for most of the ride after I warmed up. As the weather starts to cool off with the changing seasons, I carry layers and will add/subtract layers as needed. For example, last week riding about 50-55F, I added a windbreaker when I had to walk my bike across a bridge with exposure to the cold wind. Got to the other side and removed the windbreaker after I warmed up again. As has been pointed out - YMMV.
Bikealou is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 08:03 PM
  #11  
Homebrew01
Super Moderator
 
Homebrew01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Ffld Cnty Connecticut
Posts: 21,612

Bikes: Old Steelies I made, Old Cannondales

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1040 Post(s)
Liked 437 Times in 318 Posts
Humans invented warm clothing for a reason. Better too warm and having to remove a layer than too cold.
__________________
Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike.

FYI: https://www.bikeforums.net/forum-sugg...ad-please.html
Homebrew01 is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 08:14 PM
  #12  
eddubal
Mud, Gore & Guts
 
eddubal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Bloomfield, NJ
Posts: 497

Bikes: 2012 Van Dessel Gin & Trombones; 2011 Masi Speciale SSCX; '87 Peugeot Cannonball Express

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Rumpled View Post
I'm usually good to about 50, though I have MTB'd in the 30's so equipped and been fine on a long climb.
Just tie up your pants cuffs, tuck them into your socks, Velcro loop them, or get one of the nifty reflective ankle bands to hold your cuffs.

I was surprised how little clothing I have been wearing in the 40-60 weather we've been having. I'm comfortable by just using arm warmers, full finger gloves and ear covers. My legs are bare and don't feel the cold unless there's a major wind. If there is, I add a windbreaker. I haven't even bought leg warmers yet. The only reason for the full finger gloves is that my hands chill easily and start to hurt. Today as things warmed up, I was only short sleeved shirt and shorts, but there were several cyclists in full arm/leg warmers. I was perfectly comfortable, and at the same time they didn't look like they were dying of heat.

You should try a ride in shorts and shirt. If worse comes to worse, just turn back and get on something warmer, or just take warmer clothes along just in case. You don't have to wear it. Everyone's different, so experiment with what works. You'll find out pretty quick.
eddubal is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 08:20 PM
  #13  
longbeachgary
Senior Member
 
longbeachgary's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Beautiful Long Beach California
Posts: 3,603

Bikes: Eddy Merckx San Remo 76, Eddy Merckx San Remo 76 - Black Silver and Red, Eddy Merckx Sallanches 64 (2); Eddy Merckx MXL;

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 143 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
60 to 55 – jersey and a base layer (or 2 jerseys)
55 to 50 – jersey, base layer, knit gloves under fingerless
50 to 40 – jersey, base layer, knit gloves under fingerless, arm warmers
40 to 35 - jersey, base layer, knit gloves under fingerless, arm warmers and leg warmers
Below 35 down comforter and a hot toddy.
longbeachgary is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 09:16 PM
  #14  
LarDasse74
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Grid Reference, SK
Posts: 3,768

Bikes: I never learned to ride a bike. It is my deepest shame.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
I don't know for Farenheit temperatures, but most people would probably want long pants/tights and at least a long sleeve jersey below 15 deg. C. Anyone riding below 10 deg. C with shorts and short sleeves is trying to show off but probably looks like a tool to all who see.
LarDasse74 is offline  
Old 11-13-10, 10:40 PM
  #15  
doctor j
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Central Louisiana
Posts: 3,055
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 41 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 1 Post
Originally Posted by slipknot0129 View Post
I need a crank guard to wear pants. Are those easy to put on?
Get some tights and you will not need a crank guard.
doctor j is offline  
Old 11-14-10, 01:54 AM
  #16  
stapfam
Time for a change.
 
stapfam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: 6 miles inland from the coast of Sussex, in the South East of England
Posts: 19,913

Bikes: Dale MT2000. Bianchi FS920 Kona Explosif. Giant TCR C. Boreas Ignis. Pinarello Fp Uno.

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by doctor j View Post
Get some tights and you will not need a crank guard.
I will ride in shorts down to about 40deg but lower than that and it is KNickers. Long shorts that cover the knees. But upper body and it is layers. Below 60 and the colder it gets- the more layers. And the tights only go on below 40 in wet weather or below freezing.

But there is one thing that most people do not use and that is a base layer. Even in hot weather I will use a wicking vest. More like a string vest but for the cooler weather it is a Thermal version. Keep the moisture away from the skin and you do not cool down as quickly when you stop.
__________________
How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


Spike Milligan
stapfam is offline  
Old 11-14-10, 05:46 AM
  #17  
MichaelW
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: England
Posts: 12,948
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 17 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
A lot depends on humidity as well as temp. Cold, damp air will suck heat from you much faster than cold dry.
There is no point riding cold when you could just put some clothes on. I know some people have this association stuck in their mind: bicycle=shorts and jersey but in places where people ride in he cold, they dress for the conditions.
MichaelW is offline  
Old 11-14-10, 08:10 AM
  #18  
Retro Grouch 
Senior Member
 
Retro Grouch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: St Peters, Missouri
Posts: 30,036

Bikes: Catrike 559 I own some others but they don't get ridden very much.

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1500 Post(s)
Liked 460 Times in 273 Posts
I used to go mountain biking with a group of guys every single Saturday of the year. There were no excused absences for weather - ever.

It was interesting to see what the different riders would wear. We had a father and son team who wore pretty seriously insulated jackets and pants whenever the weather dropped below about 50. We had another fellow who wore just cycling shorts and a jersey whenever the temperature was above 40. I used to joke with another rider that some Saturday we'd show up and have one guy wearing a parka and another guy would be naked.

Incidentally, I think that the worst riding weather is 30's and rain. If the temperature drops below that you can put on another layer and, as long as you keep dry and keep your hands and feet warm, it's OK. 30's and rain - water will run uphill to get inside your clothes and once you get damp and chilled through it's all over.

Last edited by Retro Grouch; 11-14-10 at 08:13 AM.
Retro Grouch is offline  
Old 11-14-10, 10:05 AM
  #19  
pablosnazzy
Senior Member
 
pablosnazzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: fruita, co
Posts: 1,701

Bikes: rocky mountain SLAYER!!!! trek, voodoo, surly, spot, bianchi, ibis

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by slipknot0129 View Post
Right now its 54 degrees outside. Could I ride in 40 degree weather with only shorts and a shirt? Wouldnt the workout making the body sweat negate the cold weather at 32 degrees?
technically, you can ride naked in 0 degree weather, but would you be happy about it? depends on you, depends on where you ride, etc. I live in the desert, it's dry, i can handle 40 degrees in a t shirt AFTER i get used to it (e.g. after we go through weeks of 10 degrees and it "warms up" to 40). I went to st louis where it was 50, ten full degrees warmer, and i was in pain, my bones hurt, all thanks to humidity.

i also am a generally warm person, i like the cooler weather. my wife gets cold when i am still hot, i feel too hot when she is comfortable. again, depends on the person.

i had a friend who would routinely wear short sleeves in weather that was freezing to me. He was a big guy, well insulated.

so, could you ride in 40 degrees with only shorts and a shirt? i don't know, you have to tell us. could you?
pablosnazzy is offline  
Old 11-14-10, 10:50 AM
  #20  
Boudicca
Conquer Cancer rider
 
Boudicca's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Toronto
Posts: 6,039

Bikes: Fun bike, city bike, Bike Friday, Brompton (also fun bikes)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Incidentally, I think that the worst riding weather is 30's and rain. If the temperature drops below that you can put on another layer and, as long as you keep dry and keep your hands and feet warm, it's OK. 30's and rain - water will run uphill to get inside your clothes and once you get damp and chilled through it's all over.
This is oh so true. Even 40s and rain can be pretty miseralble, whereas 30s and sun is eminently doable (albeit not with shorts and short-sleeved shirt.)

For me a lot depends on the wind. I can get away with shorts, short-sleeves and a wind-break vest down to the high 40s. Below that it's knee/leg warmers, long sleeves and probably a jacket.
__________________
Zero gallons to the mile
Boudicca is offline  
Old 11-14-10, 10:57 AM
  #21  
MrCjolsen
Senior Member
 
MrCjolsen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Davis CA
Posts: 3,959

Bikes: Surly Cross-Check, '85 Giant road bike (unrecogizable fixed-gear conversion

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
Disclaimer: I've done open water swims in the SF bay without a wetsuit.

I generally start thinking about a long sleeve jersey at about 60. At 55 long pants. 50 adds another jersey, thin gloves, and something to cover my ears. 45 and one of the other jerseys is long sleeved. 40 and below heavy gloves, head covered, and a wind vest under the jersey. At 35 degrees, I'm wearing 4 jerseys (3 are long sleeved), a wind vest, and a head covering under my helmet.
MrCjolsen is offline  
Old 11-14-10, 11:03 AM
  #22  
scroca
commuter and barbarian
 
scroca's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Potomac, MT, USA
Posts: 2,494
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by slipknot0129 View Post
Right now its 54 degrees outside. Could I ride in 40 degree weather with only shorts and a shirt? Wouldnt the workout making the body sweat negate the cold weather at 32 degrees?
How on earth would any of us know when or if you are comfortable?
scroca is offline  
Old 11-14-10, 12:08 PM
  #23  
jdon
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 4,243
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 326 Post(s)
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Below 50F you really need to protect your joints from excess cold. Knees in particular should be covered with knee warmers.

As a guidline, I am shorts and jersey to 50f. Between 50 and 40f, I add tights over my bibs, arm warmers and a vest. Below 40, a flocked cycling jacket replaces the vest, full finger gloves, booties and a partial balaclava covering lower face, nose and ears. I also add wool socks and base layer.

Also adjust for your climate. The damp PNW winters seem to affect me more than the colder, dryer weather in Ontario.

Last edited by jdon; 11-14-10 at 12:12 PM.
jdon is offline  
Old 11-14-10, 09:38 PM
  #24  
brianogilvie 
Commuter & cyclotourist
 
brianogilvie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Hadley, MA, USA
Posts: 496

Bikes: Boulder All Road, Surly Long Haul Trucker, Bike Friday New World Tourist, Breezer Uptown 8, Bike Friday Express Tikit, Trek MultiTrack 730 (Problem? No, I don't have a problem)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by scroca View Post
How on earth would any of us know when or if you are comfortable?
+1. Only you can answer that question. That said, the faster you go, the more you'll be chilled by the wind. That's great when you go cycling in 85-degree weather and feel comfortable; not so great when you're going downhill at 25 mph, when 40 degrees feel like 29, according to the windchill charts. Pro racers used to put newspaper in the front of their jerseys before starting long downhill stretches, and that was in the summer.
brianogilvie is offline  
Old 11-14-10, 10:15 PM
  #25  
dougmc
Senior Member
 
dougmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 3,038

Bikes: Burly Canto

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Personally, if I'm going to ride reasonably hard (rather than riding and then standing around), I wear shorts and a T shirt from 50 to 105 degrees -- at the hotter end, I'll go for a tank top or jersey if convenient, but not always.

If the temperature is on the low end, I'll usually leave some arm warmers in my bag, just in case I ride less hard than expected or stop and get chilly. They're nice in that they take up almost zero space.

Below 50 degrees, I start wearing warmer stuff -- long sleeves, wind breaker, etc. My legs are usually the last thing I cover. Full gloves are nice too if it's much below 50, as my hands will get cold before the rest of me.

I'm a bit heavy ... about 40 lbs overweight. The cold affects me a good deal less than it does my skinnier friends.
dougmc is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.