Bike Forums

Bike Forums (
-   Winter Cycling (
-   -   Is it ok to wear a big winter coat while riding in the winter? (

Peaches 12-12-02 04:06 PM

Is it ok to wear a big winter coat while riding in the winter?
Hi, is it ok to wear a big winter coat while riding in the winter? Last time I wore my coat, I was communting to work which is supposed to be a half and hour ride in the summer, but turned out to be almost a hour ride in the winter. My heart was pounding. I had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath. I was riding on the sidewalk which is coated with snow and ice. It was a very bumpy ride. I tried to ride in the street where there was no snow or ice, but it seemed like I was slowing traffic down. All the cars was going around me. It just seems like it to hard to ride in the winter, but for me to get to work on time I have to ride my bike or walk , because the busses do not run that early in the morning, and I can't be late. What should I do? Please help. :confused:

Jean Beetham Smith 12-12-02 07:07 PM

I don't know how cold or wet it is where you are riding, the real key is that you should not be sweating while you ride, and the coat should not be so long that it can tangle in your rear spokes. It is hard to start commuting in the winter time. Generally speaking, poorly cleared sidewalks are some of the worst places to ride, and the pedestrians really hate you for riding there when they are concentrating on standing up. You do really belong on the street. Fortunately, if you are riding before the buses are running, traffic is probably pretty light. Remember, cars pass cars too; so don't let every car that passes you make you feel you don't belong there. When the roadway is wide enough, and clear enough, ride to the right to let traffic pass. Be sure to use rear blinking lights and some type of headlight in the dark, it is the law. Your coat is a minor problem, getting comfortable riding in the street is the main obstacle to commuting on your bike. Look for an "Effective Cycling" or bike safety class near you.

Michel Gagnon 12-12-02 07:12 PM

Why not? However, if your coat is too thick, you may find uncomfortable to lean forward too much (on road bikes).

Another point to note: unless you have a very short commute, you will find that you generate much more warmth by cycling than by walking. Gear that is fine for walking at 0C is almost perfect for cycling at -10C, and so on... Get really good footwear however.

I would suggest that you start with what you have. No need to buy new expensive gear until you know what you want, and it's only by cycling through all sorts of conditions that you will know what you really prefer.

Layers are generally considered the solution. An easy solution would be to start with your spring/fall coat and add a vest that you could zip on or off according to your needs.


mike 12-12-02 11:51 PM

The problem with wearing big bulky coats is that they create an enormous wind drag that is VERY noticeable.

I suggest you layer with sweaters underneath and use a thinner windbreaking coat on top. This should be made of nylon or, better yet, a bicycle specific material designed to reduce wind drag.

The less bulky you are, the better.

I do not notice too much difference in my average speed in winter (except on ice/snow days or very windy days) as long as my clothing is not too bulky.

nathank 12-13-02 03:50 AM


I do not notice too much difference in my average speed in winter (except on ice/snow days or very windy days) as long as my clothing is not too bulky.
i find my average speed does decrease in the winter - not sure exactly why - i think often there is more wind?

as to wearing a winter coat: there's nothing wrong with it and like someone said it depends on the length. if you're riding for 20 minutes or more you are going to generate lots of heat and in a big jacket you're probably going to sweat big time.

years ago i commuted in the winter (OK, Texas winter back then) wearing regular clothes or ski jackets or whatever. these days i have all special cycling clothes with synthetic stuff that wicks and breathes and dries fast, windproof stuff b/C the wind is what makes you cold, and jackets with pit zips and good ventilation. if it's really cold (beloew freezing) dress with way less than if you were waling so that you are actually cold the first few minutes - hands, head and feet are the main areas that need to be protected and it's surprising how little you need for your core --- this week was in the 20s(F) and i wore i short sleeve, i long sleeve, i windproof jersey and a shell -- and on bottom just bike shorts and windproof/fleece pants --- i would freeze if were just waling outside so dressed.


originally posted by Jean
the real key is that you should not be sweating while you ride
well, in theory great, but i personally can't do this -- i like to ride hard all the time, so i sweat big time when i ride in the winter even at 10F like last week! clothes that wick and dry fast plus venting zips help here. but you have to be carefull if you stop or if you get too wet.

MichaelW 12-13-02 06:02 AM

Heavy coats are OK for short range journeys, but for rides over 20 mins, its may be worthwhile taking advantage of modern outdoor gear, such as thermal inner layers, and using a thinner windproof outer layer. Do take care that your coat does not obscure the rear light.

For commute riding, as opposed to training, I think its better to avoid sweating in winter. Its cold enough so you can dress to avoid it. You should be fairly cold when you start a ride, but within a few mins you will warm up to "operating temperature".

The cool-down at the end can be problematic. Its not a good idea to stand around in the cold, all sweaty, but building are usually so warm that you will break into a sweat as soon as you enter. I prefer to do a cooldown on the bike, reducing my speed for a few minutes at the end of the ride, and coasting the last section.

You may be able to ride faster with more confidence if you use metal studded tyres, or heavily treaded rubber, rather than a road-going smoothe tyre.

Lots of winter riding advice can be found on home of the winter cyclist.

Machka 01-25-03 06:50 PM

In really cold temperatures it is harder to ride. My heart rate sky-rockets when I ride in the cold and it is a rougher ride.

A few tips:

1. Don't overdress - if you feel hot in that big coat, don't use it. Even in the really cold temps, I don't wear much (long-sleeved coolmax jersey, long-sleeved fleece jersey, and a lightly lined jacket that has breathable parts). You'll probably also discover you can move better if you aren't wearing something so bulky.

2. Make sure your bicycle is clean and greased. That'll help it move a bit better.

3. Unless your city has laws to the contrary, you have every right to be on the road . . . as long as you obey the traffic rules. In fact, in my city it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk, and in general it is more dangerous to do so. Who cares if you slow the cars down! They are just cars. You might check your local traffic laws - in my city the rule for bicycles is, "ride as close to the right as is practical" that leaves it open to interpretation for the cyclist and I interpret it to mean that I'll ride right up next to the curb unless there is anything in the road that I don't want to ride through or across (ice, puddles, gravel, etc.)

4. Think of it this way - you're getting a better workout in the winter. It will probably become easier as you ride more. And just think how fit you'll be in the spring!

Good luck! :)

juciluci 01-25-03 08:41 PM

i think you would be a lot warmer in layers of thinsulate or cool max clothing.. synthetics.. no cotton as it holds the sweat.
i know you want to stay dry but unless there are vents or mesh in your jacket.. you will be like a furnace... that can lead to illness
would hate to see that :(

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:31 AM.