Author Topic: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out  (Read 6536 times)

Weedy Acres

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Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« on: January 18, 2015, 07:29:15 PM »
I've tried an assortment of clothing and have a couple outstanding unresolved issues that are keeping me from biking when it's below freezing.

1.  Face/eyes:  I've got one of those hat things that covers everything but the eyes.  I wear a hat under it, so it solves the nose and ears problem.  BUT, I wear safety glasses when biking because I wear contacts and need to keep the dust out.  And with this face mask thing my glasses fog up.  And my breath makes the mask thing wet.  Ugg, uncomfortable, frustrating.

2.  Hands:  I've tried double gloving it, wearing some sort of hi-tech gloves, but I still am near frostbit by the time I've ridden a couple miles.

3.  Dark:  I've got a dark section on my way to morning gym, and am now up to 4 front lights (all LED).  Each one has been a little better than the last, but I still have to ride slower so I don't outride my lights.  I've seen recommendations for super bright ones, but they're like $100 and I can't justify that much.

Any tips on the above to get me through till Spring?

Static Void

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2015, 07:39:25 PM »
How cold are you riding in? Is there snow?

(I've got nothing, Northern California is slightly chilly part of the year and I have to wear thermal underwear and a coat... It's barely weather, really.)

3.  Dark:  I've got a dark section on my way to morning gym, and am now up to 4 front lights (all LED).  Each one has been a little better than the last, but I still have to ride slower so I don't outride my lights.  I've seen recommendations for super bright ones, but they're like $100 and I can't justify that much.

But for that, I can say, if you can, the $100 usb rechargeable very very bright light is valuable. I balked for a while, too. But, wow, it's such a difference. (I keep my less-bright one on also, and set it to blink while the new one is on full.) Also a superbright red tail light...

Actually it's only $70: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E1NQ3DU
and tail light $40: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005M2EDG8

Partner's been using these for a year, still work great. Mine are new from December, so nice.

(P.S. I also use safety glasses. I buy them by the dozen at $2 each in clear, amber, and dark grey, instead of real sunglasses, which I lose all the time.)
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 07:41:58 PM by Static Void »

vhalros

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2015, 07:51:06 PM »
It does sometimes take a while to find the right equipment.


1. I put a little coating of shampoo on my safety glasses and let it dry on there. It doesn't totally prevent fogging, but it does seem to reduce it. It also needs to be reapplied. There are commercial anti-fog coatings that can be applied, but I haven't tried them. I also assume people who make ski goggles have this figured out.


2. DW really likes bar mitts: http://www.amazon.com/Bar-Mitts-Mountain-Black-Large/dp/B009F9ZQH4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421635821&sr=8-1&keywords=bar+mitts&pebp=1421635826800&peasin=B009F9ZQH4 . You can wear an additional pair of gloves inside them. The downside is that the roadbike version really forces your hands into the one position on the hoods.


3. I got this combination on amazon:(http://www.amazon.com/Metro-360-Hotshot-2W-Light/dp/B00E1NQ696/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1421635354&sr=8-3&keywords=cygolite). The 360 is obviously not as bright as the 500 that Static Void suggeted, but it is still pretty bright and saves you some money; but if you have really dark places you might want the 500.

Regarding "outrunning your light" my advice would be that you probably don't want to go at your top speed at night.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 07:59:32 PM by vhalros »

Ziggurat

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2015, 08:06:53 PM »
I've tried an assortment of clothing and have a couple outstanding unresolved issues that are keeping me from biking when it's below freezing.

1.  Face/eyes:  I've got one of those hat things that covers everything but the eyes.  I wear a hat under it, so it solves the nose and ears problem.  BUT, I wear safety glasses when biking because I wear contacts and need to keep the dust out.  And with this face mask thing my glasses fog up.  And my breath makes the mask thing wet.  Ugg, uncomfortable, frustrating.
It sounds like you don't have a proper cycling balaclava.  They have a mesh over the mouth which blocks wind but lets the steam out.  Still gets a bit wet, but dries out quickly.
Quote
2.  Hands:  I've tried double gloving it, wearing some sort of hi-tech gloves, but I still am near frostbit by the time I've ridden a couple miles.
Yeah, that's a tough one.  I compensate somewhat by extra layers over the torso... more heat to go to the periphery if torso is extra warm.  And in the worst cold, I use the chemical hand-warmers.
Quote
3.  Dark:  I've got a dark section on my way to morning gym, and am now up to 4 front lights (all LED).  Each one has been a little better than the last, but I still have to ride slower so I don't outride my lights.  I've seen recommendations for super bright ones, but they're like $100 and I can't justify that much.
I've had a couple of these Spiderfire lights, $35, and I've loved them. Run on a Trustfire 18650 battery (2 for $10, only need one) plus charger (about $5).  Very bright.  900 lumens, but also has a half-brightness mode.  Need a bicycle mount for them, dealextreme has lots of choices for those for a few bucks.  If you're interested I could look up the exact sku's in my original order.

capital

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2015, 10:26:29 PM »
I've tried an assortment of clothing and have a couple outstanding unresolved issues that are keeping me from biking when it's below freezing.

1.  Face/eyes:  I've got one of those hat things that covers everything but the eyes.  I wear a hat under it, so it solves the nose and ears problem.  BUT, I wear safety glasses when biking because I wear contacts and need to keep the dust out.  And with this face mask thing my glasses fog up.  And my breath makes the mask thing wet.  Ugg, uncomfortable, frustrating.

2.  Hands:  I've tried double gloving it, wearing some sort of hi-tech gloves, but I still am near frostbit by the time I've ridden a couple miles.

3.  Dark:  I've got a dark section on my way to morning gym, and am now up to 4 front lights (all LED).  Each one has been a little better than the last, but I still have to ride slower so I don't outride my lights.  I've seen recommendations for super bright ones, but they're like $100 and I can't justify that much.

Any tips on the above to get me through till Spring?
How far below freezing? The 20s are generally pretty easyŚ I do my half hour commute in street clothes with a softshell jacket and a beard. But once you get into the teens and below, you start needing to invest in specialized equipment. I generally don't bother in the teens because it's easy to take the subway in NYC and it's rarely that cold, but in other cities not riding can mean needing to buy a car. This is a pretty good chart of how to dress for various weather, however:
http://www.civiacycles.com/whattowear/
If your hands are cold, mittens can be good.  Thick leather work/ski gloves can be good for cold weather too:
http://www.rei.com/product/856127/black-diamond-dirt-bag-gloves#tab-reviews
When it comes to lighting, you can get a reasonably powerful light for not too much money. If you don't mind a finnicky setup with a separate battery that's hard to attach remove and that may have quality issues, get a ridiculously powerful cheapo no-brand model for $40:
http://www.amazon.com/Bright-Eyes-Rechargeable-Lumen-Bicycle/dp/B00GJZ015Y/
Otherwise, bite the bullet and buy a nice expensive-ish headlight for $50-$100:
http://www.amazon.com/Cygolite-Metro-550-USB-Light/dp/B00LXTORC4/
http://www.amazon.com/Cygolite-Metro-360-USB-Headlight/dp/B00E1NQ4P2/
http://www.amazon.com/Cygolite-Expilion-680-USB-Headlight/dp/B00E1NPYQM/

taekvideo

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2015, 08:25:56 PM »
I use ski goggles and bar mitts and they work great

sagebrushmama

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2015, 09:26:16 PM »
For hands: Mittens are the ticket--I have an old worn out pair of snowboarding mittens that do the trick.  When it's extra cold, I wear liners under them.

You can also try ski goggles to help with the fogging.  Definitely one of those hannibal-lector type ski masks to breathe through helps.  Though my mountain bike glasses don't fog over too bad unless it gets below 20.  I second the idea of wearing warmer clothes on your torso, too, to keep your extremities warm. 

davisgang90

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2015, 07:58:08 AM »
I have a light on the front of my bike, but found that wearing a directional headlamp under my helmet helps me see much better.

Bought a 3 pack at Costco for $10, the light is on a hinge and can be positioned to shine the right distance ahead of you.

Weedy Acres

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2015, 04:22:06 PM »
Yeah, it's the sub-20 temps that get me.  I've been parking the bike when it gets down that low, after a couple miserable frostbite-inducing rides. 

I'll try the shampoo-on-safety-glasses trick and see if that helps when the temps chill down again (this week up to 50*).

Bar mitts: they look bulky...or are they just like big open boxes that shield the wind?  And ouch, they're a bit pricey too.

Thanks for all the suggestions for lights.  I'll go through them some more this weekend when I get a chance.

I'm realizing that it's the 5:30 am bike rides to the gym that most annoy me.  I think it's a combination of (1) coldest time of the day, (2) stint on non-street-lit highway, making me pedal slower and be in the cold longer, and (3) more layers to take off and put back on again than for work, where it's just the jacket, gloves and hat. 

Yeah, cold sucks more when it's dark, for some reason.

darkadams00

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2015, 10:24:27 PM »
9ish miles each way:

15-20 degrees - ss tee, ls tee, pullover midlayer, thin but wind proof jacket as a shell, pants, wool socks, face protection, fleece head wrap thingy under helmet, liner gloves, thin but windproof outer gloves -- cool, almost cold at the start, but comfy in a mile. If you're not a bit cold when you start, you will be sweating shortly. I rarely sweat between Nov-March. My eyes do water at times and leave little white spots on my glasses. No issue with fogging.

I drop items as it gets warmer.  Starting with this list for our typical minimum temps, I have my "comfort list" in 10 degree increments on my phone so I can grab the right clothes when I check the morning temp. Our NC temps are flexible enough in winter I would forget as the temps bounced around.

And +1 for Cygolite. I have two 600s (yes about $100 but no matter when I'm replacing a car with my bike.) I ride as fast in the dark as during the day. No issues at all, and I've hit 30 mph on a downhill. I usually am on the medium setting, so I imagine the 500 would fine most of the time for a little better price.

« Last Edit: January 21, 2015, 10:32:18 PM by darkadams00 »

MooseOutFront

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2015, 11:07:17 PM »
thanks for the detailed advice darkadam.  No leg thermals?

I'm also interested in the mittens with liners setup.  That seems like it would work.  My hands are really my only problem personally.  Other than overdressing.

tardis

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2015, 11:44:35 PM »
The bar mitts look like they're pretty easy to  make a pair with some neoprene and velcro if you have a sewing machine.

Edit: Just did a google of  "make your own bar mitts".  There are many options out there apparently.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2015, 11:52:01 PM by tardis »

capital

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2015, 12:34:17 AM »
The bicycle food deliverymen in NYC often have either legit pogies (it looks like there are cheap models for ATV/dirtbike use that are likely adaptable: http://www.ebay.com/bhp/handlebar-mitts ) or make their own out of some combination of bottles & plastic bags.

myzamboni

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2015, 05:35:25 PM »
Yep, try the plastic milk jug method.  Blocking the wind in the key:

blainem13

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2015, 05:55:12 PM »
I think you're going to have to invest some money on some equipment to make this comfortable for you:

1) The USB cateye type of super bright front light would really improve things.
2) It sounds like you need a neoprene face mask.  They usually have a big hole for your nose and a mesh/holes for your mouth.  My glasses don't fog with this thing.  Sometimes my ski goggles will fog with this in the very cold when stopped, but they clear right away when I start riding again.
3) Re the gloves, you definitely need something with a windproof shell.  That could be expensive goretex or even cheap ski gloves/mitts.  mitts will be warmer, but make sure whatever you use is insulated and has a windproof shell.  Waterproof shells will definitely be completely windproof, and that's the safe bet.  I use cheep ski gloves with liners and I'm good for a 3mi ride down into the single digits.  My hands start to get cold by the time I get home, so any longer/colder and I would get a pair of goretex mitts.

You're probably looking at about $150 in gear to make your cold weather rides enjoyable, but could be found cheaper on Ebay.  This will pay for itself very quickly in saved transit fare/gas/car maintenance, not to mention improved mood/work performance and saved gym membership!  Also, this gear should last at least 10 years.

darkadams00

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2015, 07:58:55 PM »
No leg thermals. Just basic pants. My legs are doing the work, so they're not cold (at least down to the 10 degrees I've ridden in). No experience with colder temps.

I don't have a lot of special gear, I don't clip in, I don't have cycling specific clothing. I ride in pants I could go shopping in, wear basic items I could wear around the house or to a friend's for a cookout. I wear casual shoes for the ride that I often put back on after showering at the office. Of course, if it's 90 degrees, things change. Still no Lycra, just gym shorts, tees, and shoes.

My money was spent on equipment, not on clothes. My clothes are also used for winter hiking, cold walks at the park, and working outside in the winter.

James

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2015, 08:19:16 PM »
I find below 20 degrees is the big number for me also, the cold really becomes an issue at that point, so you are not alone.

Mittens help me a lot rather than the gloves I wear above 20 degrees. Still cold though, so I need something to cover them from the wind at some point. Not sure I want the milk jug covers though... lol

For a light, I highly suggest a high power long throw flashlight with a cheap holder. No reason to get a special bike light that costs more. Special batteries can provide nice power, but I hate specialized batteries in general, so I just went with one that uses 2 AA batteries. Less hassle and uses batteries I already have. Make sure you bring it inside though, batteries won't work well if left out to get cold.

I use a balaclava without glasses, but I can see how fogging would be huge if I did wear glasses. Two ways to correct that. Either goggles that don't allow your breath inside, or something over your face that doesn't funnel your breath at your eyes. So either way it's a new piece of equipment, just need to decide what will work best for you.

Best of luck and glad to hear you are riding in the wintertime!

Donovan

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2015, 10:17:12 AM »
I've seen a lot of people suggesting ski goggle for the eyes, which I'm sure will work, but I've gone a cheaper route that hasn't failed me yet.

http://kroops.com/collections/horseracing

I have the 'Triple-slot' horse racing goggles on that page and use them in the rain and cold. They aren't as insulated a some options (like full ski goggles), as there are tiny slits and holes that let air in, but they don't fog up on me for much the same reason.  They hold up well and are pretty cheap.

m8547

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2015, 09:17:33 PM »
I've had a couple of these Spiderfire lights, $35, and I've loved them. Run on a Trustfire 18650 battery (2 for $10, only need one) plus charger (about $5).  Very bright.  900 lumens, but also has a half-brightness mode.  Need a bicycle mount for them, dealextreme has lots of choices for those for a few bucks.  If you're interested I could look up the exact sku's in my original order.

If anyone hasn't used deal extreme, you should know what to expect:
-It will take several weeks to receive your order. They send it by the slowest mail possible direct from China. The envelope is half in Chinese. I usually forget I had ordered anything by the time it shows up
-You get what you pay for. Generally the stuff might work, or it might not. It might not last very long, and it might not meet their claims, like how many lumens. A bit of luck is involved in finding a good product.

Sometimes I buy stuff from them with the expectation that if it doesn't work as expected it's cheap enough to throw it out. I haven't bought anything from them in a long time. If you are OK with that, then you can get some good deals.

I have a 600 lumen bar mounted light and a 250 lumen helmet mounted light. 250 lumens isn't quite enough if it's completely dark, so I use both if I want to go fast on unlit bike paths. The 600 lumen light alone is enough, but it's nice to have the helmet light in case the main one dies.

The gloves I use are basically the same as these.
http://www.backcountry.com/dakine-scout-glove-mens
They have a breathable membrane that blocks wind, and a removable liner for extra insulation and added dexterity without cold hands if you need to unlock your bike or something. They should be good down to about 10 for me, but I might be cold before I get moving.

Below about 15 I use my ski goggles and a balaclava that covers most of my face but not my mouth. I don't like having my mouth covered.

My feet get cold below about 10-15, so I'll wear waterproof=windproof hiking boots and wool socks.

At some point my legs get cold in just jeans, so I might add a base layer under them. In extreme cold I might wear my ski pants, rain pants, or windstopper pants (xc ski pants that are perfect for biking since both are aerobic) to block wind. None are insulated, so I might need insulation under them.

If it's below 0 I probably drive to work.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Grrr....can't get winter biking figured out
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2015, 11:43:18 AM »
Sub-20F isn't all that hard. Get below -15F and I can feel a bit more sympathy.

Front light: Cygolite Metro 360. I have never once, even in rural totally dark areas had to slow down much to feel like I wasn't outrunning it. There are brighter models but that one is a nice sweetspot.

Hands (and really all clothing): Below 20 I (personally) find waterproof/windproof gear worth the initial investment as outer layers. It's wind penetration more than absolute temperature that really chills you on a bike. Good gear that's not too expensive is Marmot's PreCip line for top/pants. Add thin, wicking layers underneath as needed. I have multi-layer ski gloves, one layer of which is GoreTex, from Dakine that I nabbed for $45 at REI outlet. They are good for hours unless it gets significantly below zero.

Sierra Trading Post (sign up for their emails to get regular 35-40% extra off coupons) is a very reliable source to get cheap, quality gear.

I'm not a clip-in pedal guy, so I went with good hunting/hiking boots. Again, I have been out at -20 or below for a good hour before I have issues. Even then, it's more circulation than anything. During the really cold spells last winter, I would sometimes have to hop off and walk a block or two. The flexion in the foot from walking helps stimulate blood flow.