Author Topic: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather  (Read 951 times)

Alchemisst

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Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« on: August 05, 2020, 06:58:06 PM »
Looking for some tips and advice e.g good warm clothing, goggles, shoes for commuting in cold weather below 0 degrees Celsius etc.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2020, 02:45:31 AM by Alchemisst »

Malcat

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2020, 07:15:02 PM »
DH cycles in -40(C/F) and you don't need a lot, but the things you do need are crucial.

You probably need a lot less body bulk than you think, if anything, you want to make sure you have a jacket with vents in case you overheat. It's more a matter of managing wind.

DH's subzero uniform consists of:
-a thin merino later, a fleece layer, a thin wind-proof and waterproof cycling jacket
-thin merino wool gloves with big ski gloves over top
-thin balaclava
-thin cycling cap that covers ears
-ski goggles
-waterproof bike pants

The cold isn't as much of a challenge as the snow. After 5 years, he just got some studded tires and they make a huge difference in heavy snow.


GreenToTheCore

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2020, 05:37:29 PM »
I bike year round, it's not unheard of to get below 0F

I agree with Malcat and will add emphasis on extremities:
- wool socks
- waterproof shoes if biking through the snow (it's a life saver if you have to hike-a-bike or do a repair)
- windproof layer for hands, either with the liner or the outer layer

It's amazing how much heat the body pumps out once you get moving. Happy riding :)

Malcat

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2020, 05:44:49 PM »
I bike year round, it's not unheard of to get below 0F

I agree with Malcat and will add emphasis on extremities:
- wool socks
- waterproof shoes if biking through the snow (it's a life saver if you have to hike-a-bike or do a repair)
- windproof layer for hands, either with the liner or the outer layer

It's amazing how much heat the body pumps out once you get moving. Happy riding :)

Yes to the waterproof shoes.
DH wears Salomon waterproof trail shoes with waterproof gators over top.

For windproofing, that's where ski/snowboard gear is really well designed. There's not a lot of winter biking specific gear, so downhill sports are the closest to the having the same kind of wind protection needs.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2020, 05:57:13 PM »
Get shoes/boots that are larger than you normally wear - both because you want heavy socks, and because you need the extra room to keep your circulation going.  Snug shoes/boots cut circulation and make your toes really cold.  For extreme cold riding I'd recommend studded downhill flat pedals.  You can't clip in to them, but they grip well and you can fit very heavy/warm winter boots for toasty toes.

I prefer gloves on my fingers even in the coldest temperatures as the provide better dexterity on the bike.  I usually use a thick pair of ski gloves a size too big for me with thin jogging gloves underneath.  Besides being warm, this lets me use the thin gloves when I need to lock the bike up so my fingers don't freeze . . . makes a surprising difference in comfort over just a few minutes of bare skin exposed.

It has already been mentioned, but layer.  You want a layer close to your skin to pull sweat away, a layer of something thick and fuzzy, and a layer on the outside that blocks wind.  I find that if I can keep my chest warm, it's possible to get away with very little clothing on your arms/legs.  Be careful about materials.  Anything you wear will be soaking wet as you're cycling . . . cotton when wet transmits heat away from your body faster than being naked.  Wool or high loft synthetic fabrics are what you want for insulation.

Tape over the vents in your helmet with some packing tape and you'll find your head stays much warmer.

Always wear something over your eyes.  Cold wind makes them tear up so much that you won't be able to see, so you need to keep wind out of your peepers.  I find that even the best ski-goggles suffer from too much fogging for me, but many people swear by them.

Always wear something over your face.  Re-breathing warm air helps you lose less heat, and your face is always in crazy windchill when you're moving on a bike in the cold.

Don't expect 'winter' cycling clothing to work.  Most of it is designed for temperatures at or just below freezing.  Look at winter hiking, skiing, and some jogging stuff and cobble together sensible sporting outerwear.

American GenX

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2020, 04:59:52 PM »
Looking for some tips and advice e.g good warm clothing, goggles, shoes for commuting in cold weather below 0 degrees etc.

0 degrees!  Yikes, I cut a ride short on Aug 3rd because it was only 68 degrees - cool and uncomfortable.  I can't imagine riding if it was 68 degrees cooler than that!

Malcat

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2020, 06:35:57 PM »
Looking for some tips and advice e.g good warm clothing, goggles, shoes for commuting in cold weather below 0 degrees etc.

0 degrees!  Yikes, I cut a ride short on Aug 3rd because it was only 68 degrees - cool and uncomfortable.  I can't imagine riding if it was 68 degrees cooler than that!

Wow...I was initially going to say something about you not having the right gear for cool weather, but then I converted F to C and was like "20 degrees??!! That's literally a nice summer day!"


Alchemisst

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2020, 02:45:13 AM »
Sorry I'm talking 0 Degrees Celsius so about 32 F

Malcat

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2020, 04:10:23 AM »
Sorry I'm talking 0 Degrees Celsius so about 32 F

I thought it was kind of unusual for an American to refer to a temp "below 0". That's such a metric phrase.

In that case, our advice above stands, but closer to 0 C, you really run the risk of overheating if you layer too much. You still need all of the wind and snow protection though, and that's what most of the gear is for.

bloodaxe

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2020, 10:18:25 AM »
A few people mentioned a balaclava, but I prefer a Buff. If you get too hot it is much easier to move it off your face.

The coldest it gets here is ~15F though.

mlipps

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2020, 11:10:23 AM »
My best tip is that the Uniqlo wool sweaters are super affordable & great for cold weather bike commuting. Iíve also been happy with their heattech leggings. The heavy pair of those under rain pants + the turtleneck wool sweater under my cycling shell works pretty well for me.

beege

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2020, 11:32:57 AM »
I live on the coast of Alaska so it doesn't get too cold here like the interior does. We only get down to 10F/-12C. It does get windy though; 30mph / 50kph winds can be common in the winter. Windchill matters a lot and also if you are traveling upwind or downwind or crosswind so just another thing to keep in mind.

Both my wife and I bike year round. I generally try to eliminate exposed skin, but don't need too many warm clothes. For instance, in winter I'll switch to a helmet that has fewer gaps for wind to enter (or just use clear tape on a regular helmet to close the gaps) and that is large enough to wear a hat underneath that can cover my ears. I use a face cover with a velcro closure that I can put on or take off without removing my helmet depending on conditions. My wife gets colder and usually bundles up a bit more.

For my hands I'll typically just use gloves or mittens but my wife always uses pogies/handlebar mitts once the temps start to drop to freezing (they stay attached to the bike all winter) plus a pair of gloves - this really helps in the wind. We actually don't have "real" bike pogies but instead found some cheap ATV pogies which work great and were like $15 on amazon.

We typically don't find the need for goggles unless it's blowing snow real hard. Even then we typically forget them and just suffer through it.

And with the winds whipping us around and the icy roads (they don't melt so well and the ice just sticks around) we find studded tires a must.

The rest of the body is just normal layers / windbreakers depending on conditions - just dress what you would for hiking basically is what we do.

Alchemisst

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2020, 09:18:00 PM »
Is there such a thing as cycling goggles? Would rather where them than ski goggles

KCM5

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2020, 09:49:13 PM »
I donít think youíll need goggles if youíre talking 0C - I donít even consider them until about 10F (so thatís about -15C?).

I second the buff for neck/ears/face. Just use the winter gear you have, then buy bike/ski specific gear as needed. One winter cycling item I love is bar mitts ($25 on Amazon) and then I can use thinner gloves. But I know others that hate them and just use ski gloves or biking gloves.

Malcat

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2020, 07:21:32 AM »
I donít think youíll need goggles if youíre talking 0C - I donít even consider them until about 10F (so thatís about -15C?).

I second the buff for neck/ears/face. Just use the winter gear you have, then buy bike/ski specific gear as needed. One winter cycling item I love is bar mitts ($25 on Amazon) and then I can use thinner gloves. But I know others that hate them and just use ski gloves or biking gloves.

Yeah, at 0 C you don't need goggles for wind, but they are nice for snow. I don't know where you live, but here 0 C usually comes with huge, heavy, wet snow flakes.

As for goggles, there are all sorts of kinds out there for all different types of sports, so just get whatever you think will work for you.

Ski goggles really are best for when it's very cold because they're specifically designed for harsh wind at high speeds and packed snow flying into your face. So if your weather gets below -20, and you expect to be biking, then ski goggles will be a huge step up in comfort.

If not, then you can just try a good pair of bright riding sunglasses. The coldest I bike is -5 and my Ryders work just fine.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2020, 07:42:42 AM »
You may not need goggles at those temps, but I second the recommendation of some kind of glasses/sunglasses over your eyes.  There's a lot of crap that can fly up off the road into your eyes . . . and freezing is when the salt trucks come out and start dumping noxious road salt all over everything.  Trust me, that stuff stings.

Laserjet3051

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2020, 10:20:58 AM »
Goggles are unecessary even in most subfreezing temps or in active snow. I use a high quality wrap around sports glasses and they work very well. However, for my clipless bike shoes, i quickly learned that shoe covers were essential to block air flow thru the mesh fabric (designed to vent away moisture)

mlipps

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2020, 04:24:32 PM »
Some of it depends on how you ride & how far. I donít personally typically commute in clips because they arenít worth the hassle on my short ride with lots of lights. In the summer I bike in Tevas. In the winter, I quickly figured out that natural materials are much warmer than synthetics and after surviving a particularly nasty day in my favorite cute black boots and realizing all the salt was going to destroy them, I bought a super utilitarian pair of slip on ankle boots from LL Bean for $50 that are totally waterproof. Those + wool socks kept my toes comfortable on the very coldest days. I did take to commuting with two pairs of hot hands in my backpack just in case I got a flat during rush hour and had to walk home (no bikes on the train that time of day).

I also personally love my bar mitts & think they were worth every penny. Practically speaking, my favorite feature was actually using them without gloves when it was 35-50 outside and being able to stop & snap pics while riding. That being said, nothing else keeps my hands warm enough past 20 degrees, but my boyfriend thinks theyíre totally unnecessary. 🤷‍♀️

GreenToTheCore

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2020, 01:30:58 PM »
You may not need goggles at those temps, but I second the recommendation of some kind of glasses/sunglasses over your eyes.  There's a lot of crap that can fly up off the road into your eyes . . . and freezing is when the salt trucks come out and start dumping noxious road salt all over everything.  Trust me, that stuff stings.

Safety glasses for the win :)
Bugs, wind, pollen, rocks kicked up by cars, rocks kicked up by other bikes...
https://www.safetyglassesusa.com/pyramex-intruder-safety-glasses-with-clear-lens/

Nateson

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2020, 05:23:37 PM »
I know there are a lot of responses so far, but I feel super qualified to answer this since I bike year-round in Minnesota. I've had days with -15 degrees, and I'm out there pumping the pedals.

Some helpful things, then I'll get into my outfit -
1) Get a nice bike lock. These things will be ROCK HARD in the 10s and 0s. Like you will have to bend the shit out of the locks to get them around your bike. I use a U-Lock with a cyclical cable that wraps around the front and back wheels for extra safety. Keep it in a backpack until it's time to lock it up.
2) Tires. I don't use studded tires. I purchased a Minnesota 2.0 Fat Tire Bike a few years ago for $750. It is phenomenal. Paid for itself many times over.
3) SOCKS. Keep an extra pair in your locker, or at your desk. Seriously. If you bike year-round, you're going to get wet one day. This will save you.
4) Consider getting something like knuckle lights. They fit on your knuckles (duh). I worked 2nd and 3rd shift, and they really helped with late evening and early morning bikes.

I love to ski, so I crossover my outfit and add or subtract based on the severity of weather and time of year.

Outfit from top down -

HELMET!
Beanie under the helmet for ear protection.
Goggles or Sunglasses for eye protection.
Balaclava for extra wind protection and is my favorite part of the outfit because super comfy.
Spyder jacket for rain/snow. Has a fleece lining that can be removed if temps aren't bad. Light jacket underneath if necessary.
Safety Vest for cars to see you.
Ski pants if currently raining or snowing. Jeans because jeans.
Heavy pair of socks or two pairs if you are biking far or very chilly.
Tennis Shoes with laces loose because pairs of socks.

Let me know if I missed anything! I love this kind of shit. There is a really special feeling when your bike is the only one occupying the bike rack for months at a time. If one parks next to you, then a bond is instantly formed. Just don't take my spot - I shoveled it out last week lol.

EDIT: Don't forget the headphones for the tunes! They fit underneath my beanie.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 05:27:01 PM by Nateson »

GuitarStv

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2020, 06:09:02 PM »
Cycling to music is fine if you're on a quiet country road where there's little to no traffic . . . I like the earbuds that just sit outside your ear, or only running one earbud if they're the kind that sit in the ear (too much noise blocking otherwise).  I don't advocate headphones in any kind of commuting.  Due to the hour, you're going to be fighting with aggressive/sleepy/angry traffic anyway and especially if you're riding in any kind of urban environment there are already too many other distractions to be at anything but 100%.

Nateson

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2020, 05:13:36 PM »
I hear ya my friend!

EDIT: Never commuted in an urban environment, so maybe I'd ditch the plugs too.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2020, 05:15:27 PM by Nateson »

Optimiser

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2020, 05:38:38 PM »
It doesn't get very far below freezing where I'm at, for the most part it is just wet. Here are the things that I have found to really help in the winter:

Balaclava - mine is fleece, but I've heard great things about merino. One of my favorite things about wearing it is how much it cuts down on wind noise.
Bar mitts - these keep hands warm and dry with no gloves or gloves thin enough to still allow dexterity.
Neoprene shoe covers - my commute is long enough, with few enough stops that I like being clipped in. Neoprene covers over my bike shoes keep my feet warm and almost dry and they have a hole in the bottom so I can still clip in.
A rain jacket and pants - these are more for the wet than the cold, but they do a great job of blocking the wind too, which helps keep me warm. Underneath the jacket I just focus on things that aren't cotton, dryfit, fleece, etc. layer as needed.

One thing I've found really helpful is keeping a log of what I wore, what the conditions were, and how comfortable I was. I don't need to do it every day, but I try to get enough entries so I know what works for every condition I might face. Then when I check the weather the night before, I know exactly what to set out to be comfortable for the next days conditions, even if it's been a while since I last experienced them.

I've only commuted through one winter so far and I tried to make due with what I had without spending too much. I do hope to add some nicer pieces to my kit as time goes on and my bike riding savings stack up.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2020, 06:17:09 PM »
One thing I've found really helpful is keeping a log of what I wore, what the conditions were, and how comfortable I was.

I kept a log like this for two years of commuting.  Temperature, windspeed (and if the wind was with or against me), precipitation, clothing worn, and if I was cold/cool/comfy/warm/broiling.  I still reference this document regularly in the winter.  :P

BikeFanatic

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Re: Bicycle Communting in Cold Weather
« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2020, 04:40:51 AM »
I third guitar Steve and optimizer. Year round commuter by bike for almost 20 years, in winter especially I keep some extra socks at work, and extra underwear as well.  I find in the coldest weather the best gloves or pogies to keep hands warm are a must. I wear my hiking boots. Face hands and feet get the coldest.

Also I leave two locks at work and never have to carry one, and I feel my bike is more thief proof with 2 locks.