Author Topic: Recommended gear for winter bike commute  (Read 3024 times)

ejh

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 69
Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« on: September 21, 2016, 02:21:35 AM »
Hey all!

It's been about a month or two since I switched over to riding my bike to work.
It's really great and not as difficult as I thought it would be. Much better than driving (which I always hated).

For the summer months, I didn't really need anything special - just a t-shirt, shorts and a pair of sneakers + a backpack with a change of clothes.
We have a shower at the office, so when I get there, I take a quick shower and change into more appropriate attire.

Since winter is coming up, I'd like to be prepared for riding in colder, wetter conditions.

Some details:
1. I live in central Israel - our climate is mostly hot and dry. No extreme winter conditions as I've read in some other posts.
2. That being said, we do have our rainy days/weeks and streets get overflowed for a day or two every winter.
3. Personally, I'm sensitive to colder climates. I can bear heat pretty well, but don't like being cold. In mid-summer I wear a sweater in the office due to the air-con.
4. My ride is about 9 km (5.6 miles) each direction, on paved roads/sidewalks.

So, what gear do you recommend?
I'm interested in recommendations for clothing, jackets, protecting my bag from rain, shoes.
Anything you more experienced riders have to say.
If you can recommend specific products/brands that would be great.

Thanks!

bwall

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2016, 05:02:53 AM »
I biked as a student in Germany anywhere, in any kind of weather; rain, snow, fog, sunshine, you name it.

One item that was most indispensable for bad weather; gloves. Everything else was easily managed with what I had on hand. But gloves were necessary.

Biking in the beautiful warm Israeli winter should be a piece of cake!

KCM5

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 869
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2016, 06:28:02 AM »
I use a bicycle cape for rainy days. This one: https://www.trekkinn.com/outdoor-mountain/vaude-valdipino-poncho/87856/p?utm_source=google_products&utm_medium=merchant&id_producte=390537&country=us&gclid=CjwKEAjw34i_BRDH9fbylbDJw1gSJAAvIFqUWcwrQU6T2yCkn_lDO21KMgCfy-3wmhWRF6zPNqWnCxoCJUDw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

It keeps the rain off, helps keep me a bit warmer because it cuts the wind. But it will only work if you bike has fenders. Does it have fenders? I like fenders because they help keep my clothes cleaner even if its not actively raining. If your bike doesn't have fenders, either have some fitted or get one of those full body rain suits. Alternatively you could just wear normal clothes and get wet, but from what you said about getting cold easily and not enjoying it, I think if I were in your position I'd want to stay dry.

The other thing you'll probably need is lights. Do you have lights for your bike? Do you think you'll be riding at dusk or dawn? I have dynamo lights (I love them) but battery/rechargeable lights work great, too.

ejh

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 69
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2016, 06:41:33 AM »
One item that was most indispensable for bad weather; gloves. Everything else was easily managed with what I had on hand. But gloves were necessary.

Thank you for the reply. Do you recommend any specific gloves? I have cycling gloves now, but they aren't really warm.

I use a bicycle cape for rainy days. This one: https://www.trekkinn.com/outdoor-mountain/vaude-valdipino-poncho/87856/p?utm_source=google_products&utm_medium=merchant&id_producte=390537&country=us&gclid=CjwKEAjw34i_BRDH9fbylbDJw1gSJAAvIFqUWcwrQU6T2yCkn_lDO21KMgCfy-3wmhWRF6zPNqWnCxoCJUDw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

It keeps the rain off, helps keep me a bit warmer because it cuts the wind. But it will only work if you bike has fenders. Does it have fenders? I like fenders because they help keep my clothes cleaner even if its not actively raining. If your bike doesn't have fenders, either have some fitted or get one of those full body rain suits. Alternatively you could just wear normal clothes and get wet, but from what you said about getting cold easily and not enjoying it, I think if I were in your position I'd want to stay dry.

The other thing you'll probably need is lights. Do you have lights for your bike? Do you think you'll be riding at dusk or dawn? I have dynamo lights (I love them) but battery/rechargeable lights work great, too.

Thanks for the recommendation.
I do not have fenders - why is this necessary?
And yes, I have lights - both head and tail lights.

KCM5

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 869
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2016, 06:49:55 AM »
The water flies up from the wheel and gets you really wet - you'll get wet in the front and a really attractive muddy skunk stripe in the back. So either plan on getting fenders or a full rain suit. Here are some pictures: https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/so-the-dutch-do-have-cycle-gear/

You'll notice almost all those bikes have fenders.

bwall

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2016, 07:00:22 AM »
Any full fingered gloves should work. The type that you would use to stay warm in winter in northern climate, as opposed to biker gloves or open fingered fashion gloves.

Also: fenders are great b/c they keep you and your clothes dry when it rains. But, I think that it never rains in Israel (except of course for the week that I was there) so you should be ok.

Lights are very important for safety, glad that someone else mentioned that.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14036
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2016, 07:16:46 AM »
Regular Canadian winter commuter here!  I cycle through all weather conditions . . . heat, snow, rain, fog.


Fenders make cycling in wet and cold conditions tremendously more comfortable.  They prevent most of the water from the road from hitting you in the face (front fender) and butt (rear fender).  More importantly though, fenders keep crap off of your drivetrain . . . and a cleaner drivetrain means that things (chain, cassette, front and rear derailleurs) last longer.


As far as dealing with cold, wet weather, there are three types of clothing:

Fully waterproof - This expensive stuff will keep you from getting wet from the outside . . . but even the best materials aren't the best when it comes to breathability, so you'll sweat an awful lot.  You might end up just as wet from the sweat as you would have from the rain.

Insulating - This stuff is usually wool, fleece, brushed polyester.  It creates an insulative layer around you keeping you warm.  It tends to keep you pretty warm even when it's wet outside.  Unfortunately, it's not windproof and wind will make things cold.

Wind blocking - The problem with being wet is that there's always wind on a bike.  Wind makes things cold.  Wind blocking materials prevent that cold air from penetrating to your skin and giving you a chill.


My personal strategy is to wear a couple layers of insulating clothing, with a wind blocking jacket (and pants if it's really cold) over top.  I'll get a bit wet when it starts to pour outside, but I stay warm.  Layering is very important for a few reasons . . . layers can be separated out and will dry faster than one heavy piece of clothing.  You can bundle up in the morning when it's colder, and then wear a couple pieces less in the afternoon when it's warmer.



Accessories make life much more comfortable on a bike too:

Cycling cap - goes under your helmet, and keeps your head warm.  The little brim is just enough to keep most water spray off your glasses without being so big that it blocks your view.

Buff - has a million uses when cycling.  You can use it as a hat to keep your head warm, a scarf to keep your neck warm, a headband to keep your ears warm, etc.  They weigh almost nothing so they're easy to keep in a pocket in case the weather turns bad.

Long Fingered Gloves - Handy any time the temperature dips below 10 degrees C.

Wool socks - can be found cheap at most outdoors stores or work clothing stores.  They'll keep your feet warm when wet.



You want to avoid cotton at all costs.  When cotton gets wet, it pulls heat away from your body faster than being naked, and you'll get chilled really badly.  Wool, and synthetic fleeces are still decent insulators when they get wet.



If you tell me what temperature ranges you expect to be cycling through during the winter, and the distance/time you'll be cycling I can give specific recommendations for what sort of clothing combinations work well.  The trick with winter cycling is balancing the heat you generate on the bike with the cold outside so that you don't get chilled and you don't overheat.

rothwem

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 579
  • Location: WNC
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2016, 07:47:59 AM »
You've got a shower at the office...my jealously is kicking in hard!  We had one, it was a gang shower literally in the center of the most used bathroom and nobody used it.  I wonder why?  They ended up cutting the water off to it, and now the drain is a great place for cockroaches to live. 

I'd probably go with a regular cycling kit since you can shower at the office.  I'm imagining winter in Israel as ~40-50F (5-10C) with rain a couple times per month?  I've found that for ~40F weather, blocking the wind is more important that actual insulation, my body makes plenty of heat if I can keep the wind from stealing it. 

If I guessed right about the weather, I'd do:
-cycling cap under the helmet
-light base layer/long underwear top
-wind vest
-cycling shorts
-leg warmers
-wool socks
-toe warmers

I'm a weenie though, I usually don't ride below freezing and I usually drive when its raining since I hate cleaning my bike up afterwards. 

ejh

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 69
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2016, 04:31:38 AM »
Fenders make cycling in wet and cold conditions tremendously more comfortable.  They prevent most of the water from the road from hitting you in the face (front fender) and butt (rear fender).  More importantly though, fenders keep crap off of your drivetrain . . . and a cleaner drivetrain means that things (chain, cassette, front and rear derailleurs) last longer.

I have a simple mountain bike, would fenders work on those? I usually see them on city bikes...

If you tell me what temperature ranges you expect to be cycling through during the winter, and the distance/time you'll be cycling I can give specific recommendations for what sort of clothing combinations work well.  The trick with winter cycling is balancing the heat you generate on the bike with the cold outside so that you don't get chilled and you don't overheat.

My ride is about 9 km (5.6 miles) each way.
On a regular dry day, it takes me a bit under 40 min., but I don't know what to expect in the colder/wetter days.
We don't get anything near Canadian winters over here - temperatures average around 8-17 C (46-63 F). I guess a really cold day would be around 2 degrees C (35 F).
But again, I hate being cold.

Regarding rain - there are some days with downpours, but most of the time the rain comes and goes throughout the day. We could get a 10 min. heavy pour and then a 20 min. break.
So if I ride for about 45 min., I may get a bit of both and would like to dress accordingly.

I hope that's enough detail.

And what about shoes? I hate to think of my sneakers getting soaked and my feet getting cold.
I'm also going to need my shoes to ride back, so if they get wet they probably won't dry by the time I leave.



ejh

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 69
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2016, 05:31:42 AM »
I would also like to mention one more thing.

Since the market here in Israel is relatively small, we don't always have a wide variety of brands to choose from when shopping for gear.
Many stores carry a limited line of products by a small group of brands.
For example, if I go to a Trek dealer, they will carry mainly Trek or Bontrager products and some other low end brands.
Furthermore, 99% of the time, prices are much higher than in the US/Canada/Europe. I'm talking 50 to 100% more.

I usually opt to ordering stuff online to the US and have my ways of getting someone to bring it over to me.
This doesn't always work though, as I need to rely on reviews when choosing a product - I can't actually see or feel it.

So, if you can name specific brands which are quality and not overpriced, I'd really appreciate it.
I know many US or Canadian brands offer superb products for much less than I can find low end brands here.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14036
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2016, 06:51:38 AM »
Fenders make cycling in wet and cold conditions tremendously more comfortable.  They prevent most of the water from the road from hitting you in the face (front fender) and butt (rear fender).  More importantly though, fenders keep crap off of your drivetrain . . . and a cleaner drivetrain means that things (chain, cassette, front and rear derailleurs) last longer.

I have a simple mountain bike, would fenders work on those? I usually see them on city bikes...

As long as you have eyelets to screw fenders on to at the front fork and near where the rear hub is it should be doable to put fenders on a mountain bike.  Planet Bike makes the Cascadia II ATB fenders which I used with no problem on an older mountain bike that I used to have.

If you have a full suspension it may be trickier to install the fenders.  Take a look at these install instructions and then look at your bike to make sure that they'll fit properly:  http://planetbike.com/files/Hardcore-inst%282013%29.pdf

My ride is about 9 km (5.6 miles) each way.
On a regular dry day, it takes me a bit under 40 min., but I don't know what to expect in the colder/wetter days.
We don't get anything near Canadian winters over here - temperatures average around 8-17 C (46-63 F). I guess a really cold day would be around 2 degrees C (35 F).
But again, I hate being cold.

OK, it sounds like you're going along at a pretty moderate pace so you won't have to worry so much about overheating.  If it never gets below freezing, you should have quite a comfortable commute year round.


Here's the gear I'd recommend:

Cheapest/Most Versatile Winter Wear:
Track pants (the kind with a somewhat wind blocking shell) - you probably already have these.  Just get an elastic band or something to tie the cuff of your pants close to your ankle so it doesn't catch on your chain and rip your pants.
Wool or Fleece sweater - you probably already have one of these
Windbreaker jacket - you probably already have one of these
Waterproof/insulated hiking boots - Get boots that fit slightly larger than you normally would buy . . . having extra room in your boot means you get better blood flow so your toes don't get as cold.  Waterproof boots means your toes don't get as cold.


More Expensive Bike Specific Winter Wear (tight fit means you go faster for less effort, light weight, tends to breath better):
Arm warmers - I'm partial to DeFeet's wool Armskins arm warmers
Fleece jogging tights - Any decent jogging tights will keep you warm down to about 8 degrees, just put them over your cycling shorts.  I just pick up any that are on sale and seem to fit OK.
Long underwear - An extra layer of long underwear over your cycling shorts and under your jogging tights will keep you warm down to about freezing.
A long sleeve fleece cycling jersey
A tight fitting long sleeve cycling windshell - I'm very happy with a Castelli Velo jacket for this (although I wish it had a rear pocket).


It's totally worth getting a couple buffs (http://www.buffwear.com/buff-adult-headwear/original-buff).  You don't have to get that specific brand, any of the cheaper knock-offs seem to work well too.  You can use one as a scarf/face covering and one as a hat when it gets cold, and they weigh almost nothing so you can always keep them in your bag in case you get caught out in the cold and need to add something right away.

For gloves, I like to get two pairs of long fingered soft shell jogging gloves.  Get one pair that fits you well and one pair that's a size or two larger so you can put it over your gloved hands when it gets really cold.  That works for me to below freezing.  The ones I'm currently using are these:  https://www.amazon.com/Head-Multi-Sport-Running-Gloves-SENSATEC/dp/B014TNQU3Y/ref=pd_day0_200_1?ie=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B014TNQU3Y&pd_rd_r=W4PGX5ZPESM0RV5G16EF&pd_rd_w=5Zv6H&pd_rd_wg=rO3rh&refRID=W4PGX5ZPESM0RV5G16EF  but I'm sure any similar jogging glove would work great too.

Get wool socks.  They stay warm when wet, (unlike cotton socks) and aren't usually too expensive.  I use these when it gets really cold (http://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/mens-wool-crew-socks-6-pairs/6000110751942), but any heavy weight wool socks will work fine.


And what about shoes? I hate to think of my sneakers getting soaked and my feet getting cold.
I'm also going to need my shoes to ride back, so if they get wet they probably won't dry by the time I leave.

Waterproof insulated hiking boots are awesome for winter commuting!  In a pinch you can always wrap a plastic bread bag around your shoes and then hold it in place with rubber bands, and it works OK . . . but you'll shred the bag by the end of a ride.  Better to get the boots.  I like a low cut boot that doesn't go much past your ankles because they feel more comfortable to pedal in.

KCM5

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 869
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2016, 06:57:15 AM »
Fenders make cycling in wet and cold conditions tremendously more comfortable.  They prevent most of the water from the road from hitting you in the face (front fender) and butt (rear fender).  More importantly though, fenders keep crap off of your drivetrain . . . and a cleaner drivetrain means that things (chain, cassette, front and rear derailleurs) last longer.

I have a simple mountain bike, would fenders work on those? I usually see them on city bikes...

...


And what about shoes? I hate to think of my sneakers getting soaked and my feet getting cold.
I'm also going to need my shoes to ride back, so if they get wet they probably won't dry by the time I leave.




I have these on my mountain bike: http://ecom1.planetbike.com/7016.html

They cover really well, are plastic so they're light, and have lasted years so far. And they don't require fender eyelets to mount. And, this is personal preference, but I think they look really awesome.

Regarding shoes, in the temperatures your listing, I don't worry too much about my shoes getting wet. The rain cape (if you decide to go that route) covers them a bit so even in a heavy down poor they don't get soaked. If you decide to go with a rain suit, get some spats to cover the top of the shoes. Or wear an old pair of shoes to work and leave a different old pair at work so you always have a dry pair available for the ride?

TrMama

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3019
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2016, 04:15:13 PM »
Another good option for shoes is to leave your work shoes at work and use a 2nd pair of shoes to ride in. I do this because I have clipless pedals on my bike and wear bike shoes to ride. I just leave my nice work shoes under my desk.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14036
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2016, 06:32:45 AM »
Another good option for shoes is to leave your work shoes at work and use a 2nd pair of shoes to ride in. I do this because I have clipless pedals on my bike and wear bike shoes to ride. I just leave my nice work shoes under my desk.

I do this as well, but it's still nice having waterproof shoes for dry/warm feet on the ride in.

ejh

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 69
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2017, 02:14:00 AM »
Hello to all who replied!

It's been 5 months since I started this thread and with your help my winter bike commute has been a breeze.
I've found that the cool-cold weather is no problem if I'm dressed accordingly.

I do however have an issue with rainy days. I can't seem to get out and bike if it's raining.

I'm worried about:
- Getting wet during my 35 min. ride
- Slipping or crashing

Would appreciate any tips from your experience.

Thanks again!

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14036
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Recommended gear for winter bike commute
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2017, 05:45:56 AM »
Wet road conditions are slightly more slippery.  When someone is on really skinny tires and is taking a corner hard with a lot of leaning this can lead to the occasional fall.  You mentioned that you're on a mountain bike though . . . those big tires and lower pressure tend to be pretty forgiving of slipping.  It's still a good idea to slow down before you normally would when taking a sharp corner in the rain, and it's a good idea to brake well before you normally would (if you have rim brakes this is necessary to clear the rims of water so the pads will actually start gripping . . . also, if you have rim brakes certain brake pads will stop better in the wet - I've always had great luck with Kool Stop's salmon coloured pads in rain).  Other than that, you shouldn't have to worry too much.

Wet cycling is not significantly more dangerous than dry weather cycling.  It's important to remember to be as visible as possible though, with lights, reflective stuff, and bright coloured clothing because cars will have a harder time seeing where you are.

Wet roads are not a big deal.  Wet/frozen roads after temperatures have dipped below zero can be quite treacherous though . . . it's hard to see where there is ice, and trying to turn or brake on a patch of ice will usually result in a fall.  Be very careful if there's rain and temperatures are hovering around zero degrees C.