Cold weather biking tips

cold weather cycling

Riding in the cold doesn’t have to be miserable.  These tips from Southampton City Council can help, and with a little planning, riding in colder temperatures can be quite enjoyable.

  1. Layer it.Layering clothes is the key to comfort. Start with a base layer that wicks sweat, then a medium-weight layer (such as a light fleece) and finish off with a windproof jacket. Heavier jackets can be used for temperatures around freezing and below.
  2. Cover up. Legs should be covered completely in the cold, but thick layers are not usually necessary. Workout pants, athletic tights, jeans and slacks are generally fine. Layering pants in freezing temperatures also helps!
  3. Fat tyres. Wider tyres with some tread add stability, traction and control on winter surfaces that can sometimes be wet, snowy or even icy. Depending on your wheel size, adding thicker and knobbier tyres may make winter riding easier. Talk to your local bike shop about the best tyre choice for your riding conditions.
  4. Tread lightly. If you encounter snow or ice, don’t panic. Sudden braking or swerving can cause you to slide. Be lighter on your pedal strokes, delicate on your brakes, and ride in a straight line if possible. You can always dismount and walk the bike of it looks too dangerous.
  5. Protect your hands, feet and head. Your hands, feet and head get colder more quickly than your core so make sure to always wear gloves, thick socks (such as wool) or even shoe covers as well as a hat that fits under your helmet. Using a helmet with less ventilation helps keep your head toasty too!
  6. Be flashy. Because the days are shorter in the winter (and sometimes duller), it’s important to be visible. Wear bright clothing (neon) with reflective strips and always have lights on your bike (white for the front and red for the rear).
  7. Accessorize. Fenders make a huge difference on wet days because they block the rain from splashing on your shoes and clothes, keeping you nice and dry. They are inexpensive yet very effective, so totally worth the (small) investment.
  8. Plan ahead. The most important advice for riding your bike in the winter is to check the weather forecast ahead of time! Don’t ride if conditions are poor (heavy snow or ice) but don’t be afraid to ride if the bike paths and roads are clear and temperatures are above freezing.
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