Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Winter Gear Guidelines

It's a late in the game but not too late to share some tips on riding in the cold. Some may agree and some will disagree but this is what works for me. Depending on how well you tolerate the cold, or not, determines what gear you wear. That's a no brainer. I"m often times asked about bikes and gear so here's what works for me. This is actually a message I sent to a friend that inquired about what to wear.

You can waste a lot of money on gear. I have a couple rules about gear and they are both directly related to temperature. If it's below 40 degrees, it's really cold on a bike and you better wear as much gear as you have in the closet. If the temperature is between 40 and about 55 degrees, it's gonna be cold so there are some non-negotiables. You should still dress in layers in case the temperature changes 5-10 degrees! At these temperatures I wear Pearl Izumi winter gloves, warm under shirt with a wind stopper material, jersey with arm warmers, and a good winter jacket. I always wear shorts with knee warmers vs full length tights as long it's not below 50 degrees. To be honest, I really don't ride that much if its an colder than that. I'm not afraid to get on a trainer or spin bike ;) The knee warmers are an image thing ;). Lastly, full shoe covers and something to keep your head warm. These are mandatory for below 50 degrees. Above 50 degrees I might use under shirt, jersey, arm warmers. Maybe head cover and shoe covers but probably not. It depends on the chance the temperature is going to change or get warmer. Still, shorts with knee warmers. Anytime its below 60 degrees its a good idea to keep your knees covered. I read somewhere that it has to do with cold air and arthritis. For real. The key above 55-60 degrees is layers so you can take off it you get too warm. Rule of thumb is when you start the ride, you should be a little cool. Then you are sure not to get too warm. Most people over dress and then sweat more then risk overheating which could put them at risk for hypothermia because when you get wet, you really get cold. Make sense? You can get this gear online or at the bike shop. Its not cheap but you can always find sales. Hope this helps!


  1. Great tips! Thanks~I needed this.

  2. Clearly you live somewhere really warm. Some people were still riding here in Calgary at -30 C (-22 F), though that's usually as cold as it gets. Layering is really really important, as the temp can change dramatically in a few hours, going from -20 C (-4 F) to above zero C (+32 F) in a few hours.

  3. Keith, I think if I had to ride in weather like that I'd find a new hobby. You're right, I live in a pretty warm area of the US. Although I think the same priciples apply. Layering but with different types of clothing. Obviously in Calgary you're gooing to have to invest in some heavy duty winter gear.