The winter months are a tough time for cyclists. The cold, the short days, and the snow/ice are all challenges we don’t face in summer. The right gear on you and on your bike is key to keeping you comfy and safe. Listed below are some tips for the gear and practices that will make it safer more enjoyable.
Start at the top: Because most body heat is lost through the head, a good under helmet winter beanie or winter headband is extremely important. Something that’s thin for under helmet comfort, dense for good insulation and stretches for freedom of movement while staying in place. Holding in the heat is just one part of under helmet winter headwear. The other part is moisture/sweat management. SweatVac’s UltraVac liner has a microscopic synthetic mesh allowing sweat to pass through while a second polyester layer wicks it away. That keeps it warm and dry against your skin while the moisture goes to the outside where it belongs. This will keep you feeling dry and not soggy. It also keeps the chill off if you need to stop in the cold and you’ve stopped generating heat. This proprietary technology is exclusive to SweatVac headwear and is an important part of keeping you comfortable and performing at your best during workouts in any temperature.
The following lists our best headwear for riding in the extreme cold.
When temperatures start to drop, it's important to have a hat that will keep you warm. The Winter Beanie is made with heavyweight DriSmart stretch fabric with our UltraVac sweat liner, which keeps you dry and warm without adding bulk. Good for temperatures below freezing and beyond. Super warm but thin enough to stash in a jacket pocket. This beanie is also machine-washable and comes in five colors.
Like our standard Winter Beanie, the Women's Winter Beanie is made with heavyweight DriSmart stretch fabric with our UltraVac sweat liner, and features a pony tail opening in the back, This must have winter hat is good for temperatures below freezing and beyond. Super warm but thin enough to stash in a jacket pocket. This beanie is also machine-washable and comes in six colors.
If you’ve got thick enough hair to insulate the top of your head in the freezing cold, the SweatVac Winter Headband is a good choice. Like our Winter Beanies, the Winter Headband is made with heavyweight DriSmart stretch fabric with our UltraVac sweat liner completely covering the inside and is contoured to cover your ears for maximum warmth.
Our most effective under helmet winter headwear product. Featuring the same DriSmart Winter Beanie shell fabric, it’s nice and deep to cover down to your eye brows and contoured to cover your ears with our UltraVac lining. It’s sort of a Winter Beanie/Winter Headband combo. Perfect for hard core winter cyclists who don’t compromise with their riding gear.
It’s easy to lie low in winter and worry about getting in “bike shape” in the spring. An alternative is hitting the indoor wind trainer with the head phones cranked up or getting bossed around by some stranger on a Peloton. However riding outside in winter (as bothersome as it might be at first) provides a better sense of accomplishment than any indoor ride can. It’s surely more interesting/less boring and definitely makes you appreciate the warm weather rides to come a lot more.
Below are a few more must/should haves in the world of winter cycling soft and hard goods.
5 Key Tips For Cycling in Winter:
- Remain Warm
Besides good headwear it’s always smart to cover as much exposed skin as possible. Always check the forecast and pay attention to the wind chill factor. If you’re riding into the wind, your speed on the bike makes the wind chill colder. Having a good pair of glasses or goggles for your eyes and a balaclava or a neck gaiter like the SweatVac ShapeShifter to pull up over your mouth and nose is a good idea. Of course layering up to keep your core warm is important. The SweatVac Long Sleeve Race Shirt with the Omega Quarter Zip on top of that is a good start. From there a good cold weather cycling jacket and winter cycling pants should have you nearly set. Last on the list are your hands and feet. These are your extremities and as such don’t get as much blood flow so they feel the chill first. Wearing good/warm gloves thermal socks with neoprene shoe covers is a minimum for cold rides. If you’re riding in sub freezing temps, battery operated heated gloves and socks are nice way to go.
- See & Be Seen
It’s darker in the winter. Plus it seems like cars are dirtier which includes the windows and headlights which restricts the vision of the drivers just a little bit more. The no brainer solution to make sure the motorists see you is to have some good flashers with fresh batteries on the front and back of your bike. It’s also smart to have a good headlight on your bike or your helmet so you can where you’re going and what’s in front of you. Also it always helps to have some reflective material on your jacket and pants to assist your flashers in being seen out there.
- Have Your “Just In Case” stuff with you
If you have bike trouble or have any kind of mishap big or small it’s always smart to have what you need to solve the problem or provide some help. I always carry two SweatVac WrapPacks to hold all that stuff. In one I carry a spare tube, a patch kit, two CO2 bottles with a filler attachment, tire irons and a bicycle multi-tool. In the other I carry my cell phone, a photo copy of my driver’s license, a list of emergency contacts, my house key, a credit card, a $20 bill, a tube of Neosporin and a couple of really big band-aids. I also wear a Road ID bracelet with pertinent data. Last thing, is it’s always smart, winter or summer to let someone you’re close to know that you’re going, what your general route will be and about how long you’ll be gone.
- “Winterize” Your Bike and Keep It Dialed In
Just a few tweeks to the bike make a big difference for the winter rider. It depends a little bit on what kind of bike but unless you’re riding on snowy trails with a fat tire bike, a set of studded tires on your machine are a huge help in preventing slippage (and “fallage”) around turns when it’s even a little icy. Also if there’s snow and it’s not that cold, it can get a bit sloppy so a set (even a cheap set) of fenders work great to keep the slop off of you. Also as mentioned earlier mount some flashers on back and front with a head light to see and be seen. If you get back from a sloppy ride, wipe your bike down to keep the crud from inhibiting the brakes and all the cables. Don’t forget to wipe down the chain and keep it oiled.
- Bring Enough To Eat And Drink
Riding in the cold burns more calories and cold dry air pulls more moisture from your body when you’re breathing. Based on that, you should bring a little more to eat and drink than you would on the same route in the summer. Insulated bottles are nice to keep your water from freezing but they don’t hold as much so maybe bring an extra in your jersey/jacket pocket. If your route has a 7-11 or gas station you can always stop for something. The perfect reason to use that CC or cash you’ve got stashed in your WrapPack.
Although there’s more prep work than “riding” indoors, outdoor riding is actually riding. Plus it’s more interesting, experiential, adventurous and character building. When it’s over you’ll have a little bit bigger smile on your face than you would from a spin class. Be safe and have fun!