Winter bike riding

Winter is just around the corner and that means wet, cold and windy weather is on it’s way. Winter may not be cyclists favourite season of the year but with the correct winter cycling gear and cycling clothing you will have a more comfortable ride and will be more likely to find the motivation to keep riding through winter.

There’s also a few winter riding tips and some cycling lights to keep you riding safe in the darker winter hours.

Bike Lights

Strong cycling lights are an absolute essential for winter riding when conditions are less than ideal. Rain and low light reduce visibility so bright lights that overcome these factors are essential. At the minimum I recommend at least one front light mounted on the handlebars and a rear light mounted off the seatpost or under the saddle. I would recommend also mounting a helmet light as well, these have the benefit of shining or flashing the light in the direction you’re looking.

If you are putting a secondary rear light on your bike this Kogan Laser Bike Lane light will actually project a bike lane behind your bike.

Kogan Laser Bike Lane Light
Kogan Laser Bike Lane Light

Another great option for front and rear lights is this Exposure / Fly 6 combination that you can get locally at bike stores or online bike stores.

Fly6 Rear light and camera
Fly6 Rear light and camera
Exposure Joystick Front Light
Exposure Joystick Mk9 Front Light

Cycling Rain jacket

It goes with out saying that if you’re going to be riding in the rain then you need to stay dry. For a rain jacket choose based on its effectiveness in keeping you dry, not warm. Warmth can be added with merino base layers underneath. Rain jackets should have a high neck to keep water out, covered zips and sealed seems. The next important consideration for me is visibility, so while I may tend to favour shades of black with most of my other bike clothing a rain jacket is something you want to be bright and visible.

This Helium Jacket from Endura is an example of what to look for.

Endura Helium Jacket
Endura Helium Jacket

Boots and hats

It’s important to keep your feet dry and warm, and your head warm. Most of your heat is lost in these two areas, keep them warm and your ride or commute is going to be more enjoyable. Your best bet is neoprene shoe covers and either a cap or thin wind cheater beanie.

Rapha neoprene overshoes
Rapha neoprene overshoes available from rapha.cc

Bike Maintenance

Winter is a good time to give your bike a check over and make sure it’s safe. On my winter bike I usually run at least 25mm tyres, if I was commuting everyday I would probably go higher. Bigger tyres let you run lower pressure and that will let you handle the bumps and wet roads better. Check over your drivetrain and keep your chain well lubed, I usually run a heavier grade lube on my rain bike than my race bike. Rock n Roll Extreme is a good choice for riding in the rain.

Rock n Roll Extreme
Rock n Roll Extreme

Check tyre pressure at least once a week.

Winter Cycling Gloves

I’ve had my Hincapie merino gloves for about four winter seasons now and for what I paid for them they would have to be my best ever bike gear purchase, they have clocked up thousands of km of wet, cold winter riding and are still going strong. They keep your hands warm even if they get wet, and you don’t lose any sensations from the handlebars like other thicker winter gloves will do.

Buy them at a good local bike store near where you live.

Hincapie Merino Gloves
Hincapie Merino Gloves

Leg Warmers, Arm Warmers, Base layers

The go to piece of clothing for most riders riding in the winter will be a good set of full length leg warmers, they don’t cost that much and will keep the chill off your bare legs. Likewise layer up with merino base layers and if you aren’t wearing your rain jacket then you can use arm warmers if you don’t use a long sleeve jersey.

Some great brands are Craft, Vermarc, Castelli, Assos and Rapha.

Communicate with drivers

At stop signs and traffic lights make eye contact with drivers where possible, especially if you are signaling a turn. Make sure drivers see you, if drivers see you and understand where you are going then it’s going to make your ride safer.

Be predictable when you ride, try to hold a steady line and not make sudden changes. Be alert and give yourself time to avoid obstacles that can wash up on the road in the winter weather. Ride in bike lanes wherever possible and try and keep to safe streets with good visibility.

Equipment to carry on the bike

On my winter bike I usually carry a pump that stays permanently mounted on the frame, I use a Lezyne Road Drive and there are other good brands as well. I also carry a canister that has two tubes, tyre levers, a few allen keys and some flexible plastic wrapping or duct tape that can be used to cover a hole in the tyre (between tube and tyre).

Good luck with your winter cycling and stay warm and dry and ride safe.

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