Wind proofing and layering are the keys to warmth when you are on the bike in the colder months. When the weather is down to single digits outside, without the proper protection from wind chill you can get really cold very quickly, particularly if you’re sweating.
Check out this wind chill graph.
Using the tried and proven layering method you can fairly easily regulate how warm you get just by adding or removing layers.
Your first layer should be a good quality lightweight base-layer. Make sure that it is a breathable, moisture wicking material like Merino wool, there are also some great synthetic materials out there as well.
Secondly grab yourself a jersey which is tight fitting but comfortable, is made from a fairly tightly woven material to help protect against the wind and has a brushed interior to help trap warm air inside. It isn’t as important for this layer to be wind-proof as your next layer will make up for that.
Lastly, you’ll need a wind shell jacket. This layer needs to be made from a wind-stopper material which will keep the chill out but is still breathable enough to let moisture vapour (from sweat) pass through it. Also, it’s good to keep in mind that for mid-winter there are jerseys which combine wind-shell and thermal properties together to keep you toasty.
Lower body and feet
You’re probably used to wearing your knicks or cycling shorts, so it’s best to keep these on underneath a quality pair of leg warmers with a fleecy or brushed inner layer to trap in warmth.
If you’re commuting to work in the morning it may often be colder than it is in the afternoon on your ride home. So wearing your leg warmers gives you some extra flexibility so you can remove them if you feel like you might be overheating. Of course, as winter progresses you may need a pair of full-length thermal longs.
Snug fitting shoes are always better than lose ones, so wearing thick socks is less than ideal for comfort. There are socks which are thin enough to fit in your nice snug fitting cycling shoes but are made from a more dense thermal material which are designed specifically for warmer feet on your bike.
There’s always the added protection that shoe covers provide as well, especially when we’re talking about wind chill… Consider them as little “foot jackets”.
We might be sounding a bit like a broken record now, but again stopping the wind from chilling your fingers to the bone is the key here. Bulkier insulated gloves are great for keeping your hands warm but they can make it a bit more difficult to operate your gears.
Wind stopping outer gloves with thermal liners will give you the warmth without restricting feeling or movement of your hands on the bars as much as thicker gloves can. Remember that cycling specific gloves are an absolute must to give you the best performance and protection.
Your head and neck area is certainly one of the most significant for heat loss.
If you have a fair amount of hair, you might not need one at all but for the rest of us a simple thermal cycling cap can really help to keep your head cosy. Just make sure if it covers your ears that it doesn’t muffle sound too much… You still need to hear traffic and other riders.
A neck gaiter or scarf which you can pull up over your face is also a great way to keep the wind from giving you chapped lips and a stiff neck.
Drop in and see our experienced team for even more tips on how you can stay on the bike this winter. We ride all year round!