There is no bad weather for cycling: What to wear for all seasons.

The winter season is upon us and only the savviest cyclists will remain on the road. Yet contrary to popular belief, there is no bad weather for a cyclist, just the wrong clothing.

Don’t let colder weather discourage you from riding. In all temperatures, you can find clothing to help you adapt to the different temperatures and conditions.

I have designed a small chart about cycling apparel for every season. Don’t get overwhelmed; you don’t need everything right now. But knowing your options will help you select the best clothing for you, and build up an all-weather wardrobe.

I’ll focus on cold weather, as it’s the season we are in now. (Later this year, I’ll talk more about apparel for warm-weather cycling.)

Also, if you’re interested in learning more, consider joining us tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan 10th) for our free Winter Riding Class in Soho.

There is no bad weather for cycling. The right clothing makes all the difference.

Cold Weather Conditions:

When the temperature drops below 50 degrees I suggest the following gear, varied according to how far you’re riding and whether you tend to stay warm or get cold easily:

  • Top– Invest on a wind-barrier jacket that also has a high breathability index. This will keep you warm and dry, without chilling from sweat or overheating from lack of ventilation. Opt for a merino wool base-layer underneath your long-sleeve jersey (24), which wicks and also retains heat.
  • Bottoms– Make sure your winter tights (19) have a wind barrier, and if you are doing long-distance rides, the winter bib (20) will make sure there is no air drift behind your lower back. For commuting, use the fleece-lined cycling tights or waterproof cycling pants; they are easy to remove if you need to change clothing. Especially if the temperature falls below 10 degrees, don’t hesitate to put on some arm-warmers (22).
  • Extremities You will need your best gloves for this weather condition. The lobster gloves (18) allow your fingers to move freely to press the brakes and shift gears properly. It’s a good idea to buy merino wool for socks too (23). Use wind proof booties (26) to protect your feet.
  • Head– A balaclava (21) is the best to keep air filtering through your neck.

Rain and Mild Conditions:

A little rain might seem bothersome to some, but with the right gear you will be smiling all the way home.

  • Top- Waterproof jacket with tapered seams (17)
  • Bottoms- Breathable,windproof pants (16)
  • Extremities- Shoe covers (15) are essential to keep water sneaking underneath you and pair of waterproof gloves will complete your armor.
  • Head- A waterproof-cover for your helmet comes handy too. (14).

Cold and Windy Conditions can easily turn your ride into a nightmare. When commuting or hauling gear, use all the accessories from the Rain and Mild set and add a waterproof messenger bag (27). Lights (29) will allow cars to see you and we carry a Brooks Poncho (28) that will add style to your otherwise inhospitable ride.

Windy Conditions: In the fall or early spring, when the wind is out but the weather is somewhat mild is my favorite time to ride, because you will find the streets and the parks are hospitable and not at all crowded.

  • Top- Cover yourself with a windproof jacket (34).
  • Bottoms- Long fleece tights will do the job.
  • Extremities-You can just opt for a pair of arm-warmers (30) and leg-warmers (31) to keep your extremities from losing heat. Windproof gloves (35) and a toe covers (36) are the last two pieces to complete your set for this weather condition.
  • Head- I always use a skull cap (32) and headband (34) to keep me from having headaches caused by the cold wind.

Snow and Hail Conditions, a.k.a. “He must be Crazy”

That’s what I see in a lot of people’s faces when I ride during a snowy day or one with hail. But it’s doable!

  • Top- Wear the Cold and Windy set, and consider throwing on another layer.
  • Bottoms- Rain pants and merino tights will keep you warm and dry.
  • Extremities-You might want to add a base layer glove to your lobster gloves (40). If the temperature is really cold, throw some foot warmers (37) into your shoes. They are not expensive and they are great for long distances.
  • Head- Snow goggles (38) and an urban helmet (39), in addition to the Cold & Windy set.

Happy riding!


About bicyclehabitat

New York City's neighborhood bike store since 1978
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