Winter cycling: essential tips and kit

A touch of frost in the air is no reason not to get on your bike. Just get prepared properly to make sure you stay safe in poor conditions with my guide to safe winter cycling.

winter cycling

Cycling in the winter can often turn into a battle against the elements, especially if you haven’t got the right kit to stay warm and dry in harsh weather. Wearing the right layers and carrying that right kit will make your two-wheeled journey a lot safer and a lot less miserable. The four gospels of winter cycling are:

1. Keep Warm

Don’t be fooled – despite the fact that you’ll naturally feel warmer when you’re exercising hard, keeping warm on your bike is critical to sustaining a good performance level and preventing the risk of injuries, aches and joint pain. This goes for all sports in cold weather. Before you hop on the saddle, do a quick warm-up. Pick cycle clothing designed for cold weather – they retain heat and maintain a stable core body temperature. Layer up with:
– A thin hat under your helmet
– Neck, arm and leg Warmers
– Decent base layers under your jersey
– Waterproof gloves
– Winter jersey with long sleeves
– Winter cycling tights
– Waterproof socks

2. Stay Dry

There’s no point staying warm if you’re going to get wet as soon as the heavens open – soaked clothing will instantly lower your body temperature and have you shivering. Waterproof and windproof layers on top of your warm base layers are a must. If you’re out riding around town or commuting to work you can layer up bulkier pieces than you would for a road cycle, too. For either, try:
– A thin gilet
– Waterproof, windproof and ideally reflective cycling jacket
– Waterproof footwear
– Overshoes

3. Be Bright

Road visibility is pretty rubbish on anything but the brightest winter day, and short hours of daylight mean a lot of riding in darkness. Cyclists should be as bright as possible to ensure drivers can spot them even in fog and driving rain. Add the following to your ensemble:
– A hi-viz jacket, helmet cover and backpack cover
– Good-quality bike lights
– Reflectors

4. Keep your bike in good nick

Harsh winter conditions can take their toll on your precious cycle pretty fast, so keep it in good condition with regular services. Plus, a happy bike that’s riding nicely is far safer on the road.
– Get your bike serviced regularly if you don’t know how to do it yourself
– Replace brake pads as soon as they wear down
– Lube up your chain and gears weekly
– Keep wheels well pumped up
– Add mudguards to protect your clothes from mud and water

winter cycling


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