How to Dress for Winter Cycling

Winter Cycling

Let’s face it: Riding your bike in the coldest months can be a little intimidating. However, with the right apparel, winter riding can be manageable and even enjoyable. Looking for some quick advice on how to dress for winter cycling? First, you’ll need to come up with a layering strategy. Below are the four key components in your layering arsenal:

  1. Base Layer: Look for a lightweight T-shirt made of a moisture-wicking, quick drying material like polyester or merino wool. If it’s really cold, you can add long underwear bottoms. Avoid heavyweight base layers, which will likely cause overheating once you start pedaling. Also avoid cotton.
  2. Second Layer: Go for a long-sleeved cycling jersey or pullover made of breathable, quick-drying fabric. Cycling tights provide full leg coverage. For very cold weather, choose thermal tights for added protection.
  3. Outerwear: For cold, dry weather, a thermal cycling jacket is the way to go. For cold, wet or snowy weather, add a lightweight waterproof breathable shell. For very wet and cold weather, swap out those cycling tights for long underwear and a pair of waterproof pants.
  4. Accessories: Protect your hands and ears with full-finger cycling gloves and ear warmers or a fleece headband. If the mercury really plummets, wear a low-profile beanie under your helmet and protect your face with a balaclava. For rainy or slushy road conditions, cycling overshoes will keep your feet dry and protected.

A Few Final Tips

  • Add versatility to your winter cycling wardrobe by going convertible. Cycling jackets with zip-off sleeves are a great way to adapt quickly to changing temperatures and weather conditions. For less extreme weather, you can wear a short-sleeved jersey with arm warmers and cycling shorts with leg warmers. This will allow you to add or remove pieces on the go to customize your comfort level.
  • You should be a little chilly when you first head out the door. If you start your ride nice and toasty, chances are you’ll get too hot once you’ve been riding for a while.
  • Stay flexible. You’ll probably have to make adjustments to your layering strategy as weather conditions change. Keep experimenting and you’ll figure out what works for you.

Stay safe and have fun this season. Check out our Winter Cycling Guide for even more information and tips on riding your bike in winter.