Winter Cycling Survival Guide | 22 Tips To Keep You Motivated

For many of us who love cycling, the season is over when winter arrives. Yes, it’s really nice to ride your bike when the weather is perfect, but you can also enjoy cycling in the winter. First of all, it will make you get out of your house, get some physical activity, embrace the cold weather, avoid being stuck in traffic and use an eco-friendly mode of transportation. We all love to curl up in a homey and warm place and look at the weather just from our windows. But it’s good sometimes to get out there and feel the rain or snow against our face.

The key is being prepared. You have to have the proper equipment, follow some tips and turn your winter cycling into a real adventure.

Check out these 22 tips and get the most out of winter cycling.

1 – The Bike

A Guy Riding A Bike In Winter

For a good winter ride, you’ll need to have the necessary equipment. [source]

Just like we said, having proper equipment is crucial for a good ride. You’ll need to get some special winter gear, but don’t worry, you don’t have to change everything on your bike and it won’t be very expensive. Modern bikes are generally good for winter because they come with sealed bearing units, perfect for keeping everything dry and corrosion free.

1 – If you want to get a new bike, you would want to get an aluminium bike, or if you want to invest a bit more, a carbon-fibre bike. Of course, every material has its own pros and cons, and you can check out the comparison. Everything depends on your budget, but you can always make your own more efficient for winter just by changing a few things.

2 – You should get pedals with an excellent grip. It’s very simple. Shoes get wet, and you would want to avoid slipping.

3 – One other thing you should get for winter is mudguards. They will keep both you and your brakes clean.

4 – When the trail is wet and icy, you’ll need good traction. You should have good studded tires that will provide excellent grip on snow and ice. Good winter tires will also keep mud and snow from piling up on your bike. When it comes to tires, you’ll want to get wider and smoother ones. They should also be softer, to provide better traction, so let some air out of them.

5 – One more good tip is to reduce your seat height a bit, to put your body in a better position. You should also have a waterproof seat cover, to keep your seat dry.

6 – Check if your brakes are in fully working order and get them tightened. Before the winter season, you should take your bike to a full service, just to make sure everything works just fine and will keep you safe. At the end of the day, you should clean your bike, remove any dirt and lube your chain well.

2 – The Lights

The Lights On A Bike

One of the most important things for winter cycling is definitely keeping yourself visible. [source]

Having good lights is very important for winter riding, so we wanted to make a special category for it. The bike lights market is very innovative and gives a lot of options. We all know how dangerous riding in the night is.

7 – You can get mini bike lights that are not very expensive, but still quite effective. LED lights give many options. Choose the ones in your price range and don’t fear riding in the dark. Be sure the battery works, the light is strapped well and visible. Some lights are USB rechargeable and have many flash settings. The pricey ones have some special features. They are for example equipped with beam cut-off, that prevents any light from blinding other drivers.

8 – You can also get some really innovative lights that are programmed to detect your speed, illuminating the path in front of you and the front or rear of the bicycle. You can check out the list of best bike lights for winter riding, and choose the one that fits you and your bike the best.

9 – There are other ways to keep you visible in the night. You can use reflective gear like illuminated clothes, vest, LED strips, visibility rucksack covers, helmets with integrated lights and many more.

3 – The Clothes

A guy wearing bright yellow jacket and riding a bike while raining

You need to keep yourself warm and dry while cycling. Check out the best clothing items you can get. [source]

10 – When it comes to winter cycling, you really need to keep yourself warm. It’s important not to overdress. Sure, you’ll be cold in the first few moments, but as you ride your bike, you’ll soon warm up. You need to pay the most attention to your extremities–  your head, feet and hands. If you can get any waterproof clothing items, that would be great.

11 – The base layer is very important. It should be soft, with long sleeves. One of the materials for that is merino wool since it retains heat when it’s wet and is odour resistant.

12 – You should avoid cotton. It will absorb water and take heat away from your body. Wool and synthetic fabrics, on the other hand, have great insulation properties even when wet.

13 – Having a waterproof jacket can help make your riding experience much better. The lightweight and windproof ones are the best. With them, you’ll have no worries.  You can also get a reflective jacket that can help you be more visible. You can get other clothing items that will keep you warm like ear coverers, neckwarmer, waterproof overshoes

14 – Winter gloves are a must have. They should fit you, keep your hands dry and warm. They should be breathable too,  you would want to avoid the sweat.

15 – To keep your head warm and most importantly safe, check out some best biking helmets you can get.

16 – It’s also good to keep your vision preserved in bad weather. Especially when it’s raining or there’s strong wind. There are many good glasses you could get. Those that don’t have the frame on the bottom of the lenses are less likely to fog up.

4 – Other Tips

Green Light For Bicycle Riders

There are many other tips you need to follow so you can enjoy the safe winter ride.

17 – When riding your bike in cold weather, you should be hydrated. It will help you with blood circulation, and that means you’ll be warmer. You can get a nice bike cup holder, and take your favourite drink with you, especially warm drinks. There’s also a nice looking water bottle that’s at the same time a speaker. It’s waterproof, so it’s perfect for winter riding.

18 – Eating enough food before and during a ride is also important. You can take energy bars with you, they can fit easily in your pockets. Of course, there are foods you should never eat before a ride. Corn flakes and salads take some time to digest to get the necessary fibers, so it could make you feel uncomfortable while your ride. Coca-Cola is also to be avoided before a ride. Yes, it contains sugar that will keep you moving, but just for a short time. You’re better off with a banana smoothy. Any fried food or spicy food will slow digestion, so it will be heavy on your stomach.

19 – When riding, before you really need to slow down, squeeze and release the brakes to clear the water off your rims. This means that when you really need to stop or slow down, you’ll do it more efficiently. You should also brake before turning. That way, you’ll slow down and avoid sliding. It’s also better to use the rear brake that the front one.

Riding A Bike On The Road In Winter

Try to avoid slippery surfaces, bad weather conditions and use other tips for a great riding experience. [source]

20 – To keep yourself safe, you should avoid riding on metal, cobblestones and paint. These surfaces are really slippery when wet. You should also slow down when crossing any bridge. One more useful tip is to follow the subway lines. If you’re on the road with subway running beneath, the road won’t freeze that much.

21 – Make sure to plan your route before you start riding. You can use some bike navigation systems to make it easier to get around. Thinking about best routes while riding isn’t so smart. All the focus should go on the ways you ride, keep yourself warm and safe.

22 – Don’t forget to check the weather forecast. You wouldn’t want to get caught in really awful weather conditions and you should know when to expect rain, snow and wind. You can also get a rain and weather protection system for your bike.

If you want to train, and can’t go out as often as you would like to, there are always indoor options. You can get some really extraordinary bicycle trainers. This way, you can stay fit, train regularly and not leave the house.

Still, we recommend you go out for a ride as often as you can. Just make sure to follow all the tips, get your equipment and don’t fear the winter. Embrace it, and enjoy your ride!


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