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Thread: FS Newbies

  1. #1
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    Default FS Newbies

    Some of us lowly novices have never taken to our steeds in sub-freezing weather. Do those of you veterans have any advice to help us keep our toes intact and our bikes upright?

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    Layers and wool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrenaut View Post
    Layers and wool.
    Stuff that I bought the first year that helped a lot:
    A midweight wool base layer has been my key piece of clothing once temps get into the 30s.

    For feet - a pair of the thickest wool hiking songs at REI and shoe covers.

    For hands - a pair of insulated lobster gloves.

    For face - a friend made me a fleece balaclava.

    For legs - a pair of thermal soft shell leggings.

    I also bought a fancy Showers Pass soft shell jacket, but that piece was pricey.

    That gets me through most of the days. I add another base layer when it gets in the twenties.

    I added Bar Mitts late last season when I started riding longer distances in the cold. I also just added some Lake303 cycling boots which are awesome. The Bar Mitts are relatively inexpensive. Cycling boots are pricey.

    I almost always wear Cycling specific gear. It makes biking in the winter a bit more expensive initially. Lots of other people in the forum that ride in street clothes will hopefully share some specific items that have been helpful for them.

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    I definitely need to focus most on keeping my extremities warm and dry, and to manage sweat if I'm trying to ride hard in freezing temps. Your needs may be different. Regardless, here are some things I've learned through trial and error. Expect to learn as you go when you figure out your own pain points.

    • Have fun and come meet folks!
    • Ice is slippery. Don't feel compelled to ride anywhere you're not comfortable riding. But...
    • I'm not the guy to ask about staying upright.
    • Battery chemistry suffers in freezing conditions. Keep lights charged before every ride and keep your phone close to your body.
    • You do have good lights, right?
    • Shoe covers, even waterproof ones, seem to let in water. If I know there will be steady rain I wear Showers Pass waterproof socks and/or Shimano MW7 Gore-Tex cycling boots.
    • If you don't have good cycling boots, winter's a good time to stick with platform pedals.
    • Moisture management is critical so I wear multiple thin layers. Sock liners under cycling socks, liner gloves under gloves, my mesh base layer under a merino wool base layer.
    • Consider packing a spare set of gloves in case your main gloves get soaked through.
    • Get a good hat that covers your ears.
    • If you wear glasses, consider Defog It.
    • Gore Windstopper jackets do what they say on the tin and keep me dry enough unless there's a downpour.
    • Pearl Izumi AmFib tights rock.
    • It's better to be warm and comfortable than to look pro. You can do both, but you literally pay the cost to be the bo$$.
    • Finally... Have fun and come meet folks!


    More than one person has called Bar Mitts game-changers. I don't own a pair yet, but I'd give them serious consideration.
    Last edited by Birru; 12-19-2017 at 08:27 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    For hands - a pair of insulated lobster gloves.

    For face - a friend made me a fleece balaclava.
    I love lobster and baklava.

  6. #6
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    Default People are different

    That's a hard question. People are different. I can ride into the upper 20's with just a few pairs of socks and my regular shoes as long as the sun is out. My problem is my face, since I have problems trying to breath when I wear a balaclava. (P.S. I do a lot of hills, so I need to breath in order to climb). My other problem is that I don't really enjoy riding in the frigid weather, so I only have regular water bottles. My water freezes if it gets too cold.

    I have a Bellwether jacket, then when used with a mid-weight base layer will handle low 20's for quite a while. I'm also good with a pair of Sugoi or Bellwether tights into the 20's. I also have an assorted array of gloves and glove liners that will get me into the low 20's, also. If it gets colder than that (and it's sunny with no wind) I can just add an extra layer for warmth. I've been know to wear two pairs of tights, and up to four top layers.

    Personally, I don't need to ride in extreme conditions, so I don't. I guess if you need to commute daily, you need advice from a daily commuter. I also figure that the odds are stacked against us cyclists when it comes to cars, so I do my best to avoid inclement weather. But if you have to do it, then you need lots of additional stuff.

  7. #7
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    The number one thing to remember is that if you're not a little chilly during the first mile or so, you may have overdressed and may overheat. Keeping that in mind, I usually keep a fleece in my commuter bag that I can pull on under my outer jacket in case I have a flat, mechanical, etc somewhere where I cannot quickly get out of the wind/weather.

    For me, the hardest days to dress for are when the temps are in the 30's & 40's and it's raining. Without a hardshell you'll get soaked and risk hypothermia, but with a hardshell you will start sweating...then risk hypothermia because you're soaked in sweat. Figuring out what baselayers work best takes some trial and error, but I think its the biggest factor in keeping warm, but not overheating. I've found smartwool works very well for me.

    A softshell jacket for days in the teens or single digits is handy, but a good substitute is that hardshell jacket with a fleece jacket underneath. Essentially, turn it into a 3-in-1 jacket. The challenge is finding a cycling specific jacket that is so form fitting that you can fit a fleece under it.

    I also have Lake 303's, however they're not your only option, the 45North has a few boot offerings that I've heard nothing but good things about and honestly, when it's time to replace my 303's I'll probably look at their Wölvhammer boot.

    Some will tape over their helmet vent holes, but I've found leaving a rain cover on my helmet works very well to close the vent holes, but not trap sweat.

  8. #8
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    Before I bought winter cycling shoes, I could keep my feet warm with polartec socks.

    https://www.acorn.com/p/acorn-versaf...nd-women-21208

    These socks are cheaper than winter cycling shoes. I've also used snowboarding socks, which are nice and thick. I now have two pairs of winter cycling shoes, and like them a lot, except that they are a pain to get on and off. But once they are on, they keep my feet nice and warm. After many years of riding in the cold, they were a good investment.



    Quote Originally Posted by AFHokie View Post
    For me, the hardest days to dress for are when the temps are in the 30's & 40's and it's raining. Without a hardshell you'll get soaked and risk hypothermia, but with a hardshell you will start sweating...then risk hypothermia because you're soaked in sweat.
    Yeah, I agree with this. Even the expensive stuff that's supposed to be breathable hasn't worked very well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    Stuff that I bought the first year that helped a lot:
    A midweight wool base layer has been my key piece of clothing once temps get into the 30s.

    For feet - a pair of the thickest wool hiking songs at REI and shoe covers.
    "The Happy Wanderer" ("I love to go a-wandering, along the mountain track...") is about the thickest hiking song I know. REI should definitely have it in stock.

  10. #10
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    Really good recommendations on here. I only have two things to add:

    1. I bring something warm to drink on my rides. Coffee in the AM, herbal tea in the PM. I found it really helps me stay warm. The contigo westloop autoseal mugs fit into a water bottle cage, and actually keep my drink warm for most of my 1 hr winter commute (in the PM I often cant even touch my tea until 30 min in it's so hot). Get the silver one though--I always buy colored ones and the color gets chipped off in the bottle cage and dishwasher. The mug gets bonus points for being able to be tossed into my bike bag without spilling when I get to work.

    2. Toe warmers. Costco is by far the cheapest option I've found for them. I think they're $5-7 cheaper there than on amazon. Even with shoe covers my toes still often get really cold, but these REALLY keep things bearable.

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