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  1. #1
    Still want a fat bike....
    Reputation: Dalton's Avatar
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    Winter Riding Apparel

    So I am going to commute into the Michigan winter and if I end up affording some studded tires, I may even ride in the snow. My one dilemma is the cold and some of the best clothing to combat that cold. What do you guys wear in the winter? I know the best way to go is to layer my clothing, but I'd like to get some real life experiences in here to see what worked for you so you weren't too hot or too cold. Probably going to make some purchases in the next few weeks, so if you have something you just can't live without in your opinion, link it up.

    I am talking:
    1. Gloves
    2. Hats/Baclava
    3. Base Layers
    4. Outer Layer
    5. Socks/Shoe covers

    I will probably ditch the clips for the winter and wear my Merrell hiking boots, so maybe foot warmth won't be too bad.

    Anyway, what do you suggest for temps ranging around -10F (wind chill) to 30F. Basically.... below freezing. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    To -10 C (not including windchill)..

    Winter boots
    Spandex shorts under wind proof long tights
    Tee shirt
    Two wind proof front jackets one med, one large
    Helmet (that covers the ears).

    Sunglasses,

    Nice pair of gloves.

    To -20C

    Switch to long sleeve wicking shirt.

    Switch to ski googles with a nose cover.

    Switch to mitts or winter gloves.

    Add thin Balaclava that covers the head

    To -35 C

    Add wool neck gaiter.

    Add fleece or wool pants, and wool sweater over jackets

  3. #3
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    I use much of the same equipment all winter long. Our temps vary quite a bit from day to day, so it allows me to adjust to whatever the weather might be. We don't usually have tons of snow. My biggest challenge is adjusting to a wide range of temperatures. We are usually right on the edge of the winter jet stream, so our weather jumps around a lot. We might be in the single digits (F) for a couple days, then be up in the 30's the next few days.

    • I have two windproof cycling jackets. One is lighter and more breathable than the other. I swap between the two depending on temperature.
    • My baselayer is always a wicking shirt/jersey. When it gets really cold, I add an additional insulating layer. Sometimes this is a fleece or another wicking shirt.
    • On my legs, I always wear my usual cycling apparel underneath my old soccer warm-up pants. These hug the legs fairly well. I have one pair for colder temps and one pair for warmer temps. If it's really cold, I'll add tights.
    • I have a few different pairs of gloves, but my cold weather glove is the Pearl Izumi Barrier Glove.
    • On my head, I just wear my helmet and a Louis Garneau Ear Cover. This is usually plenty warm.
    • I wear wool socks on my feet. Usually if I keep my legs warm enough, my feet aren't so bad. This is one spot where my system could improve. Sometimes I just suck it up and ride with cold feet.


    Really, the best way to find out what you need is through experience. I'm going into my 3rd or 4th winter and have found a system that works for me. It may or may not work for you.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus
    Really, the best way to find out what you need is through experience. I'm going into my 3rd or 4th winter and have found a system that works for me. It may or may not work for you.
    Yup. Everyone will recommend different products but they might not work for you. Also, spending big money doesn't mean better performance. My best cold weather gloves cost under 20 bucks and blow away all of the expensive gloves I've tried over the years.
    I wouldn't waste your time/money on toe covers/booties. If you're going to ride when it's below 0oC you'll want cycling boots or even normal boots and use flat pedals on your bike.
    I would recommend cycling boots, warm socks, windproof tights, windproof jackets, balaclavas and you'll have to figure out what to wear against your skin.

  5. #5
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    Some things I like that I didn't see mentioned are a insulated (polarguard, etc) vest under the jacket, warms the core nicely, stuffs in pack nicely for ride uphill home.

    For feet and hands I use hand/toe warmer packets when it gets too cold. This combined with MTB boots (not winter ones, but warmer than most bike shoes), thick Adidas velcro-on covers, and the warmers if needed.

    I get claustrophobic in balaclavas so I prefer a facemask (windproof fleece, velcroes in back) combined with a windproof hat (that fits under the helmet), neckwarmer (fleece tube) and goggles when it gets frostbite cold. The facemask is also easier to remove if it gets too warm.

  6. #6
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    I like the comments about getting some real life experience, but since you are inquiring here are some things that have worked for me and some personal opinions/2 cents worth.

    1. I wear a wool cycling hat with ear flap. It works for me in all but the most extreme conditions.

    2. For gloves...this year I will be buying a pair of Pearl Izumi Lobsters. I have held these gloves and even tried them on, but never purchased because I am cheap. But I have been given multiple good reviews from riders who I know and ride with that I sold on these gloves...pardon the pun.

    3. Wool socks are a must. I personally like Smartwool. Also, just as important as wool socks are that you do not tighten your shoe to much and cut off circulation to the foot. Shoe covers work, but a purpose built winter shoe will most likely be better if you require the use of clipless pedals. I know multiple riders who use clipless all winter, and have 250.00-300.00 dollar winter boots that they love. These guys never complain of cold feet. For a cheaper alternative buy some nice grippy flat pedals and wear your hiking boots. I have a pair of flat pedals on my commuter bike and I wear gortex lined Keens during the winter. My feet are never cold during commutes. If I am on a training ride, my feet will get cold because I use shoe covers and regular MTB shoes.

    4. I really like a good cycling specific vest. I have a Voller vest that is great. I know a few guys that will layer up either natural or synthetic products with a wind proof vest and some lobster gloves, and then head out on Nebraska gravel roads in -F weather. They do just fine.

    5. I think everyone's mileage varies on what to use on the legs.

    Hope some of that helps.

  7. #7
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    You HAVE to stop the wind. If your body is constantly robbed when the wind comes through the fabric, your body has to continue to waste energy replacing the heat that it constantly produces.
    Once you stop the wind, it is much easier for your body to maintain the heat.
    I layer, quite lightly, but with external pieces that are windproof. The colder it is, the thicker mid layer I wear.
    Experience is the biggest educator here. You'll learn quick enough.
    One of the best things I ever did was to get gloves that are truly wind proof.
    Nothing worse than frozen fingers!

  8. #8
    Still want a fat bike....
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    Thanks everyone! I know experience is going to tell, but I like to hear what works for people so I have some good ideas to start with. I think one big thing that I need is going to be a wind proof jacket. Any suggestions on that? Right now I am using a fleece, but the wind blows right through. My feet and hands have been pretty cold so far too, so I need some better wind proof gloves and better/warmer socks. Its all coming together so far, but I need a good base layer for the colder temps and a few other things before I will be comfortable in the cold.

  9. #9
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    I use Shimano cycling boots, wool knee high socks, my usual bib shorts, windproof Sugoi or Rapha bib tights (no chamois), Under Armour or Defeet base layer (longsleeve or no sleeve depending on weather), Rapha longsleeve winter jersey, Sugoi or Rapha winter jacket,
    Hot Paws or Izumi lobster gloves, Sugoi balaclava or skull cap and I even have this Hannibal Lector looking thing that covers my nose if it's crazy cold out.

  10. #10
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    How far is your commute? there are some really great, not cycling specific clothes out there. I rode in the blizzard we had here this past week (bismarck, nd), 60mph+ winds, and I couldn't feel the wind at all through my clothes (my bike felt all the wind pushing me around). I wore goggles and the snow didn't bother me at all.

    also as stated, windproof is a must, but also waterproof.

    layering is key, but don't get too hot. my commute is only 1.8 miles, so i dress a little warmer so I am at a comfortable temp when I leave the house and I only start to get hot when I'm pulling up to work.

    check out my blog posts for some more info http://tx2nd.com

    let me know if you have any more questions

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