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  1. #1
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    Winter riding gear

    Ok so I need some recommendations on winter riding gear. I have lived in Seattle for 5 years but haven't been really serious about riding until the last 2. I came from AZ so winter riding gear meant maybe a long sleeve t-shirt. I ride 1-2 times a week, usually at St Edwards in the morning before work from 6-7am. I also hit up Duthie and Tapeworm whenever time permits. So my current morning rides are starting to get pretty cold and will get wet soon, but I am going to ride through the winter and enjoy it. So I need some general advice, do you guys wear riding pants, different gloves, waterproof shoes, etc? I also need a recommendation for a good solid all around jacket, waterproof and hopefully breathable. Thank you!

  2. #2
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    The first rule for any winter physical activity is to Start Cold. You're going to warm up! That said when it gets below 40deg I add knee pads to go along with my normal shorts, t-shirt (not cotton), and full finger gloves. It's relative but below 35deg I replace cotton socks with ski/snowboard socks. I have a Go-Lite shell that is super thin and goretex which I use when it's raining or cold. If it's just cold out the jacket is only serving as a windblock. I normally take it off after I get warmed up. The perfect riding temps around here in the winter are below freezing!!

  3. #3
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    I rode through the last 2 winters, and had a great time riding all by myself, winter riding can be really fun and you feel like you have the woods all to yourself.
    I find I need an extra jacket and heavier gloves until I get warmed up. I ride in a fairly small area and do a couple of laps, so once I get warmed up I stick my jacket under a fern and pick it up on my way out. I have notes about what I wear for the temperature, so I'm not constantly guessing or trying to remember. I have two weights of tights, the heavier is a lower end older set made like sweatshirt material, but it has worked well. I add arm warmers (which are awesome, everybody needs a pair) and add jerseys and a sweatshirt as needed. I also wear wool socks on all the cooler days. I have a cheaper pair of Diadora shoes without any mesh venting, those are warm enough down to about 35f with wool socks.

    I ride in some rain, I avoid the really heavy rain, I find I'm ok without waterproof fancy stuff, I get a little wet but so what, I just hang it all up to dry, -you're going to get kind of wet no matter what if you ride in the rain. When it's in the 40s or lower I add a thin hat under my helmet, a ski-type headband also fits around the ears and works with my regular helmet. Snap on fenders are very helpful.

    My favorite 'overjacket' for cooler (not super cold) weather is the thin Army digi-camo jacket you can find for $5 to $10 at the Goodwill. The sleeves have Velcro at the ends and open for more ventilation, the camo hides well in the bushes if you're stashing it after getting warmed up, and if it disappears you're only out $10.

  4. #4
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    I highly recommend good waterproof shoes and gloves. I find if my hands and feet are dry and warm I can tolerate a really wet/cold ride. For shoes I like the Specialized Defroster. They are warm and waterproof! For gloves I really like the Endura waterproof stuff like the "Strike" model. They are warm and keep your hands very dry.

    I also have waterproof pants and jacket, but I tend to sweat a lot in them so I only use them if it is really cold and wet out. The good stuff instant cheap, but with the right gear there is no reason you cant ride all winter long.
    2013 Stumpy Evo
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  5. #5
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    First, ditch anything cotton. Anything. Like Lynch, I don't like most waterproof gear since you'll just get soaked from sweat.

    Here's my totally dialled winter gear. Wool is your friend. Let it get wet, you'll be totally comfortable and happy.

    Merino wool long-sleeve shirt with either merino wool t-shirt over it, or maybe a poly shirt over it. Light weight for the base layer unless it's below 45, then 200 weight or layers. Throw on an extra t-shirt if it's really cold. Go thin and layer up! Then pedal your ass off to warm up

    Funny thing, on a really cold day I start out with cold hands, and they'll stay cold unless I stop for five minutes. Then they warm up and I can pedal all night long.

    For windy conditions get a running windbreaker vest. Non waterproof, since you're wearing wool and don't need it. Waterproof just gets you wet from sweat anyway. I usually take this off and stuff it in my pack once I'm up to temp.

    The only time I'll wear a goretex shell is when it's absolutely pouring buckets. In that case I just grab a ski shell jacket, and then usually decide to build/maintain trails with friends instead of riding.

    Hands: winter biking gloves. Not many good ones out there, but I've been using Gore brand. They're OK, not great since they have crappy finger grip for braking. If it's raining, bring a second pair of gloves to switch out half way through the ride.

    Feet: Ditch the high-performance bike shoes with hard plastic soles. Your feet will freeze. It's hard to beat Five.Ten Impacts with light wool hiking socks (bike socks are too thin). Drop the coin for winter riding shoe$ if you want to be clipped in. Get your shoes big enough to wear lightweight wool hiking socks, and you don't want them too tight.

    Legs: I wear shorts with knee pads for warmth. Nylon bike pants are fine if it's cold but not wet, but they get really soggy. I've got Endura gore-tex shorts for wet days which work well but fit kinda weird (John Stockton, anyone?) Tights under shorts works pretty well if it's cold, and once again I prefer a merino wool or wool blend.

    Undies: I prefer a light poly running compression short since the average bike-diaper (oops, I mean chamois) is horrible when wet.

    Head: get one of those thin poly skull caps that fit under your helmet. Find them at any bike shop.

    I hope that helps!
    Issaquah & Seattle real estate agent. Buy or sell a home with me and I donate $500 to Evergreen MTB Alliance
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  6. #6
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    Mostly echoing what others have said. I grew up riding around Chicago, so was already used to riding in super cold temps (think below 0), but out here all my gear was overkill.

    5.10 Impacts and wool socks work great at keeping the feet warm as Juice said, the Impacts rarely get soaked through unless it's a multi-hour ride and the wool socks keep me warm then. If I'm not wearing my knee pads, I use some of those lower leggings that just slide under the bottoms of your shorts. Easy to take off if you get warm later in the day, and I can keep using my regular riding shorts.

    Normal riding shorts and chamois for me, nothing fancy there. I asked this question last year someone recommended the smart wool shirts as a base-layer over the poly stuff I was using. HUGE difference, very warm for how thin they are, and they stay warm when wet from rain or sweat. Usually I'll put a 3/4 sleeve jersey over that, and if it's a dry but cold day, maybe a baggy light weight long sleeve poly shirt on top. If it's misting or super windy, I might use a light weight running jacket instead.

    As others said though, usually anything too water or wind-proof just makes you sweat and increases the cold, so that's a last resort these days. Probably the best change I made since riding out here was just sticking to more breathable fabrics and ditching the goretex stuff except for extra rainy days (and honestly I'm rarely that motivated to ride in that weather anyway).

    For the head normally just a bandana under my helmet, maybe a thin wool ski cap if it's super cold. I use 661 Storm gloves for the bitterly cold days (Stinky Spoke?), otherwise a mid-weight pair of regular riding gloves works fine for me.

    It's always cold at the start of a ride, but pretty much every ride out here starts with climbing so that only last a couple minutes
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  7. #7
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    Oh, and keep an eye on places like Chain Love and Amazon for deals too. This stuff can get expensive, especially the smart wool, but if you keep an eye out you can find some real steals out there.
    Tarekith.com

    '12 RM Slayer70, i9 Torch, Flow EX, XT Brakes, 5050 s3.

  8. #8
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    Under Armour Cold Gear thermal compression layer. Until it gets to freezing I don't need anything else for my main thermal layer. After that I throw on a hoodie. Helps to also pick up some winter shoes, I run the Specialized Defroster. For the hands I just use water proof and cold temp biking gloves from REI. I picked up the ones with the coldest rating.

    I've got a rain jacket shell that I sometimes wear too.

    You dont want any cotton.

  9. #9
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    I should get some of those winter shoes like the Defrosters, since I wouldn't be using them all the time they'd probably last quite a few winters. Freezing feet are no fun.
    Costco usually has 3 packs of wool socks for about $10 iirc.
    Knee warmers are good for cool days, last time I looked nashbar had arm warmers and knee warmers for really cheap.
    I also have one of those cycling vests that's nylon in front and just mesh in the back, those are pretty nice for cool weather.

  10. #10
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    Can't go wrong with wool and multiple thin layers as others have said. Last winter in IL, I wore thin wool socks with Five Ten Freeriders and was comfortable down to about 20 degrees. Below that and I had to wear some thicker wool socks.

  11. #11
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    For a base layer all I use now is Under Armor coldgear. It is amazing stuff.
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  12. #12
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    +1 on merino wool. I've got a pair of long-sleeve 200-weight baselayer shirts I got on clearance from icebreakers that are incredible. They're warm, wick moisture away quickly and, somehow, don't stink even though I wore them constantly during the last winter season.

    I'm also a huge fan of gore-tex oversocks from Rocky. They're bomber and keep my feet nice and toasty, even fully submerged. You do need to get a good fit, though -- if they're too small, you'll wear a hole through the big toe and they're done.

  13. #13
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    +1 on most of the comments above. I have feet that get cold very easily and I finally bought some winter riding shoes after a decade of numb feet, many attempts at bags, gore text socks, voodoo, and other work-arounds, and couldn't be happier about the purpose specific shoes.

    I also think that fenders are a really important part of the riding gear for winter. Preventing yourself from getting firehosed by your wheels makes a big difference in comfort and level of soakedness. My setup includes a downtube-mounted fender, a rear fender and a tube zip tied on between the fork crown and fork bridge.

  14. #14
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    I'm finally going to go the fender route myself this year I think. Any recommendations for a 6" all mountain bike? Most of the ones I see are more for commuters and look like they would break so quick on a rought trail....
    Tarekith.com

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  15. #15
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    A buddy of mine is running the SKS Grand M.O.M. and Grand D.A.D. on his 2011 Enduro. No issues with them at Tiger or Tokul. They are really wide compared to most other fenders so you get great coverage.
    2013 Stumpy Evo
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  16. #16
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    Thanks!
    Tarekith.com

    '12 RM Slayer70, i9 Torch, Flow EX, XT Brakes, 5050 s3.

  17. #17
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    I've been running these on both my bikes since early last season and they work surprisingly well for how small and light weight they are. Mucky Nutz | Mountain Bikes | Road Bikes | XC | DH | UK Made Parts & Accessories I ordered mine directly from the UK but they came within a week and were pretty reasonably priced. It looks like they've added more options too. I might try out the swing arm models. help out with all the mud build up.

  18. #18
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    Winter riding gear

    +1 on the Mucky Nutz. Super light, easy to install, work great. Have lasted for a long time - 3yrs so far of full time use- so light I just leave on all the time. Beats stretching an inner tube across the top of the fork.

  19. #19
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    Thanks, cheap too!

    Well, cheaper anyway.
    Tarekith.com

    '12 RM Slayer70, i9 Torch, Flow EX, XT Brakes, 5050 s3.

  20. #20
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    I also have a couple mucky nutz. The front works better than the back, although it looks like they have more product than I knew they did. They are super lite weight.

  21. #21
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    I've got a version of those mucky nutz fenders that Mr. Lynch made from a cutting board. Very nice!

  22. #22
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    You can get flexible cutting boards for $2 each and make your own! Super easy and you can custom fit it to your bike for more coverage.
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  23. #23
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    That'd work well too. They're just really thin sheet plastic cut to shape then velcroed or zip tied to your fork arch and lowers. Quick to install and very lo profile and weigh next to nothing.

  24. #24
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    Good tip, thanks!
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    '12 RM Slayer70, i9 Torch, Flow EX, XT Brakes, 5050 s3.

  25. #25
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    i like the idea of using velcro. That would make them easy to take on/off.
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