Western Washington Winter Weather riding gear... whats the best!?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Western Washington Winter Weather riding gear... whats the best!?

    Winter is coming and last year I came to terms with the fact that I'm a much better biker than snowboarder. I have more fun riding, spend less money & don't have to drive as far.

    Last year I did a fair amount of winter riding, ended up getting beyond filthy, cold & wet but it was still great.

    This year I'd like to get a few key pieces of gear sorted out prior to the maelstrom of mud and muck that will surely come.

    This is a list of what I think is a winter necessity and or what I'm using.

    Fenders: SKS shockboard front & xtra dry 3 rear. Often I will knock the rear fender to the side a bit while mounting/dismounting and this adds a bit of grit to the ride.

    Tires: I'm on a panaracer kick lately so it's a Rampage SC up front for my seattle rig & going to try out some Trailrakers down south

    Outer Layer: Old goretex Burton AK outfit. Gets a lil stuffy but keeps me warm & dry-esque, sweat tends to accumulate on the hills.

    Inner Layer: cheap fleece tops & bottoms.

    Socks: Thick wool generics. The feet are going to get soaked, might as well stick with wools ability to stay warm when wet.

    Shoes: All season non waterproof modified Nike Wildedge. HTey were cheap, have a stiff sole & gripped like hell on the flat pedals once I cut the knobs off where they sat on the pedals.


    Gloves: Last year I had a set of neoprene mx gloves. This year I'll be testing out a set of camelbak cold weather gloves. Hoping to stay warm enough without the bulk of a full winter glove. I've fallen in love with their Impact CT full finger gloves for non winter riding and I've been more than pleased. Hopefully the coldweather version works out as well.

    Eye protection: After a good soggy run @ Tiger a month ago I don't even know if there is eye protection that can stand up to the wet muddy conditions up here... either fogging over or covered in mud. That was my experience without a front fender atleast... hopefully the new SKS shockboard will reduce a bit of the organic matter spraying my face when I gain some speed.

    Aside from that It's going to be a great season of nasty dirty winter riding... if you've got any input please drop it here. I'd love to get some tips to stay drier, cleaner & more mechanically reliable this season.

  2. #2
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    Totally agree with you on the biking v.s. snowboarding point. Suckage at all board sports+cost+drive time = year round biking.

    Fenders are great and glasses are bad in my experience.

    Tires I've run pretty much nothing but Continental's the last ten years. They have a very open tread design which sheds mud well. But there are many tires that work well that's just my preference.

    For temps above 50 rain or dry I stick baggy mtb shorts. For gnarlier weather I use water resistant bike pants that the legs zip off If I get too hot. Or a good pair of leg warmers will work good even in wet weather. Fleece pants sound too hot for 97% of the winter riding I do. My Pearl Izumi vest is another favorite item. Its wind proof in the front and fleece lined so it's pretty warm but it's a vest so it's no suffocating. And yes wool socks are the way to go. Although I usually go with nicer bike to snowboard specific socks, they're nicer and not as thick but still warm.

    Those are my thoughts for what they're worth.

  3. #3
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    I've become resigned to that fact that my eye wear will fog up the second I stop, but they usually clear up as soon as I get going. I tried applying cat crap Amazon.com: EK Cat Crap Anti-fog Treatment Paste: Sports & Outdoors but it didn't do much.

    For shoes, I love my 5.10's. Last year I tried to venture through a few puddles that ended up being really sticky muck and 8-10 inches deep. I had to get off and push my bike out. Feet were both soaked but still plenty warm for the rest of the hour-ish ride back to the car.

    Otherwise I layer up and wear a rain jacket if it's really pouring. I can't say I love winter riding, but I'm glad with a few clothing choices we can pretty much ride year round here.

  4. #4
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    I ride pretty much weekly out in Capitol Forest, which is a mudfest in the winter time. Here are some items of gear that I've been happy with:

    TOP
    1) Merino wool baselayer with jersey or something else over the top, depending on the temperatures

    2) Endura MT500 jacket - pricey, but waterproof, mudproof. Worth it in my opinion.

    BOTTOM
    1) Smartwool or similar ski/snowboard socks. Love the long wool socks.

    2) Tights

    3) Endura waterproof pants - again, pricey but worth it. I have the Endura MT500 knickers for "warmer" wintery temperatures BUT I would rather overheat than be cold and wet.

    4) Neoprene shoe covers

    I hate wearing eyewear in the winter, as it fogs up and gets coated in mud splatter instantly.

    Another winter must-have is some toasty clothes to change into right after the ride. It's the first thing I do once I finish riding. It makes such a difference when enjoying the post-ride beer or the long drive home.

  5. #5
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    More apparrel

    I wear booties in the winter, really makes a huge difference. Don't know how you would do that with shoes for flats though. In addition to keeping you warmer, the booties help preserve the shoes from getting saturated mud.

    Balaclava really keeps me warm for very little weight. Other times just a cloth earmuff.

    If it is a climb then I carry two extra layers and put them on closest to my skin at the top, and put the soaking wet stuff on top of that. Also, I carry spare pair of gloves for the descent. This is also good for fireroads or anything with speed, cause the end of the ride gets really cold if you are wet and going fast. If not a climb or high speed trail, such as tolt/tokul/duthie, I don't bother with those extras.

    I keep a beach towel in the car for times I'm too lazy to change in the parking lot, to sit on so the seat doesn't get muddy yucky.

    Zip lock bags for wallet/phone/gps/etc, never leave that stuff in the car.

    I frequently subscribe to the ride hard put away wet syndrome, but at the least, hang up the clothes so they don't get moldy, and wd-40 or oil the chain so water doesn't mess it up.

    I'm surprised nobody mentioned the advantage of SS in the winter yet. Frequently I use gears, but last winter was entirely SS (although I didn't ride as much last winter). At any rate, gears are good for climbs, but no reason for gears at Duthie, and Tolt you only need it for the initial IAB climb.

    All other things mentioned earlier on this thread, good stuff

  6. #6
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    Absolutely agree on the SS in the winter time! That is an important winter riding tool as well. After having my expensive FS geared completed overhauled after only a few months of winter riding, I decided that the less moving parts to break, seize, or clog with mud, the better and bought a Bianchi Rita SS 29er. It was a great decision! They money I spent on the Rita was equal to the price I would have spent keeping my nice bikes nice through the winter months and then in racing condition during the summer. Been riding it for 2 and a half wet seasons....

  7. #7
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    I don't really have much helpful information to add - probably shouldn't respond, but wth.

    I find that tights + long sleeve insulated cycling jacket - with baggy shorts and a tee worn over them, of course - plus long-finger gloves, booties for clipless or warm socks w/flats and a scull cap under the helmet is fine. Assuming a healthy dose of pedaling.

    Only other thoughts I have are: 1.) riding when it's well below freezing is the best possible scenario; you'll stay dry and rail the frozen earth like a Japanese bullet train; 2.) I just don't ride when the ground has been drenched to swamp and over 31F - not worth the cleanup, trail damage, etc IMO; 3.) the high elevation rides around the Seattle area are buried all winter, so don't buy gear for something that's not possible to do (that is, plan on lower elevation stuff); 4.) bike/board/foot/whatever, you're always better dry than warm - you can fix warm more easily than you can fix wet. Avoid non-breathable or water retaining materials; 5.) keep a lot of old rags handy for drying your rotors, chain, chainrings, etc., and try some Dumond Tech chain lube. Lots of riding in the wet lowlands here will age your rig in dog years.

    Cheers!
    --
    -bp

  8. #8
    Daniel the Dog
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    Winter riding in Washington is marginal at best but what are you going to do but dream about a warm place

  9. #9
    Justin Vander Pol
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    Here's my winning formula: Years and years of refinement went into this finely honed list. Basically, ditch the water proof or goretex for wool. Waterproof = sweaty wet and clammy.

    1. Front mini-fender or tube strapped between your stanchions to prevent mud in eyes.
    2. If you're on a hardtail, then rear fender (forget it on a fully, doesn't work very well).
    3. Ditch your fully and ride a SS hardtail. See above.
    4. Full length 5mm cable housing. That or ditch the gears and ride a SS hardtail. Put it away wet, and it'll always work perfect.
    5. Sticky rubber on your tires.

    Clothes
    1. Thin Merino wool base layer shirt.
    2. Poly or nylon second layer.
    3. Light weight NON-WATERPROOF windbeaker vest for getting warmed up or when it's below freezing.

    Yes, wear this stuff even when it's fully raining. Never wear rain gear. Ever.

    4. Warm gloves. Always have a second pair of normal gloves with you. Dry hands = happy hands.
    5. Nylon riding pants.
    6. Wool light weight hiking socks. (light weight hikers are still really thick)
    7. Five-Ten impacts or other loose fitting and flexible shoes. Clipless SUCK in the winter. Your feet WILL get cold. Too rigid, doesn't allow blood flow, too tight, etc.
    8. Always keep a knit hat in your pack.
    9. No glasses for places like Duthie, Tokul, St. Eds. Glasses if you have long, fast descents. Never use glasses when it's raining or foggy.

  10. #10
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    my kit

    Top-
    Patagonia R1 Longsleeve. I'll go R2 if it's super cold.
    Patagonia Fleece vest- Windproof on the front

    Bottoms-
    Endura - Thermolite Bib Knickers (these things are so damn warm! It has to be in the 40's before I will even think about putting these on)

    Endura Superlite Shorts- They come down to the bottom of my knee and can fit over my 661 pads.

    Shoes-
    Lake waterproof mountain bike shoes- These are the key IMHO. Keeping your feet dry and happy is worth a lot of $$$. I don't even have to do the wool socks until the 30's

    I have a OR windbreaker that I throw on for my decent, it balls up nice and small and is a blaze orange color.

  11. #11
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    Love the full housing idea. I've been thinking about running full housing after the aforementioned Tiger ride. Half way down the shifter got sluggish and I had only 5 months of infrequent riding on the housing /cable.

    Did a quick tear down and found the middle section going from top tube to seatstay was the culprit, the housing looked like it was force fed sediment.

    Since the existing cable was only dirty I did a quick fix. I replaced the nasty section of housing with a fresh piece. But I reused the cable. I made a fresh cut at the end & dipped 1/4" of the end in hot wax to keep it from fraying. Once the wax cools it keeps the strands from getting pulled free when getting fed back into the housing.

    If this contamination happens again ( almost 100% sure it will) I'll switch to full housing for sure.

  12. #12
    Justin Vander Pol
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    eshew, full housing really does help. I also find that 5mm housing, instead of the "higher end" 4mm housing works better in our gritty nastiness. I've also had good luck with the black teflon coated cables that come with a new SRAM shifter, though I usually run standard stainless cables since they're a lot cheaper.

  13. #13
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    I picked up a pair of the Lake LX140 all-weather shoes off eBay for $47 (seller has a bunch). I used them for the first time yesterday and loved them. Super comfy and kept my feet warm and dry. My toes would have been wet and cold with my regualr biking shoes.

  14. #14
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    Endura MT500 jacket
    light merino wool base layer
    shimano mw80 shoes
    castelli winter gloves

    SS bike

    I rode with this set up last year except for shoes. They are new for this season. Dry feet and warm hands are key for me.

    Northwest riding is a testament to ones biking passion.

  15. #15
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    Everything else is relatively easy to accomplish...except my feet! I'm a flats rider and keeping my feet dry/warm is difficult. I tried a pair of waterproof socks inside my 5 10s, but I need a larger sized shoe to accommodate their bulk, and to be honest, while they do keep my feet dry, they aren't very warm.

    Ideas welcome!

  16. #16
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    Agree on the fender thing. No one seems to make a decent one. Fortunately they are easy to make out of RC airplane foam and a cover of carbon fiber, for just a few bucks. You can make them as wide or narrow, or short or long as you want. My first one I made was way too burly, I felt like I could stand on it. Surprisingly strong stuff.

    I've done most of my snow riding with a Hammerschmidt and Alfine-8. If you have the gears you definately use them. It also saves the knees. At 5F internal gears dont shift too well, but at least they dont pack up like cassettes. A hammerschmidt and SS rear cog would be a nice 2x1 combo.

    Ive used all sorts of shoes and sock combos. In the really cold, I use two thin to medium weight socks with two pastic bags on the outside of each for water and wind protection. This seems to work best as the cheaper solution. I use FiveTen as well, or a Merrill trail runner if I think there will be a bit of hike n bike.

    I currently ride with Sombrio vulcanized waterproof pants (origin snowboard I believe, but marketed to bikers). Any decent outer shell is good. I've used Columbia and Mountain Hardware the most, as well as cheap knockoffs and Patagonia. I would say using a cheap knockoff of a real brand works well, crashes in a Patagonia or Arcteryx hurt more than the body.

    To be honest, it doesn't get that cold in WA (even eastern WA) compared to CO and NY. So, I am fine in lighter gear. Get your hands and feet squared away, keep the wet out, and you are golden.
    Regional Race Manager, Knolly Bikes
    Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming

  17. #17
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    These shots are from last Sunday ride, near my home, the ride starts at sea level and climbs to 4361 ft. over 12.45 miles. Which means the temperature and conditions in general change as you climb.



    At 2500 ft



    Summit 4361ft

    Last Sunday I started the ride with my Endura softshell tights, I forget the name, but they are sealed and made from a soft Lycra like material that has a thin fleece inside.
    I was warm going up and perfect going down, short with a lighter shell would have sufficed, but these work great below freezing and in the wet, and I mean very wet.
    Sorry I do not remeber the model, but with Endura stuff, once you toss the tags, you have to go to teir web to match the item with a name.

    On top I almost always start with an Endura BaaBaa merino wool base layer alone, these are truly great, they keep you dry while climbing. At 2500 ft prior to a short descent of 2miles, I stopped and added an 20 year old Cannondale wind breaker, with fleece back, and also swapped my summer gloves, I forget what they are, some cheap vented things, for my Endura Deluge gloves.

    I wear Shimano MW80 boots, in the winter, they have worked great for me, except for the fact that they use neoprene for the cuff which gives me a severe dermatitis, to avoid this I use some hydrocortizone cream which unfortunately I have to get a prescription for, but if I do not wash my Endura Thermolite socks, it lasts a few rides
    I have had to walk on deep snow for 5 miles with these boots/socks and I never got cold or wet.

    After the short descent the climb resumes, I kept the previous stuff on until 4 miles from
    the summit, where it becomes really exposed and windy, I stopped very briefly and added a home made fleece head band over my ears.
    By that time, the weather had closed in and it was very humid, riding inside the clouds.

    When I reached the summit I pulled my Endura flight something or another, hard shell sealed no hoodie, very wind proof and reasonably waterproof so far, also I put my old baklava made by Hind which must also be approaching 20 years of age, and headed down.

    At about 2200 ft I flatted which gave me an opportunity to hook up my helmet light, it took two stops to pump the tire for it to seal and the third time to bring it up to 30 psi.

    I got to the car in total darkness which is always a really cool way ( pun intended ) to end a ride.

    I carry some chemical hand warmers for emergencies, when fixing something necessitates taking gloves off and afterwards warmth recovery, I just shove them inside gloves.

    PG
    Last edited by Patagrande; 11-11-2011 at 07:11 PM.

  18. #18
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    Agree completely on the glasses in the Seattle rainy / cold fall weather. I spent over $500 on prescription Oakley Jawbones (insurance covered it so no loss) and I still can't see anything between the fogging (even though the lenses are vented) and the water droplets on the lenses, even at speed.

    I ride a cyclocross bike, not mountain, but just installed Planet Bike Cascadia fenders - awesome and worth the money. I think they make mountain bike fenders too.

    My gear for the wet & cold: Ibex wool jersey + cannondale jacket (not a rain jacket, will soak through if very wet). Ibex El Fito knickers on the bottom, with long winter cycling socks. Clipless shoes with toe covers (these don't work, feet still get wet and cold - I'm going to try switching to full booties). Gloves are Pearl Izumi Cyclone - absolutely no good in the wet, will be returning them.

    So mostly a list of what NOT to do.

  19. #19
    Ancient Astronaut
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    I have tried visorgogs over prescription glasses, they work ok, but in my case they touch the side of the frames causing some pressure on the bridge.

    They sell for 6 buck at lab supply stores. I found a link to these on the Icebike Home Page web site, its old but there are some good ideas on winter riding.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by juice View Post
    Here's my winning formula: Years and years of refinement went into this finely honed list. Basically, ditch the water proof or goretex for wool. Waterproof = sweaty wet and clammy.

    1. Front mini-fender or tube strapped between your stanchions to prevent mud in eyes.
    2. If you're on a hardtail, then rear fender (forget it on a fully, doesn't work very well).
    3. Ditch your fully and ride a SS hardtail. See above.
    4. Full length 5mm cable housing. That or ditch the gears and ride a SS hardtail. Put it away wet, and it'll always work perfect.
    5. Sticky rubber on your tires.

    Clothes
    1. Thin Merino wool base layer shirt.
    2. Poly or nylon second layer.
    3. Light weight NON-WATERPROOF windbeaker vest for getting warmed up or when it's below freezing.

    Yes, wear this stuff even when it's fully raining. Never wear rain gear. Ever.

    4. Warm gloves. Always have a second pair of normal gloves with you. Dry hands = happy hands.
    5. Nylon riding pants.
    6. Wool light weight hiking socks. (light weight hikers are still really thick)
    7. Five-Ten impacts or other loose fitting and flexible shoes. Clipless SUCK in the winter. Your feet WILL get cold. Too rigid, doesn't allow blood flow, too tight, etc.
    8. Always keep a knit hat in your pack.
    9. No glasses for places like Duthie, Tokul, St. Eds. Glasses if you have long, fast descents. Never use glasses when it's raining or foggy.
    I agree with most except the clipless thing. If it is cold enough to freeze your clipless setup then by all means flats. But if not then Shimano clipless pedals with Shimano MW80 shoes. Nice and toasty toes and damn near water proof(well close).

  21. #21
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    I just re-did my entire getup and it's a great formula so far (except the gloves, see below):

    FENDERS (the most important addition): Planet Bike Cascadia

    Top:
    - Ibex Giro Full Zip wool jersey (short sleeve)
    - SmartWool TML Light Full-Zip Jacket on top of that
    - Old Cannondale full zip shell on top of that

    Bottoms:
    - Ibex El Fito wool knickers

    Socks:
    - SmartWool light cushion (ankle-high)

    Shoes / covers:
    - Sidi clipless
    - Gore Bike Wear Oxygen SO Thermo Overshoe

    Gloves:
    - I bought mid-weight ski/snowboard gloves but dexterity and breathability in the palm area are a problem (though temp at the fingers is about right)
    - I have now ordered Bar Mitts, which I am excited about

  22. #22
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    Here's an update from this last WET AS HELL WA weekend

    So what I love!

    Fenders! Words can describe how much I love em, but I dont feel like typing that much. the SKS shockboard may not be that durable (if you break the quick release just keep it taped) but it works well, quite well.

    Mud Tires! Once again amazed at the difference. Started out on Friday with a relatively new pair of Panaracer Fire XC's, they were ok but you could tell the traction was limited. More than a few times I was doing a front & rear drift through corners with a foot down... while it may sound cool, it gets a bit scary when trees are 2-3 feet away & you're riding @ night. Tried out a set of Panaracer Trailrakers 2.1" and it almost feels like summer again, dare I say endless traction? Honestly I wasnt mentally prepared to find the limit on these tires. The amount of wet traction these tires give will take another few rides to sink in...scary really.

    Lights! Yep with night time hitting @ 5-6 go prepared. I've got a pretty limited setup... 1 light, not the best but it is a good cheap alt. NiteRider MiNewt 350. No issues with the rain while I was out. Did have to dry off the batteries charging whole to get the battery to indicate charging only 1 time.

    Goretex shells (non insulated): While I did get a bit stuffy dragging my ass back up to the top of the hills, it beats the hell out of gaining straight soaked water weight. I did get a bit damp because of sweat (Nothing like being warm after 2 hours riding in 45* weather), just had a light fleece under my top & biking spandex under the botoms.

    *Cheap set of "US Army goretex pants" can be found for $40-$50 on ebay. I wore these for the 2 days of riding & a work party...they are simple, lil bit of velcro & a drawstring, but tough to beat for the $ and you can take em off in 15 seconds after the ride. Nice, clean & dry underneath

    Gloves: Tried out a set of camelbak "cold weather" gloves & have zero complaints. They arent water proof but I had no issues with keeping my hands warm.

    Feet: By far the wettest. I dont think there is anyway to get around soaked feet. SO wear wool socks I guess
    Last edited by eshew; 11-15-2011 at 02:24 AM.

  23. #23
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    My waterproof lake shoes kept my feet completely dry on Sunday. Everything else was soak!

  24. #24
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    My 5-10s kept my feet nice and warm on this Sunday morning crisper ride, was around the 28 degrees mark.



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