It may be cold here in Seattle, but it’s dry and I wanted to take advantage of that. I purchased a new bike a couple of weeks ago, and I have been dying to ride it outside. (In case you’re curious, after looking at several road bike brands, I eventually went with a Novara Divano from REI.)
The forecast said it would be sunny and in the 40’s in the afternoon, so I scheduled a road bike date with some friends. Unfortunately, the weather people were wrong and it was 34 and cloudy. But we still went. I had a couple of pieces of great cycling gear for cold weather that worked great, but there were some other things I wished I’d had.
Cycling Gear for Cold Weather
Wind- and water-proof pants! Luckily, I had picked up a pair of pants at REI after Christmas that were perfect for cold-weather cycling. The Novara Tempest Bike Tights were awesome! (Novara also makes a the Tempest Bike Tight for men.) Soft on the inside with a water-resistant, stretch-woven laminate shell that’s water-proof and wind-proof up to 60 mph, these pants were perfect for the cold, cold bike ride. They also didn’t rip when I fell off my bike and onto my knee. And I wasn’t too hot once I warmed up while riding up hills.
Basically, if you are going to ride your bike in cold weather, you’ll need something that can protect you from the wind, but that can manage your body heat, so you don’t get all sweaty inside. A build up of sweat inside your pants can make you cold in freezing weather.
Core and Arms
I received a Pearl Izumi Barrier Convertible Jacket for Christmas, and I am so glad I had it for the cold-weather ride. (Click here to see the men’s version.) It was great against the wind, but had ventilation so I didn’t get all sweaty inside it. If I’d gotten too hot, I could’ve chosen to zip off the sleeves. Plus, it is bright yellow so I was easy to see on that cloudy day. (It also didn’t rip when I fell off my bike.)
Underneath my cycling jacket, I put on two sweat-wicking base layers. (The Pearl Izumi jacket is very lightweight.) This was perfect. I was neither too cold or too hot on my core. Very important. If I’d been too warm, however, I could’ve removed one of the layers. Layers are the way to go if you want to ride your bike in the cold weather.
Neck, Head and Face
One of my base layers had a nice zip-up, so my neck was somewhat covered. That would’ve been fine for running, but on the bike, I was concerned about wind. I found a fleece scarf that worked great.
But they actually make cycling gear for cold weather to keep your neck and face warm. A lot of the advance cyclists I saw out there were wearing balaclavas, which are like hoods that cover your neck, ears, head and the lower half of your face. Click on the link to see a Bontrager Balaclava with a great feature that allows you to pull down the part that covers your face if you get too warm.
I wished I’d had a pair of clear cycling glasses, like these from Smith, or goggles. I wore a pair of regular sunglasses, but it was a little dark for them.
Hands and Feet
My cycling gear for my hands and feet was ineffective. That’s because it was running gear. I wore running gloves, and I could’ve used something breathable, but sweat-wicking. I probably could’ve used my ski gloves, but there are a lot of great cycling gloves for cold-weather riding out there. Click the link to see some cold-weather cycling glove suggestions from Bicycling.com.
I wore cold-weather socks under my regular cycling shoes, and my toes were frozen after an hour of riding. They hurt. Next time, I will get a pair of booties to put over my shoes to keep the wind off my poor little piggies. Even a pair of thermal toe covers, like these from Pearl Izumi, would’ve helped a lot. Make sure you protect your toes. You sort of need them.