Cold Weather Cycling

Recent weeks have seen the temperature gauge in the North of England take a nosedive, but that doesn’t mean your cycle has to hibernate. Autumn and Winter cycling can reap the most benefits, with sublime sunrises on your way to work and it has a knack for making that first cuppa of the day taste that tiny bit better than usual.

We know cycling during the colder months can seem a little bit intimidating at times, so we’ve decided to share a few tips to keep you on your cycle during the colder months…

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Waking up on a cold morning to cycle to work is made so much easier if you prepare properly. Make sure to get your cycling clothes prepped the night before so they are ready to get into straight away, and all of your work clothes and laptop etc are packed and ready to go.

The same applies for your cycle. Do your tyres need pumping up? Chain needing some attention? Make a habit of checking your bike over the night before and making sure it is ready to roll come the morning. Here is a short checklist of what to do the night before:

  • Check the bike over and adjust if needed.
  • Prepare the clothes, helmet, shoes you will be cycling in and lay them out ready to go (see point below on keeping warm!)
  • Prepare everything needed for work, school or wherever it is you may be travelling to the night before. The last thing you want to be doing on a dark winter’s morning is ironing a shirt!

Be seen

Winter brings with it shorter days, which can mean travelling to and from work in the dark or during sunrise and sunset.  Here are a few tips of what can help you be seen (and be able to see yourself)!

  • Make sure there is enough charge on your light, both front and rear. It is also a good idea to take a spare set, just in case your main set run out unexpectedly.
  • High Visibility is a good idea whilst cycling on the roads to make other road users aware of your presence. Not just bright tops, but anything reflective on moving parts of you and your bike really stand out. Spoke reflectors, reflective arm and ankle bands and reflective vests are all good ideas. Reflective tape is great to get to stick to bikes, helmets and bags.

Image: Sustrans

Choose the correct clothes

If you have the luck of only having a short journey to work, then you can probably get away with wearing the clothes you will be in for the rest of the day. Anything more that 15/20 minutes (about 3 miles) generally warrants having a dedicated set of clothes to cycle in. Here are a few tips of what to look for:

  • Breathable material: You don’t want sweat clinging to your clothes during winter.  Your clothes will keep all the moisture and will cool your body. Not good in winter! Look for breathable t-shirts and jerseys.
  • Layers: Depending on the temperate, starting with 2-3 layers is usually a good starting point in winter. We’d then recommend having another one in your bag as back up if it’s really chilly, and having the ability to take a layer off if you are too warm (so make sure there is some space in your bag!). Don’t forget your waterproofs too!
  • Extremities: Head, feet and hands:

Head: Having a thin beanie/snood under your helmet helps keep your head warm whilst being breathable too.

Feet: Having 1 or 2 pairs of socks on is a good idea. Having a thin pair first and then a thicker woollier/merino pair on after is a good combination. Just make sure your shoes have enough space, so they don’t start to restrict circulation. Then your feet will really get cold. If it’s raining, then a waterproof sock or shoe cover may be a good idea.

Gloves: Don’t go for the biggest woolliest pair. Your hands will sweat and then become cold. Having a warm pair which are breathable is advisable. If it’s especially cold, a thin wool glove underneath your main pair will work wonders.

Remember to keep your cycling clothes somewhere warm and air them out during the day, if possible.

The bike

  • Mudguards will really help with water splash from the road surface as well as keeping you as dry as possible during downpours.
  • Brakes. Check the wear of the pads regularly as they wear down much more quickly in worse weather.
  • Keep your chain clean and use a wet weather lube to increase longevity.
  • Keep it as clean as possible, the longer it is left uncleaned, the quicker parts will wear and will need replacing more often.

Enjoy it!

Getting out of the front door is the hardest part of winter cycling. Yes, it may be colder than you would like for the first 5 minutes, but once your core body temperature rises you will be toasty! As well as getting in some physical activity whilst commuting, it will also have a great impact on your mental health, so get yourself out and enjoy the crisp air and you will arrive at your destination raring to go for the day!

Check out our YouTube Channel for tips on maintaining your bike.

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