With weather-proof clothing, a bike equipped for wet or slippery conditions, and a little extra willpower you can enjoy winter riding into the full extent.
The popularity of winter cycling is rising.
“Some less dedicated cyclists tend to reduce their time on the saddle during the winter months in favor of other activities, but hard-core cyclists never stop riding. Winter training is the sine qua non condition for preparing the next season,” says Maxime Brunand, Product Line Manager Road, Mavic Marketing.
If you are a newcomer to winter cycling, you should first update your wardrobe, advises Brunand. He starts with the most crucial part of your winter apparel: the jacket.
“A winter jacket must keep you warm, but also be super breathable. As soon as you start to sweat inside, you’ll be cold.”
The base layer is the second essential item for the winter cyclist’s comfort.
“A good base-layer will isolate your skin from the jacket, should the latter one get wet and cold. The best ones are made of Merino wool or a wool-synthetic mixture.”
Good cycling bib tights should protect your legs, but also offer freedom of movement.
“Some bib tights offer a nice water repellency, but the top ones are those offering a windshield membrane to protect your leg muscles against the cold and the wet.”
Gloves, shoes, and gear for the head protection are also among winter essentials.
“To stay warm all over, you must keep your toes, fingers and head warm. But then again, you should avoid sweating at any cost. You need to choose your gear according to the temperature.”
“If it’s not that cold, use toe warmers and light gloves. When the temperature slips down, go for full booties and insulated gloves. It could also be a good idea to use Merino wool under gloves. A thin balaclava offers extra protection for the head area.”
Winter bike with disc brakes
In bikes, you have two main choices. You can either equip your bike for wet or snowy conditions or use a different bike in winter.
“Adding fenders makes the ride much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, efficient fenders can’t be used on a race bike, and maybe you want to save your race bike from the nasty conditions like water, moisture, and salt. So, having a winter bike with disc brakes, bigger tires and some clearance to install wide and long fenders can be a smart investment.”
Tires and rims need special attention. On winter rides, since the roads may be dirty, choosing tires with a nice puncture protection belt is a good option to avoid flats. And since the road may be also slippery, increasing tire section is a good idea, too, to increase grip. Go as big as your bike can accept – 28 or 33 mm. If you have a winter bike, it shouldn’t be a problem. And if the roads get icy, go for spike tires.
“Personally, I use lower tire pressure in wet conditions, typically about 10PSI / 0,5bars less. This ensures a better grip.”
New options for indoor training
Over the last few years, a new type of riding has become increasingly popular in winters: indoor training.
“Indoor training used to be boring, as it meant riding alone looking at your garage wall. However, that’s not the case anymore with the rise of new integrated systems. Some trainers are now directly linked to virtual or even real routes that you can experience on a big screen while sharing those rides with other real people and interact or race with them on a common platform. And, finally, you’ll be proud to share these rides on social platforms. Riding indoor becomes much more social and fun.”
Nevertheless, riding outdoors in the fresh winter air is something always worth trying.
“Once you have the right equipment, it’s pretty much a mental thing. Going out to ride in the rain requires solid willpower. In that case, never forget the cycling rule #9: If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.”