You love your ride to work, but as you look out the window it seems wholly unappealing; rain is blowing in on an icy south-westerly, the trees hang heavy with moisture, and the sky is the colour of dirty tin. You imagine your fingers freezing to the handlebars and wheels flinging gritty water into your eyes. You can see yourself arriving shivering and bedraggled.
So what can you do to battle the elements? Some will prescribe a teaspoon of cement (ie, harden up), and to a certain degree this is helpful: riding in cold weather is usually not as bad as you thought it would be, and your body will adapt to it over time. But certain equipment and clothing can help a great deal in making the conditions more tolerable, and therefore easier to keep riding through the winter. Instead being stuck on a stuffy train with hundreds of others, inhaling their odours, contracting their germs, you could be pedalling through the sharp crispness of a winter’s morning, feeling fresh and alive. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s available.
Mudguards are a no-brainer for winter commuting. They can be inexpensive, easy to install and help to keep you clean, dry and comfortable. Here are a few options we stock at Velo:
Velox Snap-on Mudguard-$15
Cheap and light, the Velox Snap-on mudguard installs under your saddle in seconds. This is a great option to protect your butt from the dreaded back-wheel spray.
Zefal Deflector RC50-$30
Another low-cost option, the Zefal Deflector RC50 attaches easily to your seat post and offers more protection than the Velox Snap-on guard.
Full-coverage mudguards like these are bolted onto the bike, and can take a little while to install (we can do it for you for $30), but give you much more protection than other mudguards. They not only keep your bum dry, but also your feet, legs, body and bike. Keeping the bike dry and clean means that it will run smoother and require less maintenance over time.
Lights are not only legally required for night-time riding, they are critical for safety. A good set of lights will greatly increase your visibility, as well as allow you to see pot-holes and other hazards. At Velo we stock a wide range of Serfas USB-rechargeable lights, which are high-quality and come with a lifetime warranty. Here are a couple of our more popular sets.
The Quasar lights are bright, excellent value and throw light widely, making you visible from many angles. However if you also want to get a good view of the road in front of you, you may consider this next set.
The front light in this set is a high-powered, spotlight-type light that clearly illuminates the road ahead and is great for riding along dark paths and streets. Also includes bright rear light with good side-visibility.
Factors to consider for a cycling jacket are water-resistance, breathability and visibility. At Velo we stock a range of Proviz jackets and gilets (vests), which are some of the most visible garments on the planet. This is achieved through the integration of millions of reflective beads into the fabric. The result is an astonishingly reflective garment that greatly improves your safety at night.
Proviz garments are waterproof, rather than merely water-resistant. While this means you won’t have any seepage in extended downpours, it does make the jacket a bit less breathable, making it easier to overheat. So if you tend to ride hard, you may find yourself getting hot quickly, in which case a water-resistant jacket may be better for you. If not, Proviz is a great choice.
Proviz Switch Jacket $190, and Gilet (vest) $110
The Switch jacket and gilet are reversible-with a reflective side and a fluorescent side-giving you outstanding visibility in daylight or at night.
Anyone who’s ridden in cold weather will tell you that your fingers freeze up pretty quickly without protection. Here’s a couple of warm gloves available at Velo.
These gloves are windproof, and will keep your hands nice and toasty.
A lighter thermal glove for those want to keep the chill off their hands but don’t want to overheat.
Ortlieb panniers were originally designed for cycle touring, but have become popular in the commuting market for a number of very good reasons:
- the most pertinent thing for winter riding is that they are completely waterproof, so you can be sure that your spare clothes, laptop and classified military documents will stay dry
- they are a great way to carry things on your bike, rather than in a backpack, and thus avoid back-sweat
- they are very easy to attach and remove from the bike, and can be used as a shoulder bag when you’re not riding
- they are made in Germany and come with a five year warranty. Ortlieb is a by-word for quality, and their panniers tend to last decades.
The Back Roller Classics are the original and (many will argue) the best Ortlieb panniers. The value choice for waterproof load carrying.
The classic design in a lightweight, hi-vis, highly reflective material.
We hope this helps you to stay warm, dry and safe on your bike this winter.