Dressing for Winter Cycling – Everything You Need to Know

Posted by on Dec 15, 2010 in Fitness | 0 comments

If you are a fair weather bike-commuter, cycling to work regularly during the summer months and then putting your bike away at the first sign of autumn, you may not have considered how easily you could continue to cycle through the cooler months.

The first, and most obvious, thing that will have to change is your clothing. Bike shorts and a t-shirt may work fine for temperatures above 15C, but as it gets cooler, you will need to gradually add layers. Here’s a detailed breakdown on the required changes.


– cycling shoes with or without socks are fine for 10C +

– from 0C to 10C, add socks

– from -5C to 0C, replace them with warmer socks

– from -10C to -5C, change the cycling shoes to something warmer (hiking boots work well)

– colder than -10, good quality thermal ski socks should help

windproof, waterproof shoe covers will prove useful when it gets below -15C, or when there’s a lot of wet snow around

Lower body:

– cycling shorts down to 10C

– cycling tights to 0C

– warm cycling tights to -5C

– add a wind-breaking layer (doesn’t have to be expensive bike-wear; track pants will do) to -15C

– tights or thermal underwear, fleece pants, and the track pants will take you to -30C remarkably comfortably


– lycra top down to 15C

– add a windbreaker down to 10C

– add a fitted sweater (or long-sleeved t-shirt) down to 0C

– fleece neck-warmer, fitted sweater, fleece sweater, and windbreaker down to -20C

– add thermal underwear down to -30C


– helmet down to -5C

– fleece toque below that

– ski-goggles start to feel really nice below about -10C


– bare to 5C or 10C

– leather/neoprene bike gloves (full-finger) to -5C

– snowboarding mitts (goretex with fleece liners) below that

– extra pair of fleece gloves inside the mitts below -15C

– reusable heat packs inside your mitts (on the backs of your fingers is good) – these are amazing for keeping your hands warm for an hour

The noteworthy thing about all of this is that, if you’re reasonably active anyway, you probably have all, or nearly all, of this lying around your house. No significant cash outlay will be required to stay warm while cycling all through the winter. I speak from experience – in November I cycled to work in -33C weather, and was toasty warm.

How to dress for winter cycling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *