Cold Weather Layering Guide for Cyclists

Posted by Aero Tech Designs on Oct 19th 2018


Once your body gets cold, it will try to preserve heat in your core, taking blood supply from your legs. This makes pushing the bike at a race pace very challenging. We have found that it becomes one of those issues that you have to keep pushing through. This is not a debilitating ride-ending problem, but it makes the training experience harder and slower compared to a moderate temperature ride. Cold weather riding requires adequate cold weather riding gear. This can include thermal bibs, long sleeve jerseys, tights, thermal baselayer, wind-proof coats and riding pants. Many riders use neoprene face shields which cover the rider's neck, nose, and cheeks. We use our neoprene shoe covers which we wear over our shoes and we add tip toe warmer inside our socks. The neoprene boot covers provide double insulation for our feet. For cold days, some riders use hand and foot warmers that come in baggies and can be activated when needed and placed inside gloves or shoes. Another issue that riders experience in cold conditions is frozen water bottles. We have found this to be much worse in bottles that have straws with bite valves because the liquid in the straw freezes more quickly than the liquid in the bottle, forming an ice plug. When riding in temperatures in the low 20s, we have found water can freeze in a water bottle as quickly as 15 or 20 minutes. To prevent hydration drinks from freezing, we ride with a backpack where we put insulated water bottles. If you prefer riding without a backpack, choose a route in which you can stop for water.

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Quick facts:

  • Light weight
  • Micro fleece lining
  • Fits face contours
  • Secure velcro closure
  • Covers ears and neck
  • Vent holes prevent moisture buildup
  • Available in three sizes

What we like about it:

The best thing about the Gator Face Protector is how well it fits. This product is made correctly, and does it's job. The fleece is soft and doesn't irritate the skin. The neck cover prevents the cold air from blowing down your shirt. If you hate a cold chapped face, get this! We recommend using this product if your riding and the snow is falling.

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Quick facts:

  • 3M Reflective on front, back, and sides
  • Warm fleece lining
  • Water and wind resistant
  • Tailored for cycling position
  • Three rear pockets
  • Secured zipper back pocket
  • Slim and trim fit

What we like about it:

The visibility of this jacket in safety yellow can't be beat. This jacket was created in partnership with 3M to qualify for their 360 visibility program. We tailored the cut to fit perfectly on the bike. We included three rear pockets across the back. One pocket has an additional pocket that is built in and secured with a zipper. This jacket will allow a rider to ride in temperatures under 32F degrees.

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Quick facts:

  • Reflective shell on outer glove
  • Polyester fleece lining
  • Silicone palm grippers
  • Nose wipe
  • Touchscreen fingertips
  • Snug wrist cuff

What we like about it:

These gloves do it all, and at a very competitive price. We love the visibility of these gloves especially in safety yellow. The cuffs on these gloves can tuck into your jacket sleeves to seal out cold air. The palms are coated in silicone drips to keep you from slipping on your handlebars. The inside of these gloves are a polyester fleece which are warm and wick moisture which will keep you hands dry.

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Quick facts:

  • Three layer waterproof fabric
  • Drawstring waist
  • Articulated knee
  • Zippered ankles
  • Reflective zippers

What we like about it:

These pants will let you ride comfortably into the coldest weather. The front material is windproof and waterproof. The knees have a built in stretch articulation to prevent binding when pedaling. When it's really cold, we toss a pair of stretch fleece tights underneath, and find that we can ride into the 0°F temps.

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Quick facts:

  • 3mm neoprene
  • YKK Zipper
  • Reinforeced soles
  • Reflective elements
  • Touchscreen fingertips
  • Reflective zippers

What we like about it:

The Neoprene Shoe Covers will help out on those wet rides. If you're using road shoes with a lot of vents, these will help seal them up. These fit best with road clipless shoes/pedal setup. These help take the edge off when riding in cold, windy conditions. However, when faced with extreme cold and snow, it may be time to switch to a more substantial shoe.  

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Quick facts:

  • Lightweight and packable
  • Binding on edge
  • Sweat wicking
  • Covers ears
  • Fits under helmet

What we like about it:

The fleece in this helmet liner adds enough warmth on those cold days and nights. It's not too thick, and feels good under the helmet. The sides come down far enough to cover the ears which is great. If you get too warm, it's easy to take off and store in any pocket or bag. All in all this helmet liner is an easy way to add warmth to your winter commutes.

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Quick facts:

  • Snug fit
  • Fleece lining
  • Long torso
  • Flatlocked seams
  • Great first layer

What we like about it:

This base layer fits snug which is great to keep the warmth in. The spandex content in this garmet adds a nice amount of compression which helps keep your muscles loose. The torso has a generous length in it which keeps the base layer in place when on the bike. The fleece backing is soft and warm. This makes a great first layer.

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Quick facts:

  • Three color options
  • Fleece lining
  • Three back pockets
  • Full zipper
  • 100% wicking polyester
  • Raglan sleeve

What we like about it:

The Whistler jersey fits great. It's very functional for commuting in the winter. The Fleece Baselayer fits great underneath this jersey which makes riding in very cold temperatures more bearable. It's available in three colors, and the safety yellow is very visibile. The fabric is a wicking polyester that will quickly dry as you sweat. This jersey makes a great outer layer.

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Quick facts:

  • Reflective elements
  • Zippered ankles
  • Drawstring waist
  • Warm fleece fabric
  • 100% wicking polyester
  • Triumph chamois

What we like about it:

The fabric in these tights are soft and warm fleece. It has 4-way stretch which is very comfortable on the bike. The zippered ankles are a nice finish that adds a reflective element for low light visibility. These fleece tights are padded, but are also available in an unpadded version. These are a great first layer for cold cycling with the Windpant overtop.

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Quick facts:

  • 3mm neoprene
  • Fits in shoe
  • Blocks wind
  • One size
  • Sold in pairs

What we like about it:

When you're out in the elements every little bit of added warmth helps. These tip toe covers do just that. They'll help take the edge of when it's windy and cold outside. These toe covers fit well when worn under the sock, and you'll barely notice them when riding. When the temperature drops, and you have to do everything you can to maximize your warmth these toe covers are essential.

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5 Tips for Cycling in the Cold Weather

Now that the days are getting shorter and the mercury is dropping we need to keep an eye on the forecast and plan ahead to stay warm and safe this autumn. Cycling through the seasons is fun and will keep you fit and happy throughout the colder months of the year. Nothing ruins a ride faster than freezing wet feet and cold hands that never come back to temperature. Our 5 tips will help you stay warm and have your best fall cycling adventure yet!

1.)Prepare your bike: The challenges for a bicycle during the fall and winter months are more of the preventative kind. The main goals are to minimize flats, keep the shifting smooth, and keep the rider dry. Start the season off right with installing fenders and bigger tires with a puncture protection system as soon as the weather changes. In the fall, we have times of rain, sun, or snow, and we recommend having a tire that will perform great in all those conditions while helping keep your flat count to a minimum. The fenders will keep your backside dry when you hit unavoidable puddles. As for the chain and gears, keep your bike clean and happy. You can see our tips here on how to clean and lube properly. A clean bike means less broken parts, less chain oil on your pants and more time for fun.

2.)Know the forecast and pack accordingly: We know it sounds trivial and somewhat daft, but yes, the forecast will create your outfit for the ride. Look at the morning and the afternoon temperatures and conditions. If you are a commuter then prepare accordingly as mornings can be freezing but afternoons maybe toasty and warm. During fall on the east coast the weather can change in a drop of a hat. If the forecast calls for rain around your ride time, pack a small rain jacket. This O2 Rain Shield is cost effective and will get you out of a pinch for sure. Opting for some thicker gloves maybe a good option as well. We recommend wearing toe covers under your shoes, and packing booties if the rain is coming. Wind breakers and vests are a great way to stay warm on descents and cold areas while minimizing added bulk to your jersey or bag. The Endura Pak-a-Jak is great for such days

3.) Be visible: The daylight is getting shorter and shorter and a ride a 5:00pm can mean coming home in the dusk and dark, so prepare with the right gear. Wear high-visual gear in the fall and winter months, keep drivers and others aware of your position on the road. A blinking light for the front and rear of the bike is a way to add protection. The Cat-Eye small ribbon lights and the Fiks Reflective wheel and frame for a double dose of reflectivity are great to use!

4.)Keep those digits toasty: Nothing is worse on a ride then cold hands or toes. The happier your extremities the happier the whole body and mind will be. Get yourself a really good, dependable set of water proof or wind proof gloves to start the season off. Pack for the worst and keep some chemical hand warmers in your saddle bag for your toes and hands. The insulation from the gloves and booties will keep the heat trapped inside and you'll be warm for hours to come. We have a wide selection of full finger gloves.

5.)Food and hydration: With all this prep and planning it's easy to forget the simple things: eating and drinking. Gels and protein bars can get cold, tough and even frozen if the weather is bad enough. Pack comfort foods that not only add nutrients to the body but can also add the kick needed to help you finish your ride strong. Try Apple Cinnamon Hot from Scratch Labs for a holiday taste on your ride or our favorite: Nutella and almond butter on a toasted English muffin wrapped in foil. Whatever you like make sure to eat it because your body needs the fuel when it's working hard keeping you warm and crank up those hills.