Cold weather gear
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  1. #1
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    Cold weather gear

    Hey everyone,
    I'm new to road cycling, I live in New England, I'm wondering what gear would be good to buy for cooler weather that's reasonable
    pricewise and where the best place to purchase would be. Not sure about on line stores as I wouldn't be able to try anything on or out. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Here in upstate NY it was a foggy 25F ride. I was in my full cold weather gear which was the following:

    -Arm & leg warmers
    -Neoprene windproof shoe covers
    -Windproof gloves
    -Windproof jacket
    -Windproof face mask

    I tend to find decent prices at places like Nashbar and Bike Tires Direct. Competitive Cyclist has good deals once in a while. The best prices on winter gear happen at beginning of spring when nobody needs it any more. If your budget is tight, I'd recommend buying a single set of things like the arm and leg warmers and then buying more in the spring when they're heavily discounted.
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  3. #3
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    I would browse the Apparel and Cycling Clothes subforum, there will be a lot of pre-existing threads with good info in there:

    Apparel and Cycling clothes

    I have Assos, Sugoi, and Novarra (REI) winter caps, all of them work well. For real cold weather make sure you get a cap that covers the ears.

  4. #4
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    To stay reasonable, I'd leverage as much stuff as you currently have. This includes under layers, socks, etc.
    Same rules as summer though - no cotton. As long as you use wicking underlayers, you can build them up for as much warmth as needed. Nashbar sells a very reasonable winter cycling jacket, especially on sale - I own one of these in bright yellow, it delivers a lot of performance for the price
    Nashbar Derby Softshell Jacket

    Specialty stuff - tall windproof booties, windproof helmet cap , windproof gloves w/ liners underneath. I'm also a runner, so had a lot of this breathable layers of winter gear already, and re-use it. Likely skiers have the same stuff. I use Gore booties and head cap, but any decent brand would likely be fine.

    In general, I don't ride below 25-30F, probably because there is usually snow and ice covering the shoulders. Also I tend to ride for 2 hours or more, versus commutes to work. After 1.5 hours it can get a bit cold for me, especially with high winds, no matter how hard I'm working.

  5. #5
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    Wool as great, with wind proof over it.

    I haven't checked recently but Sierra Trading Post was a great place to get wool layers. For stuff like layers and hats, you save a lot by getting stuff not marketed to cyclists. Check out hiking stores.

  6. #6
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    For really cold weather I've found softshell jackets to be fantastic. They breath enough that what sweat I do build doesn't get out of hand so I get super chilled. They are a bit warm anything much over freezing.

    Go for windproof over waterproof, IMO. Most of the time in winter you don't get too wet since snow isn't wet. For me, if it's wet and around freezing temps, I don't ride outside. It's hard on me and it's hard on my bike.

    For riding under 20 degree's or so I'm a fan of a thermal vest under the jacket. That also works pretty well with a jacket that is only a shell and doesn't have the insulation that the softshells have. I know some people really like to use a thermal jersey with a windproof jacket shell instead of getting a dedicated jacket.

  7. #7
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    You want thin layers. I also run and X-C ski, and the gear translates well to cycling. At a basic level you want a wicking layer on the inside and a wind and/or waterproof layer on the outside. To handle colder conditions just add more layers in-between.

    REI or EMS are good places to find gear in general. Usually bike shops are the worst for sticker shock on cycling clothing.

    If you want to only handle cold but dry conditions, then an outer jacket layer can be a very simple and inexpensive shell. For wet conditions it is worth it to spend some $$$ for a cycling specific waterproof jacket that is lightweight and form fitting. You'll want a jacket that zips up to cover your neck area though.

    For inner/wicking layer you really only need simple long underwear. I spent a little more for Craft, which has stuff with windproof layer on the front side, which works really well.

    Keeping feet warm is usually a challenge. You want loose fitting shoes, and it works best to add warmth by covering the outside of the shoes with booties that fit snugly. However, even that stops working effectively for longer rides when its cold enough, and thus it may be worth it to invest in a good winter cycling-specific shoe.

    For hands I've found X-C ski gloves work great, as they are warm and not bulky. For colder weather the lobster-style X-C ski gloves are awesome.

    For legs I've found that simple tights over regular bib shorts works just fine for a wide range of temps. When its colder I may use the Craft long underwear as an additional layer underneath. I also have heavier winter-specific tights, but I find that I rarely need them unless it's really cold (i.e. -10F).

    For head and face I just have a simple headband to cover the ears. For colder temps I'll use a thin X-C ski hat instead. I'm not a fan of using face masks, as I find them to be too warm unless it's super cold (i.e. -10F and below). Your face might be cold for a few minutes, but it warms up quickly and you'll be fine.

  8. #8
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    I'm always amazed that when I'm wearing almost everything I own to stay warm, there's always at least one rider out who's wearing a SS jersey and shorts...people's temp tolerances are all over the map.

    love my UnderArmour cold top...thing is seriously warm.

    I layer up with it, a SS jersey, arm warmers, fleece bibs, fleece gloves, a wind breaker...gets me down to the low-30s, high-20s for rides ~2 hrs....no desire to be out longer than that.

  9. #9
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    The best piece of winter gear I bought was a simple, unlined wind jacket.

    I like to say that it allows all the layers under it to do their jobs properly.

  10. #10
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    Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the input. Also, looking for a good multitool. Any suggestions?

  11. #11
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    I love these little topeak ratchet rocket sets

    https://www.topeak.com/global/en/pro...etrocketlitedx

    Just about everything you need, including tire levers, in a compact pocket/saddlebag friendly kit. I also keep a Park tire boot and a grease monkey wipe in mine.

    I keep this, two CO2 cylinders (covered with cutoffs from an old tube to prevent rattles), a "Pro Bike Tool" inflator, and a spare tube in my saddle bag. I'm also (apparently) a Fred and have a frame pump mounted under one of my bottle cages.

  12. #12
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    Good base layer with additional layers as needed. A good Balaclava.

    For multi tool, these are hard to beat, Very well constructed, light and compact:

    81N+3YIOXXL._SL1500_.jpg

  13. #13
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    The fix it sticks always caught my attention. Biggest thing missing from them is that there's no chain tool included with them.

    I've been using a crankbrothers m17, per my bike shop's recommendation, for the last 3 years and it's been good but it's starting to get pretty rusty from carrying it in my back pocket too much. The "fingers" are getting hard to move and lube isn't helping as much as it used.

  14. #14
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  15. #15
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    A windproof vest, neck gaiter, and ear band are some of my favorite winter clothes. A windproof vest is awesome when zipped up, pretty much disappears when unzipped. Neck gaiter not only keeps the cold air off the neck, it also acts as insulation when the vest or jacket is zipped up -- the vest/jacket feel 5 times as effective when zipped over the bottom of a neck gaiter.

    As stated above, every body is different, so you'll need to experiment to see how much wind proofness you need. The colder the temps, the more important wind proofness is. A windproof jacket with long pit zips is great. I have a Marmot with pit zips that are 2 feet long. It's several years old (5? more?), so not sure if they still make a model with gargantuan pit zips.

    Which brings up another important point -- the more expensive clothes work better and last longer. I bought a lot of Performance Bike branded stuff at first. It worked fine and lasted for a while, but Marmot, Fox, Craft, Gore, etc work better and last longer. If you're pretty sure you're going to stick with it, buy the higher level stuff.

    I spent a lot of money on a variety of shoe covers and even some battery-powered insoles before I finally bought winter shoes. Guess what? Shoes that are designed to keep the heat in are VASTLY more effective than covering up shoes that were designed to let all the heat out. VASTLY more effective.

    I finally bit the bullet and bought some Bar Mitts last year. Wow! No pair of gloves will ever compare to Bar Mitts. I wear a light pair of gloves under the Bar Mitts down to below zero weather and my hands are never cold. They are a little weird to ride with, but there's no better option for keeping your hands warm. At those temps, I use motocross goggles with the nose protector -- they work great!

    One last tip -- steady effort is best. If you do hills, you may start to sweat on the climb and you will get very cold on the descent when going faster and not putting out effort. Flat terrain is your friend so you can adjust your clothes for the temp/effort and then not sweat/freeze.

    Hope that helps!

  16. #16
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    I'm interested in which bar mitts you are using?

    Are they for drop bars? or a straight bar?

    How do they affect braking and shifting?

    I have had challenges with cold hands due to some minor frostbite many years ago. I struggle to keep my hands warm anywhere below 45F. I have some PI Elite ligthweight gloves, and a pair of Craft wind breaker crab claw style mittens. I can manage to ride safely with these (braking and shifting), but they aren't really warm enough if it gets below freezing, even if I wear both.

  17. #17
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    Yesterday, I broke out my old wool Nike jersey- it developed giant moth holes about a minute after I bought it, so I put it away, unsure what to do with it.

    It was about 42 degrees, and that + windbreaker + thin wool socks + hiking pants + cotton headband for the ears was enough.

    My toes started getting cold about 2/3 through the ride, but my fingers were fine despite the usual fingerless gloves.

    I forget the exact brands/fabric of my winter stuff- RNH windproof pants with breathable fabric on the back are awesome, but no longer in production. Usually wear padded shorts under the hiking pants.

    That wool base layer is amazing, though- makes me want to get more!

  18. #18
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    The most cost effective cold weather piece of clothing is a balaclava. I must have 8-19 of them in various weights.

    A set of full length bib tights worn over your shorts is another go to item.

    Gloves are a personal thing. What's too hot for me may be too cold for you. Also, it's nice to have a few different pairs for different levels of cold. Gloves are things that accumulate over time.

    Winter shoes are real nice if you have the budget for them. If not, neoprene booties work pretty well.

    Finally, a good jacket with a draft flap and pit zips is really useful. I have one made by Burley, but they don't make them anymore. Shower Pass has nice jackets. Yep, expensive, but they last forever.

  19. #19
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    I have a simple rule of thumb.. Dress like it is 20F to 25F warmer than it currently is (if its 30, dress like its 50 to 55). You will start off a little cold, but your body warms up quickly, if you over dress, you will over heat.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Migen21 View Post
    I'm interested in which bar mitts you are using?

    Are they for drop bars? or a straight bar?

    How do they affect braking and shifting?

    I have had challenges with cold hands due to some minor frostbite many years ago. I struggle to keep my hands warm anywhere below 45F. I have some PI Elite ligthweight gloves, and a pair of Craft wind breaker crab claw style mittens. I can manage to ride safely with these (braking and shifting), but they aren't really warm enough if it gets below freezing, even if I wear both.
    I can't speak to drop bars, I ride mostly mtb in the cold. But I use Wolf Tooth Poagies. They are truly incredible. If I had them for drop bars I might ride more road in the cold, but I can't seem to get comfortable in real cold on the road bike. Bitter cold on the mtb and I'm OK. FWIW, 20's-30's I don't even wear gloves. Below that I just use a glove liner. The Poagies are incredible, my hands sweat.

    For gear, in general, I have a PI softshell jacket that is awesome. I wear it down into single digits with layers under it. I can't believe how well it performs. Not cheap, granted, I got it as a Christmas present, and it has completely impressed me.

    Next to that, as was mentioned above, I have Under Armor turtle neck cold gear base layers that perform great! I bought a knock off that looks and feels exactly like the UA gear and it can't hold a candle to the real deal. So again, not affordable, per se.

    Balaclava is next up! Riding inshore ice flows in 4 degree temps without the wind, on the beach last year, with major wind chill, and the balaclava was the deal maker.

    Lower body wasn't much of a struggle. I have good long legged thermal Santini bibs. I do use a layer underneath in the bitter cold. UA again and just as awesome.

    Feet. Still a struggle for me. I use great Ice Breaker wool socks that I use to blow, shovel and plow (quad) snow and they are great. But, as mentioned, road shoes are built to be as cold as possible. Mtb is pinned flats so I'm using 510s. Not warm. Snow biking in 510s isn't really practical. I need to solve that this winter. Work in progress...

    OP, there are threads like this every year around now, and they are well worth looking into... but it's nice, at least to me, to have another one come up and hear what is current, and to see what folks are doing now.
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  21. #21
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    I am a year round commuter in Fargo ND. First and foremost, I park my road bike and switch over to my winter commuter, which is an older (1980ish) Ritchey mountain bike which I have upgraded to use hydraulic disc brakes because my experience has been that cables and rim brakes can freeze. I also find studded tires indispensable when there is packed snow and ice on the road.

    For warmer winter temperatures here (above 0 Fahrenheit) I wear multiple layers. Either merino wool or polypropylene as a base layer, then normally a cotton dress shirt and slacks, then a woolen vest, and lastly some kind of wind resistant jacket. Good ski mittens and a woolen ear band, a good set of ski goggles, and a not terribly well vented helmet. Heavy woolen socks and a pair of wildland firefighter boots complete my kit.

    When the temperature drops below 0 degrees Fahrenheit things change a little. I replace the light jacket with an old NFPA 1999 compliant EMS jacket, the ski mittens are replaced with a pair of light weight thermal glove liners and down insulated mittens that were intended for people working on the Alaska Pipeline. The slacks are replaced with heavy woolen or lined cotton pants. I also wear an old NFPA 1974 (structural fire fighting) compliant balaclava and my old leather structural fire boots with 2 pair of woolen socks.

  22. #22
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    Get the Weatherneck system - balaclava and neck gaitor with trick magnets built in. I have mine already and now all I need is the cold weather -

    https://theweatherneck.com/
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  23. #23
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    Yesterday, I broke out my old wool Nike jersey- it developed giant moth holes about a minute after I bought it, so I put it away, unsure what to do with it.

    It was about 42 degrees, and that + windbreaker + thin wool socks + hiking pants + cotton headband for the ears was enough.

    My toes started getting cold about 2/3 through the ride, but my fingers were fine despite the usual fingerless gloves.

    I forget the exact brands/fabric of my winter stuff- RNH windproof pants with breathable fabric on the back are awesome, but no longer in production. Usually wear padded shorts under the hiking pants.

    That wool base layer is amazing, though- makes me want to get more!
    Nice, thanks for sharing this and sorry for bumping. But tell me one thing - how are you supposed to wash such fabric? I mean socks and hiking pants? I read various articles on wikihow and this site but I'm a bit afraid to mess it up.
    Last edited by Luckyduck; 1 Week Ago at 12:32 AM.
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  24. #24
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    A tip: If you plain to ride through the cold weather, track your clothing choices that day/ride by temperature, wind, and sun availability. That is, write down what you wore during those weather conditions and adjust accordingly for your future rides. Oh, and if you think you will remember what you wore when??? No, it took me several years to get it right without writing it down.

    It also took me 25 years to buy stuff I honestly needed rather than suffering with clothing that, "will do ok." The more you ride, the more this rule will be apparent and prudent.

    I like Castelli as their clothing is very good and sizing has always been spot on when ordering online. A medium has always been a medium across the clothing.

    Please check-in at the CLOTHING APPAREL FORUM here for more, good info.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luckyduck View Post
    Nice, thanks for sharing this and sorry for bumping. But tell me one thing - how are you supposed to wash such fabric? I mean socks and hiking pants? I read various articles on wikihow but I'm a bit afraid to mess it up.
    Simple, follow the instructions for each item. Some things you can machine wash, some you just wash by hand and line dry (or if it's winter.. hang over your tub or shower curtain rod.

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