Basics of Winter Biking – Commuting Year-Round on Your Bicycle

29/01/18

Why can’t you enjoy your favorite pastime in winter too?

If you allow the cold to keep you indoors you’re missing out. And this isn’t to make you feel guilty about not following your usual routine. There are real benefits to finding ways of implementing winter biking, even when there’s snow

Firstly you’ll miss out on incredible adventure and scenery. Winter creates a unique beauty you’ll never experience in summer.

And what about your health? Instead of fearing a cold during winter time, think of how your body can enjoy the benefits of increased metabolism. Your body fights the low temperatures while you cycle. This combination allows you to reach weight and fitness goals even faster.

We know adding winter biking to your winter to do list will require a few minor adjustments. So, in this article we’ll help you prepare.

1. How to Bike in the Snow

Is it fear to hold you back? Don’t give in to it!

All your winter biking requires is a bit of knowledge and preparation. It makes winter biking as safe as when biking in the summer time.

Yes, it’s smart to be cautious. Falling snow does change your environment and you have to be ready to manage your bike in these conditions:

- Snow changes road surfaces, but you’ll get enough traction if you let some air out of your tires.

- Pick wider, chunkier tires if possible. It will increase your grip even more.

- Don’t try and stand in the saddle. Instinct tells you to, but you’ll have more control if you sit. In this position, your back wheel will also have traction.

- New, powdery snow is best—and safest—for winter bike rides.

Other than this, winter bike commuting or fun riding doesn’t differ much from your summer experiences. And no, public transport or a lift club isn’t the better option.

Isn’t it better to get warm on your bike instead of waiting in the cold for your ride? Of course, you
need specific clothing for biking in the snow too, but we’ll get to that later.

Here’s an important tip: Don’t attempt winter biking on ice. No amount of preparation will protect you. You will slip!

2. How to Turn Your Bike into a True Snow Bicycle


Ready to give it a try? Now you’re probably calculating the costs of getting a snow bicycle for the upcoming season. Guess what, you can attempt this exciting new hobby of snow cycling with almost any bicycle!

Yes, sometimes it’s best to invest in a snow bicycle, especially if you only have very deep snow to ride in. But this additional expense isn’t a viable option for everyone. And it doesn’t have to keep you indoors either.

You can transform your bike into a safer—more manageable—snow bicycle with a few tweaks. Some items below are upgrades you’ll find in the bike shop. And soon you’ll have a safer bike so winter commuting is a viable option.

Upgrades

Your tires are a vital part to upgrade for winter bike rides. Studded and knobbed ones give more traction and will grip easier when the bike starts to slide.

But other parts can make the difference between enjoying the ride and ending up colder than you anticipated after falling in the snow.

Feeling in control is important. It will keep you from making unnecessary movements that can throw you off balance. So make sure your shoes and pedals have proper grip so your feet stay in place at all times.

Make sure you have easy gears that won’t get stuck even if they get wet. You also want easy pedaling because snow will limit your speed. Some people call it ‘Granny Gear’. These are low gears that are easiest to pedal. In summer they will get you up a hill. In winter they will help your snow bicycle through the sludge.

Look for rim brakes which are the most effective.

Add additional reflectors, lights, and bells to your converted snow bicycle so you can be seen and heard at all times.

Not in the mood for a trip to the bike shop? We got you covered, some DIY tips are easy alternatives anyone can try. And they work just as well!

DIY

Tires

As mentioned, let your bike resemble a snow bicycle by swapping regular tires for studded or knobbed ones. And if you can’t find any, why not make your own:

- Zip ties wrapped around the tire at regular intervals will help you get more grip.

winter biking

- Push screws into your tire’s tread blocks. Just remember to protect your inner tube.

snow bicycle

- Pieces of a chain can be wrapped around the tires in the same way you use the zip ties.

biking in the snow

- Some adventurers add training wheels to snow bicycles to help with balance on slippery terrain.

Your biggest concern when transforming your current bike into a snow bicycle should be your tires. And if you get them to resemble a snow bicycle you’re ready to go outside!

The important thing is that your type of bike doesn’t become the reason you don’t give snow biking a chance.

3. Cycling in the Dark—Don’t Let the Dark Spoil Your Night Bike Ride

Another scenario that seems daunting is a night bike ride.

The risk of others—bicycles and cars—not seeing you is what keeps most people from trying it. And in winter this is a realistic hazard because of reduced visibility and less light.

But a night bike ride is really worth a go. And all these dangers can easily be circumvented.

How to Cycle

Let’s be honest. You can’t simply go for a night bike ride at any time. Prudently research weather predictions so you’re not caught unawares. And no, your Smartphone’s app isn’t the most accurate source. A website monitoring adverse weather conditions are more reliable. If the weather man predicts clearer skies, why stay home?

Before you set out on your night bike ride, check your night riding accessories and make sure you have tools to deal with emergencies such as punctures. You don’t want your night bike ride to require a rescue mission.

And don’t forget to stay hydrated. But avoid the cold water you use in summer. A warm liquid gives sustenance and it helps you regulate your body temperature. Tell someone where your night bike ride is headed as an added precaution though. An even smarter option is to join someone else for the night bike ride. Having company makes cycling in the dark more fun.

What do You Need to Optimize Your Ride?

You’ll have even more fun when you stay warm. Adding an extra layer of clothing under your regular jacket is wise during a night bike ride, especially in winter.

And when you’re ready for the cold, you must think of safety and effortless riding. Ensure you have as little as possible to worry about.

Before you go on you cycling adventure you need a gear to help you get the most of your night ride.

For Your Bike

Increase your visibility during your next night bike ride by simply making your bike more visible.

Reflective wheel strips from JensonUSA can’t be ignored by anyone on the road. When you stick them to the entire inside surface of your bike, there are large areas for other bikers, drivers or pedestrians to notice. These cost $20 and can be placed on any tires.

Reflective decals from RydeSafe are designed for night bike ride adventures and cost around $15. They come in a variety of colors and are durable enough for the rigors of cycling. The reflections are so bright they’ll even add some visibility for you as rider.

To Be Seen

Your body must be visible too. Drivers will immediately respond to the realization that another human is on the road. So show them your silhouette!

Your bike’s chain can serve as your belt. Add some reflective surfaces and passers by will know exactly where you are.

Hiplok has an excellent version of this available at £50. A sturdy metal chain is encased in fabric. This makes for comfortable wearing when you wrap it around your waist. The hefty locking mechanism means you don’t have to fear it falling off during your night bike ride.

When night cycling accessories serve two purposes they save you money and make your cycling more user-friendly. Don’t you love it when brands anticipate your needs?

To Stay Dry

Another area where multi-purpose gear comes in handy is with your outer night bike ride wear. Despite your night bike ride preparations, some drizzle is inevitable during rainy or snowy seasons. And if you should fall, getting wet is part of the cycling experience. So you need weatherproof clothing as well as reflective wear. How else will cars’ lights show your position?

Luckily expert brands such as Sugoi provides all in one solution.

The Sugoi RS Zap jacket looks as stylish as it’s practical and it retails at $160. The stretchy fabric is ideal for cycling and Pixel technology lights it up when lights shine on you. The jacket is weather resistant and the pocket installed at the rear helps to store loose items such as house keys.

winter bike clothing

The fewer distractions and concerns you have the safer you’ll be on the road.

To See

Of course, as much as you need to be seen, you must also have a clear vision of the road ahead. So, add a light to your handlebars.

The SECA 1800 light has a 1800lumen output and you can get one for $350. It’s a worthwhile investment. It makes a night ride practically by easily strapping onto any handlebar. Furthermore, you can add your GoPro camera on top if you want. Recording your night bike ride makes for excellent footage and helps in case of an accident to see what transpired.

cycling in the dark

The LEDs don’t draw much power so you can go on long night bike rides. Thanks to new technology the lumens won’t drop as the battery runs out.

For Your Hands

Of course, safe cycling requires hand signals. Make them with gloves containing reflective features such as Pearlizumi’s P.R.O. Barrier WxB gloves Moreover, they will keep you warm thanks to the fleece interiors and you can get a pair for $100.

cold weather cycling gear

With modern gear, your next night bike ride can be as comfortable as it now will be safe.

A Handy Tip

It’s always wise to try out the unconventional. It’s usually how you find your ideal solutions. The unique situation of a night bike ride calls for exactly this.

If you know you feel cold more intensely than most people, use surgical gloves inside your riding gloves. This extra layer of insulation will keep you warmer so your hands are able to handle the bicycle well at all times during the night bike ride.

cold weather cycling gear

Don’t think intense preparation for a night bike ride is superfluous. With better night vision your night bike rides will become much more enjoyable.

And with the winter biking gear below, you’ll lift your cycling to the next level of excitement, safety and comfort.

4. Winter Biking Gear that Can’t be Underestimated

What are your biggest reasons for not trying out winter biking yet? Perhaps you simply need the right winter biking gear to counter the challenge you’re facing.

Do you hate the snow flung up from the road getting on your clothes? Fenders handle most of this, so it simply requires a 5-minute upgrade and you will be ready to ride at only $25 for both.

winter biking gear

Beat most of the cold by keeping your hands warm. Gloves such as Bontrager Circuit Windshellgloves are windproof, so enjoy the speeds you’re used to without the cold at only $40 a pair!

winter biking gear

Tired of your home’s interior showing signs of your last ride? Then a Velosock bike cover is the winter biking gear you can’t go without. It will keep the dirt away from your furniture or car’s interior.

winter biking gear

And you don’t have to settle for cold liquids. You now can get insulated biking mug if you need something warm for the road.

winter biking gear

Can you see how modern winter biking gear helps you handle all challenges of winter biking? Now you have no reason not to try it.

5. Winter Bike Clothing to Keep You Warm

So now the only question is - are you ready to get going?

A cautionary word to help you get the most out of your ride: You must stay warm. And that’s why you’re advised to try some of these bike winter clothing products.

Advances in technology now also ensure your biking clothing can be all you need it to be.

Winter Biking Jackets

Is it possible to find a jacket that is windproof but still allows for some breathing and air circulation?

The Heidi cycling jacket with its protective but breathable fabric does exactly this. At £199 it’s the cycling investment you must make this year.

winter biking clothes

Alternatively, you can try a waterproof jacket such as the Sportful Fiandre Norain Jacket. Even the zipper is waterproof and the high collar protects your back from getting wet. The price on this one is £175.

winter mountain bike clothes

If you want a tight fitting jacket so you can add more layers on top, the Castelli Gabba 2 is perfect. They’re available in male and female fits at £180.

winter biking clothes

Winter Biking Pants

The B’Twin Aerofit Thermal cycling bib tights cost £80 and they keep both your body and your legs warm. And it’s comfortable thanks to the fleece lining inside.

winter bicycling pants

The Inbike Windproof Athletic pants have fleece linings. But because of they’re not tight fitting you can wear tights underneath for added heat. They’re priced at $60 a pair.

winter biking pants

Which of these will make your next bike ride more comfortable?

Conclusion & Summary

With the tips listed above, you don’t have any excuse to avoid winter biking anymore. Winter biking—and year-round biking—can be safe and enjoyable.

On top of that, if you need a new commuter bike or useful commuting by bike tips, we got you covered. Now, all you need is to get out there.So, the only question is, where will you take your snow bicycle for your first adventure?