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Who plans to commute through the winter?

by Richard Masoner

How many of you plan to commute by bike through the winter months? What are your greatest concerns and how do you plan to address them?

I constantly point winter cyclists to ICEBIKE; what are other good resources for winter cyclists?

 
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95 Responses to “Who plans to commute through the winter?”

  1. S Carrico says:

    This is my first winter, and I plan to commute as long as my tire can ford the snow [I'm in Boise].

  2. Ringer says:

    Since this will be my first winter commuting, I’m really glad to see this topic come up. I’ve looked at the Icebike site, and it seems somewhat helpful. But even though I live in New Hampshire, there are probably very few days when I will ride in actual snow. Most of the time it’ll be a combination of wet pavement, ice, and slush. So it seems like studded tires aren’t quite appropriate, and I’m wondering what others use for tires in the winter–something I can ride on pavement but that will be good on slushy/snowy/icy terrain.

    I’m also wondering if folks have suggestions for what to wear underneath my helmet, since I don’t think a standard winter hat will fit.

  3. Stahl says:

    For under the helmet, try a balaclava for the really cold days and a thin cycling skull cap for the not as cold, cold days.

  4. Phil says:

    Ringer, I use a polyester balaclava that’s been cut way down. I sliced it up so it doesn’t cover my neck or throat, but has flaps that extend well below my ears so they can be secured down by the friction of my helmet straps. This leaves me coverage for my forehead, scalp, and ears. I’ll use a neck gaiter as needed.

    Unfortunately, I think the Icebike site has not been updated in quite a while.

    Bikewinter seems to have more current info. Check out their Tips > Dressing for winter section. I’ve not read it extensively, but I like what I’ve read to date. I heard about the site from a reporter who was interviewing me as someone who intends to ride through winter (wrote about this same topic here: http://bikemichiana.org/2008/10/10/ready-for-winter/

    I invested in some good studded tires and am breaking them in now before the snow and ice descend here in Northern Indiana. I’m hoping to ride all year ’round. I’ve done it before, but never for as far (5 miles round trip – not really that far) nor on the streets as much. As I’m no longer a spring chicken, I’m hoping the studded tires help reduce falls – and I’ve had a few on glare ice and at intersections where snow is compacted and glazed. Because of the studs and more aggressive tread, the riding is slower and a bit more work intensive. I think the safety factor is worth it.

  5. acline says:

    I commute 2.25 miles to work. I ride all year. Winters don’t get brutal in southwest Missouri, so winter riding isn’t much of a problem. I do not, however, ride in ice or snow. I walk.

  6. Corey Porter says:

    Does winter commuting in southern California count? No, I didn’t think so. I plan on it either way ;)

  7. Ghost Rider says:

    I plan on commuting all year…and through the brutal winters that only Florida can provide — how will I ever stay warm?!? ;)

    When it does get chilly, I can’t say enough about a fleece balaclava with earflaps to keep my head warm, though. If your ears are warm, that tends to keep the rest of you comfortable, too.

  8. Scott says:

    I plan on commuting through the winter, and I have been blogging at http://drivemybike.com about my rides as things have gotten colder.

    One of the most useful posts I found on the topic was on your website… http://commutebybike.com/2006/11/01/how-to-dress-for-cold-weather/

    That post gave me the best information about how to dress for cold. Thanks for the great info.

  9. Scott says:

    I’m in Omaha, Nebraska, and we can get some pretty harsh winters. This is my first year of bike commuting. My plan is to ride on any day that there isn’t ice or snow on the streets. I can’t suffer the thought of falling, so I don’t think I’ll even attempt that kind of riding.

    This morning is was about 35 degrees during my five mile ride, and I was mostly warm, except for my hands. Better gloves will fix that. I’ve got some Amfib tights and wet weather booties on the way.

    The day will come that I’ll need the balaclava, and perhaps goggles. I’ll just keep taking it a day at a time and learn from my successes and failures.

    We just got bike racks on the buses, so that safety net is there if I need it.

  10. Joe says:

    Ride year around in Minnesota, and Minnesota has a real winter. Feet, hands and ears are concern from the cold. I go to platform pedals so I can wear warm boots (cheap ones). Bike is the other concern. Studded tires are good, plenty of choices these days, put them on front and rear and just ride…don’t worry about the studs just ride. Winter here kills the drive train, I don’t try to stop it, I just ride and replace the bad stuff in the Spring. It does help to make sure your headset is freshly greased, and good fenders help a ton, otherwise, Winter kills bikes. Last, get good lights for safety. I suggest DiNotte and it is a Winter specific recommendation as the lights work very well in cold. DiNotte’s don’t seem to mind 20 below much as long as the batteries aren’t frozen. Be safe.

  11. Darren says:

    I plan to continue riding all winter. Of course being in a Southern Californian big city on the coast, weather will pretty much be the same as it is now. I’ll put on full-fingered gloves if it is cold enough. I got good lights (DiNotte) so that I can bike home after dark.

    On the other hand if I wake up to snow on the ground I’m assuming the worlds over and I don’t need to go to work=-)

  12. Dylan says:

    I plan to ride through New Jersey’s winter. This will be the first time commuting through the winter. I’d like to get a single speed or fixie. My biggest concerns are flat tires.

  13. William Boyd says:

    My winter commute is an hour workout in the dark morning cold. Dress well, and there is something almost magical about it. All around is wind and bitter cold, but you are toasty warm. Wool and windbreakers do the trick. I prefer thick wool socks, SealSkinz, and sandals for my feet. A wool skullcap under my helmet, and a wool scarf about my mouth and nose. Breathing into the wool scarf sends warm breath over the cheeks and eyes. Ragwool gloves inside large think windproof gloves take care of my hands. I get to work and someone says, “Aren’t you cold!” and I reply, “I am the only one here sweating!” Sometimes it warms up by the afternoon, so be prepared to pack home some of your cloths.

  14. anakcu says:

    This will be my third winter commuting. Last year I took the plunge and bought some Nokian studded tires so I could ride every day through snow, slush or ice. The increase in confidence is astounding. I am in DC so there are plenty of days when the roads are clear and the morning temp is above 32 so I take a road bike with conventiaonal tires. If the temp is below 32 I take the mountain bike with the Nokians, if there is snow or not. Black ice is always where you least expect it and the studs prevented spills on 3 clear mornings. On those days with snow or slush the road would have been impassable without the studs. Studded bike tires are not like studded car tires–you can ride them on pavement with no problem (and doing no damage to the road). It is a little more effort and it sounds like you are riding on gravel, but that is a small price to pay for peace of mind. In terms of clothing, I ride pretty hot so wool jersey, arm warmer, tights, wool headband, tights and a shell are good down to about 20. But the most important thing (if you have a longish commute) is to pack a light warm jacket in case you get a flat or have a mechanical problem. You would be surprised at how fast your body cools once the pedals stop moving.

  15. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    This will be my fourth winter commuting by bicycle. My first two were in N.W. Ga. and 1 to 3 miles. Last winter was here in Minneapolis and three miles along a bus route. This winter will be eight miles, no bus route and a few miles shared with terrorist, ah motorists, aggressive ones. I still love my generator powering my lights. I am really thinking about building a winter bike, and I will be adding a few for clothes”.. Happy biking! If things get to rough this winter, I can ride the bus those days, ahhh what a thought”.

  16. svenny says:

    I’m planning on doing the winter riding again this year. I commuted through the winter last year. I’m in Southern Ontario. I got great use out of a set of Schwalbe Snow Stud tires.
    We had a few days of “Freezing Rain”. For those of you that haven’t heard of it before: is when the air is just warm enough for it to rain, but the ground temperature is well below freezing from weeks of cold weather. Once the rain hits the car, trees, or road it freezes solid. This leaves everything in a 1/8″ coating of ice.
    The Tungsten/Carbide studs made cycling to work possible. Without these I’d never have been able to push the pedals up and down without the bike sliding out from under me.
    I was even able to pass cars, while I climbed a hill, their tires just couldn’t get any grip.
    I also rode in some snow about 6-8 inches deep, which is hard work. Once you find a compacted car tire track to ride on it’s much better. The studs also let your tire climb out of ruts.
    I guess to answer the question my biggest fear is a car sliding out of control and hitting me.

    Svenny.

  17. Arleigh says:

    Of course. That is why I live in Charlotte, NC.

  18. BSR says:

    Having done this for several years, on-and-off, I have two recommendations:

    1. Studded tires — I am sold on the Schwalbe Winter tires — Peter White Cycles http://www.peterwhitecycles.com sells them, although I would order them earlier in the season than later to make sure they are available. The confidence you gain in knowing your wheels will not just suddenly slide out from under you is dramatic. The first time I rode them, I couldn’t keep the grin off my face! If you are somewhere where there is slush, ice, and snow on the roads for extended periods of time you need them.

    2. Wool! I am done with synthetic fabrics, as they stink, make me sweat profusely, and (once wet) don’t keep me warm. Since moving to several layers of wool, I am more comfortable, warmer, and much less cranky when I get where I am going. Smartwool, Icebreaker, Swobo, Ibex, and others make base layers, jerseys, and wind-blocking jackets from wool that are amazing. Add a wool liner under your helmet and a neck gaiter, and you’re set. Yes, wool is not cheap! Watch steepandcheap.com, backcountryoutlet.com, rei.com’s outlet, and other places and find stuff on sale, and it becomes a lot cheaper. Sorry — April is the best time to find wool stuff on sale very cheap — October’s not so great.

    3. Ok, I can’t count. Decent gloves. If I lived further north I would get the Vulpine IceBike Mittens. Icebike has a review of them somewhere. Denver isn’t that cold and my commute is only 9 miles, so I can get by with Pearl Izumi’s Lobster Claws just fine. If you’re not over 200 miles south of the Mason-Dixon line, you still need gloves of some sort.

    That’s it — other than fenders and lights (Dinotte rocks!) which others have covered, it’s not that hard — just gotta get out there and do it!

  19. IdDork says:

    This will be my 4th winter commuting to work. I live outside Cleveland, Ohio, so we are probably less than a month away from the Lake Erie snow machine turning on.

    We have had 2 major blizzards in the past winter, neither kept me from commuting, luckily last year’s 4 FEET of snow in one event came over the weekend.

    ICEBIKE is great, the Winter Cycling & Commuting Forums on bikeforums, and the Ohio City Bike Co-Op’s Winter Cycling Symposiom are my other sources inspiration and information.

  20. joelsanda says:

    I’ll be there! I’ve biked year-round in Denver for years. Biggest obstacle I’ve ever had was my rear derailleur freezing up ;-) . Quick shot of water and some rapid shifting cleared it up.

    Some tips for those who are in their first winter:

    Leave *no* skin exposed. Get a balaclava and some good glasses that cover your eyes with generous space to keep wind off them.

    Those ‘lobster’ mittens are great because they leave the thumb free but keep other fingers together for warmth.

    Two pairs of socks: the thin liner pair against your skin and then wool.

    I’ve never used tire chain on the rear, but it we get decent snow in Denver this year I may end up trying one out. (see http://www.icebike.org/Equipment/tirechains.htm).

    Finally: BE EXTRA CAREFUL because cars slide a lot. I’ve witnessed more fender benders on my bike in one winter than the rest of the year combined. I usually unclip from at least one pedal at an intersection and make sure I’m prepared to hop onto the sidewalk with my bike.

  21. Bob says:

    I’ve commuted year round for two winters now. Studded tires are great. I still take corners and turns a little easier and wider then on dry pavement. Another insideous hazard are wet, matted leaves. Darn near as slippery as ice.

  22. xcskimt (Robert) says:

    This will be my third year of commuting in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The winters here vary greatly from year to year. WOOL is very important in my attire. Smartwool socks, Icebreaker base, Portland Cyclewear (order early they sell out fast). A good windbreaker vest is good on very cold days I may switch over to a sleeved wind breaker. I also find wool liners under leather choppers great on the mountain bike. I may have to consider studded tires this year.

  23. Stuart M. says:

    Last winter I tried to brave the fierce cold here in Hokkaido at least once a week. My ski gloves just didn’t do the job, my fingers were soon frozen. I recently bought some cheap faux-leather hand shields to tie over my handlebar grips. That should shield my hands from the wind. Problem is I can’t see what gear I’m in, but I really only use a few gears anyway. It has been snowing less and less here every year, so I think I can pass on studded tires. The snowplows have a tendency to pile the snow high on the shoulder of the roads, where I want to ride my bike. Let’s hear it for global warming (just kidding).

  24. John Kirk says:

    I rode deep into the fall last year (until it iced up), and I plan to ride all winter this year. I’m excited to face the Northern Michigan winter head on. I’m a budget rider, and I found that wearing a kid’s winter hat like a thick beanie worked really well on those 30-32 degree days. If you pull it down tight over your head it covers your ears, and fits nice under your helmet. I love the Spongebob design too! Best of luck to all of us this season.

  25. Phil says:

    To “lighten” up the discussion a bit, here’s a commercial involving bicycling through snow… please hold your comments so we can more or less stay on topic. Glad to see so much discussion!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beF_gjnwU5E

  26. Plan to ride all winter in PA.

    Started bicycle commuting in May. I’m actually selling my car and making my bike my primary transportation.

    Click on my name to read my blog about going car-free!

  27. Deb says:

    This is my first year bike commuting, and I plan on biking through the winter. I’ve read most of the sites that others have already mentioned, and so far the advice has proven to be golden, though the lowest temp we’ve seen so far (another one in the DC area) is in the mid 40′s a couple mornings.

    I’m hoping to have as little snow in DC this year as we had last year, but since part of global climate change is unpredictability, anyone’s guess is as good as another. I’ll have studded tires just in case (the point about below 32 was a good one, made earlier by someone) and I might fix up a 2nd bike to use for that purpose.

    My commute is 14.5 miles each way, fairly hilly, combo of quiet neighborhoods and heavy traffic roads, and 1/4 mile of MUP (the worst part of the ride, in terms of conditions). If anyone has thoughts on different strategies for the longer commutes, I’d be interested to hear it.

    Oh, for additional inspiration, though not strictly with regards to commuting, check out Jill’s blog, arcticglass.blogspot.com. I think it is all biking weather to her! She even rode the iditarod invitational last year, which is beyond my ability to imagine!

  28. I cycle commuted through winters in Portland, OR and in Long Island, NY. I didn’t cycle commute last year but will this winter. I find that proper clothing and proper lighting are key. I have never had to resort to studded tires but I have used my mountain bike with its lugged tires in whiteout conditions.

  29. Jen (SLC) says:

    Last year I made it to the last week of December. I had to turn to the bus for most of January and February because we had so much snow last year. Plus there was a really miserable two weeks when I was taken down by the stomach flu. I’m hoping for a more normal winter and no flus this year.

    I still biked through some pretty cold weather last year, and I would highly recommend purchasing a pair of lobster claw mittens if you live somewhere cold. They keep your fingers warm than gloves, but you can still brake and shift. I also couldn’t live without knee high wool socks. I have some Smart Wool and Teko pairs that make cold mornings bareable.

    This year I’d like to buy a longer coat because I find that my thighs get really cold if I’m wearing my usual work pants.

  30. WheelDancer says:

    I will ride through the winter as I have for the last few years. I put the studded snow tires on as soon as there is a chance I will be greeted by ice; I don’t worry about snow but coming on ice unexpectedly is a risk I won’t take without the studs.

    Good suggestion about wool; I wear it exclusively in the winter and even most of the summer as it breathes and NEVER stinks.

    Hands & feet: I can hardly keep either one warm but made it comfortably down into double digits below last winter with my Lake Winter Boots and some cheap army surplus shooter’s mittens with wool (of course!) glove liners.

    I also use a down-hill ski helmet in the winter as it has great insulation, very warm ear flaps and is designed around wearing goggles which I also do in the bitter cold.

    A final thought is that I keep a chart of what I need to wear for different temps since I never remember what I did from last season if I don’t write it down.

    Hey have fun out there!

  31. Jett says:

    In Atlanta, year-round cycling is a breeze. We only get ice maybe one or two days a year.

    Riding into the office in summer is what requires careful (hygiene) planning.

  32. Warren T says:

    Wouldn’t miss riding through the winter. There are plenty of articles in the CBB archives that will help those of you new to winter riding.

    The thing that kept me going through the snow and ice last year was the $100 XYZ beach cruiser. That baby is perfect for riding in conditions that cars fear to tread…

  33. Eric says:

    Austin, TX doesn’t get much in the way of winter – if we do get any ice or snow, we close down. Just shut the whole city down. Usually happens once a year or so.

    Anyway, if work is open, I’ll be biking there all year long.

  34. Hayduke says:

    After thirty years of year-round commuting in Nebraska (Chadron and Omaha), Wyoming (Laramie and Jackson Hole) and Alaska (Sitka, Valdez, Chugiak and Fairbanks), I’m now enjoying year-round commuting on the gorgeous shores of Monterey Bay in Central California.

    Can’t say I miss black ice, powder, 50 below zero, 120 inches of rain and 50 feet of snow. All I have to contend with here is winter rain.

    Life is grand!

  35. nsk says:

    Last year, we had TWO days where legwarmers and long-sleeved jerseys were a must. It was difficult :) Looking forward to our five months of perfect weather here in Miami.

  36. Hashbrown says:

    2nd year carfree, This winter will be a doozy living in Marquette, MI. Annual snowfall around 220 inches. This year, i will be going singlespeed to cut down on maintenance.

  37. tim says:

    Just finished winter commuting on this side of the planet (Ballarat, Australia).

    We have arguably the worst winter weather of all Australian cities. Not as outright cold as Canberra, but we go weeks at a time hovering a few degrees above freezing, with biting winds and continuous drizzle.

    For my short (6km each way) commute, I ride year ’round in my office clothes, which usually includes a fleece vest in the cooler months.

    For the ride in winter, I add a rain shell (more for the wind than the rain), long fingered MTB gloves, and a polypro scull cap for the really cold mornings (a couple of degrees below freezing). I sometimes go with some showerproof overpants.

    It takes a couple of blocks to warm up, but then I’m warm for the day. If I don’t ride, I need a proper warm coat rather than just a fleece vest, and I still find I’m cold most of the day.

    Of course, lights are a big thing when you need them at both ends of the day. I go for redundancy. Minimum two headlights (1xAA 1W LEDs), minimum two flashy tail lights. If one goes flat or falls off, I’m still good.

    tim

  38. ohmypolarbear says:

    Add one more for the DC area! I have continued my 12.8 – mile bike commute through two winters here so far. I stick to the MUP year-round; even though they never get cleared (at least those under NPS jurisdiction), it’s worth it to avoid motorized traffic for most of my route. If there’s even the slightest hint of precipitation, I can easily beat traffic.

    I ran into some trouble last winter when we had a couple of warm days and the top layer of snow melted and then refroze, solidifying all of the ruts and footprints along the path, but I was able to handle it with my studded tires and some . In borderline climates like this it’s especially important to watch for black ice due to all of the thawing and refreezing. Wooden footbridges can be downright treacherous without studs – if you have to make much of a turn on a wooden bridge, it’s probably worth saving your dignity and getting off to walk the turn!

    Coming from Wisconsin, I already had lots of layers and repurposed some of my old nordic skiing gear. Wool socks are a must – it seems like the only body part you can’t make warm by pedaling harder is your toes! I get by fine here with an old ski racing outfit (tights etc.) and a Gore WindStopper jacket, vest, or both, depending on the temperature and wind. If you’re starting from scratch (and don’t want to look like a 200-lb. bumblebee, like I do), look for wool insulating layers and some kind of windproof shell.

    I also highly recommend a pair of ski goggles – winter wind can dry out your eyes very quickly, and it also keeps them safe from gravel or salt kicked up off the road.

    One word of caution about running studded tires: they give you such good traction, don’t forget that your shoes don’t have spikes! I put my foot down one time at a stop and it shot right out from underneath me…

  39. I’ll be continuing on in Portland, OR — mostly out of necessity!

  40. Greg says:

    Third Minnesota winter on a bike. Nothing to be concerned about: fixed gear, road tires, two hats, ski goggles, mittens, and wool socks. No better or faster way to get to and from work. Minnesota winter, do your worst.

  41. Khalid says:

    This will be my sixth Michigan winter on two wheels. Every year I have learned a lesson. This year I am spending going all out with a new outer shell.
    I am starting to see many more people biking around town and it has raised a lot of bike awareness on the road. I plan to reap the benefits this winter.

  42. Franklin says:

    I plan on commuting, I am more afraid of the cold. Being in alabama, not to worried about snow or ice really, but boy do I hate the cold. Glad I ahve a lot of layers to wear.

  43. John says:

    This will be my second winter commuting in Colorado. I have a 10 mile commute on mostly flat terrain. After a lot of experimentation, I found that for a high energy ride, ear warmers and a rain cover on my helmet worked best. The rain cover creates a dead air space that warms up once you do but does not result in overheating which is what happened so often when I used a hat or balaclava in anything 20F or above.

    Simple wool underwear for the upper body covered by a wind shell kept me from overheating and provided enough warmth. A warm jacket in the bag in case I got stuck on the side of the road.

    Fleece tights for the 15F-30F days and regular road tights for warmer days.

    Thick wool socks and neoprene toe slippers for the 30F+ days and neoprene overboots for the colder days.

    What I have yet to figure out is the perfect combination of face protection for the 15-30F days that does not result in something freezing at the start of the ride and not overheating at the end of the ride without having to stop and de-layer.

  44. LJ says:

    I didn’t really plan on bike commuting during the winter here in Colorado and I’m pleasantly suprised that I’ve managed to ride the few days we’ve had in the 20′s (F).

    So I will ride until I don’t.

    I’d like to see a follow up next spring to see how many people that wanted to winter commute made it through the whole season.

  45. jt says:

    Yep, all winter. My plan is to make sure I have enough SPF30 so I don’t get a bad sunburn.

    (Phoenix)

  46. ethan says:

    Will be my first winter commuting by bike. I live in Albany, NY, and lately we get one or two snow storms and that’s all the snow we see. My biggest concern is actually riding with less space (due to snow banks on the side of the road) and in the dark, with traffic- which doesn’t expect a guy on a bike. My commute is only 3 miles each way, so I’m not really expecting any problems.

  47. I will be winter commuting for the second year. If anyone is intrested check out my clothing recompilations.
    http://crazycommutingcyclist.blogspot.com

  48. rayhead00 says:

    Being in Buffalo, NY; I’m in the same boat with Ethan. Though, My commute is more like 13 mi.
    I’m building a winter bike out of an old Puegot tourer. I’m converting it a single speed, trade out the 27 in wheels for some 700c’s. It’s got full factory fenders with a built in lighting system.
    Does anyone have ideas about converting the generator/light bulb set-up to a more modern led/rechargable battery system?

  49. Dingbat says:

    All year long: wife, daughter (now 2 yrs old) and self, for a total of about 5 or 6 miles in Chicago. It’s an essential part of my decompression regime at the end of the day, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. A wool sweater and scarf, nice mittens and snow boots (gotten in an ‘end of winter’ sale which started in January a couple of years ago, before that year’s bad winter weather even hit!), and nothing slows us down.

    Tip: going through snow, shift your weight to the rear wheel and let the front wheel float up on the snow and find its line. Keep powering the rear and you’ll churn right through it. (I’ve never found a need for spikey tires, but, being in the city, the only times I ride on solid ice are when I seek it out for fun–in the park.)

  50. Dingbat says:

    rayhead00:
    You might be able to get an LED light that fits into the base of the incandescent bulb of your generator light. (As someone with an almost pathological fear of batteries going dead, I’d recommend keeping the generator system!)

  51. rayhead00 says:

    Thanks Dingbat,
    I’m not a fan of the generator. When the bike stops, the lights stop.
    But I was thinking I could use the generator to recharge the batts, when needed.

  52. Nicole says:

    I commute year-round in Fort Collins, CO, but that’s not saying much since it is rarely very cold, rarely is there snow on the ground for extended periods of time, and I currently have less than a mile to commute.

  53. Bryan Larsen says:

    I’ve commuted a couple of winters in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. I cycled as long as the wind chill was less than 2100 watts per square metre. (Which corresponds to the totally bogus “feels like -40″).

    If I use that same rule here in Ottawa (and I plan to), I’ll be able to bike all winter.

    The hardest part about winter is not the cold. It’s easy to add more layers. The 2 hardest things about winter are that it is dark while commuting, and to avoid getting too warm.

    If you start sweating at -30, the sweat can freeze, cooling you off very quickly, putting you at risk for hypothermia.

    So the trick is to cycle at a moderate pace, and take off layers of clothing as you warm up.

  54. welshcyclist says:

    I intend to commute my 40 mile roundtrip through the winter here in South Wales, U.K., my only concerns are having the right clothing and lights, plus of course there aren’t too many patient drivers out there, they’re all in too much of a hurry, and far too many of them need to go back to driving school, because they haven’t a clue about how to drive safely in the vicinity of cyclists. I need to dig deep for the clothing and lights, but need lots of luck as far as car drivers are concerned.

  55. Well, I PLAN on it, but there is no guarantee these plans will be successful.

    I ordered some studded tires yesterday, and I got some flat pedals so I can just wear boots for really cold weather.

    Concerns include the fact that I never like freezing air in my lungs, and I don’t know how much snow I’ll be able to handle on the multi use trail I take to work–routes on actual roads are pretty far out of the way and I don’t think would be very enjoyable. I also need to grab some waterproof gloves and figure out how to keep my glasses from fogging up. Cat Crap and other stuff like it are not successful if I’m wearing a balaclava.

  56. Dave says:

    Most definitely. No question. I just have to wait for the commuter bike to get here, and then I’m back in the saddle again!

  57. Elaine says:

    I’m planning on biking as long as it isn’t snowy/icy. We don’t get too much of that here in western WA; it’s more about the rain. Wet leaves can be a real hazard, though!

    I still haven’t gotten rainpants, so I’ve already missed a few days of early fall. This weekend I really need to buy or order something.

    If I keep it up, it’ll be the first year that I haven’t hung the bike up from November thru February. I like the idea of having a chart of what to wear when, I’ll have to try it out!

  58. JiMCi says:

    With the winters we have around here? No way! ;-)

    This morning the thermometer was down to °C (for those still using farenheit, this is one degree above freezing…). °C is my cut-off.

    Dressing up for this kind of weather is not a problem, but I am not going to ride skinny tires on ice patches at 30km/h! I don’t want to ride a commuter, hybrid or MTB with fat tires or studs: with a 20km commute each way, this kind of set-up could add 15 to 30 minutes of commuting time, minutes that I would rather use for other activities.

    That being said, I believe it’a bout time I start digging out my x-c ski gear from the basement…

    For those of you who live in above freezing latitudes, no more excuses, keep riding! You don’t know how lucky you are. :-)

  59. Logan says:

    Yes, I will ride through the winter.

    Although as a caveat, California winters are mostly just wet and “chilly”. So winter riding in Sacramento means attaching the fenders, packing the rain jacket, and eating a high calorie breakfast. :)

    Cheers,

  60. LJ says:

    Here’s my winter commute strategy: I tell myself that if I survived 40F I should be able to ride when it’s 35F. If I survived 35F I should be able to manage 30F… and I’m now down to “not fearing” 25F… I’ll just have to see how far into the season this takes me.

  61. JPBari says:

    I plan on doing my 13 mi one way as long as I can but don’t plan on trying ice or snow this winter unless it is unexpected while at work.

    My biggest concern is keeping feet warm – I have been experimenting different show/sock combinations lately but none seems exactly right – especially with it not being too cold yet.

    The other big challenges I see are either having to wear damp clothing home that didn’t dry during the day, or figuring out how to get clothing home if it is significantly warmer for the trip home.

  62. Dana says:

    Hi!
    I recently sold my car and have transformed into a bike commuter (sometimes using public transport). I haven’t biked through a winter yet, and I’m hoping some people out there will have advise for someone like me who doesn’t really want to buy studded tires. My commute is about 3 miles each way, and I live in western Massachusetts. Does anybody commute without snow tires? Obviously winter weather varies a lot from year to year, but I’m wondering if anyone has experiences commuting without studs that they want to share. Thanks to everyone else who’s already posted for all the tips!
    Happy pedaling!

  63. Andres Stell says:

    I plan on riding through my second winter. I live in Atlanta, so the worst of it is the few chilly mornings that over in the lower 20′s, but I managed them last year, so plan on doing so again.

  64. PushingWind says:

    Certainly! and multi-modal at that. In Denver, the fastest way to the train from my house during the winter when there is rain/snow/ice happening is by bike. No contest. 10 minutes to the train on a nice day stretches to almost 15 with 8+ inches of snow on the ground. Cars? 5 minutes to the train in nice weather stretches to 45+ minutes in bad weather. I feel sorry for them actually. Their mindset is safest encased in a climate-controlled rolling metal cage.

  65. Andy says:

    same as Andres, Upstate South Carolina will rarely get below 40.

  66. climbinskier says:

    I’ll be bike commuting everyday this winter in Salt Lake City. My three biggest concerns are the nasty air we get when high pressure sits on northern Utah, being noticed by cars, and actually getting out the door early enough on the deep days to get to the carpool on time.

  67. K6-III says:

    I’ve done 4 Minnesota winters. First winter was on a road bike…completely trashed the drivetrain.

    Next 2 winters were on Raleigh 3 speeds. They were hardly affected by the salt/sand/nasties. Outside of new brake pads and chains, they really took the winter with a pinch of salt.

    Last winter, I rewarded myself with a Trek L200, with full chaincase, rebuilt with Sram S7 7 speed drum rear hub and Sturmey XFDD dynamo drum hub in the front, with a D&M IQ Fly generator light.

    Literally no maintenaince all winter. I expect the same this winter, but in NYC.

  68. John Mayson says:

    I’ll probably get little sympathy given I live in central Texas, but I’m dreading this winter. I do plan to ride though. I have lived in warm weather locales (Florida, Georgia, and Texas) most of my life and I consider anything below 8°F to be “winter”.

  69. Geis says:

    For years now I have been riding my bike all winter long in Pittsburgh. Any more, there isn’t much snow to deal with, though. Perhaps only one or two days where the ice and snow on trails is enough to discourage me from riding. On those days, I park in a free spot at the end of a trail and walk the remaining three miles into work.

  70. Jake says:

    This will be my first winter commuting during the winter. We just moved from North Dakota to southern Idaho. The winters here are a heck of a lot more tame than I’m used to. I’m getting a cheapo used mountain bike because I’m not sure of how bad it actually gets here in the winter. If it’s icy I don’t trust my 700c tires and the way I’ve heard they do road maintenance around here (mainly salt) I don’t want to subject my Giant to the wear & tear.

  71. jodycb says:

    I have never tried commuting in the winter before (I’m in New York State). I am going to give it a shot but it seems like there will be a lot of angles to work out. Dressing right for multiple conditions (I bike/bus commute). Riding on busy roads in the dark. I’m thinking of doing a shorter commute in the winter to avoid traffic but that will mean standing still in the cold at bus stops. What will the salt do to my bike? Can I ride on studded tires even when there’s no snow? Am I crazy? That kind of thing. Mostly I worry about staying warm without overheating.

  72. xChokex says:

    I would say that I always commute in the winter, but I’ve yet to encounter winter conditions in California. At worst it drizzles or there is a hint of frost on the ground. I will, however, be moving to Omaha, NE in a few months and I am desperately excited about winter commuting.

  73. Boston Commuter says:

    In years past, I’ve ridden on cold winter days, but only when the roads were completely clean and dry. This year, I have bought my first pair of studded tires; they will go on my bike in November. I can’t wait to try some real winter cycling!

  74. LegoAndy says:

    I did it last winter, so why stop now. Here is my suggestion… Just do it. Don’t worry about the thing. You can get some really nice winter swag. If you are in the snowy area, get studded tires and warm biking jacket. If you are in California, well, sometimes it rains. But it is totally awesome.

  75. xiousgeonz says:

    Was car-free last winter and don’t feel like getting a car this year either, so – yup, I’ll be out there. I have studded tyres on the Gazelle (or will as soon as I put ‘em back) and have learned to make sure my shoulders don’t have straps constricting circulation to my hands… I wear cannondale full finger gloves and then some LIz Claiborne novelty Christmas gloves on top of them and have been able to ride hard enough to stay warm so far, tho’ I only have 7 miles to go.

  76. BiggerDummy says:

    I have been commuting 14 miles each way since April on my Big Dummy. I just ordered a new wheel set for winter (Rohloff Speedhub rear, Hope Pro 2 front) and will continue on the car free experiment through the Ottawa Canada winter. Looking for some 2.25″ studded tires next.

    Going to run old Shimano bear cage flats with power straps this winter, with a warm Salomon Gore tex hiking boot and leg gaiters when the weather in nasty. Gloves will be some version of lobster claws and I’ll switch to my Giro snowboarding helmet with ski goggles. I also have some Gore Tex bib pants that I’ll wear over my bike shorts.

  77. SurlyBee says:

    Here in San Antonio and in DeWitt County, Texas, rain and occaisionally cold rain is the issue.

    Any suggestions on rain gear? I’ll need something when it is below 50 degrees and raining.

    Thanks.

  78. john t says:

    I will ride even in the winter, which is not much of an issue in Portland, Oregon. My biggest concern is rain, but it is a concern the rest of the year too. My second biggest concern is the cold, but it is not that cold here. The wind can be an issue here.

  79. The first time I tried it, I didn’t have proper clothes. My neck froze, my hands froze, and I was cold. That was it until the year later where I purchased what I found I needed. First thing I realized was I was too hot! It was only -9C.

    I gradually learned to judge how much I needed for my twice 5km ride every day. It is just enough to get warmer if you don’t push yourself and if there is no snow, and I know I’m good to go when I leave the house and have a tiny shiver.

    Rain is an other thing you have to be prepared for all the time, even when you leave your home with a blue and sunny sky. I have a “plan B” which is to take the subway, but in one year I never had to. During the cold months I wear waterproof pants, especially when the temperature drops below 2-3C, because at that temperature wet jeans is really uncomfortable, and dry jeans aren’t really enough anymore.

    As for the jacket, I have a yellow rain jacket. I wear it only when it is over -2C when there’s a chance of rain on that day. Below that temperature, I follow the multi-layer approach, usually with a regular shirt, a polar, and a soft shell. As I wrote above, I try to have only a tiny shiver when I leave the house.

    It is fun to ride in the snow in Montreal, Canada. Cars move really slow during a snowfall, as they need a lot of distance to brake. I think because I am more lightweight it is really easier to stop. Weight does not help get more braking power when your’re on snow.

    As for riding on ice, roads are usually wet even at -20 because there’s always a bit of salt and sun. Still, I have two studded tires, purchased at the same time I got my clothes. I wanted to avoid falling as much as I could. I haven’t, for now.

    My biggest concern is idiot drivers honking at me. I sometimes kick and punch cars of those who try to kill me, voluntarily or not. They are frequent during the winter. Perhaps people are trying to tell me I should be in a car. But their windows are shut and they are too busy to stop for a chat. I guess they need to get early to work to pay the car faster! Yeah, go faster, leave me alone!

    I love biking! I love its freedom. I like being able to go anywhere and not wonder when the next bus will be, or whether there will be traffic. Distance doesn’t matter. Sometimes I go further and ride an additional 15km that day because I went downtown, and it is not a big workout. I love living in the city! There’s everything you need less than 10km away.

  80. welshcyclist says:

    Nice comment Nicholas Marchildon, I’m really envious of your city, and your attitude to winter cycle commuting, keep the faith!

  81. James says:

    So glad to hear that there are so many of us, especially in the Denver area! This will be year 1.5 for me since last year I broke my ankle in January – now i know that studded tires are worth it.
    Looking forward to the first snow!

  82. Tanya says:

    I sold my car this summer, so I really have no choice but to plan to ride to school this winter. My only concern is that here in West Texas, it snows and ices very little and very rarely, yet drivers go into Full-Panic Stupid at the lightest dusting.

    Also, I’m a tad worried about getting ice on the brakes. Does that happen?

  83. Noah says:

    This will be my third winter riding to the bus. This takes my usual commute and chops it down from 29 miles to less than 10 round trip. On particularly nice days, I’ll ride all the way. Otherwise, I just watch the forecast and stick to clothing combinations that I know work well for me.

  84. Matt says:

    I will be commuting this winter but living in Phoenix I’m a bit spoiled. I’m not sure if this is the right forum to ask this question, and so apologize upfront if I’m breaking any forum rules, but I’m curious what readers opinions are of folding bikes. I currently ride a Trek 7900 but have been told by a few friends that folding bikes make commuting a breeze in a metropolitan area. I would love to hear the forum’s take on it.

  85. Yes. This will be winter number sixteen for me.

  86. Jewell says:

    This will be my second winter commuting in Grand Forks North Dakota and I couldn’t be more excited.

    I checked out the site and it does have some nice information, but I’d be careful not to over analyze winter biking. It doesn’t take rocket science to ride in the winter, dress in layers (three or four even), wear two pairs of socks, find the right gloves, wear a mask when needed, and wear appropriate shoes. It’s all about what works for you.

    If you don’t know where to shop for warm apparel, check out any store that sells to skiers, snowmobiles, construction workers (great place to look for socks, gloves, masks), and for camping.

  87. Count me in – this will be my third winter commuting in balmy Columbus, OH. I’m fortunate to have covered parking for my bike – though not as fortunate as last winter when I was actually able to bring my bike inside.

  88. locus says:

    Yet another DC year-round commuter. Quite frankly, this whole riding in winter is relatively new to me (transplanted Southern Boy). I’ve only done it for the last two seasons. It took some time to work out all the kinks. I don’t ride when there’s frozen precip.

    Start with a good base layer of longjohns/liner socks. Then comes the work clothes layer. If it’s brutally cold, add a vest or fleece pullover. Finish it off with a heavy long wool coat (long enough to cover my thighs). A warm scarf is a must to protect the neck. Good gloves are also important. Since I wear glasses, my eyes are relatively protected. However, the most useful item I discovered were the wrap-around earmuffs called 180s. They go around the back of the head like some newer style headphones and fit well around the helmet straps and hardware.

  89. jake says:

    I live about an hour west of Chicago, I am planning to Commute all winter by bike. Its a bit over 11 miles. This will be my first year doing so, all of the information in this post has been helpful.. Mostly the only thing I worry about is the wear and tear on my Bike, Any suggestions on what should be done to keep my bike in top shape, what things to watch out for??

  90. kale says:

    I’ll try to. I did every day in Portland, but now in NYC, I’m not too sure what to expect. The rain’s not a problem, though it sucks, I’m worried about black ice and shitty winter drivers more than the cold.

    We’ll see…

  91. xcskimt (Robert) says:

    Jake. I am in Green Bay. Keep your bike clean and lubed after a ride is important. When it snows and the salt trucks are out the first thing I do is take the bike into the basement and clean most of the grit and lube anything that might need it. I have a friend that just sprays down his bike with WD40 and wipe clean. I have an issue with that method. Granted all my bikes are steel so I normally clean them off after wet rides. Then in Spring I bring the bike into the shop for some tender loving care.

  92. biketrekking says:

    Second year cycling through winter in Buffalo, NY. No biggie. Though we get quite a bit of snow, the temp usually hovers in the high 20′s or near freezing. The snow comes heavily, then often melts within days.

    I carefully cover all skin and alter my route to stay off main roads, where I fear if I go down, someone too close will drive over me.

    In Buffalo we have what we call “beater” bikes; it is a bike we won’t cry about if it gets ruined by salt. I use a mountain bike with wide knobby tires- no studs. It is better to not bring the bike inside, for when the snow melts, this is when the salt does its worst.

    I wear a bright yellow bicycle raincoat with pit zips to control sweat and carry enough cash to call a cab or hop a bus if something goes wrong. If desperation strikes, I can use the cab to get to an ATM. I also have a U-lock and cable lock, so if I need to abandon my bike temporarily I can be assured that it will most likely stay put until I return.

    Lastly, safety glasses are cheap, don’t look to bad and provide a mounting point for my mirror.

    Life is good- bring it on.

  93. Ian says:

    I’m going to try using my xtracycle this year. I’m not sure if I should replace my Fat Frank’s with some good old knobbies. We’ll see what SW Michigan deals me over the next few months…

  94. Yangmusa says:

    I commute all year round. But living in San Francisco, I can hardly claim the weather gets harsh ;-) But it does rain very hard in winter sometimes.

    Gear:
    - waterproof panniers (Ortliebs & Nashbar)
    - bright yellow rain gear
    - Pearl Izumi gloves (not waterproof, but warm)
    - Neoprene booties keep my shoes dry, mostly

  95. I just had a great (mild) first week in Montreal.

    I plan to put my 2 yr. old BionX to the test. I’m thirsty for road and snow! I’ll be blogging about it in french, if anyone has questions about the BionX+winter lemme know.

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