Recommended Bike Clothing in Colder Temperatures

Hard to believe the summer is winding down as each day gets shorter, reminding us that cooler days are around the corner. But there’s no need to despair, as the autumn and winter seasons simply represent another opportunity to remain outdoors. So while you enjoyed road, mountain biking or riding the rail trails locally or on your summer vacation, there’s no reason to put the bike away in storage just because summer is ending. Even with colder temperatures, autumn and winter can still offer excellent riding conditions. As with any outdoor adventure, preparation is important and determines whether you have a positive experience. If you have the proper gear and clothing, you can still rely on your bike to take you to your favorite places. Here are some tips below on what to wear. (Please keep in mind everybody’s body morphology is different so there may be some overlapping with some categories.)

How you dress corresponds to the type of activity, as is typical in daily life, either for work or for leisure. For instance, if you expect a strenuous ride, then lighter weight clothing is appropriate. Because mountain biking speeds tend to be slower than road biking, lighter weight clothing is better because of reduced wind chill and heavier clothing may not dry as quickly when over-exerting.

Let’s say for seasonal temps in the 50s to 60s Fahrenheit range, the apparel should be lightweight, such as a short sleeve jersey and shorts, short sleeve base layer, arm, leg or knee warmers, cycling cap under helmet and lightweight cycling long finger gloves.

For the temperature range of 40s to 50s degrees Fahrenheit, a short sleeve jersey and shorts, medium-weight short base layer, arm warmers, leg warmers, wind vest, medium weight gloves and shoe covers, and a light-weight skull cap under the helmet is one possibility. Another option may include light to medium- weight long sleeve jersey and light-weight tights, with medium-weight long sleeve base layer and wind vest or wind jacket.

For temps below freezing, measured at 32F degrees and below, requires the most layers and the most wind protection, such as a thermal jacket, with the base layer, tights, gloves, skull cap and shoe covers all at heavyweight standard. You may need an extra layer between the jacket and base layer if the conditions are really cold. You may want to consider the additional items for extra warmth: Winter cycling shoes, glove liners, insulated bottles, shoe covers and anti-fog agent for your glasses.

With these recommendations, you may want to consider extending your biking activity well past summer. As long as you take the time to prepare, you will be sure of having a great and positive experience.

Ride on!


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  • Kovas Palubinskas

    For me the biggest problem is less the cold and more the salty slush that the roads usually become. A cold, dry day is great if you can get the layering right.

    • charrell

      For the worst days of Philadelphia area winter, I discard my clipless pedals and go to a downhill pedal with PowerGrips, insulated boots and waterproof gaiters. This stops the splash from my bike. Lots of layers, ice climbing gauntlet gloves and a face mask finsh it off. Ski goggles if it is 5 degrees or below.

      • Kovas Palubinskas

        You’re definitely more hardcore than I am! 🙂

        • charrell

          Nah! I just service my addiction.