As trite as it may sound, there is no such thing as bad weather. There are only bad, or better: unsuitable, clothes. And that also applies to cycling. Apart from the dangerous black ice or a knee-high blanket of snow, there are hardly any good reasons to swap the bike for full buses and trains or the car, even in winter. Nowadays, you can even arm yourself reliably against icy temperatures without having to cycle to work like the famous Michelin man. Wind, rain and darkness are also just sparring partners. Provided you dress smartly. In this article, we tell you which pieces you use to give winter the cold shoulder and give yourself a good laugh in the face of frost and snowflakes.
If you were to start a survey of which parts of the body cyclists are most likely to freeze in winter, the fingers and toes would probably be at the forefront. In addition to the nose (which can be protected at most with a multifunctional cloth), the wind automatically cools down the hands and feet first. To make matters worse, when the temperature is below zero, the body tends to focus on keeping the internal organs at operating temperature.
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So let's first focus on protecting your feet from the cold. And that starts with the right cycling socks. They can be cut a little higher and at least partly made of cozy merino wool. If you use your bike every day to get to work, you should also attach importance to sturdy shoes. Sneakers or sneakers made of light mesh material are certainly more comfortable, but they don't keep out the cold or precipitation in the long term. Water-repellent gore material is therefore the minimum that cycling shoes should have in winter. With the Minaki Mid II STX by Vaude, a flexible shaft also protects against splash water. If you want to do a small training session directly from the way to the office, you can also screw cleats under your shoes and click into the pedals using the STX or SPD system.
Those who still feel cold on their toes despite Merino socks and Gore cycling shoes can ignite the third stage. So-called overshoes are – quite surprisingly – put over the shoes from the toes and protect against wind, cold and moisture in equal measure. Overshoes are always a good choice to get your feet dry. A slightly more flexible alternative is these waterproof oversocks from Sealskinz, which also have a little extra portion of safety on board thanks to the reflective material. If you just want to protect your toes from wind and cold, so-called toe caps are a good option. They are only pulled over the toes and reach up to the instep.
When cycling, your legs are constantly in motion. Nevertheless, they should also be packed appropriately in winter. If there is no opportunity to change at work, lined and waterproof trousers that can be pulled over jeans or trousers are a good idea. If you want to be a bit more sporty and want to incorporate the tour to the office as a small workout into your day and be able to change in the office, it is better to use lined cycling shorts with a thin seat pad. Whether with or without straps is a matter of taste. Tip: Cycling shorts can be transformed into a winter variant with leg warmers in no time at all. These practical overcoats are available lined (here a thermal model from Gonso) and unlined (here a model from Gore).
Of course, it's not enough just to be warmly wrapped up underneath. The body emits most of its heat through the upper body and especially the head. And that's exactly what you should contain in winter, at least as much as possible. The so-called onion skin principle has proven its worth. This should not only ward off the cold, but also ensure that excess body heat can be reliably transported away. The rule of thumb is: it is better to stack a few thin layers than one very thick one.
The basis for this is the base layer, i.e. functional underwear that is worn directly on the skin. Their job is to absorb moisture, i.e. sweat. And this is not only important when skiing in the mountains, but also when cycling in winter. Not only, but above all, when things get down to business a little faster. A minor downside: high-quality functional underwear (e.g. from Odlo) does not always look chic. But she doesn't have to. Advantage of the base layer: it dries quickly. In our latitudes, a short or long-sleeved shirt (e.g. from Odlo or Gore) is usually sufficient for the base layer.
The next layer, the so-called mid-layer, is supposed to provide the necessary warmth. For cyclists, this is usually a short or long jersey, depending on the season and temperature. In winter, slightly roughened models or, even better, cycling jackets are ideal. For everyday trips, the best mid-layer is a warm fleece jacket (e.g. this women's model from Quechua). The outer shell completes the winter bike outfit if required. This should ward off wind or moisture so that the mid-layer stays comfortably warm and dry. Softshell jackets (like the Qimsa from Vaude) are not just the classic weatherproof third layer of clothing because of their name.
A hat, scarf and gloves are less bike-specific, but indispensable when cycling in winter. The most important requirement for headgear is that it must fit comfortably under a helmet. Bobble hats are therefore rather unsuitable at this point. In order to be able to react to different temperatures, it makes sense to have two types of hats in the closet. For milder winter days around five degrees, a thin functional hat that is as breathable as possible (like this model from Craft) is sufficient. The alternative is the popular Buff, a multifunctional cloth (here the merino version) that can be transformed from a tube scarf into a practical hat with a few clever movements.
If you get on your bike in temperatures around or below freezing, your forehead and ears should be protected with a thicker hat, the inside of which is ideally made of fleece. Our tip: the Reflect360 Fleece Beanie from Proviz. Fabric threads were sewn in here on the outside, which reflect the light particularly well. This means that you can be seen very well, especially by car drivers: inside, even in the morning and at dusk. Due to its tight fit, the helmet also sits securely on the head.
If you forgot your gloves on a Sunday walk, you can simply put your cold hands in your jacket pocket. When it comes to cycling, it's not that easy. Cold hands are not only uncomfortable on the bike, they also make it difficult to pull the brake levers in a targeted manner. In winter, gloves are therefore part of the basic equipment of every cyclist. And because the feeling of cold is also very subjective on the fingers, there is no magic formula for warm hands. However, heated cycling gloves (e.g. from Sealskinz) can help. They are a little thicker by default. There is also a rechargeable battery in a small pocket on the wrist, which supplies energy to the heating surfaces integrated inside the glove. Most models have three heat settings that can be selected using buttons on the top of the glove.
For those who don't need high-tech gloves, lightly lined models such as the Triban F900 from Decathlon should also be satisfied. They should keep your fingers warm even when the temperature is around zero degrees. Advantage of the slightly thinner version: grip and feel on the handlebars and brake levers are usually much better. In addition, they protect the budget.
You can read a test of the Sealskinz cycling gloves soon on stern.de.
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