How cold is your commute?

How cold is too cold to ride?

  • Any temperature - It's never to cold to ride!

    Votes: 9 45.0%
  • Below 40 (4c)

    Votes: 7 35.0%
  • Below 50 (10c)

    Votes: 2 10.0%
  • Below 60 (15c)

    Votes: 2 10.0%
  • Below 70 (21c) - I don't ride when it's cold!

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    20

nickybcareful

New Member
I have a 5 mile commute on a great bike trail that goes from my back door to my office. It's the first day of Spring, but still cold in Ohio. Morning temps are in the 20s - 30s. I'm really anxious to garage the car and start riding my Haibike Urban Plus to work. How cold is too cold for your commute? What do you wear to stay warm? Our office is business casual, so I often wear my golf rain suit and glove to stay "somewhat" warm on my ride.
 
I did a fair amount of biking over the winter, including commutes in November, December, January, and February. My coldest commute morning was 22f; many commutes were 24/25 each morning. I could probably go a little colder than that assuming no wind in the weather forecast, but not much colder… Without investing in new winter gear!
 
Forgot to answer the clothing question. For the cold rides this winter, I wear SmartWool merino long underwear (leggings and a long-sleeve) under my office khakis; any ride below about 45f. I wear a Gore windstopper jacket over the long-sleeve merino, which I was surprised to find totally sufficient down into the 20's. It has removable sleeves, which I'll get to try out for the first time soon, as we come up into perhaps the consistent 40s... Below 32, I also added over-bikeshoe booties to help block wind penetration on my Shimano bike shoes; my only pair, they're perforated and not at all winterized, really. I'd wear a half-balaclava (covering nose tip down to lower neck) below about 40f. I added a pair of Smith ski goggles (worn over my prescription eyewear) also below about 40f. I'd alternate between a pair of Pearl Izumi padded winter gloves and an older pair of ski gloves: I found them sorta comparable, and neither really awesome. Might consider the lobster claw variety next winter, or even bar mitts with lighter gloves inside...! If it was in the mid 40's, I'd lose the balaclava and the goggles, but wear 180 earmuffs. All the cold days, I also tend to wear alpaca socks; thick ones. Then just my normal bike helmet -- no skullcaps underneath.
 
Forgot to answer the clothing question. For the cold rides this winter, I wear SmartWool merino long underwear (leggings and a long-sleeve) under my office khakis; any ride below about 45f. I wear a Gore windstopper jacket over the long-sleeve merino, which I was surprised to find totally sufficient down into the 20's. It has removable sleeves, which I'll get to try out for the first time soon, as we come up into perhaps the consistent 40s... Below 32, I also added over-bikeshoe booties to help block wind penetration on my Shimano bike shoes; my only pair, they're perforated and not at all winterized, really. I'd wear a half-balaclava (covering nose tip down to lower neck) below about 40f. I added a pair of Smith ski goggles (worn over my prescription eyewear) also below about 40f. I'd alternate between a pair of Pearl Izumi padded winter gloves and an older pair of ski gloves: I found them sorta comparable, and neither really awesome. Might consider the lobster claw variety next winter, or even bar mitts with lighter gloves inside...! If it was in the mid 40's, I'd lose the balaclava and the goggles, but wear 180 earmuffs. All the cold days, I also tend to wear alpaca socks; thick ones. Then just my normal bike helmet -- no skullcaps underneath.

Very motivating!
 
WOW! Very helpful. I've invested thousands of dollars in gear for skiing and riding my Ducati, don't know why I didn't figure out I needed to do the same for biking. Thanks for your gear recommendations. I'll be doing my research this weekend. First up is figuring out the helmet/Balaclava thing and then moving on to gloves. My commute is only 20 minutes each way and only an issue in the morning as it warms up by noon. I'm setting 40 F as my goal. This would extend my riding season by nearly two months. Woohoo!!!
 
WOW! Very helpful. I've invested thousands of dollars in gear for skiing and riding my Ducati, don't know why I didn't figure out I needed to do the same for biking. Thanks for your gear recommendations. I'll be doing my research this weekend. First up is figuring out the helmet/Balaclava thing and then moving on to gloves. My commute is only 20 minutes each way and only an issue in the morning as it warms up by noon. I'm setting 40 F as my goal. This would extend my riding season by nearly two months. Woohoo!!!

I'd just add you certainly shouldn't expect that you have to pay THOUSANDS for cold-biking gear...! Particularly not if you're only aiming to support temps down to 40f.
I probably actually have all my receipts from my winter-gear purchases, that I could go check -- but I'd be surprised if I went over $500, total. (The Gore jacket was the single biggest-ticket item, but I got it on sale, late in the winter season around $160 I think.)
Some things I of course already owned before even getting the bike -- alpaca socks, ski gloves, ear muffs.

So, specific to this first-winter-biking season for me, I picked up the Gore, the 2 SmartWool pieces, the half-balaclava, the over-shoe booties, the Smith goggles, and the Pearl Izumi gloves.
 
We rarely experience snow where I live, but it does freeze, most often overnight. If it has frozen overnight after a wet day, it can time time for stuff to melt in the morning. I don't want to tangle with black ice. I don't mind commuting when it is in the 30's if the roads are dry. I wear a parka, cycling gloves (with farings I made around each handlebar grip to block the wind from my hands, and I also have wind/rain pants I can wear or I wear an extra layer if it is just cold. I don't commute in heavy rain, but drizzle isn't a problem with a bit of rain gear.
 
Update: Thank you all for your helpful suggestions. This afternoon I rode to work for the first time this year. Temps around 40F. It's only about a 20 minute ride, so it's really not bad at all. I found several riders that said they use a ski/snow boarding helmet. Now that's the ticket! I found a Smith Holt helmet on Amazon for $35 (regular $70). They must be wanting to clear their inventory at the end of the season. Not high end by any means, but very comfortable and it has removable ear muffs. It really made a huge difference compared to my regular helmet. Here is a link:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00UK9H2DE/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

As for the rest of my gear, I just went with my golf rain suit, vest, and gloves. My jacket zips up to my chin, keeping my neck warm. Might be a little light for temps in the 20's or below, but fine for my needs. Plus, I'm covered in a light rain and is compact so it fits easily in my Topeak bag.


20190327_123553.jpg
 
Perfect! My son uses a ski helmet in the winter. I use a pashmina scarf that I wrap around my head and tie at the back of my neck, and then I pop my bike helmet on top. My husband wears some kind of a head/face cover wrap thing that is all in one piece and makes him look a bit like a ninja! My daughter .... freezes because I guess that's what's fashionable when you're a middle schooler!

I'm glad you enjoyed your commute! :)
 
The coldest temperature I remember riding in this past winter was -18 fahrenheit. There were many days this winter that it got colder than that, but that was usually earlier in the morning, this is the lowest temperature I remember seeing on the TV news or my phone as I walked out the door (and note this was the actual temperature, NOT the windchill -- those get up to -30s and even -40s here in Wisconsin). I would guess there were at least a dozen or two dozen rides between -18 and 0. We had one particularly soul-draining stretch where the temperature stayed below freezing continuously for 30 days, and a particularly nasty interlude within it that it stayed below zero for about three days straight.

I know most people would not want to keeping biking into these extremes (truly I did not "enjoy" it either -- I just needed to get to work and continue getting exercise). But my general point here is that you can literally ride in any weather. For anyone who wants to extend their season this much, as far as clothing, the important things are the head and extremities, especially hands, nose, and ears. My most carefully selected clothing was my gloves, supplemented by "bar mitts" on the handlebars on the coldest (below zero) days. For helmet get one with insulated ear covering built in & the ability to close vents; these are often market as skiing helmets, but work just as well for biking. Then under the helmet, for any temperatures much below freezing (or higher depending on your tolerance to cold) wear a thin balaclava to protect your nose and face. As far as coat and pants, I don't think it matters that much if you have everything else well covered, or maybe you are going much longer distances than what you said. I actually wore a lighter coat to bike than I did while walking, for better movement, and also the biking generates more heat. Really the most important thing is that it have an insulated high neck and mechanism to tighten around wrists and waist. Most days I just wore my normal work pants; only on the coldest days (well below zero) did I put on snowpants. My single largest expense was the gloves, around $60, and my total biking-specific clothing expenditure was maybe $125 (gloves, bar mitts, balaclava, helmet, and goggles -- see below)

The one thing that applies to the temperatures you are talking about (other than gloves and a normal hat) is IMO you should wear goggles. Even if you wear glasses, like me, there are OTG (over the glass) models you can wear. When looking for them, look for ones marketed for motorcycling. Especially at the sustained speeds you reach on an e-bike, the windchill gets pretty nasty, and even above freezing you can start to feel pain in your eyes from the cold without them. Well, at least I can! With goggles you can introduce a new problem though -- they fog up. But IME, as long as you give the air inside them a chance to acclimate (meaning don't put them on inside, walk out and then put them on) it doesn't become a serious concern until below zero, and/or you are pedaling hard or overdressed (sweating).
 

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I bet they used studded tires in the winter...❄️
If you are referring to the two pictures above your post, studded tires wouldn't have done much good in those conditions. Where they are necessary is when there is sheer ice, not snow.

For snow, traditional "knobby" mountain bike tires work fine, and studs are actually completely useless -- except when there is a think layer of snow on top of sheer ice, and that kind of situation is just plain treacherous to bike in no matter what, I know a guy who broke his collarbone in a fall from his bike in those conditions this past winter.
 
Actually I should not have said that, there are knobby mountain bike tires that also have studs in them; I just don't use them because I am an urban commuter and those would be unpleasant on pavement (which is what I usually face except on the day of snowstorms). I can only speak for my tires, Schwalbe Marathon Winter Plus. They are especially suited to urban bikers because you can control if/how many studs are engaging the ground by how much you inflate the tire (meaning you can adjust for different conditions on different days just by letting out or pumping in air)

Here's a great page with all the pros and cons of different bike winter tire options if you are interested.
 
My biggest fear is ice on the ground and moderate/strong wind.

Ice alone is not that bad, it's enough to slow down and be careful on curves.

But when there is also some wind, then it gets dangerous, because it can easily push you and make you fall
 
My bike doesn't even get wet ! No cold or wet riding at all. The irony is I bought the bike for winter riding but quickly found out, that's not for me.
 
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