Commuting by bike is great, even in the winter. Especially in the winter! You can always layer up to stay warm. Remember the summer? To battle those scorching temperatures, you can only remove so much clothing before you are arrested. That is why I like winter so much.
The biggest problem I have with winter is choosing layers. I own no wool pants. Wool is one of the best things to have when it gets cold out. Guys, you ever priced those wool pants? I have yet to find a well made pair for under $150! Two pairs of those equal the price of my wife’s bicycle. I would rather have another bicycle, thank you very much.
So what is a guy supposed to do? The only viable option would be to simply layer. If you have jeans, just use them. Maybe adding in some extra layers under the jeans would help, or maybe a layer over them. We all know it, jeans are not great at blocking out the wind. Some rain pants would easily cut the wind from your legs. Sure it would not breathe much, but you would not suffer from the wind!
My feet get cold easily. I have the southern mindset in that you only wear one pair of socks. Well, I need to throw the switch for my northern mindset. Back when I lived up north, two pairs of socks were the minimum when it was below freezing and you were exposed to the elements. I think I need to make sure I have enough wool socks. They are relatively cheap, especially when compared to wool pants! My last pair ran me around $15. A few pairs of those and I will be set.
If your hands get cold easily while commuting by bike, invest in a pair of gloves. Now on my road bike, it is nice having the dexterity that full fingered gloves provide. However, on my cargo bike and mountain bike, dexterity is not crucial. I can operate the controls in mitts. Full finger gloves must fit just right in order to be useful. Yet, even if they do fit right, they only protect to a given temperature. Mitts hold in the heat from the entire hand. It reduces the surface area that is exposed to the elements, thus making them more efficient than gloves; less stylish, but more efficient. I can shift my rapid fire MTB shifters with mitts no problem. You could get those liners that hook to your bike and you slide you hands into. It takes practice to use them, but they do work well. That is what I hear from those who have used them.
A scarf is also a wonderful tool. Most people view a scarf as a tool to only keep your neck warm. Not true. The scarf is a wonderful winter riding tool. Wrap it around your neck to keep your neck warm, and to prevent wind from blowing down the neckline of your jacket. This helps reduce the amount of layers needed for a given temperature. It helps hold heat in, preventing it from escaping out the opening around your neck. Also, you can wrap it around your face to help keep your ears, cheeks, nose and lips warm. Just make sure it is wool! I have seen some decent looking ones for only $40. If you take care of it, it should last you for years.
Another thing that some people may not think of is the helmet. Those wonderfully expensive helmets, that work great during the warm summer months, are absolutely horrible during the winter. They are designed to be light weight and let in a lot of air to keep your head cool. During the winter, you do not want cool, you want warm. I have looked into several options. Some simply have a similar lightweight helmet and cover the vent holes with packing tape. That cuts the wind out quite well. The problem is it looks bad. If you are not concerned about that, go for it! I have looked into alternative options. Some of the cheaper helmets work great. Skateboarding helmets have good protection and small vents. You get some air flow, but not much. If it is really cold out, you could always go with a snowboarding helmet. These helmets often come with flaps that cover your ears as well! I have REALLY been looking at those. Hopefully one will go on sale once it starts to warm up some. I would love to have one for those cold evenings.
One other thing. I almost forgot this. The cold air can have a negative impact on your eyes. When that cold air hits them, it is not fun. Some may be okay with it; as for me, I would rather avoid it. Make sure you have some good glasses to help cut through that wind. Another option could be goggles. You know the kind, like what you see on the ski slope. Those can really help keep your eyes nice and toasty warm. Worth the investment, so I am told. So far, I have zero need for such an item. Maybe one day will come where I feel I need it. As for now, I am fine without it.
I could really use that helmet with the ear covers. My ears get cold very quickly. Time to watch the sales ads!
Just keep an eye out for anything that will help keep you warm. Also analyze your gear. When you go out for a ride, if one section of your body is chilled, then think up a solution to the problem. I plan on expanding my winter attire so I can ride year round with zero issues.
If I get any gear soon, I will be sure to post up a review! Ride on my friends.