Crisp air, winter sunshine. Just because it’s cold, it doesn’t mean you can’t get out for a walk or bike ride. In fact, in Joensuu, Finland, the ‘winter cycle’ capital of the world, 20% of all journeys are cycled, despite it being regularly below freezing. 

Get your daily dose of vitamin D on two wheels with our top tips for winter cycling.  

Clothing

There’s a famous Scandi saying - “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes!” and whether you're chasing your personal bests in your most aerodynamic lycra or getting around at a gentler pace being prepared for the weather will keep you warm, dry and put a smile on your face!   

We asked the team for their top tips and must have bits of kit for winter cycling. If you don’t have some of the gear already, don’t feel like you need to get cycle-specific gear immediately, try out what you’ve already got and keep an eye out online or in charity shops for picking stuff up second-hand too. 

Kit to beat the cold: 

  • Wear gloves! Winter waterproof or windproof gloves will do great, just make sure you can still brake, change gear etc. The tighter the gloves, the better they are for cycling as they don’t get caught on your handle bar/brakes or caught in a zip. 
  • Wear thick thermal socks – keep those toes warm and dry, and if possible invest in waterproof shoe covers, there’s nothing worse than wet feet! 
  • Get a buff/snood/ or repurpose your face mask to cover your nose and mouth. Or go one step further and invest in a balaclava to keep your ears warm too, (it’s a wild card, but you’ll thank us later). 
  • Layer up with thinner layers so you can adjust your clothes as you warm up, it’s easier than you may think to get hot and sweaty, even in the winter, so don’t wear too many to begin with. 

Keeping clean and dry: 

  • A thin waterproof jacket will help keep you dry but not overheat as you pedal your way through the colder months.  
  • Waterproof trousers are life-changing, although not exactly glamourous. Most of the water and mud splashes up the bottom of your body so you’ll protect your clothes underneath. 
  • Trouser clips – they’re affordable, easy to use and mean the bottom of your trouser legs won’t get caught in your chain and get dirty. OR long socks tucked in! 

Shine bright like a diamond:  

  • If you often wear a backpack it might be worth opting for a reflective backpack cover over a jacket. They tend to be cheaper than a jacket and will mean you won’t end up covering up the high-vis-ness. 
  • Wear colourful clothing! It’s much easier for drivers to see you.  
  • Lights – remember to keep them charged and consider getting a spare if you’re regularly riding in the dark. When you’re buying lights check they are rechargeable so you don’t need to rely on purchasing single-use batteries . Remember not to leave them on your bike when you lock up as they might get pinched! And if you are always forgetting to bring your bike lights, consider getting clip-ons that can attach to either your backpack/back of your jacket/or on your helmet.

Top tips to winterproof your bike: 

  • Give your bike a wipe down after riding, especially if the roads have been gritted. If you’ve not got long, prioritise the wheel rim as this is where mud/grit/whatever else can get trapped between your brake pads and cause punctures. Punctures are more common in winter so it’s a good habit to get into (try leaving a repurposed old tea towel/ripped up clothing by the door to remind you). 
  • Mud guards can help keep your clothes clean if you’re cycling in your fav clothes. 
  • Make sure your tyres are well pumped with plenty of tread for those wet mornings. If you need to replace your tyres get advice from your local bike shop as sometimes going for the cheapest will mean you end up with more punctures and will cost more in the long-run. 
  • If you keep your bike outside, cover it up with a bike cover or spare bit of waterproof material, like tarpaulin, to avoid rust.  

If you’re keen for more cycling tips check out our blog on confident cycling in the city or our Pedal Power guide, a short introduction to cycling which we created for our project with Cycle Sisters inspiring more women to cycle in Tower Hamlets.