Winter Riding Survival Guide

When days get shorter and temperatures drop, hopping on your bike may seem like a daunting task. But with the right gear and preparation, riding during the colder months can be not only bearable but enjoyable! Before you put your bike into hibernation, check out this guide we’ve created to help you feel motivated and ready to keep riding during winter.

 

Get warm

 

 

Layering is key for riding during the cooler months. It’s best to choose thin layers with moisture-wicking material to prevent you from overheating and becoming dehydrated during your ride. Once you start pedaling your body will quickly build up heat, so it’s best to feel slightly cold before you hop on the saddle.

 

Base layer: Start with a close-fitting, breathable layer beneath your shirt or jersey. Opt for merino wool or a synthetic wicking fiber. Avoid cotton – it soaks up sweat and rain and will leave you feeling cold and wet.

 

Our picks:

 

Wilderness Wear Merinofusion Activewear Top 

Lightweight, warm and breathable, this base layer from Wilderness Wear is made from 50% pure Australian Merino wool and 50% Ultra-fine Schoeller Polypropylene, a highly engineered synthetic fiber. Natural merino wool enables insulation while Polypropylene wicks moisture away from your skin keeping you warm and dry during high aerobic activity.

 

Outer layer: A lightweight windproof or waterproof riding jacket will fend off the worst of the elements. Softshell jackets allow a bit of wind to penetrate to counter the heat from your body to prevent you from overheating. Styles with a longer back are ideal as they won’t ride up and sealed back vents and reflective panels will provide extra breathability and visibility. Riding vests are a great option for when it’s not too freezing.

 

Our picks:

 

Swrve Softshell deck jacket (available to buy in-store now)  

 

This stylish water and wind-resistant softshell jacket will keep you protected from the elements and provide all-day comfort on and off the bike. With multiple venting options, a drop tail hem, reflective details, and a cozy fleece interior, this jacket is decked out for Melbourne winter commuting.

 

Proviz REFLECT 360 Cycling Jacket

 

 

This jacket will light you up and keep you warm on the foggiest days and stormiest nights. With a 100% reflective outer shell, 5000mm waterproofing, multiple air vents, a microfleece collar and inner mesh lining for comfort and airflow, this is the ultimate winter survival jacket.

 

Gloves: No one wants numb fingers! The best gloves for riding have wind/waterproof material and palm and finger grips for when handlebars get slippery. Make sure your gloves allow enough movement to easily shift brakes and use gears.

 

Our picks:

 

BBB Raceshield Windblocker Gloves

 

These lightweight thermal gloves have a water repellent and windproof back, anti-slip silicone palm and finger grips, and a 40mm cuff for extra weather-proofing. An all-rounder winter essential!

 

BBB Coldshield Winter Reflective gloves

 

Top of the range for winter commuting, these gloves have a warm fleece lining, reinforced thumb, and forefinger, a reflective top and neoprene cuff to fend off frostbite in the harshest conditions.

 

Socks: Keep warm from the bottom up with quality insulated socks.

 

Our picks:

 

Wilderness Wear Fusion Light Socks (available to buy in-store now)

 

 

Made with Australian Merino wool and breathable polypropylene synthetic fibres, these lightweight socks fit inside any shoes providing all-day warmth and breathability. 

 

Wilderness Wear Fusion Max Socks

 

Super thick and warm, these Merino/polypropylene socks have a reinforced high heel, foot bottom section and toe pocket for hardcore winter protection. 

 

For your head: A warm layer beneath your helmet can make all the difference when your body is trying to retain heat in your core. We’d recommend a thin knitted beanie or a cap with a visor for visibility on rainy days.

 

Our picks:

 

Swrve Merino Midweight Wool Cap

 

Made with 100% midweight wool for natural temperature and moisture regulation, this traditional-style 4-panel riding cap has an elasticised back and visor for class and comfort on and off the bike.

 

(Hot!) tips:

  • Warm-up in advance! Re-usable heat packs are inexpensive and can be used to heat the insides of gloves, caps and shoes. Use them in the morning, and quickly reheat before your ride home.
  • Use an insulated drink bottle and replace h20 with a warming broth, coffee or tea. Your insides will thank you later! 

Choose your ride

 

 

Some bikes are winter-ready machines, whereas others won’t fare as well in the cold. Commuter bikes and single speed bikes are your best option for slugging it out in harsh conditions because they are usually built with durable steel frames and components that won’t wear out quickly. High-end road bikes and mountain bikes require more maintenance when conditions get rough, so you’ll want to take extra care with maintenance if you’re riding on a high-performance bike during winter.

 

Our favourite super-durable commuter fit for the worst Melbourne winters: The Jamis Sequel. Read our full review here.

 

See and be seen

 

 

Whether you’re riding through peak hour traffic or down the back roads, make sure you’re lit up on the front and back. Cold weather can drain batteries quicker, so carry a few spares if you’re using battery operated lights. USB rechargeable lights are a convenient option, just remember to charge them up before you ride!

 

Our picks:

 

Moon Orion Front Light (100L) + Back Light (50L)

 

Ideal for commuting in well-lit urban areas, these super-bright USB rechargeable lights have quick-release magnetic mounts for easy use. 

 

Moon Meteor X-Auto (320/450L)

 

This powerful front light will light up your way down dark back roads. With a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, quick release brackets, and auto on/off feature, this quality light is super-easy to use and maintain.

 

Stay clean and dry

 

 

Two words: mudguards and fenders. Prevent getting sprayed with water and roadside grit from your wheels (and protect the rider behind you!). Close-fitting fenders are ideal for wet conditions but if it’s really frosty they’ll freeze up. If this is the case, choose clip-on fenders that can angle up and leave more room between the wheel.

 

Maintenance is key

 

 

Self-care is important during winter, and the same goes for your bike! Before the cold sets in, we’d recommend booking a service to ensure your bike is in the best possible condition. After that, it only takes a few steps of easy maintenance to keep your bike rolling smoothly all through winter. Here’s what we suggest:

 

Set up a cleaning station: If you have your cleaning and lubrication products laid out and waiting, it’s much easier to give your bike some TLC. If you have a garden hose, set up your station nearby for quick wash-downs.

 

Washing: It’s best to wash down your bike after every ride. Use a garden hose or bucket of warm water and a cleanser and cloth for extra shine.

 

Lubrication: Wipe down your chain after every ride and apply chain lube at least three times a month to prevent rust and wear from road grit. If it’s really wet, opt for a wax-based or wet lube.

 

Our Picks:

 

Finish Line bike maintenance products

Developed with feedback from professional cyclists, bike mechanics, and specialty bike shops, Finish Line products have everything you need to take care of your bike and keep it rolling in peak condition. We stock a wide range of Finish Line products including bike washes, lubricants, degreasers, and polishes.

 

Tyres

 

 

Slippery road conditions and extra debris can make winter commuting more precarious. It’s best to run your tyres on a slightly lower pressure to increase traction, and you may want to consider upgrading your tyres for extra stability and protection during the winter months. 

 

Our Picks:

 

Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tyres  

 

Ideal for winter commuting on urban road conditions, Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres feature superior puncture resistance and a 5mm thick SmartGuard layer for added rolling resistance.

 

Panaracer GravelKing Tyres 

 

For ultimate grip on slippery or broken roads, look no further than Panaracer GravelKing tyres. With tough knobs, a puncture protection breaker, and a special low rolling resistance casing, you can tackle harsh off-road conditions with confidence.

 

Ride with care

 

 

If you’re running on a tight schedule, allow an extra 5-10 minutes for your commute so you can ride with extra care. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your safety during winter:

 

  • Check the weather before you leave and ride with conditions in mind. On slippery surfaces, braking might take longer, and make sure you allow plenty of time for turning corners and crossing junctions to avoid slipping and skidding. 
  • Lower your saddle – riding with a lower centre of gravity makes you feel less wobbly on wet or icy roads. If your feet can touch the ground flat you’ll have more control when stopping. 
  • Refrain from unnecessary movements that might cause you to skid.
  • Avoid standing in the saddle – riding in a seated position gives you more balance and traction on the road. 

 

At Velo Cycles, we have a huge range of accessories available in-store to help you get the most out of riding during winter. Our workshops are in full swing, so book in a service if your bike needs some TLC for the cooler months. Call (03) 9381 0088 or email info@velocycles.com.au to book your service now.