Bicycling Tips for the Winter

Faculty and Staff
Sustainable Transportation

Your bicycling season doesn’t have to end when temperatures drop. Be fully prepared with these cold weather riding tips:

The right kind of clothing is important

Thermal, windproof and/or waterproof clothing will help keep you dry and warm while biking. Though it’s cold out, your body will start to sweat, so layering your clothes is a must. Consider using a moisture wicking, long sleeved base layer and a windproof vest. This combination allows you to adjust to a range of temperatures and provides extra warmth in the core while not inhibiting movement on the bike. Pro tip:  A neck gaiter or a balaclava does wonders for cold weather comfort on a bike.

Keep in mind that your extremities, like your hands, are the first parts of your body to get cold. Lined, windproof gloves designed for cycling really make a difference. 

It’s best to go with bike apparel rather than try to adapt ski clothing to fit the cycling regime. Ski apparel tends to hold in the heat, causing a sweat while pedaling, and that causes the cyclist to get chilled

Hydration is just as important during the cold months

A cold Terp doesn’t have to mean a dehydrated one! The outside temperature doesn’t change how much water your body loses while out riding your bike and winter clothing traps in more heat, so be sure to drink up.

Stay lit, literally

With less hours of sunlight during the winter days, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself out and about while it’s dark out. Small, bright and rechargeable LED lights can easily be found without blowing your budget. An easy-to-pack reflective bike vest designed to fit on top of jackets is a sure bet to catch drivers’ attention and keep you safer too.

Maintenance is key

Keeping your bike in good condition is always important, but especially so in wet and grimy conditions. We recommend paying attention to chains, gears, cables and tires. Oil repels water, and it’s easy to get in the habit of applying chain lubricant once a week to keep parts on the bike running smoothly. 

Make sure to keep the tires of your bike at a lower pressure, which will allow them to more easily conform to and grip any frozen surfaces you may come across when riding.

Stop by the RecWell Bike Shop for a tune up or visit a local bike shop to get your bike in tip-top shape. 

Curb the curb

One of the most dangerous places to ride in the winter is right next to the curb where snow accumulates, gets plowed over, melts, freezes and becomes an uneven mess of road debris and ice. Seek out the pavement or stay just far enough away from the curb to avoid these issues.

As with all seasons, ride predictably using hand signals and limiting erratic movements.