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Home > Winter Essentials
New Season Essentials


The thought of pedaling through the wet and cold months can be a bit off-putting, but there is no need to hang up your cycling shoes just yet, as a few simple steps will stop the weather getting the better of you. In our Winter Essentials guide, we look at preparing your bike properly and offer some tips on winter cycling clothing to help you keep that cycling buzz going all-year-round.

In this winter essentials guide, we look at preparing your bike properly and offer some tips on winter cycling clothing to help you keep that cycling buzz going all-year-round.


Dress for the weather

With your bike sorted for winter all you need to do is to stay warm and dry while you’re riding it. The key to cold-weather cycling is to wear clothing that protects you from the elements, keeping you warm without overheating. This is where technical fabrics and cycle-specific designs make a difference.

Layers, layers, layers Back to top

The best way to stay warm and comfortable on the bike is to wear multiple layers. This means that you can fine-tune your clothing microclimate. Start with a baselayer then add a jersey or fleece mid-layer if necessary, with a waterproof or windproof layer on top. Choose layers that are made from technical fabrics that wick sweat away from your skin as this will help stop you overheating. You can also add gloves, over-trousers, over-shoes and a skullcap under your helmet for extra warmth and protection. Layering your clothing means that you can manage your temperature effectively by shedding or adding layers as needed.

A cycling adding an extra layer

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Jackets Back to top

Staying protected from the wind and rain is essential if you want to be comfortable on the bike as the seasons change. The key to this is to balance water resistance with breathability. This is where a good jacket can make all the difference as it will keep the water out when it’s raining but won’t allow you to overheat when the rain stops. A waterproof rating of 10,000mm will give you good rain protection on your daily commute while a 10,000mm breathability ratings will keep you comfortable as you ride. The very best fabrics offer ratings of up to 30,000mm. These are very nice to wear but you only need this level of protection on all-day-long rides in the worst conditions.

A cycling in bad weather wearing a waterproof jacket

The other option is to choose a windproof jacket. These are either made from very lightweight packable material or warmer softshell fabric. While these jackets will only protect you from a light shower, they are much more breathable, so many cyclists prefer them on dry winter rides.

Jackets with reflective elements will make you more visible on the road at night while bright Hi-Viz colours will help you to be seen on dull days. Lightweight packable jackets can easily be slipped on and off when you need them, but heavier jackets are warmer and more durable. Look out for taped seems for effective waterproofing and additional vents for extra breathability. Hoods that are designed to fit under the helmet are great for commuting and will help you to stay warm as well as dry.

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Overtrousers and leggings Back to top

As a cyclist, your legs are your engine, so it is important that you keep them warm and protected from the elements. If you are commuting, then lightweight waterproof overtrousers are an effective way to layer for adverse weather. Looking for maximum efficiency road cyclist prefer tights as these are more aerodynamic. DWR coatings will repel water in a shower and thermal properties will help to keep you warm on cold days. Waterproof shorts are a popular option for mountain bikers as they keep your thighs and bum dry without restricting your movement on the bike.

A cyclist wearing tights in colder weather

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Overshoes and waterproof socks Back to top

Nobody enjoys having cold feet and there are a couple of different approaches to remedying this. If you clip into your pedals, then overshoes are the best option. These add a water-resistant insulating layer to help you retain warmth in your feet without you having to buy a new pair of shoes. While most are designed for clipless pedals there is a new breed of flat pedal overshoes like the Endura MT500 Plus that work well. Another option is to wear Sealskinz waterproof socks which protect your feet from the elements whatever shoes you wear.

A cyclist wearing waterproof overshoes

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Gloves Back to top

As with feet, cold hands are no joke. Fortunately, there is a wide range of cycling gloves to help you keep your hands warm. Windproof gloves are a good first step as they protect you from cold air but are still very breathable, so you won’t overheat. Waterproof gloves offer next-level protection against the cold as well as downpours. When it gets very cold thermal gloves are what you need to stay comfortable on the bike.

A cyclist putting a pair of winter gloves on

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Skullcaps and neck warmers Back to top

You lose a lot of heat through your head, so a windproof skull cap that fits neatly under your helmet is a great way to retain essential heat. They also protect your ears from cold winds which can be very uncomfortable for some people. Wind-stopper headbands are great for spring and autumn rides as they offer ear protection without being too warm. A neck warmer or Multitube is another great winter essential as they are easy to pop on and off to help you manage your temperature as you ride.

A cyclist wearing a cap and neck warmer

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Winterise your Bike

Mudguards Back to top

They might not be the best-looking cycle accessory, but mudguards will make a big difference to your comfort on the bike when the seasons change. Even if it’s not raining the roads tend to stay wet in the winter. Mudguards will keep the spray off your legs and back helping you to stay dry. Mudguards also stop you spraying dirty water over the riders behind which is why some road cycling clubs insist that you fit them for autumn and winter club rides.

Before you buy, look at your bike to see if there are lugs for attaching mudguard stays on the frame and fork. If your bike has these then you can fit conventional mudguards which offer the best coverage and are the most secure.

A Marin hybrid bike with mudguards

 Carbon road bikes and high-end mountain bikes don’t have lugs so you will have to choose clip-on mudguards which are easy to fit but don’t offer quite as much protection from spray. Check your wheel size and tyre width to make sure you get the right size mudguards for your bike.

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Winter tyres Back to top

Many seasoned cyclists will tell you that punctures are more likely in wet weather. This is because debris, including grit and glass, tends to be washed onto the road when it rains. Tyres with puncture protection built-in like Continental GatorSkins might be a little heavier than summer rubber but they will keep you rolling while others go flat. An alternative approach is to fit Slime Self Healing inner tubes . These are prefilled with tube sealant and will self-repair small punctures. Tubeless wheels and tyres with tubeless sealant are another way to avoid punctures.

A Cannondale CX bike with grippy tyres

If you have enough clearance in your frame, then fitting a slightly wider tyre is a good idea when riding on wet winter roads. Wider rubber will give you more grip as well as a little extra comfort. Winter tyres with grippier rubber compounds will also give you more traction on slippery surfaces. Dual compound tyres like the Schwalbe Durano Plus SmartGuard have durable, fast-rolling rubber on the centre of the tyre with more supple, grippier rubber on the edges.

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Lights Back to top

If you are commuting to work on your bike, then lights are an absolute essential as the seasons change. For cycling on unlit roads, you’ll need a powerful front light so you can see the road ahead as well as a rear light to be seen from behind. Even if your route is on fully lit roads then you need good lights to ensure that you are properly visible. It is a good idea to have two front and two rear lights when cycling in the dark. That way you can have one flashing and one steady state. You’ll also have a back-up should one fail.

A Moon front light

As the seasons change lights are a good idea even if you won’t be riding at night. This is because it can remain gloomy even in the middle of the day. Exposure make some of the very best bike lights and their DayBright modes are a great way to maximise your visibility on dull days. Lezyne make some great commuter lights. The Femto Drive LEDs can be mounted almost anywhere which makes them a great option for enhancing your main lights.

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Frame pump and saddlebag Back to top

If you do get caught out with a flat tyre, then having the right things with you can save the day. This is where a saddlebag and pump come in. The easiest way to fix a flat tyre on the road is to put a new tube in and repair the old one when you get home. You can easily store a spare tube, puncture repair kit and tyre levers in a medium-sized saddlebag. You can also fit a CO2 inflator in a saddlebag but pumps tend to be too big. This is where a frame pump comes in. Attaching to your frame under the bottle cage pumps like the Lezyne Alloy Drive V2 are small yet powerful giving you plenty of inflation power when you need it.

A Cube saddle bag filled with a compact pump and spare tube

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Winter wheelsBack to top

With salt and grit on the road winter, cycling isn’t friendly on your wheels, especially expensive carbon hoops. Not only will they get very dirty, but the bearings are likely to wear out more quickly. Most experienced road cyclists have a set of ‘training wheels’ that they use through the winter. If you’ve upgraded the wheels on your bike to something lightweight and fast-rolling, then fitting some puncture protection tyres will give you a perfect set of winter training hoops.

Cannondale gravel bikes riding on a muddy cycle path

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Clean and service your bike Back to top

To avoid corrosion you must clean off the inevitable dirt, salt and grime that will collect on your bike when riding in winter. A bucket of soap and water applied with some elbow grease will do the job but dedicated bike cleaner like Muc-Off will make things a lot easier. Be careful about using a jet wash as this can damage the bearings in the wheel hubs and bottom bracket.

Lube being applied to a chain

Once your bike is clean check that everything is working properly then protect and lubricate. Make sure that your brake pads are in good condition as you will need your brakes to be at their best when riding in wet conditions. When oiling the chain choose a lube designed for soggy rides like Finish Line Cross Country Wet Lubricant. This won’t wash straight off and you won’t need to worry about dust collecting in the winter months. Polishing your frame adds another layer of protection and will help it to shed the grime when you ride. Car wax is the traditional solution but specific bike products like Miracle Shine are easier to apply.

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