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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    2,048

    Dressing for riding in cool-cold temps

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    I've been commuting more regularly this fall and while Tucson isn't cold compared to much of the US, the morning temperatures can be in the 30's. I've figured out what works for me in temperatures down to the low 40's: jersey, arm warmers, windbreaker, shorts, knee warmers and wool socks, toe covers, long-fingered gloves with wool liners, a couple choices for keeping my head warm. I think I need to stick with layers because I may be riding home in 65-70 degrees in the afternoon and in just a jersey, shorts and maybe the windbreaker.

    I rode one morning in the 30's and my fingers were just really cold. I swapped out the knee warmers for tights and wore a thermal long sleeved jersey and an extra shirt over it.

    I'm looking at a variety of options - looking for suggestions from those of you who have to deal with colder temperatures more of the time.
    I have a rain coat. I could wear wool sweaters... but definitely want to know about

    1. Baselayer? Suggestions?
    2. Insulated gloves? Recommendations? Split gloves or full fingered? I saw some split fingered gloves for sale today from Terry that said they go down to 30 degrees
    3. Warmer jacket? Soft shell? I don't want to spend too much because really, I won't use it all that often... There's one for sale at Performance now (Women's Flurry III elite or something like that) for $79 that has an extra tail flap that can tuck up inside, seems warm. It seems to fit a little tight for a medium.
    Anything I haven't thought of?

    Suggestions appreciated.
    2016 Specialized Ruby Comp disc - Ruby Expert ti 155
    2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker - Jett 143

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,144
    As for the gloves, I try to keep around as many options as possible. I hated lobster gloves, it felt weird to me. For many years, I had a larger pair of light weight full fingered gloves that could also be worn with 2 different thicknesses of wool liners and if necessary, hand warmers. Now, I finally found a mid layer thermal glove by Mavic, in a men's small, that fit me, that I can wear down to 40 or so. DH bought us heated gloves at the end of last winter, so I use those below 40, sometimes between 40-42.
    As for tops, when it's 55 or below I start with a sleeveless base layer, arm warmers and a vest, knee warmers. Less than 50, I usally go with a short sleeved base layer and various combos of ss jerseys, arm warmers, and my regular wind protecting cycling jacket. I also have 2 regular weight long sleeved jerseys that I often wear between 50-60 degrees with various combos. I have 2-3 thin thermal jerseys and quite a few thick ones, too, as well as long sleeved base layers in 2 thicknesses. I use those for nordic skiing as well. I also have a very warm winter cycling jacket by Assos, I got online for 50% off. I cannot wear very heavy thermal jerseys under that, even when it's freezing. It is tight and it's a small, when I usually wear an x small. I wear Craft base layers, but they get used to death between the skiing and cycling, hiking, and snow shoeing.
    I tend to dress too warmly on the top, so I've been sticking to using shorter sleeved base layers with heavier jerseys, or heavier base layers with lighter jerseys. It's very individual. DH always wears more on his top half, but can wear shorts down to 55 or less. I need to have my kees covered up to 65 and could go up to 70... I always bring 2 weights of head covers, because the quickest way for me to cool down is to take the head cover off. Same with gloves. And sun/clouds/wind also factor in. 40 degrees and sun is much different than clouds.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,856
    Off the top of my head -- I find that wool really is best for wide temperature ranges. Sometimes as it warms up during a ride I will realize I don't need all the wool layers I'm wearing but am not so uncomfortable that I have to stop to take some off. I've gotten some good deals on Smartwool base layers at the REI garage (the outlet part of their website). They're not necessarily my favorite color choice but I can live with that for the price.

    My most versatile jacket is a Gore unlined windstopper jacket. I can layer up under it and/or wear a wind vest over it for more warmth. Not cheap, but I wear it so much I got a second one when TE was selling off all their Gore stuff. A friend has a similar jacket from Showers Pass that works over various layers on colder days. But for you it might be more cost-effective to keep your current windbreaker and wear a wind vest over it when it's colder. Or go with your current rain jacket, if it's more substantial than the windbreaker.

    Also on colder spring and fall rides I will wear a long sleeved base layer (wool) under a short sleeved jersey with arm warmers. So a double layer on my arms as well as my torso. This give me more options as I warm up, since I can take off the arm warmers and still have something on my arms.

    For gloves, I have some Gore full finger gloves with a thick fleece lining and windstopper fabric on the outside. When it's very cold I wear wool liners under them. But my hands tend to warm up fast and stay warmed up, unlike the ice cubes with toes that are attached to my ankles, so I will often end up taking off the liners. Those gloves are for this time of year; in spring and fall I am generally okay with unlined windproof gloves (mine are from Bontrager) and the wool liners. Often I don't need the liners at all. Both the Gore gloves and Bontragers are a size too big so there is plenty of room for the liners. It's important not to have tight gloves or socks/shoes because that will constrict the blood flow and make your extremities colder.

    Also make sure your wrists are covered and warm, otherwise no gloves will be warm enough.

    Another thing -- if you're commuting you probably have a bag or two on your bike for carrying stuff. But if not, a handlebar bag or other bike bag is a must for me in non-summer months to carry the extra layers that I take off as I warm up or bring with me just in case I need them.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    680
    I go sub zero on my fat biking and skiing, so that's really something of a different game than riding in the 20s and above. Still, maybe you can put some of this to work for you. To begin, I can tell you that, when you start to dip down in the teens, the three places that become critical in a hurry are your face, your hands and your feet.

    For the face, I always use a fold down balaclava or even a ski mask, typically in combo with a scarf. When things get really cold as in single digits and below, I will also add a good set of ski goggles, even though they are a real hassle when they fog. That cold air ripping your eyes at such temps is brutal. Even wearing sunglasses can help. Any exposed skin, though, in single digit temps is frost bite country, even on a calm day, because you are making your own wind on a bike.

    No one I knows actually likes mittens when they bike, but there's no finger glove made that will handle single digit temps for long. I use lobster mitts for warmer temps, then add gloves inside them for as long as I can, but, sooner or later, out come the heavy duty lined mittens and you'll want ones that extended well up your sleeves or that cold air will seep into the mitts as you ride. Have even used snowmobile and ice fishing mittens. The good news is that mittens work well enough with thumb shifters on MTBs and fat bikes. The bad news, not so well on road bike grifters. Still doable, but pretty clumsy. One thing you might explore is cold weather hand hoods for you handlebars. A lot of us, up here, use them on our fat bikes.

    If you insist on going clipless on your winter bikes, good luck. Invest in some high dollar insulated winter clipless biking boots/shoes, or deal with cold feet all the time. Those neoprene booties that fit over your summer biking shoes are tempting, but in my experience, they are no substitute for insulated shoes. Otherwise, switch over to flats for your winter riding so you can use regular insulated footwear. For example, was out on the fat bike, yesterday, with woolen lined Sorel type pack boots. Yup, about as far from a biking shoe as it gets, but still very doable with the big wide flats I use on the fat bikes. Temp was 4 above, wind chills pushing minus twenty and feet stayed tasty warm.

    I only use the layer approach for protecting my torso and legs and never, no way, cotton. Wool is fine, though heavy. Otherwise fleece or other synthetic insulation that can breathe and dry out, quick. Can't stress enough how your insulation effectiveness goes to hell once you start sweating and how downright dangerous this is in serious cold biking. This is old hat to those of us who XC ski (very similar in its clothing to winter biking), but not so with a lot of bikers who are just starting to brave winter temps on the bike. The temptation to grab a heavy winter coat and go is tempting, but it is a bad idea because it allows you no options for controlling your temp.

    Believe it or not, the way you see me dressed here on a ski outing with my hubby is much the same as when on the fat bike.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    2,048
    Thanks for the suggestions! I don't anticipate riding in temps below 30. For now, I'll try sticking with the wool socks and toe covers. My commute is less than 10 miles and I wouldn't want the warm shoes for the afternoon ride home.

    Thanks to all the online sales and deals this week, I got a few more things:
    This jacket was 25% off of the sale price yesterday, so only $60: http://media.performancebike.com/ima...ut-quality=100

    I ordered a Gore under helmet cap and some split finger gloves from Terry.

    Some of the new equipment got a try out this morning. It was warmer this morning than I expected- the prediction was 45 but it was closer to 50 and I was sweating under my backpack in the jacket. I didn't bother with the new gloves, and my head was almost too warm with the Gore hat. As it turns out, I was only on the bike for 15 minutes before my tire had a blow out and was not fixable. My husband rescued me and brought a replacement tire and drove me in to work.
    All fixed now but it will be almost 75 this afternoon so I won't need the warm wear.
    2016 Specialized Ruby Comp disc - Ruby Expert ti 155
    2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker - Jett 143

 

 

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