A Guide to Biking in the Winter
Updated: Mar 23, 2022
As our St. Louis winter wears on, here are a few helpful tips to help be comfortable if you’re biking for work or everyday errands.
You don’t have to bike the whole way.
Pairing a transit trip on a bus or Metrolink is a way to stay out of the elements for a good portion of your ride to work or the store.
Metro buses have racks for bikes and you can take your bike onto the train.
One thing to be aware of is that you can cool-down a lot while waiting for the bus or train so make sure you have an extra layer of clothing in case.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes” is a common phrase in the colder climates. Getting on a bike in the cold, you figure out pretty quickly what feels right or wrong.
For most of a St. Louis winter, you don’t need any extra or fancy clothes, but just a little more than normal - and in the right places - goes a long way to making your commute comfortable.
Fingers, toes, ears and nose
Gloves- Because of the added wind from your ride, your extremities will get cold and stay cold longer than your core (chest, torso,). Also it's a lot harder to put your hands in your pockets while biking than when you’re walking.
Wearing a pair of thin gloves inside of thicker gloves or mittens is an easy way to get extra warmth. But, make sure you’re still able to use your bike’s controls
Socks & Shoes- Thick socks are an easy way to keep your feet warmer. Like gloves you can double up a think pair and a thick pair for extra warmth, just make sure they aren’t too tight because
On cold days try to avoid athletic shoes that have lots of mesh, in the summer or in the gym, they’re great for letting off heat. But in the winter they let a lot of wind and cold into your shoes in the winter. Instead boots or full leather shoes/sneakers block the wind better and store heat inside your shoes.
Stocking cap, beanie or headband that covers your ears is also a great
A scarf or facemask to keep your nose and face warm, can go a long way to help too.
Layers- Compared to your extremities, your core will warm up pretty fast once you start biking. Having more, thinner layers helps you manage your body temperature better than just having a heavy coat. There are plenty of resources online to describe different ways to layer clothes.
One bike-specific pointer: wear a sweatshirt with a zipper instead of one you have to pull over your head. Having a zipper lets you manage your body temperature more easily without having to take layers on and off.
Leave early: Roads can be wet or icey and plan some extra time to get where you’re going in case the roads are bad.
Take it easy: getting overheated then cooling down because of the cold weather is no fun and can be dangerous in really cold conditions.
Bring an extra layer: the weather may change quickly and its good to have an extra layer in case the temperature drops or you get stuck somewhere.
The bike industry will try to sell you lots of gear specifically for winter or cold weather riding. However, here are a few important items to have and use.
Lights and something reflective- with less daylight being seen by people driving is an even bigger priority in the winter.
A bag -something to keep an extra layer in. A backpack is better in the winter than in the summer where a sweaty back is less of a concern. Bike-specific bags that attach to rack are a good bet year round.
A lock- Getting stuck in the cold without your bike is no good.