Basic Winter Biking: 7 Tips on What to Wear

Winter Biking GearExcuse: “You can’t bike in the winter – it’s too cold!”

Now that the temperature is above 0 degrees, it’s a good time to try winter biking! Yes, Chicago is cold and biking can be a frigid experience if you are not prepared. However (thankfully) there are people that have figured out how to make winter biking not only doable, but really comfortable. Here is a quick list of tips to keep yourself warm when you’re biking in the winter:

Seirus Balaclava

Break out the Balaclava: Nothing like a chilly wind on your neck to make you wish you were enjoying a heated leather seat. This will also (obviously) come in handy to cover your mouth and nose when the weather is particularly biting cold.

– Gloves: Again, two layers of gloves (if you’re cheap)- or a nice windproof pair (if you’re efficient). If possible, grab some bright gloves like mine so you’re hands are noticeable when you’re signaling.

 Boots or Waterproof Shoes: Especially when snow starts becoming slush, you’ll be thankful for warm, waterproof shoes. Also keep an eye out for waterproof covers you can throw on over your shoes.

Reflective Bike

Reflective Gear: As you know, winter days mean less daylight. Dress in colors that will make you visible – also make sure you stand out against any snow (something I keep in mind while riding my beautiful white Boda Boda). Add reflective material to clothes and your bike (like I did in this post: Adding Reflectors)

– Warm Under-Layers: Long johns? Under Armor? Throw warm layers on under your clothes. I especially recommend wearing two layers of pants – even if one later is just leggings or stockings. Bonus points if you buy windproof pants or wool tights. For those of us trying to keep things affordable – try leggings or workout pants under your jeans.


Rec Specs: Ok, they’re not actually rec specs, but grab some safety glasses to keep cold wind and snow flurries out of your eyes. During daylight hours sunglasses will accomplish the same purpose.

Those are my must haves for winter biking. When I got home from a ride last night the temperature said 1 degree and yet I was perfectly comfortable out and about. Plus, biking in the winter offers a sense of adventure and accomplishment that is worth every layer of gear. If you’re hesitant, bundle up and give it a try – you’ll be surprised! Keep in mind that whatever you put on should still allow you to move freely. You should be able to see clearly, put your helmet on completely, turn and look over your shoulder, and use your fingers to brake and change gears.

Anything I forgot? What are your winter must-haves and where can we buy them?


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