In general, I follow the philosophy that regular clothes should suffice for city riding. After all, if cycling is an ordinary part of one’s day, then why should it require special apparel? However, when temperatures plummet, there’s no denying that the technical fibers used for road cycling gear can provide superior protection and comfort — especially to vulnerable extremities. In short, some cross-dressing may be in order.

So I thought I’d share the three “performance” pieces that I rely upon to block wind and lock in warmth during the winter months. The good news for New York City commuters: They come in basic black, so they coordinate with everything we own. Although the following aren’t the least expensive of their kind, I consider the fact that I’ve owned them for several years a testament to their durability and value.

Gore Bike Wear Helmet CapGore Bike Wear Helmet Cap, $33 – This soft, lightweight cap is so impervious to the elements that I have to turn up the elasticized hem slightly in order to hear traffic sounds (despite the presence of small ear holes). The Windstopper® fabric not only insulates and provides wind protection, but, with its slick finish, also seems to minimize “helmet hair.” Because this liner is unlovely on its own (i.e. it makes me resemble a very tall Munchkin), I carry a favorite wool hat to slip on when I park my bike and continue on foot to additional stops.

Craft Bike Siberia Split-Finger Gloves, $59.99 – These warm, fleece-lined marvels are waterproof and windproof.  They fit snugly, but the split finger allows movement and articulation of my fingers.  Also includes mesh neoprene cuffs and reflective piping.

Capo Winter Wool SocksCapo Euro Winter Wool Socks, $18 - There are loads of choices out there, but these super-soft, medium-gauge merino wool socks, with their reinforced, heavier gauge foot bed, are my favorites all winter long.

In addition, some fun and fashionable picks to help seal the drafty gap between your chin and winter jacket can be found in this recent post.

What are your favorite keep-warm accessories for the bike lanes?

photo: velojoy

4 Responses to 3 must-have accessories for winter bicycling

  1. Bob Horton says:

    Great accessories, but it seems to me that the most basic accessory for winter bicycling is an unlimited Metro Pass. Or, if one insists on biking through Gotham during these snowy/icy/slushy times, how about a pair of goggles like those that jockeys’ wear when racing thoroughbreds on a muddy track? As the slush accumulates on the goggle, just peel off a layer and get a whole new view.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your comment! Definitely, never leave home in this weather without a MetroCard. Goggles or safety glasses do provide excellent protection from snow and stinging sleet. I’ve seen people — and one dog, in a carrier — wearing them on the road in recent days.

  2. Katherine says:

    A couple more suggestions for “cross dressing” in cold weather: equipment designed for equestrians. While they’re not going to solve freezing ears on the coldest of days, it’s possible to purchase polartec ear covers designed to be worn under a riding helmet. Also cold weather gloves designed to allow for rein gripping. I’ve used both for winter commuting. And I’ve used foul weather horse riding gear and helmet covers to keep myself and my helmet dry in rainy weather, too. Things are designed to be washable and sturdy and generally come in black. Dover Saddlery has a good website as does State Line Tack. And they cater largely to women in their sizing(unlike lots of cycling suppliers).

    • velojoy says:

      Katherine, thanks so much for sharing these great suggestions for borrowing from equestrians. When it comes to winter bicycle commuting, there are no boundaries, right? It’s all about what works to keep us warm and dry on the road.

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