three must have accessories for winter bicycling

three must have accessories for winter bicycling

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. Here are three must have accessories for winter bicycling.

I rely on these “performance” basics to block wind and lock in warmth during the winter months. The good news for New York City commuters: They come in basic blacks and grays, 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 Helmet Cap

Gore Apparel Universal Helmet Cap, $35.99 – 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.

Terry Split Mitts

Terry Split-Mitt Gloves, $59 – These marvels are wind- and water-proof thanks to Windstopper fabric backing. Primaloft Thinsulate keeps hands toasty. The split design helps keep fingers warm while allowing movement and articulation for shifting and braking. The extended cuff is adjustable to seal out drafts, and reflective piping on the shell helps keep you visible.

velocio winter socks

Velocio Winter Wool Socks, $28 – There are loads of choices out there, but these super-fine merino wool socks, with their fully padded footbeds and toes for added warmth without bulk, are my favorites all winter long.

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

top photo: velojoy, others courtesy of manufacturers


  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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).

    • 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.

  • I have dry eyes and the winter winds can be killer. I found that the wraparound glasses worn by motorcyclists, with removable foam, work wonders. You can even get them fitted with very high prescription lenses. (I got mine at ADS Sports Eyewear.)

    • Hey Jill:
      It’s great to hear from you. Thanks for sharing the link. I’m a fan of caps with ear flaps, as well.

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