Stay Warm For Winter Cycling With These 6 Essentials

by | May 16, 2024 | Buyer's Guide, Bike, Featured, Sports

Winter isn’t fun but if you have the right gear and essentials, cycling in the dark, chilly or wet conditions can be a lot more enjoyable!

With the arrival of icy temperatures and the departure of long sunny days, having fun while out riding your bike becomes a little harder to achieve. We tend to move pretty fast when on the bike and that increases wind chill on our bodies, especially at the extremities. Thankfully for us, lots of really smart people have designed some super effective winter cycling clothing and accessories to help us master the cold and dark conditions. Check out these essential items below to see what you can do to conquer the cold.

New Merino Winter Cycling Jackets From Ciovita
Get the right gear to tame the weather and your adventures don’t need to be put on hold! (c) Ciovita / Kleinjan Groenewald.

Keep Your Fingers Toasty With Winter Cycling Gloves

You may well know the pain of cold hands on an icy morning Joburg ride. When the temps lurk around 0 degrees, just a bit of wind chill can be soul destroying. A good pair of winter cycling gloves can be lifesavers for frigid fingers. They should be designed to trap warmth while maintaining dexterity and will often feature windproof and water-resistant materials with breathable membranes.

Look for features like touchscreen compatibility, padded palms for shock absorption (if you prefer that style of glove), and reflective detailing for added visibility in low light. 

Shield Your Toes With Winter Cycling Shoe Covers or Overshoes

Shoe covers are an often overlooked piece of winter gear. They act as a barrier against wind, rain, and road spray, keeping your feet warm and dry. They will often be made from neoprene or other water-resistant materials and come in various thicknesses for different weather conditions. Some shoe covers have cleat compatibility for both road and mountain bike shoes. Dry and warm feet translate to better pedalling efficiency and overall comfort.

Similar to shoe covers, overshoes offer a more substantial layer of insulation for very cold or wet conditions. If you really want to give your feet the best treatment, some quality winter specific cycling shoes will be the way to go.

Top tip: Wrapping your toes in some tin foil before putting your shoe on beats the wind chill and reflects body heat back onto your toes. 

See And Be Seen With Bike Lights

During winter’s shorter days and often low-light conditions, good bike lights are crucial for safety. A powerful front light will illuminate your path and improve your visibility to oncoming traffic. A bright rear light ensures you’re seen from behind on the road and hugely increases your safety when riding at night or in early morning.

If you are wanting to find the right bike light to suit your needs (road, gravel, or mountain biking etc) and need a hand understanding the different brightnesses and mountain options, you can find our in depth guide right here as well as some of our top suggestions for each use case.

Buyer'S Guide For The Best Bike Lights For Road And Trail Cycling
Shorter days often force us into riding during the darker hours. A bike light is a necessity for safer rides. (c) Bontrager

Rain Jacket For The Cape’s Wet Winters

A good cycling rain jacket is a must-have for winter rides. You’ll want to look for a jacket made from waterproof and breathable fabric, to of course keep water out but also allow the vapours to leave the jacket as you sweat. 

The Best Winter Cycling Jackets Waterproof
Fend off the Cape’s wild and wet conditions with a good rain jacket! (c) Max Sullivan / Ciovita

Features like sealed seams, ventilation zippers, reflective detailing, and a helmet-compatible hood are big wins. You can find our in depth buyer’s guide here for cycling specific rain jackets where we delve into how waterproofing and breathability works as well as what features make a great cycling rain jacket.

Cycling Jacket For The Dry Cold

Most of South Africa is dry in the winter so a rain jacket isn’t necessary for keeping warm but a ‘lava’ jacket (as they are known) is very much a game changer for the ice breaker rides.

New Merino Winter Cycling Jackets From Ciovita
A snug fitting jacket, like Ciovita’s Odyssey pictured here, will insulate you against the cold. (c) Ciovita / Kleinjan Groenewald.

A dedicated winter cycling jacket designed with features like insulated fabrics or windproof shells and a close-to-body fit with maximise your warmth without sacrificing mobility. Look for details like fleece-lined pockets for hand warming and strategically placed vents for breathability. A wardrobe staple like Ciovita’s Lava Jacket, or their Odyssey Merino Jacket if you’re feeling boujee, will become your best friend as you brave the winter chill.

Conquer The Trails With Long Pants For Mountain Biking

Long pants can make a world of difference when it comes to keeping your legs warm and dry on the trails. Many options will feature a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating to shed light rain and splashes. Cycling specific designs will include articulated knee areas to allow for unrestricted movement. Leatt and Fox are leading the pack at the moment with their trail pants while Ciovita has recently come in with a lightweight version that is super comfy to ride in.

Here are a few other key items to consider for staying warm on winter rides:

  • Base Layer: This is the first layer of clothing worn next to the skin. Choose a moisture-wicking material like merino wool or synthetic fabrics to pull sweat away from your body and keep you dry and warm.
  • Neck Warmer or Buff: A neck warmer or buff is a versatile piece that can be worn around the neck for warmth,pulled up over the face for wind protection, or even used as a headband.
  • Headwear: A warm hat or headband made from wool or fleece is essential for preventing heat loss from your head. Choose a style that covers your ears comfortably.
  • Hand and Foot Warmers: Disposable hand or foot warmers can be a lifesaver for extremely cold rides. Stick them on the soles of your feet inside your shoes, in your pockets, or your gloves for an extra boost of warmth.

It can get gnarly out there but with the right gear, there ain’t no excuses! Check out more Buyer’s Guide articles right here.

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