Cold Weather Bicycling Essentials And Tips

A bunch of my friends are hardcore year-round bikers. It's not unusual for Germans to leave their car at home in the summer and bring their kids to school or go to work by bike, but recently I have been seeing more and more people doing it almost the entire year. Very rainy or snowy days seem to be getting more and more far apart in the winter, and biking paths are getting better.

Biking is a great way to slip in exercise during the day without investing too much time. I also notice that it leaves me much less tired than all other modes of transportation, it's probably the lack of people, noise and smells. It's also a great way to get to know your city better -- I love discovering side streets and small shops.

Summer biking is pure joy, but cold-weather biking takes a bit of extra preparation. From my friends I picked up a couple of very ingenious tips:

Image via Velovoice

Mud flaps

 A bigger mudflap on the front fender keeps your shoes from getting spritzed. I got the Bibia mudflap because it's one of the longest ones.

Furry seat cover

This keeps your fanny from freezing, particularly if your bicycle has to stand outdoors for longer periods of time. You can use faux fur as well, and you can probably easily DIY one from furry / sheepskin rugs from thrift stores.

Waist warmers

If you get cold around your kidneys, you'll love this. There are two kinds -- the neoprene ones for bikers are waterproof and can be easily put on thanks to a velcro closure. Then there are the regular ones made of wool or other fabrics, they can be worn underneath clothing or used as a layering piece (they look like the bottom part of a longer top). The warmest ones that also adapt to the body temperature are made of merino wool. Tube tops can be used as waist warmers in a pinch.

Ear Warmers

A really simple way to keep your ears warm while wearing a helmet. Unlike caps and headbands, they don't distort the fit of the helmet, and they don't get easily lost. They are threaded onto the strap of the helmet. The ones from Hot Ears come in two shapes for the two different strap types. Again, this can be easily DIY'd; I imagine that if you use real (wool) felt they would be even warmer. You could also try knitting or crocheting them.


I love ponchos for autumn biking. I get cold around my neck and chest area first, so when the weather isn't very cold a poncho is the ideal thing. It keeps the chest area toasty and lets the breeze cool down my back. I usually wear my ponchos together with:

Pulse warmers

I find that in the autumn my wrists (and ears) freeze during bike rides, even as the rest of my body heats up. For milder autumn days I love the combination of wear short sleeves + pulse warmers. For colder days, wrist warmers close that annoying gap between your gloves and your sleeves. Again, fabric plays a very important role here, silk and real wool warm much better.

Diver Spats

If you are biking in cold and wet weather, these will protect your shoes and ankles from getting cold and dirty. I got this tip from a guy that dives as a hobby. There are different kids available, with more or less coverage. I actually own a kid-sized pair too, and they are amazing for keeping snow from getting into the tops of boot of small kids.
These trap the heat in, so for extra toastiness try warming up your shoes by blasting them with a hair dryer or putting them near the heater.


A pair of thin silk / warming-technology gloves can be worn on their own or layered under thicker gloves. You can find great ones in motorcycle stores.

Real wool jacket

Last years I biked a lot with a real wool jacket, and I was pretty surprised how it adjusted to whatever the temperatures were outside. I could wear it from anywhere between +15 to -10°C, and it wasn't even a very fancy jacket -- t was from Zara, thrifted. It ventilated my underarms and back in a way my Wolfskin jacket with the underarm holes didn't. This year I thrifted a very chic coat with Alpaka wool and am stoked to test it out.

What are your cold weather biking essentials?

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