Ride Like You Want To: Winter Riding

Winter riding is crisp and refreshing, but it can also be a freezing nightmare. Cold-induced ear aches and nose drops – tell me I’m not the only one! – can lead one to reconsider riding in the winter months. The following are my tips for taking the bite out of your winter ride.

Head: I recently upgraded my Bern helmet with a snap-in fuzzy winter liner. It slightly exaggerates helmet hair and makes me look like a 12 year-old ski bunny, but otherwise it’s perfect! My ears no longer ache and I can still hear you (mocking me). Check out Bern’s winter kits here.
Winter Cycling Kit
Ding ding. Here comes the ski bunny.

Hands: I’ve worn black Outdoor Research fleece gloves with windstopper (key!) for years. They’re not exactly Rapha’s Winter Gloves, but they get the job done. That means they keep my hands warm but not hot and allow enough mobility to manage my gears and breaks. However, they’re too bulky to do anything requiring slight dexterity, like taking photos, which I probably shouldn’t be doing on my bike anyway, but I don’t like to miss images like this. Giro’s Gilman cycling gloves are a great option. They don’t have much padding but the leather helps protect against blisters, they’re a fair price, and few can argue with houndstooth.
Giro Cycling Gloves
Giro’s Gilman Gloves. Toasty but not hot, nice but not luxurious.
Rapha Cycling Gloves
Rapha’s Winter Gloves. Your feet will be jealous of your hands.

Neck & Torso: You can go the bankrobber/summit series route and wear a balaklava, or you can wear a scarf or bandana. As noted in our Key Accessories for Bike Commuting post earlier this year, scarves and/or bandanas do the trick on chilly mornings and downright cold winter nights. Another tip? Tuck your shirt in (duh!). Sounds simple, but believe me, you’ll be stoked to have tucked when the icey winter wind stays away from your belly.

Feet: I believe in wearing shoes you want to wear on your bike, even if they’re not super practical. But in the winter, footwear matters. I learned the hard way that socks make a huge difference and boots are even better. Boots are stylish, stiffer than sneakers, warm and protective. My sock and shoe combo this winter is Patagonia mid-weight hiking socks (SO warm) and Matt Bernson Artika boots. Choose what suits you.

Biking in Boots

As for the nose drips? That’s what gloves are for! Consider a pair that’s machine washable.


  1. Katie says:

    Ear Bags are also a great option to prevent ear aches. They’re like little ear socks that snap comfortably around your ear – basically earmuffs without the band!

  2. Scott Clark says:

    Take an old sock hat (cheapie, not a nice one with a ball on it) and snip off the top 1″. It becomes the perfect neck warmer and is easily stretched over the helmet. It can be pulled up over your face and you can breath right through it. Works great with Bern (I have a Bern w/winter lining too.)

    Double tights works surprisingly well also. I have a pair of thermal XL’s I bought for 75% off one Spring. I slip them over my normal tights and can commute down to 10F no problem (yeah, my legs look lumpy but whatever.)

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