Cold Cycling – Tips For Winter Rides

Cold Cycling – Tips For Winter Rides

Winter can be a fantastic time for cyclists to ride—the scenery is beautiful, the bugs are gone, and the snow is fun to be around.

However, when riding in extreme temperatures, proper plans and precautions need to be taken into consideration.

Safety comes first. Cycling in the cold means that preparation is essential.

Let someone who isn’t riding with you know your route and location ahead of time. Keep a phone on you at all times. Here are some other things you can do to keep safe:

Layer Your Clothing

Wear layers to stay warm. Layers will allow you to add and remove clothing as necessary—which will prevent overheating or frostbite.

Cycling layered clothing.

When choosing your clothing, consider choosing winter clothes made of wool. Wool moves moisture away from the body. This means it won't lose its insulating value. Since it moves sweat away from the body as well, it won't smell as much as cotton if it is being worn for a long time frame.

You can also layer your socks for a similar effect! Layering your socks will keep your toes warm and move sweat away from the body. Wool socks are your best bet.

Organization is Key

Traveling in cold temperatures can be difficult if you're unorganized. Make sure that everything you pack has its place. Get used to the places in which you put things so that when it's time to unpack or when you need to reach for a particular item, you know exactly where everything is.

Be comfortable with your equipment. Practice taking things apart and putting them back together at home before you take your pack out into the cold.

Make sure that your bike is reliable. Sizing up on your bike tires can also help you ride in the snow.

Pack Well

Making sure you are well packed with all of your necessities is super important. Here are some things you may need on the road:

  • A knife
  • A folding saw
  • ​Lithium batteries
  • ​Reflective tarp
  • ​A floorless tent
  • ​Sunglasses
  • ​Matches and a lighter
  • ​Cookware
  • ​A liquid gas stove
  • ​A canteen
  • A smartphone
  • ​A camera
  • Storage bags

Don’t forget some accessories to keep you warm:

  • Winter boots
  • Pogies
  • ​A cap
  • ​Wool layers
  • ​Insulating layer
  • ​Light Softshell Jacket
  • ​Heavier, bigger jacket
  • ​Light softshell pants
  • ​Lightweight gloves
  • Warmer gloves

Get Fired Up!

Make sure you are well acquainted with the art of fire building. This is an important skill to have when cycling in cold temperatures.

Before attempting to light your fire, make sure that you have gathered enough wood. Use dry wood and move as much snow away from the area. Split logs if you need to, this is what your folding saw is for. Place your wood in a lattice pattern.

Be completely prepped before you light the fire so that you can ensure success!

Tips For Cycling On Icy Surfaces

The winter can get hard for cyclists. Depending on where you live, up to a quarter of the year can be taken up by the winter, this makes it very hard to simply stay inside and wait for spring to roll around once more.

There are many techniques to master when it comes to biking in the winter.

You will have to learn the intricacies of controlling your bike on the snow, the right clothes to wear for exercise in the cold, and many other aspects.

Foremost amongst these is learning how to ride your bike in icy conditions.

Keep Calm​

When you are biking over ice, the worst possible thing you can do is panic and freeze up. This will make it much more likely that you will fall off of your bike.

It is important to stay calm and not make any sudden movements that can result in a slide while you are over ice. Gradual turns and calculated maneuvers will do you well.

Go With The Slide​

If you feel yourself beginning to slide on the ice, do not immediately lose hope, as control may still be salvaged.

Do as you would do in a car and lean into the slide, as opposed to trying to fight it.

If the worst happens and you are leaning into the slide as your bike topples, you will be at far less of a risk for injury.

There is also always the chance that leaning into the slide will help you right your bike, which happens far more often than you would imagine. Riding on ice is typically a balancing act.

Group of people winter biking.

Use Studded Tires​

One of the best components you can buy for your bicycle if you plan on riding in icy conditions is studded tires.

While studded tires will make your bike heavier and decrease your traction on harder surfaces, they are ideal for icy conditions as your tires will bite into the ice instead of sliding over it.

If you find that your bike loses far too much traction when going over ice, studded tires are likely the perfect choice for you.

Keep in mind. However, that studded tires will not make riding over ice a perfect experience by any means.

They are best used when combined with the technique tips we have provided further up. Granted, studded tires will have the single most noticeable effect when you are riding over ice.

Studded tires for your bicycle


We hope that these tips for biking in icy conditions have helped you. It is rather dangerous to bike over ice with no experience, and we would recommend taking it slow if you are still learning.

Biking over ice takes to experience more than anything else, but these tips will give you a head start.

This post was last updated on June 4th, 2018 at 12:49 pm

About the Author Max Shumpert

Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

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