Six of the best ways to keep warm on winter rides
For many the onset of colder temperatures means packing away the bike until spring, but with some small additions to your bike or kit, you can comfortably extend your riding season. Here’s our top six winter warmers.
1. Heated Grips
The first place most of us feel the cold is in our fingers; a set of heated grips can really help. They give instant relief with a simple flick of a switch, and can do so for the duration of your journey. They also allow for the use of thinner gloves – ideal for the delicate use of controls you need on wet, slippery streets. Go for a quality brand, and get a set with multiple heat settings to deal with all eventualities. If you aren’t confident fitting them yourself, contact your local dealer.
2. Heated Clothing
Like grips, heated clothing provides instant, controllable warmth and means you don’t have to resort to trussing yourself up in bulky insulating layers. Start with a heated vest – if your core is warm, it will spread to the rest of you – and if you’re still struggling you can target specific areas of the body with heated gloves, insoles, and even trousers.
As any mountaineer will tell you, the secret to staying warm and comfortable is by layering. Under your riding kit should be a technical or merino wool base layer to help wick away perspiration; a thermal mid-layer to insulate when it gets cold; a good quality textile riding suit to deal with the wind and weather; plus an additional waterproof oversuit in case it gets really rough. Add and remove layers as required.
One of the main factors in the loss of body heat is wind chill; riding at just 50mph in an ambient air temperature of 4 degrees Centigrade, the windchill takes it to -4. Minimise that by fitting a screen, or extending your existing one, and it will make a massive difference: keeping both wind and rain at bay, as well as protecting you from spray and grime thrown up by other vehicles.
5. Hand Guards and Muffs
If you don’t want to stump up for heated grips or gloves, a set of handguards – just like a screen – will keep your hands surprisingly warm and dry. Though they don’t look terribly trendy, a set of muffs will do an even better job at keeping your hands snug, and mean you can ditch the bulky winter gloves too.
6. Balaclava / Neck Tube
Running on a tight budget? Upgrading your neck warmer to a full winter, wind/waterproof one can make a difference – the gap between helmet and jacket is crucial to keep sealed. If even that is too much for you to spend, invest in a lightweight balaclava and wear it underneath your existing neck tube.
Caught out without proper kit? The petrol station is full of stuff to help get you home:
- Plastic bags inside your boots help keep out the rain and wind. A pair of the plastic gloves you find at petrol/diesel pumps to do the same job underneath your gloves. Washing up gloves stretched over the top do a great job of keeping out the rain – and wind too.
- Newspapers – and foil emergency blankets that you can sometimes find in service station shops – stuffed down your riding jacket and trousers give extra insulation. A pair of thick ladies tights will also work as an emergency base layer too.
- You can be wearing the most expensive suit in the world, but if you don’t seal out the drafts it’ll be completely useless. Make sure everything is tucked in and get some duct tape to seal up any gaps or holes.
- Eating a hot meal or snack will work wonders, literally putting something warm in your core and giving your body the energy it needs to keep its temperature up. Make it something energy rich and slow-release like pasta or porridge.
- Hand dryers in loos are great for a quick blast of warmth into your riding kit, gloves and boots.
- No petrol station nearby? Get the blood flowing from your body’s core out to your arms, legs, hands and feet by getting off the bike and moving/walking around or running on the spot.
Don’t get caught in the cold
It’s easier to keep warm on a bike than to warm up, after you got cold, so preparation is key to comfort on winter rides. There’s a vast selection of heated kit, base layers, and much, much more to keep you warm and dry in Fowlers’ Bristol showrooms or browse the online shop from the comfort of your chair.