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Having spent years roaming the streets of Copenhagen on a bike, switching a city will feel frustrating to most bike commuters. The infrastructure is rarely on the same level. However, what ever you may feel is lacking in bike lanes, is doubled-tripled-quadrupled by snowy conditions of the winter. I forget this, and each year the winter reminds me of just how simple cycling is in the summer, no matter the infrastructure you are dealing with.
The brutality of the winter is softened by appropriate gear. I have found a setup for myself that I’m mostly happy about. But doing research wasn’t easy – all posts about winter gear seem to be aimed at mountain bikers or rainy winter road cycling. I couldn’t really find anything for commuters. So I wanted to share my thoughts and hopefully help someone find inspiration. So here we go (none of the below is sponsored btw).
Boots – this is the item I’m most happy about. I used to run Tretorn low-cut rubber boots and some warm socks. But they weren’t very comfortable, nor warm. And going indoors, you started sweating fast. GoreTex shoes have been all the hype lately. Looking around all the different models, I ended up getting Vans MTE 3 shoes. These have kept my feet warm and dry. Plus they aren’t too geeky looking like the rubber boots. I love the rubber toe – any canvas toe area start accumulating dirt from the front wheel spray, but rubber can be wiped down in seconds.
Gloves – I’m a cold hand person, so these are important. Even in the summer, my hands rarely sweat, and they are always cold in the winter. I currently use Superdry Ultimate Snow Rescue Mittens. They are good, but not perfect. I wish I had gone for some lobster gloves where the index finger and middle finger are in the same ‘compartment’ as I usually keep 2 fingers on the brake levers. And the index finger starts freezing on longer rides with the Superdry gloves. Still, they are good enough, so I will wear them for as long as they last.
Jacket – I don’t use anything special. My only criteria was that it can’t be too warm, as you warm up when pedalling anyway. No fluffy parkas with feathers please!
The Bike – As for the bike, I don’t do anything special with it. I simply slam on some winter tyres. For the front, there aren’t many options. Schwalbe Marathon Winter Plus is the only winter specific one I know in 20”. For the rear, I use Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro. I love the massive thread and the big spikes. There is heaps of grip with this one! I just wish Schwalbe would also make this tyre in 20” size. One consideration I had for the bike when bearing winter in mind was that I really wanted to have belt drive. On salty roads, the chains don’t last very long whereas for the belt, there are no problems at all.
Glasses – wearing them is a must in the winter. Even light snowing starts hurting the eyeballs very quickly. I use Rapha’s Pro Team glasses. I like their looks and the fact that they came with both a shaded and clear lens. There is only one big problem for the cold weather. The vent ducts on the top of the lens may keep your forehead cool in the summer, but it directs so much airflow to the forehead that below -5 centigrade the forehead is freezing. Sometimes I have to pull my hat so low that they simply block the vents. Still a decent product and I don’t plan to change them any time soon.
Extra – this doesn’t really qualify as winter gear, but I use my Jabra Elite Active 75 headphones in the winter to protect my ears from cold when it’s very windy.
Thanks for reading – I do hope some of you find this useful when making your decisions for the Arctic season up north.