1. Keep Waterproof Gear on You, Always.Road bicyclists like to travel very light, and they don't mind mud. City cyclists, on the other hand, usually want to arrive to work — or any other destination — looking dry and somewhat put together. That makes it advisable to carry waterproof gear - rain pants, a real impermeable rain jacket, and if possible, rain boots - with you when we're in the wintry half of the year. Good buys: Eddie Bauer's unstylish rain suit, Water Off A Duck's Back stylish Livia rain coat; and for breathability, REI's Taku Pants. In a pinch, even having a folded-up rain poncho will help when unexpected rain or sleet hit.
2. Adjust Brakes, Learn Wet Braking Technique, Get Disc Brakes.On slippery-slidey winter days, you'll want the best braking ability possible. Learning to do your own brake adjustments is not particularly hard or greasy work, but if you don't fancy doing it yourself, have it done as winter approaches. Check periodically to keep leaves, mud, and other crud off of your brake pads during winter riding. In addition, figure out how to handle winter bike path hazards like wet leaves. Susi at Velojoy has a straightforward post on riding on leaves. Also, it's possible you may want to consider a bike with disc brakes if you are going to be riding a lot in winter. Disc brakes are more complex and expensive than regular rim brakes, but provide more braking power.
For really lousy and extended snowy weather conditions, you might also want to consider studded bike tires. Or, you can just take snowy streets slowly and carefully!
3. Light Up The Night.If you are a fair-weather cyclist extending your riding reach, you might be surprised to notice that a lot of cyclists who ride in all weather situations continue to be cavalier about proper lighting. They also ignore the little bits of extra reflective gear that keep us visible to others in low light, bad weather, and dark nighttime riding conditions. Since there are now myriad new solutions for lighting and fun reflective gear, it doesn't make sense not to find lighting that reflects you! If you have sufficient lighting and good gear with reflective elements, you feel safer in winter conditions, and you probably will be. Good choices: Chicago-based Po Campo is offering a winter riding kit for any purchase of $100 or more for a short time with a cool reflecitve bandana! VespertineNYC has wonderful and stylish and upscale reflective gear for women.
4. Do Not Forget Extremities.In cold, inclement weather, covering the extremities will, practically speaking, make you happier than a toasty jacket. Once you've been riding for awhile, your body will heat up, so layering with merino wool and other breathable underwear is good. Then top with a shell, a totally waterproof one if there's rain in the forecast. In addition, don't forget gloves, an under-the-helmet beanie, Buff, or cycling cap, and good socks. Good choices: Merino wool Buff tube, reflective Lflect scarves or helmet covers, the Novara Thermal cap recommended by Bike Hugger, or Bike Hugger's own Merino/lycra beanie. The Clymb is also a great site for good values in bike-ready winter accessories.
5. Move to the Netherlands.In many ways, the Dutch are the world's luckiest cyclists. Though the weather in this low-lying country is pretty yucky for a good part of the year, the Dutch don't stop bike riding, and they don't seem to get miserable about it, at all. Perhaps that's because the have enough of a bike culture for innovation to be happening continually, and enough of a budget to pay for implementing some of the innovation. That's sure good news for cyclists. In Utrecht, there's a plan to geothermally heat bike lanes, to help melt snow far ahead of the arrival of snow plows; there's also consideration of glow-in-the-dark smart highways that charge your electric car. Now, the next step is glow-in-the-dark, geothermally heated bike lanes that charge your bike lights. We can dream, can't we?
5 Ways to Love Winter Bike Riding
If New Yorkers can do it during and after Superstorm Sandy, the rest of us can bicycle all winter long. Here's how.