winter bike helmet

An ideal winter bike helmet would be something that offers some kind of lining, with ear flaps, and vents that can be open or closed while riding. … The Greazy is a merino wool cycling cap or earlap cap, that is made to fit underneath a helmet with ear and eye coverage from the cold.

The outside temperature has no direct bearing on infection, and in fact acute exposure to cold may make you less susceptible thanks to the secretion of noradrenaline, which acts as a decongestant.

When winter arrives, a lot of cyclists gold temperatures, in and of themselves, are not damaging to a bike. … For example, bringing a bike from the cold outside air to the warm inside air can cause moisture to condense on the inside of the frame, which can lead to rust

The right preparation and mindset, winter riding can be highly rewarding. Trading a commute by car for a commute by bike can absolutely be done. You’ll steer clear of snarled traffic, crank up your heart rate and burn through a serious number of calories. You’ll also arrive at work fully energized, with the smug satisfaction (justly earned) of having already accomplished something before your workday has even begun.

Another plus is that bike paths and trails that are thronged in summer are transformed, becoming blissfully crowd-free in the wintertime.

The following tips can help you continue riding happily through the winter months:  

  • Ease into winter riding. Conditions are more challenging than riding in warmer seasons, so start with shorter rides to get acclimated and get your gear worked out.
  • Ride the bike you already know.You’re used to how your bike handles; no need to buy a winter-specific bike—just add or upgrade a few components on your current one.
  • Gear up to see and be seen. Prepare for riding after dark by significantly beefing up your lighting, including bright headlights, safety lights and reflective gear.
  • Check and adjust your tire pressure. Air pressure loss happens faster in cold temps; inflate tires to the low end of the recommended range. Consider switching to grippier tires.
  • Dress for warmthWear layers so you can adjust to changing conditions; you also need raingear, gloves, and a warmer helmet and bike shoes.
  • Winterize your riding tactics. If a bike lane or shoulder has muck or ice, take the right traffic lane instead. Ride relaxed to improve handling on bumpy, icy or wet roads.
  • Clean and cover your bike. Grime and/or ice can build up quickly on winter roadways and, in turn, on your drivetrain, frame and other components.
  • Keep electric bike batteries warm. Cold temps drain the battery quickly, so store yours indoors and use riding tactics that conserve power.

We’ll cover urban and commuter cycling in this article, but many of these tips also apply if you plan to ride on gravel roads or mountain bike trails in winter.

How cold is too cold to ride? It’s too cold any time you wouldn’t be comfortable—and aren’t prepared—to walk as far as you planned to ride. If your bike breaks down and can’t be ridden, you might have to do just that.

Fat-tire biking: Special mountain bikes outfitted with extremely wide tires let you ride on snow-packed terrain in the wintertime. To learn more about this option, sign up for one of REI Co-op’s bike classes and rides that introduce you to this fast-growing sport.

Ease Into Winter Riding

Winter cycling is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Start slow to help build confidence, hone skills and shake down your gear. Overextending too soon can lead to disappointment, whereas short, fun rides can fuel enthusiasm to keep going. If you have a long commute to work, the following strategies can help:

Take public transportation part of the way. Many buses and trains have bike racks or storage areas.

Drive part of the way. Parking and riding your bike the rest of the way shortens the ride and lets you avoid hazardous commute segments.

Alternate riding days. Bike the full commute every other day or every third day.

Ride a Bike You Already Know

Bikes designed for use on both pavement and dirt are better bets in slippery conditions, but any bike you ride in other seasons can be adapted for winter riding.

Ice and grime build up more quickly on drivetrains during the winter, and suspension systems are more sluggish in cold temps, so some people prefer to ride an older, more basic bike. That might mean a bike with fewer gears and shocks only in the front (or no shocks at all). For wet-weather braking, a bike with disc brakes works better than one with rim brakes.

Regardless of the bike you have, you can set it up for winter conditions. Lighting and tires are the most important considerations (covered below). Add fenders to shield against tire-sprayed snow, water and muck. Fit an insulated water bottle into your bottle cage and fill that bottle with a warm beverage (even warm water) to help take the chill off.

Gear Up to See and Be Seen

bike helmet light

Daylight is fleeting in the winter so prepare to ride in total darkness. That means bright lights and an impossible-to-ignore amount of reflectivity. Batteries drain more quickly in the cold, so fully charge batteries before any ride, and carry spare batteries for non-rechargeable lights.

Bike Lights

Get the brightest lighting you can afford, especially in front. Two light sources in front and two in the rear provide backup should a light fail; they also provide multiple points of visibility.

Front lights: Your brightest one goes on the handlebar; the other light goes on your arm or helmet, so you can direct it independently from the handlebar-mounted light.

Rear lights: Place your brightest flashing safety light on the back of your bike and the other one on your helmet, pack or clothing. Deploying the lights that way will make it so that the motion of the two lights differs slightly, which can more effectively attract a driver’s attention.

How bright is bright enough? Assume you won’t have street lights everywhere. A minimum brightness for the front handlebar-mounted light would be 500 lumens; in rear, the minimum would be 100 lumens. The secondary lights, front and rear, don’t have to be quite as bright.

Learn more shopping tips in How to Choose a Light for Your Bike.

Reflective Bike Clothing

Most bike clothing, unless it’s made solely for off-road riding, has reflective trim. The more reflective elements you have, the better. If you already have dependable raingear that lacks reflectivity, wear a reflective vest or bands over it.

At a minimum, you want a driver approaching from any direction to detect at least one reflective element. You can also add reflectors or reflective tape to your bike, clothing or bike bags to increase visibility.

Check and Adjust Your Tire Pressure 

Inflate tires to the low end of their pressure range. All tires list a range of acceptable pressures (usually on their sidewalls). Riding on tires pumped up to the low ends of their range puts more tire surface in contact with the road, improving traction. A “softer” tire also absorb bumps, which helps you maintain control if you hit a pothole or rough patch.

Check tire pressure before every ride. This might be the most overlooked routine maintenance task in cycling. Tires lose a small amount of pressure over time, and cold temperatures also reduce air pressure. Get into the habit of checking and adjusting tire pressure before every ride. This task is more important than ever if your tires are at the low end of the pressure range; a small amount of pressure loss can put you on tires that are outside the acceptable range.

Consider switching to knobbier and/or slightly wider bike tires. Tires with deeper, knobbier tread grip better on mucky, wet or slushy surfaces. Wider tires put more surface area on the road, providing more traction. Your bike may accept only certain tire widths, so do some research and talk to a bike tech to be sure a different tire will fit. Learn more buying tips in How to Choose Bike Tires.

An option for icy or snowy roads is studded bike tires that work like studded tires on cars. In severe conditions, the high cost of studded bike tires can be a worthwhile investment.

Flat prevention. Changing a flat tire in cold, stormy conditions isn’t fun or easy, so getting puncture-resistant tires or tubes might be wise. Tubeless tires are another consideration, because they are less susceptible to flats than tires with tubes. (Learn when to upgrade to tubeless tires.) A simple, moderately priced way to add flat resistance to a tubed tire is to install a tire liner between your tube and your wheel rim. For more tips, read How to Prevent a Flat Tire.

Dress for Warmth

cyclist putting on helmet in winter

Just as with other outdoor activities, layering bike clothing is the right strategy for winter cycling. Start out feeling a little cool because you’ll warm up as you ride. If you don’t warm up enough, though, you want the option to add another layer from your bike bag. It’s also wise to have a warm jacket for rest or repair stops because you chill quickly when you’re not pedaling.

If the weather is really cold, you also want to have a wicking base layer under your bike clothing. At the very least, you need warm tights, a warm long-sleeve jersey and a waterproof cycling jacket and pants. You don’t have to buy bike-specific clothing for all your layers, though specialized cyclewear has features that make you more visible and comfortable as you ride.

Cycling headwear: A cycling cap or skullcap that fits under your helmet adds a surprising amount of warmth. For severe cold, consider a face mask or a helmet that covers more of your head. Some helmets can be used for more than one activity (snow/cycle) and feature interchangeable liners to adjust their warmth. Add goggles to protect your eyes.

Bike gloves: Bike gloves that are fully waterproof can keep your hand dry and warm in winter. Find the warmest pair of gloves that still afford you full control of your brakes and shifters. You also need them to grip well in wet weather.

Bike footwear: Most cycling shoes have a snug fit for pedaling efficiency, so some winter riders switch to different cycling footwear that’s slightly larger to accommodate thicker socks. Adding wind- and waterproof shoe covers is another way to enhance warmth. Having treaded soles in winter is important to provide traction whenever you have to be off your bike.

Handwarmers and footwarmers: Great accessories for any winter activity, air-activated warmers that slip inside your gloves or shoes can be a godsend on bitterly cold days. Warmers don’t heat up instantaneously, so break them out of their sealed packaging a few minutes before your ride.

Winterize Your Riding Tactics  

While the far right of the road might seem like a place to stay out of harm’s way, that’s not necessarily the case in any season. The immediate curb area is where plowed snow, muck and broken glass accumulate. Also, the farther right you are, the harder it is for drivers to spot you in the dark.

Take up the lane: Riding in the middle of the right-hand lane makes you more visible and deters drivers from trying to squeeze by as they pass. (Instead, they’re apt to move a full lane to the left.) You’ll also be keeping your bike farther away from roadside debris. Note: If the road has a bike lane that’s full of snow or other hazards, then ride in the right-hand car lane instead.

Ride relaxed: Locked knees and elbows make it harder to react smoothly. Instead, stay loose and use your legs to absorb any motion created when running over snowy ridges or other road rubble. Be alert and ready to steer around ice, slick leaf-covered surfaces or tire-piercing debris.

Watch out for areas with melted snow because it will likely refreeze overnight. Bridge decks and low spots are also prone to ice formation. If you end up rolling over an icy or slippery patch, then try to coast across without braking or steering.

Clean and Cover Your Bike  

Even with fenders, snow and road grit can glom onto bike parts, especially the chain and drivetrain. Minimize muck accumulation to help keep everything working more smoothly. So regular maintenance, a good idea in any season, is essential in the wintertime.

Clean and lube: Wipe down your chain, drivetrain and other bike parts immediately after an especially grimy ride (at least once weekly if you ride regularly). Also do a more thorough clean and lube every few weeks. When you’re done with either a wipedown or full cleaning, lightly recoat your chain and drivetrain with a “wet” lube (one made for wet/dirty climates). You don’t want a dry chain in the wintertime.

Clean your brakes: Always wipe down your brakes after snowy or dirty rides, and make sure the contact surfaces with the wheels are clean.

Shelter for Your Bike

Rain and freezing temps are hard on a bike, so it’s best to store yours indoors if at all possible. The next best place is under a carport, a building eave, a covered porch or garage, sheltered from rain and snow. You can also purchase a bike cover, or improvise one out of a tarp or an old BBQ cover in a pinch. If you do have to leave your bike outside and it gets frozen, thaw the moving parts before riding it. You can speed up the thawing process by bringing your bike into a warm indoor space.

Keep Electric Bike Batteries Warm 

E-bike batteries drain more quickly in cold temperatures, so minimize how long the battery is outdoors. While you can’t do anything about the temperature outside when you ride, you can remove the battery each night and store it inside a heated room.

For some batteries, you can buy a separate cover to help keep them warmer during a ride, too. Cover or no cover, assume your range will diminish in winter, and ride conservatively to maximize battery life. That means more time in eco mode and less in turbo mode.

Learn other e-bike care tips in Intro to Electric Bike Maintenance.

Best Winter Bike Helmets To Keep Your Head Warm

Riding during the colder times of the year? Or do you live in a rather cold location? Is making the plunge to purchase a winter bike helmet worth it? That’s what we are going to cover in this article and by the end we will have suggestions for some of the best winter bike helmets.

Why not just use a beanie underneath your normal bike helmet? It seems like a rather valid point, doesn’t it? As bike traveler’s we have a number of options when it comes to winter shoes. Maybe we should just use a ski or snowboarding helmet?

Before you go grab your snowboarding helmet out of the cupboard and head out on a frezzing bikepacking trip. You might want to reconsider. We are lucky that bike brand manufacturers are always pushing the envelope and coming up with new and emerging gear to make life on the bike that little bit more comfortable.

Snowboarding helmets are simply too bulky and don’t provide enough ventilation. They often have too much padding and size to them for cycling. An ideal winter bike helmet would be something that offers some kind of lining, with ear flaps, and vents that can be open or closed while riding. And ultimately much lighter weight.

What are the alternatives? You could get a size larger helmet and pair that with something like a balaclava if you are looking for a budget approach. Or even a beanie under the helmet as suggested. But these all have their drawbacks. And the big one is ventilation and the ability to keep your head warm in extreme temperatures. 45Nrth make a specific product handy for this! The Greazy is a merino wool cycling cap or earlap cap, that is made to fit underneath a helmet with ear and eye coverage from the cold.

I am not sure about you. But if I was in the market for a winter bike helmet I would want a biking specific cold weather helmet. Not sure if it is a good idea to use a ski specific helmet for cycling. As there is that potential that ski and snowboarding helmets might conform to a different set of safety standards then bike helmets.

But let’s take a look at some of the best winter bike helmets on the market today.

Specialized Centro Winter LED Helmet

This is a winter bike helmet that features a insulated cold weather liner which helps keep you warm in chilly conditions. In a one size fits all system it also has a integrated LED taillight for that added safety while out on the road. And you also get the MIPS technology for next level helmet protection. Priced at $110.00

Garneau Ghost Helmet

Designed specifically for fat biking. it offers more ventilation then a ski helmet and as fat biking in the snow is common this makes for the perfect helmet for the job! Featuring the Spiderlock Creo retention system that can be easily adjusted using just one hand for a comfortable fit. Again well ventilated with a number of 10 vents. The in-mould construction of the helmet features evacuation channels to insure your head is well protected but also stop overheating. It also has earpads to shield you from the cold that can also be detached as it gets warmer. Furthermore it even has a goggle fastener at the back to hold your goggles in place. Total weight is 12.4 oz or 350 grams. Also the helmet passes cycling crash safety standards. Priced at $37.99

Lazer Dissent Helmet

Another winter bike helmet best suited for fat biking. From my understanding Lazer is a cheap bike helmet brand you can pick up at Walmart. Not too sure on how well made these are. But seem like a good entry level option. It is a durable and comfortable helmet, perfect for winter riding. Rating by fellow fat bikers. It has vent flow adjustability for when the temperatures change with the 13 adapt vents with IN/OUT design. Even if you are wearing gloves the magic magnetic buckle closure makes it easy to use. The earpads are removable for warmer weather and they are also compatible with Lazer’s goggle integration. Weight comes in at 418 grams and prices vary.

Giro Timberwolf

Personally I am a big fan of the Giro helmets. They offer their own take on the winter bike helmet. With the Timberwolf designed for chilly temperatures they have taken inspiration from snow helmet profiles. featuring the Thermostat Control ventilation system allowing you to control how much ventilation comes through. Also paired with the warmth from the brushed fleece liner and removable ear pads. The Front Stack Ventilation reduces goggle fogging. Ideal for cold-weather mountain biking, commuting and fat bikepacking. Priced at $119.95

Bern Brentwood 2.0 Bike Helmet

The original Brentwood helmets had a great following behind them. Since Bern have updated with the 2.0 option that includes all the features in their bestselling Brentwood model with an updated, modern look and improved fit. It is one f the more versatile bike helmets. Not a dedicated winter bike helmet. it is best suited for those looking to commute and who dig that old school skater helmet vibes. The Bern Zipmold+ technology gives a low-profile fit that’s lightweight and has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than in-mold helmets. It has 13 vents for great ventilation on those warmer days. The removable visor allows customization. If you are looking to use this in winter it is ideal if you can get the winter liner for the Brentwood (for a extra $30.00), which features ear flaps. Making the Brentwood 2.0 the perfect helmet for commuting in those cold winter months. But then you also have the summer liner allowing you to use the helmet year round. Helmet priced at $70.00 at with some cool color variations.

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