7 Winter Cycling Tips That Could Save Your Life

Man cycling in the snow

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During the winter, temperatures drop, and the weather can become rainy, snowy, and icy, making the roads and paths a little tricky and sometimes deadly to navigate while riding your bike. 

But rest assured, we have some great tips on staying safe while out riding in the winter. 

Because let’s be real, who can go a whole winter without riding their bike outside? Not us, that’s for sure!

Follow these seven winter cycling tips that could save your life:

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Fat tire bicycle in the snow

1. Opt for an Off-Road Bike

As much as you may love your beloved road bike or city bike, it may not be the best option for winter riding if the ground is covered in snow or ice as the tires are often slick, meaning way more prone to skidding and slipping out, causing you to get hurt.

Instead, we highly suggest riding an off-road bike, such as gravel, mountain, fat, or cyclocross.

These bikes are equipped with thicker threaded tires, and the frames provide the clearance to take such tires and the snow that it may throw up.

Although this may be financially unviable, if you have a hybrid, you can add threaded tires to help grip in the winter conditions. 

studded tires on bicycle

2. Use Studded Tires When Riding in Snow and Ice

Already popular in the Scandinavian countries and North America, studded tires can be a total game changer for grip during the winter.

Just like normal tires, they have thread, but they also have the benefit of metal studs to help grip when the ground is snowy and icy.

Of course, these can help prevent accidents and allow you to continue as normal during the colder months.

layered clothing for cycling in the cold

3. Make Sure to Layer Up 

As annoying as this may be, your mum was right for all those years: you need to layer up when riding in the winter.

An efficient layering system can be the difference between withstanding the cold and hypothermia in extreme cases.

When selecting a layering system, opting for materials such as merino wool or windstopper technologies can help to keep you efficiently protected from the elements.

Items to include may be a sling sleeve merino wool base layer, ear warmers, neck tube, wool socks, overshoes, thermal bib tights, long sleeve jerseys, soft shell jacket, insulated outer jacket, insulated gilet, and of course, a great set of thick gloves.

And yes, of course, you may overheat a little if you wear too much, but it’s always better to be too hot and take off layers than get sick due to cold weather exposure.

At the end of the day, you may incur a mechanical issue and need to wait around in the snow for assistance, making your layering system a vital part of your winter riding. 

Bicycle on ice

4. Be Careful around Corners 

Imagine you are on the way to work, happy as Larry, maneuvering around a corner, then suddenly, you find your wheels have slipped from beneath you because you took a corner too fast, and you’re on your bum in the middle of the bike path

Of course, this would be majorly embarrassing, but it’s common when the tarmac gets icy that corners especially become a death trap.

Taking your time and being more aware: reducing speed and proceeding with caution will ultimately help to reduce the risk of this occurring

Because who wants to turn up to the office with a hole in their trousers from hitting the deck on the way to work? We could never.

grit on bicycle path

5. Stick to the Paths and Roads That Have Been Gritted

If you took the advice in the first tip, then you can smugly skip this one, as your off-road machine doesn’t need gritted roads, but if you are heading out on your bike with more slick tires, looking at your route is important. 

Before setting off, check to see which roads and bike paths have been gritted.

Main roads will usually be the first to be treated, but many local authorities offer residents ways to check their local roads during the icy spells.

Because grit helps to prevent the roads and paths from getting slippy, it’s a good idea to keep to the roads and paths that have been treated.

high-visibility clothing

6. Choose High-Visibility Accessories 

For all road users and bike-pathgoers, the visibility often declines when the weather worsens in the winter. 

This can, of course, be dangerous, even deadly, if others or you are hard to see during foggy or misty weather.

For your safety and others, we recommend opting for high-visibility clothing. We aren’t saying you must forfeit your fashion identity and go full fluro, but brighter colors and reflective materials are brilliant.

Another great accessory addition is a set of front and back lights, these will ideally include a front light that is bright enough to help you to see when the visibility drops or it becomes dark.

It is also recommended that the rear light be set to flashing, as it is easier for other cyclists and bike path users to see a flashing light than a steady one.

7. Allow for Greater Stopping Distances

Remember that when the temperatures drop, the roads often become icy, meaning your tires may not react as well when stopping, causing you to rear-end the cyclists or vehicles in front, which can be fatal.

Also, you can start to skid out, leaving your tire side up in the road.

Drivers can’t always see well (that’s not your fault but can be your issue if you’ve come a cropper), so leaving extra stopping room can also help to slow the traffic behind you so they have a chance to see if you do happen to slip out.

Now that we have reviewed our seven winter cycling tips, which could help save your life, we hope you feel prepared for your next winter cycling adventure!

If you have already implemented the tips above, what other advice would you add to help make winter cycling safer and more enjoyable? 

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