Tips for Winter Cycling

Top 4 Tips for Cycling in Inclement Weather

Cold, wet, icy, and snowy conditions can mean trouble for a bicycle and its rider. It doesn’t make cycling impossible, but it does raise the risk, making it especially important that you prepare well before each ride.

From clothing to biking equipment to maintenance, continue below to learn the best ways you can stay safe while cycling in inclement weather.

  1. Make sure your bike is up to the task.

Biking in harsh weather is much different than biking normally. Luckily, most public spaces (especially suburban and urban streets) are aware of bicyclists’ needs and will plow, salt, and clean streets in preparation. However, it is important not to rely only on these services to get by in the wintertime.

Many cyclists swear by having a bicycle solely dedicated to cold-weather biking. Between the slippery or bumpy roads and the harsh, frigid weather, bicycles can take a beating. Bikes with lots of bells and whistles (like advanced multi-speed mountain bikes, for example) can also be more of a hindrance in the cold, since they require more maintenance and have more parts that can be damaged. To fix this, consider getting a simpler, wide-tired, single-gear bike for the winter.

Regardless of what bike you use, it is also important that the bike is prepared for the weather. Tires are understandably one of the biggest factors — if you don’t already, make sure your tires are high-tread and wider than normal to account for any road hazards. Fenders are also vital to keep any mud and slush contained to the tire area, and can help to protect your feet and calves.

When biking in inclement weather, such as snow, you want to take as much precaution as possible when you ride. With that being said, it’s also a good idea of having studded bike tires on your bike during the winter. Stuttered bike tires provide excellent traction on snowy and icy roads. They will also give you some grip if your bike starts to slide.

2. Dress for the occasion.

Winter cyclists are at a very high risk for personal injury if they aren’t careful. Cold air, especially when paired with moisture, can freeze the hands, feet, ears, and face, and can genuinely slow your reaction time to increase your chances of a crash. Luckily, all of this can be easily avoided by simply gearing up properly before you ride. The best equipment for cold-weather riding includes:

  • a knit hat to wear under your helmet
  • a face mask, bandana, or other covering to protect your nose, mouth, and ears
  • sunglasses, to protect from glare (which is especially strong and dangerous in the colder months)
  • insulated, weather-proofed clothing (jackets, pants, etc.)
  • gloves or mittens (often forgotten, but especially important)
  • lined leggings
  • wool socks
  • high-grip, light weight, and warm shoes or boots

3. Plan your route and check conditions before every ride.

For any ride (but especially during inclement weather) it is very necessary to plan ahead. This means knowing exactly where you’ll be riding and what streets you’ll be taking at what time of day. For riders who already have an establish path, this can feel tedious or unnecessary. However, making a habit of these checks can save you a great deal of complication or potential injury.

When prepping:

  • plan your route using internet maps or an app
  • adjust your route according to accident reports, construction, or other weather-related hazards
  • check the weather to make sure nothing will drastically change for the worse during your trip
  • plan to utilize another mode of transportation if the conditions look too rough or risky for the day

4. Never forget the importance of maintenance.

Whether you’re riding your main bike or your winter replacement, maintenance should be performed regularly. The cold weather alone has the power to make the gears and handles jerky, requiring extra care to keep things in running order.

Before every ride, do a quick assessment:

  • spin your tires — they should be wobble-free and tightly secured
  • test your brakes — they should stop fast, strong, and pull properly away from the tires when they aren’t being used
  • turn your headset — movements should be smooth and reliable.


Then, every week, do a more thorough check:

  • do a thorough wipe down of your bike, cleaning from handles to fenders to wheels & frame
  • re-lubricate the chain to make sure it functions smoothly

If any gear or functions seem out of place, then take the time to make sure they’re in working order. If you can’t fix it on your own, take it to a bicycle shop before risking your health and riding anyway.

This article was provided by, an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally.