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When it seems too cold to ride, think about people in cities like Minneapolis, where the winters are harsh and snowy, but the year-round bicycle commuting rates are among the highest in the world! Keeping up your cycling can be a challenge when the big chill sets in, but by combining your existing cycling gear with a few special cold-weather garments, you can ride comfortably for more of the year.
An often-quoted rule of thumb is to keep the knees covered any time the weather is below 50 degrees so that they will be warm enough and properly lubricated to function at their best. Layering is a reliable warming technique – the different layers of clothing will trap insulating air between them to hold heat in.
2XU's Thermal Knee Warmers are a good option to wear under full pants. All 2XU Thermal Compression uses a brushed thermal inner layer coupled with 2XU's PWX FLEX fabric to increase circulation while also reducing fatigue via minimal muscle vibration. Full length tights are also available in thermal compression, but the Unisex Compression Leg Warmers offer the flexibility of being convenient to use with your regular cycling gear, plus you can take them off easily once you're indoors.
According to many reports, about 30 percent of the body's heat is lost through the head. A tremendous supply of blood circulates through your head and neck, so if you can keep this area warm, it's a lot easier to keep your body warm. 2XU's lightweight Cycling Beanie covers the ears and has an anatomical fit so that it fits comfortably under a helmet. For seriously cold weather, add the 2XU Thermal Neck Warmer, which tucks into the shirt to keep out the chill, while still being breathable enough to wick away sweat. It's just as useful for running or any cold weather outdoor sport, including winter sports.
Like the head, body heat is lost to a large degree through the feet, and in cycling the loss is potentially even greater as your feet are pedaling circles and churning through the cold air more than the rest of your body. Start the battle against frozen toes with a heavier thermal cycling sock (i.e. made from synthetic fabrics) that wicks moisture and retains heat. For milder winters, 2XU's Cycle Toe Covers will fit over the ends of your shoes to help keep your toes dry and warm. Think of them as doing the same thing that a wind breaker does for your chest – they keep the cold air from penetrating your foot. For greater protection, cycle booties can be slipped over your entire shoe to insulate your foot and ankle. 2XU Cycle Booties are made with high-stretch elastane for a precise aerodynamic fit, plus they're waterproof and breathable so that your feet stay warm and dry for cool, wet rides.
In cold conditions, your hands are at risk of freezing up because they take the full brunt of the wind chill and don't get the chance to move around. 2XU's Sub Zero Gloves allow great dexterity because they're super-thin, but don't let the look fool you – these gloves are insanely warm. ‘I'd say you could wear these down to 10°F and still be warm', commented ‘Bill C', a big fan of the gloves. These gloves also come with padding in the palms for protection in falls, plus a cuff closure to stop the elements from creeping up your sleeves.
One word of caution – consider your body as a closed-loop heat system. If your hands are still cold, you may not just need better gloves. It could be that you need warmer clothes on other parts of your body that may or may not actually feel cold.
It's a contentious issue, but it's believed that one reason women often feel colder than men arises from the fact that women typically have a higher ratio of surface area to volume, which causes them to have a more rapid rate of heat loss. With this in mind, 2XU's Thermo S/S Jersey for women makes an ideal base layer for any cool climate activity, especially with its high neck line and a roomier fit for comfort and movement. This jersey is an upgraded model of its popular original; now featuring 2XU's outstanding SMD THERMO LITE fabric with advanced moisture wicking properties, flexibility and a smooth, soft finish.
Arm warmers can be a good option in semi-cold conditions, or an easily-removable extra layer in very cold conditions – you can roll them down or take them off and they'll be small enough to fit in a jersey pocket.
For serious protection, you'll need a jacket that offers water protection but still allows vapor release. The G:2 Sub Zero Cycle Jacket does the job impeccably, plus it has a longer back tail to keep your butt warm, an extra inner protection collar, and angled rear pockets for snacks and other items you want to reach while you ride.