10 Top Tips for Winter Bike Riding

10 Top Tips for Winter Bike Riding

Cold-weather riding season is almost here! Here’s a quick guide for you to make sure your bike and gear are prepped and ready for the winter season. As always, if you have specific questions about your particular electric or cargo bike or want to talk to someone who is familiar with year-round riding, you can always contact the shop.

Swap for studded tires

Studded or spiked tires are the safest way to bike when there’s snow and ice on the ground. The tires are dotted with small metal spikes that dig into the surface of the ground to prevent slipping. We get plenty of snow here in Chicago and even when the plows clear the roads there is often a thin layer of ice left behind. Swapping for studded tires gives you extra peace of mind for winter riding. Our favorites are Schwalbe Winter Marathon tires; they should last for 2-3 winters.

Helmet liner or balaclava

Wearing a helmet liner or balaclava helps keep you as warm as possible by preventing the loss of body heat from your head. Check to see if your helmet brand offers a liner or pick up a balaclava or thin wool beanie that covers your ears and fits under your helmet.

Weather cover for your passengers

Rain covers are available for all of the bikes we offer at Four Star, and do more than just keep your riders dry on rainy days—they offer great insulation for cold weather and protection from the wind. If it’s been a while since you’ve used your weather cover, pull it out of storage and make sure you remember how to put it together on your bike.

Goggles, sunglasses, or other eyewear

Protect your eyes from UV rays, sunlight glinting off snow, or snow flurries getting stuck in your eyelashes with eye protection. Winter biking often calls for ski goggles for the best coverage, and a pair of sunglasses or even clear safety glasses work well to protect your eyeballs from the cold wind.

Gloves or Bar Mitts

Keeping your hands warm is an essential piece of staying comfortable for winter riding. Layer with liners and waterproof gloves or mittens that fit your hands well enough to still grab the brake levers and shift your bike. A popular alternative is a set of Bar Mitts that velcro to your handlebars and offer full coverage for your hands.

Dress in layers

Believe it or not, it’s possible to overdress for cold weather riding. To prevent getting too hot and sweaty while you ride (which then, in turn, makes you cold and shivery), dress in layers that you can adjust as you ride or as the temperature changes. A good base layer and a good outer layer are key parts of layering for winter clothing.

Prep your bike: lights and battery cover

Lights are important for safety year-round, but especially when there’s less daylight during winter days. Be sure your bike is equipped with with front and rear lights and replace the batteries if necessary. For wired lights that are powered by your e-bike battery, our recommendation is to leave them on at all times since they only pull a little power from the battery. Consult your bike manual or reach out if you need a reminder of how to turn on your lights.

Protect your battery during cold rides by using a battery cover to provide some insulation from the cold air and protect it from the salty, snowy buildup of winter.

But what if I don’t want to ride in the winter?

No one says you have to! For some of us, our bike provides daily transportation and winter riding is essential. Others ride by choice to keep active and maintain some sanity though the grey winter days. But if you’re hesitant about riding, or if this is your first winter with a cargo bike, take it slow! Try a few rides on dry days that aren’t too frigid. Take hot cocoa or tea along in a thermos and call it a snowy adventure with your kids. It’s totally reasonable to take it slow when working up the courage to ride through the winter.

And if winter riding isn’t for you, no big deal. Get your bike tuned up, prep your battery for long-term storage, and wait for warmer temps to arrive.

Winter Gear Checklist

Here’s one final list to reference each year as the temps get cooler to set yourself, your bike, and your kids up for toasty success during winter rides.

  1. Studded tires

  2. Helmet liner or balaclava

  3. Weather cover for your passengers

  4. Goggles or other eyewear

  5. Gloves or Bar Mitts

  6. Layers

  7. Lights

  8. Battery Cover

  9. Fenders