Winter mountain biking might seem daunting initially, especially with the added hassle of donning waterproof gear and frequent bike clean-ups, leaving many yearning for warmer days. Yet, there’s a side to it that offers the most fulfilling rides of the year.
Trails dusted with snow and layered with muddy roots take on a new dimension of excitement, and the thrill of breaking free from the confines of indoor cosiness is undeniable.
With proper gear and preparation, braving the winter trails becomes immensely satisfying. It not only maintains your riding prowess but also ensures your fitness levels remain robust as you navigate through the wet and muddy season, gearing up for the return of more favourable weather conditions.
In this comprehensive guide, we outline the essential clothing choices for riding during the colder months to ensure you’re as comfortable as you can be in order to keep you pedalling through winter.
Apparel for Winter Mountain Biking
There is quite a popular saying out there that goes: “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”, which couldn’t be more true for mountain biking.
This is definitely a lesson that a lot of new riders will have to learn the hard way, where they’ll be out on an unsuspecting ride and then a crazy thunderstorm comes out of nowhere.
No one likes to be cold and miserable out on a bike ride, however with the right kit you’ll be able to easily avoid this. A smart idea that every rider should do before embarking on a ride would be to dress in layers so that you’ll be able to easily adapt to both weather as well as temperature changes that could happen throughout your ride, to ensure that you are kept at the optimal temperature for mountain biking.
Winter Mountain Bike Jerseys
Winter mountain biking jerseys serve as versatile mid-layers for the chilliest days, offering substantial warmth. They can also stand alone comfortably when the weather is less severe.
Consider jerseys with spacious pockets; they allow for carrying extra layers or spare essentials along the ride. Many winter jerseys are designed with waterproof front panels and breathable rear sections, ensuring both dryness and effective sweat management while you navigate through varying terrains.
Mountain Bike Jackets
Top-tier mountain bike jackets come with essential features like extended long sleeves, a dropped tail, and a high neckline, providing optimal protection against harsh weather conditions. While hoods are practical, they should be easily stowable or removable to avoid interference with mountain bike helmets during rides.
Exploring softshell jackets is worthwhile; modern options boast impressive levels of waterproofing alongside excellent warmth, making them a smart choice for winter biking.
Waterproof Mountain Bike Pants
Waterproof mountain bike pants are essential for keeping your legs dry, protecting against both water from above and splashes from the trail. Opting for non-waterproof pants can result in a wet chamois, significantly impacting your rides in colder conditions. Waterproof pants act as a key defence against this discomfort.
Waterproof Mountain Bike Shorts
Waterproof shorts, while not providing the same coverage as trousers, still offer decent protection against moisture, keeping you relatively dry during rides.
Similar to trousers, these waterproof fabrics safeguard the inner chamois, sparing you the discomfort of cycling in soaked clothing.
When choosing waterproof shorts, prioritise those with waterproof zips, shielding your belongings from the elements. Opting for longer shorts also enhances the level of protection they offer.
Winter Mountain Bike Onesies
Winter mountain bike onesies are like full armour against the weather, effectively combining the functions of a winter jacket and waterproof bottoms in a single suit.
Adapted from motocross gear, these onesies provide comprehensive coverage, eliminating any gaps between layers that might let water or mud seep in. Primarily designed for gravity-based biking, the mountain bike onesie simplifies winter riding routines across various disciplines.
However, they often come with a higher price tag, making them more suitable for serious winter riders or those fully committed to staying warm and dry.
Winter Mountain Biking Shoes
Freezing and damp feet can transform any biking session into an uncomfortable experience, leaving warmth as the sole focus.
For avid winter riders, investing in winter mountain biking shoes is a game-changer. These shoes, often waterproof, keep feet dry and toasty, eliminating the hassle of dealing with intricate overshoes, making it simpler to hit the trails.
Certain shoes come with integrated neoprene gaiters. While these enhance waterproofing when submerged, they might compromise breathability.
Winter Mountain Biking Gloves
Similar to feet, chilly hands can turn winter mountain biking into an uncomfortable affair.
Maintaining control and precision while braking or shifting gears becomes challenging with cold, trembling fingers, underscoring the importance of reliable winter gloves for this season’s rides.
Opting for waterproof gloves is wise on wet days since water exposure can diminish the thermal effectiveness of the glove.
Winter Base Layer
Layering your clothing offers adaptability to fluctuating weather conditions and temperatures during your ride.
At the core of this approach lies the baselayer, snugly embracing your skin. Winter-specific base layers excel in preserving heat and expelling moisture, ensuring you remain dry and reducing the risk of feeling cold as sweat cools down.
Certain base layers incorporate wind-resistant front panels, shielding you from biting wind chills.
Vests or gilets are a valuable addition to your riding attire. They function as an additional barrier against wind chill, aiding in moisture management and retaining body heat.
One of the advantages of gilets is their compact size, allowing for convenient storage in a jersey pocket or a small bag if temperatures happen to increase during your ride.
Clear Glasses and Goggles
While tinted lenses in mountain bike glasses and goggles can enhance visibility in specific lighting conditions, clear lenses offer consistent performance across all light levels.
Choosing the right size for the lens is crucial to ensure a proper fit on your face. Ill-fitting glasses may allow wind or debris to enter, compromising eye protection.
Whether you have waterproof shoes or not, a set of waterproof socks is a great addition to your winter wardrobe.
Waterproof socks use a liner to prevent water from getting in, which means splashes from puddles and wheel spray don’t instantly leave you with cold, wet feet.
Equipping yourself for winter mountain biking goes beyond just staying warm and dry. It’s about transforming the challenges of the season into exhilarating adventures on the trails. With the right gear, layered clothing, and meticulous preparation, navigating through snow-dusted paths and muddy terrains becomes not just manageable but an incredibly rewarding experience. So, embrace the winter chill, gear up, and let the exhilaration of the ride in the cold months become an integral part of your mountain biking journey.