Bicycle clothing for colder weather

This seems like a good time to recycle an article from the archives on how to dress in the winter. I'll add a couple comments of my own. Laurie mentions above and below 40F; I have several break points including above or below freezing. A merino wool shirt, a light windbreaker, and a raincoat are all I've needed up top for as low as it has gotten this year (0F here in Columbia). That merino shirt was expensive but it wicks the sweat beautifully, and she is right, sweat is your worst enemy for biking in cold weather! Hands and feet are another matter entirely; I finally hit on the combination of good ski gloves and a mitten shell for below 20F.

This first appeared November 22, 2005:

Though the weather is a bit colder now, there is still plenty of great bicycle riding weather left this fall and winter--if you know how to dress right.

Laurie Chipman, leader of Kansas City's Brookside Ride & a Vice President of MoBikeFed, offers these clothing suggestions based on her experience:
Here are some ideas about how to dress for winter riding. I'll start from the head down.

Head: headband or thin cap under the helmet. Sometimes I use a thin balaclava but it has to be at least freezing for that or it gets too hot. A helmet cover may work too but I have not tried it. Be sure your ears are covered.

Body: I find that trying to maintain a balance that prevents much sweating works best. Sweating will cause you to become cold so layers and zippered clothing is mandatory. For above 40: long sleeve, mock turtle wicking shirt with zipper, fleece camisole or similar, wind jacket and wind vest. Below 40 add thin fleece top with zipper and turtle neck.

Hands: Above 40: bike gloves with thin cover gloves. Below 40: full finger, wind blocking biking gloves

Legs: Above 40: bike shorts with tights. I prefer loose tights. To me they are more comfortable and allow some air space. Below 40: Bike shorts and heavy tights with wind block or wind block pants.

Feet: Get some shoes that are a little large to allow for thick socks. I prefer wool. Above 40: thick wool socks and shoe covers. Below 40: thin wool liner sock, thick wool sock and thicker shoe covers.

Batteries in lights don't last as long when it's cold so have some spare lights or batteries. Also those little air activated heater packs are helpful when it really gets cold.

Another site that offers information is commuterdude.com and if you really want to see the tough riders go to icebike.com/