Keeping Warm on a Bike in the Winter

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Keeping Warm on a Bike in the Winter

Brompton folding bike, photo by Wolfgang Binder Urban commuting on a folding bike or electric bike is a lot of fun, especially in a city like New York. We've been amazed at the amount of bike lanes that exist in the city, making it easy to get to work and back. It's fun, free, and is great exercise.

Of course I'd be lying if I said it wasn't more fun to ride a bike in the summer than in the winter. Those freezing cold headwinds, icy bridges, and numb fingers are enough to keep most riders indoors for the winter. What if I told you there was a way to enjoy cycling through the winter, despite all of these frigid drawbacks?

Whether you ride a folding bike, electric bike, kick scooter, or just a regular old bike, you should follow these guidelines if you don't want to freeze your toes off during the winter:

Bundle Up!

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Wear layers, and use thermals. If you've got a light, wind-proof jacket, it works much better than a heavy down coat. Also, good gloves and shoe covers are fantastic. The wind is your biggest enemy here, not the cold, so deflect as much of it as you can. Since you're wearing a helmet (you're wearing a helmet, right?), a balaclava is better head protection than a hat or ear warmers. Again, cotton is not your friend, so shoot for neoprene or Lycra.

Watch Out for Ice!

If you thought riding in the rain was bad, wait til you hit a patch of black ice! An easy way to avoid these is to keep an eye out for rock salt. Bridges and bike paths are usually pretty clear, and it only takes a few days to diffuse a bad snow storm. Still, if you're unsure about the roads, maybe it's not a good day for cycling.

Bicycles Hate Rock Salt

If you've followed our advice so far, you're probably doing okay keeping warm and avoiding the ice. Of course, now you've got a bike covered in rock salt, and that's not good for anyone. Rock salt eats through aluminum, so clean that stuff off! Keep a rag around and some soap and water to wipe down your bike during the winter. If you wipe down your bike for twenty or thirty minutes after a messy ride, you'll save yourself a lot of trouble a few months down the line.

Electric Bike Riders: Charge your Batteries!

Humans aren't the only thing affected by the cold weather. Your Lithium batteries aren't very fond of it either, and if you leave them out in the cold, you'll only get 70-80% of the range of a warm battery. One way to keep your batteries happy is to charge them indoors. This way, your warm battery will last longer than one that has been sitting outside all night.

Some people like to leave their electric bikes in storage for the winter. That's okay too, just remember to charge them up once or twice a month! Letting a battery sit for a long period of time isn't healthy, especially in freezing cold weather!

You're probably reading this from the warmth of your living room, sipping a hot cup of cocoa and thinking "this guy is a lunatic for riding a bike in the winter." Trust me, I've heard it a million times. Although it's really not as bad as you think. Once you're moving and the blood is flowing, you'll be warmer than that crowd of people shivering at the bus stop. Don't believe me? Try it!