When autumn arrives, and winter looms, many cyclists put their bikes away for fear of the rain and cold. However, with the right equipment and a certain amount of caution, it is possible to continue to enjoy this gentle mode of transport daily. Here is our advice on how to do this.
Sporty cyclists riding long distances on the road or mountain bikes will easily find specific equipment (shoes with wedges, padded shorts, technical underwear, etc.). Here, it is more a question of equipment for dealing with the cold and rain when cycling daily, on home-to-work commutes, for example. In other words, when it comes to arriving at work dry while still wearing regular clothes.
With the explosion in sales of electric bikes, the number of brands, product types, and variations has multiplied. We don’t claim to be exhaustive, but we try to guide recent cyclists towards the essential equipment to avoid unnecessary expenditure.
Read also: Can electric bikes get wet? And, Can I ride an e-bike in winter?
E-biking essentials for the cold weather
Keeping your hands warm throughout the cold season requires not one but two pairs of gloves. The first, a ‘mid-season’ pair of gloves, is for cooler weather in early autumn and the return of spring; the second, a warmer pair, is for when it gets freezing.
It is best to opt for windproof gloves, perhaps with reinforcements and anti-slip material. Those more sensitive to cold can add a pair of silk under-gloves to their equipment. Mittens are said to keep you warmer, but they restrict movement and are not ideal for cycling.
A helmet alone will not keep you warm. You will need to put on a cap underneath; however, it should be thin enough (and therefore not very warm) to not interfere with the helmet’s fit.
There are models dedicated to cycling, which go down over the ears. But it is probably best to choose a helmet accommodating clip-on accessories (liner, ear protection).
Scarves and scarves keep your neck warm; a cashmere or wool choker is even more effective, as it leaves no air holes.
Don’t neglect your feet! Wool is much warmer than cotton, so consider this when buying socks. And if you are very sensitive or prone to Raynaud’s syndrome (blood circulation problems in the fingers and toes and sometimes in the nose and ears), you can easily find warmers in sports shops.
Your electric bike’s display, motor, and battery are usually advertised as rainproof (IP65). Therefore, the display does not need to be covered with a silicone shell, as seen in some accessory shops (at best, it will protect it from light impacts).
Likewise, the motor does not need to be protected (a cover could even harm it by preventing ventilation and capturing moisture).
The battery, however, is sensitive to cold. As a result, it discharges more quickly in very low temperatures. A neoprene cover will therefore take good care of its autonomy. When you return home, wait until the temperature has risen before charging it.
Read also: How to maintain your electric bike when you know nothing about it – in this article and this article. And, How to prepare your e-bike for winter.
E-biking essentials for the rain
An excellent waterproof and breathable jacket (Gore-Tex) is essential to arrive dry. You can put it over your usual jacket (to adopt a more urban look when the rain stops) or over a good down jacket in cold weather.
Waterproof trousers are a very effective way of adding protection, if possible, with integrated shoe covers. Nothing is more unpleasant than spending the day with wet feet! A model with zipped openings at the bottom makes it easier to wear trousers without removing your shoes.
There are also lighter protections for days of light rain, which cover only the thighs (the most exposed part of the legs). In freezing weather, rain trousers are also very effective in keeping out the cold.
Some people prefer to protect themselves with a rain cape. In this case, forget about your thick hiking cape, which can get caught in the wind. Instead, opt for a special cycling cape with a cut to protect the legs, a hood large enough to hold a helmet, and elasticated straps for hands and legs to fit the cyclist.
Panniers on your luggage rack are often waterproof or at least water-repellent. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case with your bag. There are many models of waterproof backpacks, but also covers that will keep your belongings dry in your usual handbag. Look for them in the hiking section!
Cold weather means short days, so trips to and from work are often at night. Therefore, ensure your equipment has reflective elements that significantly increase your visibility. Otherwise, opt for a waistcoat (compulsory for all cyclists riding outside built-up areas, at night, or in poor visibility).
Furthermore, if your e-bike does not have built-in lights, remember to put them on prior to every ride: a white one at the front and a red one at the back (here, too, it is compulsory!). Extra light on your helmet will make it even easier for drivers and other riders to spot you.
Take extra care while riding
Riding carefully is always essential when cycling. That is even more true in wet weather. Reduced visibility, less attentive pedestrians in a hurry, and traffic jams create a tense atmosphere that can be dangerous.
Beware of slippery elements (such as dead leaves, maintenance holes, or road markings) and grooves (between paving stones or cobbles). Anticipate obstacles and braking even more than usual, and brake in bursts rather than continue to get the rain off the skids.
Once in the garage, a wipe down of wet parts will delay the onset of squeaks and rust (see also our tips for maintaining your bike).
Read also: Can e-bikes get wet? And, How to clean an electric bike?
Riding, testing, and writing about e-bikes since 2017.