The Frozen

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Over the past winter or two more and more Pittsburgh cyclists have been riding year-round. Cold weather by itself is not that much of an inconvenience.

But there are details.

Dress Warm (duh)

As a rule riding a bike will be colder than walking in the same weather: there's that wind you create.

  • Gloves are probably the most important kit. We would suggest having several pairs for the season, progressively warmer. Special biker mitts ("lobster claws") are available but it's not clear what they give you that existing solutions don't. For example, skiing gloves will work just fine. Just be sure you can work the brakes and gear shifts.
  • MTB style shoes do fine, even at the coldest temperatures. Wool knee socks will keep you toasty.
  • Get a hat, the skull-cap variety. Preferably one that you can pull down over your forehead (and ears) when necessary.
  • Some people will wear face masks; others say they do fine without one, even down in the single digit (°F) temperatures. You probably need to figure this one out for yourself. Or, grow a beard.
  • Keep you throat covered; one solution is a gaiter or a bandana or really anything that works.
  • A pair of glasses / goggles is a good idea when it's really cold: keeps your eyeballs from freezing.
  • Upper body clothes are best layered: you retain mobility and you can always adjust as needed.

Your bike

  • Try to keep your bike clean, especially if you ride through salty slush: bike parts start to rust pretty fast. Some local riders will visit a car wash on a regular basis and hose their bike off (or maybe you have a heated garage, lucky you). Note that the day needs to be at least above freezing.
  • Lubricate your chain; it will help with the salt, among other things.
  • Some people prefer to remove their fenders in winter (snow gets caught between the tire and the fender; slows you down).


  • Snow is fun, up to a point.
  • Ice patches are really bad.