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Marin's Essential Accessories for Winter Commuting By Bike

It's that time of year again! Here are our top tips for commuting by bike through fall, winter and into spring.

Brown Marin Nicasio+ in snow with mudguards and basket

Spinning Through The Snowy Season

Commuting by bike, or just riding a bike for everyday trips, is a fun and financially-friendly way to stay fit and healthy.

But what happens when the seasons turn, the temperature drops, and the rain (or even snow!) starts to fall? Do you jump back into the SUV and swap bike lanes for heated seats? Heck no!

With a bit of preparation, some affordable winter cycling gear and a positive mindset you’ll be spinning through the snowy season and into the spring.

Wonder how to bike commute in winter? We've got you.

Here’s the Marin Bikes guide to cycle commuting through a cold, dark and wet winter.

All of the photos you see here come from Marin Ambassador Andrei Jordi who is happily commuting through a -10°C winter in Finland!

Marin Merino Jersey from Soigneur

What To Wear For Cycling In Winter

Let's start with how to dress for winter cycling. It needn't be expensive, but sensible clothing is a must for winter bike commuting.

A warm base layer under a waterproof, winter cycling jacket will see you right in most conditions. You can add a thicker mid-layer if it’s really cold. Our Marin Bikes Merino cycling jersey, produced by our friends at Soigneur in New Zealand, is perfect for cycling in winter.

What winter jacket you need for cycle commuting depends on the conditions. Softshell jackets are fine if rain isn't on the forecast, but for winter we'd always recommend a proper rain jacket to keep you warm and dry.

Warm winter cycling gloves with a windproof or insulated back are great for cycling in the cold as your hands will chill out much quicker than the rest of you. In really extreme conditions, bar mitts or pogies are the next level of hand protection, but make it harder to move your hands around on your bike to work.

Your feet also need a little extra help on your winter cycle commute. Decent winter cycling boots or winter cycling shoes can be quite an investment, but are worthwhile if you plan to ride regularly. Neoprene cycling overshoes are a less costly way of winter-proofing your regular riding footwear, although most are only designed to work with clipless pedals.

Waterproof socks won’t necessarily keep your feet dry, but they’re a good way of keeping your feet warm, as are thick woollen ones. If you run flat pedals or you're on a budget, take the left-field option and just wear your warmest hiking footwear.

And Learn From Experience

Don’t forget your head. Most cycling helmets are designed to funnel air and keep you nice and cool, which isn't ideal for the winter cyclist. Wool cycling caps aren’t just a hipster fashion statement: wearing one under your helmet can keep the rain out of your face and extra heat in your body. A thin cap or one of those stretchy neckwarmers can also make for a useful extra barrier between your head and the elements.

The rest of your winter cycling gear is down to how far you’re riding and what conditions will be like.

If your commute is short or low-intensity, you can happily don full waterproof cycling gear and ride to work in regular clothes. If you’re exerting yourself more, winter cycle clothing that’s quick-drying and comfortable may be preferable to trying to keep the elements out. Cotton is generally a bad idea in winter. A decent set of winter cycling bib tights are a real boost on long, cold winter rides.

Synthetic fibers soak up way less water than natural materials, although wool does a good job of keeping you warm when it’s wet. Try a few different clothing setups and see what works for you (and don't forget about that Marin Merino Jersey!).

Marin Ambassador Andrei Jordi selfie
Andrei Jordi's Brown Marin Nicasio+ with mudguards and basket

And The Best Bike For Winter Commuting?

You could buy a dedicated bike for cycling in cold weather, but you can also easily winterize your existing bike and it should work just fine.

They don’t tend to score any cool points, but bicycle mudguards or fenders are a godsend for commuting by bike in the winter. Your feet and butt will stay much drier, and you also won’t be splattering your fellow bike commuters with spray from the road.

All of Marin’s commuter and gravel bikes are equipped with the necessary mounts for mudguards and can easily be added or removed at home as the elements change.

It’s also worth a look at your tires for riding in winter conditions. All of our bikes come with year-round tires that should suit most riders but that can be easily switched out for winter-specific rubber. If you’re regularly riding on looser, less-even surfaces this could be a great shout to add a bit of comfort and confidence. For the coldest of countries, you'll need to consider studded tires which your local Marin Dealer can help with.

And don't forget your luggage. Keeping your stuff dry can be as simple as putting it in a plastic bag or in a backpack, but there are loads of great options if you're looking for a waterproof bike bag, from high-tech panniers to old-school cotton duck saddlebags. Whatever your budget, keep your dry clothes and electronics wrapped up in your bag so they arrive as safe as you do!

Don't Forget Those Bike Lights!

Shorter daylight hours make decent bike lights an essential winter cycling accessory, especially when cycling in traffic.

You’ll need a white light on the front of your bike and a red light on the rear.

For anyone riding shorter, well-illuminated routes you can rely on mid-power bicycle lights that are designed to make you visible to other riders and traffic. These are usually lightweight, quick to charge and not too bright that they'll dazzle other cyclists.

Many riders, however, will be hammering out their winter cycle commute on dark, wet roads and pitch-black and slippy rural lanes. For these types of rides, we’d recommend bigger, brighter lights that have plenty of lumens (the measure of brightness used for lights) and a decent battery capacity.

Wondering how many lumens for a bike light? This all depends on your conditions but generally, 200-300 for well-lit areas and 600-800 for poorly lit ones should be perfect. You may also like to choose lights with various flash modes to offer extra visibility, but check your local rules and regulations for what's allowed. And of course, pick something with plenty of battery life so you're never caught short.

For the serious mile munchers who never want to run out of juice, dynamo lights have caught up with the 21st century, and the newest hub dynamos are compatible with thru-axles, disc brakes and powerful LED head units.

Looking for some help with how to mount bike lights? Yep, you guessed it, your Marin dealer will help.

The Marin Lombard drop bar commuter takes things even further with a reflective paint job to keep you safe and seen.

Marin Nicasio+ at night with bike lights
Marin Nicasio+ with basket and lights

Bike Maintenance for Winter Cycling

Wet and cold conditions will take their toll on frames, brakes and drivetrains. You'll need to show your bike a little more love when commuting in the winter than you would the rest of the year.

We’d always recommend you start your winter riding season with a quick service. Harder conditions put their toll on components quicker and getting stranded with broken gears or worn-out tires is extra annoying in the dark. You can find your nearest Marin Bikes dealer with the Marin Dealer locator.

Using a decent wet weather chain lube will mean you’re not wasting any watts, and regular cleaning plus not storing your bike in a damp cold place will mean fewer corrosion-related mechanical issues down the line.

All of our urban bikes come with dependable, confidence-boosting disc brakes for year-round performance, and some, like the Marin Presidio series, have internal hub gears that keep the vulnerable bits of your drivetrain safely hidden away.

Also a top tip from the Marin team. Don’t forget to keep your bike lock well-oiled - there’s nothing worse than a rusty lock and a bike that's stuck at the office!

A Big High Five to Winter

If you keep your bike habit up through the winter, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back once in a while.

And even though they can be challenging, winter commutes by bike can be some of the best rides of the year. You'll see lots of sunrises, you'll enjoy the lengthening days, and you'll be out on a bike when many people are sat in a stuffy box waiting for their windows to de-mist.

That's got to be worth it, right?

Don't forget - You can tag Marin Bikes on Instagram and use #MarinBikes to show us your winter commutes from around the world. Get out there!

Marin Ambassador Andrei Jordi in snow with Marin Nicasio+

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