We want to make cycle commuting all year round an easy and accessible option. That’s why we’re sharing the must-have cycle parts and accessories that will help you blast through the cold this winter. This week we’re exploring accessories that protect your extremities.
Why should I protect my extremities?
The first couple of minutes of your cycle commute in winter are pretty nippy. But thanks to your pedal power you warm through in no time. That is everywhere, except your extremities - your hands and feet.
Your hands and feet are the first places that feel the cold. That’s because when the temperature drops, your body acts fast to preserve your internal temperature. It restricts blood flow to your extremities to make more blood move within the centre of your body; thus keeping your core warm. Other than the biology behind the cold, there are two other very good reasons to invest in accessories that keep your hands and feet warm on your cycle commute:
1. To keep you comfortable
2. To maintain function
When the cold settles into your hands and feet it causes numbness, and this is just simply uncomfortable. Some people experience a throbbing feeling and for others it can be a burning-like sensation. Either way – it’s pretty unpleasant and won’t help you enjoy your cycle commute. The other reason for wanting to keep your extremities warm is that cold induced numbness causes loss of sensation and functionality. Whilst your hands and feet don’t move around a lot whilst you ride, they’re crucial to you being able stop efficiently. If your digits and toes are too cold to control, you’re putting yourself and others at risk on the road.
Cover up your extremities and keep warm during your winter commute
How to keep hands and feet toasty on two wheels:
Protecting your hands and feet this winter makes sense – now lets take a look at the accessories that will help.
Gloves are the natural choice when it comes to keeping your digits cosy on your ride to work. When it comes to choosing your perfect pair, there are a few things to keep in mind:
• Cuff Design
Padding is the logical way to keep your hands warm, but in cycle gloves it can be more of a hindrance than help. Padding tends to be bulky and restrictive. The last thing you want is to have your ‘Michelin Man’ hands unable to operate your brakes. So when it comes to seeking warmth – you need to look elsewhere.
This is where fabric choice comes in. The material your gloves are made from will determine whether they’re warm, windproof or waterproof. The best winter cycling gloves are often dual fabric – the outer is one material, whilst another lines them. This means you can get the best of both worlds in one pair of gloves. For wind and waterproof properties, gloves with a GORE-TEX or similar outer are always a good investment. For warmth, a synthetic lining is the standard insulation although you can find pairs with merino or silk linings too.
Cuff design is an important consideration too. This will dictate how easy your gloves are to get on and off. There are loads of different cuff designs to choose from; from Velcro to zips and elastic gathering. Ultimately you need to choose a style that is convenient and user friendly for you. The other job of the cuff is to keep the warmth in and cold out. Ideally you want your cuff to come up and over your wrist, with a close fit. After all – you don’t want a puddle of rainwater gathering in your gloves.
But all of the above is useless, unless you get gloves in the correct size. Choose a pair that is too snug and they’ll be uncomfortable. Go too big and they’ll be ‘flapping’; letting the cold, wind and rain in. The sign of a well-fitted pair of cycle gloves is the ability to ‘scrunch’ your hands up without restriction or excess material bunching up. Shopping in-store over online really pays off when it comes to choosing your cycle gloves. You can try on multiple pairs, styles and sizes and find what works best for you.
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Keep the warmth in and the rain out with a pair of winter weight gloves
The best defence in combating cold feet during your winter commute is a decent pair of winter specific cycle socks. When it comes to choosing the pair to buy, the factors to take into consideration are near identical to those when choosing gloves. These are:
It can be tempting to combat cold toes by doubling up on socks – but this can lead to tight shoes and poor circulation. As with gloves, bulk is not the most effective tool at your disposal when it comes to keeping your feet warm. Keep padding in your cycle socks to the places where it benefits you most. A reinforced heel and toe will increase your comfort on long rides – all over-padding most certainly will not. Avoid the bulk, and look to ‘thermo’ fabrics to keep your feet warm.
The fabric of your winter cycling socks wants to have a high warmth to weight ratio. This means that they keep your feet toasty without being heavy. Natural fibres are your friends here, like merino, bamboo and cotton materials. Natural fibres are exceptional warm, despite their lightweight nature. They also have the added bonus of being breathable, so your feet don’t run the risk of overheating. This means that you – and those around you – can enjoy fresh smelling feet all day. For added comfort and ‘fit’, ensure your winter commuting socks contain a little Lycra or Elastane.
Another way to amp up the warmth factor on your winter cycle commute is to ditch the ankle socks. Choose a pair of socks that sit mid-calf or even opt for those that come up to your knee. Whilst some style conscious cycle commuters may weep at the sight of long socks – the cracking job they do far outweighs aesthetic concerns. Longer socks naturally help keep more of you warm, but they also help keep the cold out. The cuff at the top of your socks should have a snug yet comfortable fit for maximum benefit.
As with winter cycling gloves, it’s pointless choosing the warmest cycle socks – if you buy the incorrect size. A pair of socks that are too tight will restrict your circulation causing ‘pins and needles’. A pair that is too big will be sliding around and eventually slip off your feet whilst your cycling. Finding the perfect pair of cycle socks can take a little trial and error. Cycle socks tend to be sized S-XL and you may find you that you sit between sizes. It’s worth investing the time in finding a pair that work for you, so you can stay in the saddle during the winter months.
It’s worth adding that whilst winter cycle socks do a tremendous job of keeping your feet warm, they won’t combat the wind and rain. Pair your winter socks with a decent pair of waterproof cycle shoes or overshoes to really feel the benefit.
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Embrace long socks during your winter ride to work to keep toes and legs toasty
DID YOU KNOW...
You can save 25 - 39% on accessories with Cyclescheme. Request a Certificate now for the value you want to spend on your new cycle accessories - without choosing a retailer upfront. This puts you in control of when, where and how you shop.
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