Commuting To Work By Bicycle In Foul Weather

Do you want to be a hardcore bicycle commuter?  Do you want the ability to cycle to work in comfort no matter what the weather is like outside?  This can be quite a tough challenge to meet, but with the right equipment and clothing, it can be done, and all for under $100 bucks (assuming you have a touring, commuter, or mountain bike already)!

Here is the equipment and clothing list that I’ve used in my 3 years of bicycle commuting experience.


  1. Beanie – This is a thin, thermal layer of synthetic material that fits under your helmet for temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or so.  Without it, you’ll get brain freeze!
  2. Windbreaker – Cycling generates a lot of body heat.  A windbreaker is the only protection you’ll need in temperatures above 10 degrees F and can be bought online for around $20.  If you’re wearing a sweater underneath it, you’ll sweat to death, even on most winter days.  Be sure and buy a cycling specific windbreaker since they zip up closer around your neck better than the average windbreaker and are tapered so they don’t act like a parachute.
  3. Rain jacket and pants – This is only necessary on rainy days.  They work great, even if you do look silly.  The whole outfit can be had for around $25 if you shop around online.  I recently got my rain jacket from for only $9.99 and it works very well at keeping me warm and dry during a shower.
  4. Pant leg Velcro straps – These wrap around the bottoms of your pant legs and keep them from catching in your drive train or on a water bottle cage.  They are $2 a pair.
  5. Gloves – During cool weather, I use cheap gloves I bought from Wal-Mart ($8).  During cold weather, I use more expensive ski gloves I bought from Fred Meyer ($15 on sale).

Bicycle Equipment

  1. Fenders – Fenders are used so that you don’t get sprayed with water and mud kicked up by your tires.  I commute to work in semi-formal clothing, so this is a must.  I use some SKS brand mountain bike fenders that I bought online for about $25.  If your bicycle doesn’t have eyelet mounts for fenders, you can go to your hardware store and buy p-clamps (sometimes they go by other names) and fasten your fenders to the clamps which go around your fork or seat-stays.  The only department I found these in at Lowes was the electrical department.  They are used in electrical work for holding wiring to walls or something.  They come with rubber strips, which are useful for mounting to skinnier frame tubing.
  2. Studded tires – These are only necessary if you plan on winter commuting.  Ice is really the only surface you can’t cycle on with regular tires.  Trust me, I’ve crashed several times attempting to riding on ice with regular tires  :-)  Studded tires can range anywhere from $35 to $70, so shop around and see what works for your budget.  Last year, I used the low-end Innova tires which were about $35 a tire, but I’ve noticed that the steel studs are starting to show some wear after only one season.  A friend of mine bought Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires for a bit more money, and they feature carbide studs which last much longer and feel sharper than regular steel studs.

Anyway, there is the list of things that has worked well for me in all kinds of weather.  I’ve left out some general equipment, such as racks, baskets, lunch boxes and such, but I hope this list gives you an idea of what you need and why you need it!

1 comment to Commuting To Work By Bicycle In Foul Weather

  • I find that winter bicycle clothing varies a lot depending on the individual. For example, I’d freeze to death if I didn’t wear a sweater underneath my windbreaker on winter days below 20F or so. It’s certainly true that I’d overheat at some of the higher temperatures, however, and I often unzip my windbreaker toward the end of my ride to vent.

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