December 15, 2020 5 min read

If you think bike commuting in winter is not ideal, you’re in for a surprise. While most people treat winter as an off-cycling season, many think the cold weather is actually the best time to take your bike out for rides. Sure, the day time is shorter, the winds are colder, and the streets are more slippery, but consider the simple joys of this season.

To get you pumped up for the winter bike commute, here’s a list of benefits of taking bike rides during winter, as well as tips on how to prepare yourself and your ebike for riding during the cold season.

Benefits of EBike Commuting in Winter

  • Helps you stay fit all year long. As you ride during the cold season, your body fights the low temperature allowing you to reach your fitness and weight-loss goals much faster. Imagine having a daily fitness program that was as important as getting to work, because it is!

  • Saves money on gym membership and gasoline. Cycling is a great form of exercise, you wouldn’t need to find time to go to the gym because your daily commute is already giving you a workout. With an ebike, just plug it in overnight and you are good to go for tomorrow. If you need to charge your battery at work, or are not able to store the whole bike inside, make sure to find a bike with an easily removable battery you can take to your desk.

  • Improves your body’s metabolism and strengthens your immunity. Taking regular bike rides prevents a sedentary lifestyle. With the amount of physical activity you get from your bike commute, your body feels less cold and prevents you from getting sick during the winter, and we all need a little help as we exit 2020 and get started with 2021.

  • Improves mood. Regular exercise greatly impacts serotonin levels in your brain. This boosts your mood and overall sense of well-being. While we all know riding an ebike is cool and relaxing, you can also get the joy of exercise at your own pace.

  • Experience small adventures daily. Everyday you take a ride is a new adventure and you’d get the down time to take everything in. Whether focusing on your next big move at work, or letting the stress melt off of you, ebiking is a great way to relieve stress. You will likely even enjoy some beautiful scenery very exclusively as very few take the time to appreciate when the temperature dips.

There are some misconceptions about cycling in winter, like “you’ll freeze your butt off”, which isn’t always the case. You would most likely run warm or overheat with the amount of energy you exert with a regular bike. With an Ebike, you can set your effort level just right to enjoy the ride, get the exercise, but still end up at work smelling great. Another misconception is you would need to invest in expensive gear to bike in winter. You only need the basics and some time spent on trial and error until you find the best setup for you.

Before you take your ebike out for a spin, some preparations are in order to ensure your safety.

Prepare yourself for winter cycling

You have to find out what works for you before you even consider taking your bike for a spin. Do you run hot or cold? Where do you overheat or go numb? It would take some trial and adjustments based on your clothing and bike gears to find the perfect setup for your winter commute.

When investing in gear, focus on your extremities like your hands and toes because they’re the first to run cold. Use thick mittens if your hands run cold and opt for gloves if your hands run warm. Keep your feet dry and warm with wool socks and dependable footwear such as boots, whether cycling-specific or your favorite warm pair.

Dress in layers to keep your body warm and protected from windburn. Consider windproof clothes from the front only to give your backside ventilation and moisture resistant jackets are a necessity for wet days.

Wear a thin, windproof hat beneath your helmet. Choose one made of wool or synthetic fibers for added warmth like this knit tassel cap. Neck warmers are also useful additions when the temperature plunges.

Remember, the best gear is what works for you, don’t overthink and overdo it.

How to Upgrade Your Bike for Winter

  1. Avoid slipping. There’s an increased chance of slipping and falling because of the wet and icy weather condition. Here’s some precautions you can apply to make your winter ride safer.

    • Choose appropriate tires. Wider or chunkier tires have a better grip on the road or pavement. If you’re riding in more arctic conditions, opt for studded and knobby tires to give you more traction. These tires aren’t necessarily a must, though they might make you feel more secure on the ice.

    • It is your best bet to ride on streets where there is ample room for Ebiking and are clear of snow and ice. Ice is especially treacherous on a two-wheel commute.

    • Let some air out of your tires to get more traction.

    • Make sure your shoes and pedals have proper grip so your feet stay in place at all times. Consider getting anti-skid bike pedals.

    • Look for premium disc brakes. Immediate and strong breaking is essential in winter.

    • Consider a step through frame. The easy on and off is MUCH safer when you need to get from your bike to your feet quickly.

  2. See and be seen. Make sure you are well visible for all traffic participants for your safety and theirs. Consider enhancing your bike for increased road visibility.

    • Make sure your lights are in good condition, working and easy to see. For Ebikes it is best to have lights connected to your battery.

    • Upgrade your ride with reflectors so you can be seen by other vehicles

    • Wear reflective clothing

    • Get a loud bike bell (this may not refer to visibility, but you will be more noticeable in the traffic. Having a loud bell can attract the attention of a car that doesn’t see you.)

    • Remember that control is as important as maneuverability. Having an Ebike can help mitigate the differences in speed, but your surroundings must be respected and considered when maneuvering especially in traffic.

How to cycle in the snow and cold

Riding your bike in winter is a different experience from a regular bike ride during warmer seasons. Here’s a few tips to keep yourself safe during your winter commute:

  • Refrain from unnecessary movements. It’s important to be in control as you ride through the traffic. Any unnecessary moves and maneuvers can throw you off balance causing you to slip and fall, or worse, cause an accident. Better to use a lower level of power and speed to get where you are going safe.

  • Don’t try and stand in the saddle. You’ll have more control if you sit. In this position, your back wheel will also have better grip. If you can, pick an ebike with a rear hub motor for best traction.

  • New, powdery snow is best — and safest— for winter bike rides.

  • Don’t attempt cycling on ice. No amount of preparation will protect you. You will slip!

  • Always check the weather forecast before you ride. You might need a different set of clothes on a sunny, but freezing day than during a snowstorm.

  • Don’t forget to stay hydrated. But avoid the cold water you use in summer. A warm liquid gives sustenance and it helps you regulate your body temperature.

  • Remember, some weather is just not safe. Make sure to prioritize your overall health and remember some winter Ebiking is better than none, for fitness and mental health.

Dean DuMez
Dean DuMez

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