As winter approaches in the southern hemisphere, many cyclists face the challenge of staying warm while continuing their training. If you’re typically a fair-weather cyclist but want to maintain your fitness throughout the colder months, there are cost-effective ways to keep warm on the bike without breaking the bank. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you stay comfortable and motivated during winter rides

Setting Goals for Winter Cycle Training

One effective strategy to keep yourself motivated is to set a goal for either during or just after winter. Having a target can help you stay committed and get out on your bike even when the weather is less than ideal. Whether it’s preparing for a race or simply aiming to maintain your fitness, having a clear objective can make a big difference.

Essential Winter Cycling Gear

You don’t need to invest in expensive gear to stay warm during winter rides. Focus on a few essential items that can significantly improve your comfort:

  1. Base Layer: A good base layer worn underneath your cycling kit can help keep the chill off your chest. Look for materials that wick moisture away from your skin while providing insulation.
  2. Arm and Leg Warmers: These are versatile pieces that can be added or removed as needed. Thermal warmers provide extra insulation, while standard warmers act as a second skin to block wind.
  3. Wind Jacket: A lightweight wind jacket can take the edge off the wind chill during early morning or evening rides. It’s crucial for maintaining core temperature.
  4. Buff: A buff can be worn over your ears and face to protect against cold air. It also helps to humidify the air you breathe, which can be beneficial in preventing upper respiratory tract infections.
  5. Toe Caps and Gloves: Your extremities are particularly vulnerable to the cold. Invest in good toe caps and gloves to keep your fingers and toes warm.

Cost-Effective Hacks for Winter Cycling

If you’re looking to save money, there are several ingenious hacks to stay warm without spending a lot:

  • Newspaper Insulation: Placing a newspaper down your shirt can act as an effective wind barrier, providing additional warmth for your core.
  • Plastic Bags Over Socks: Using plastic or oven bags over your socks before putting on your shoes can help keep your feet warm by blocking the wind.
  • Sandwich Bags: Similar to plastic bags, sandwich bags can be worn over your socks to add an extra layer of insulation against the cold.

Visibility and Safety

Winter often means shorter days and more time spent riding in low light conditions. Ensure you have:

  • Reflective Gear: Wear clothing with reflective elements to make yourself more visible to motorists.
  • Lights: Equip your bike with good front and rear lights to ensure you can see and be seen during your rides.

Wet Weather Considerations

For those in regions with wet winters, waterproof gear becomes essential:

  • Rain Jacket: Invest in a high-quality, fully waterproof rain jacket to keep dry during wet rides. Be aware that waterproof gear can be bulky, so be prepared to carry it if the weather changes.

Mental Toughness and Indoor Training

Winter riding can be mentally challenging. If the cold is too much, indoor training can be a viable alternative:

  • Indoor Trainer: Using an indoor trainer allows you to maintain your training routine without braving the elements. This is especially useful for those particularly adverse to the cold and dark.

Staying warm during winter rides doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. By investing in a few key pieces of gear and utilizing some cost-effective hacks, you can continue to enjoy cycling throughout the colder months. Remember to stay safe, visible, and motivated, and you’ll be well-prepared for the next cycling season.


Devlin Eyden has a passion for seeing his athletes grow and excel. From novice runners or cyclists across all disciplines to elite mountain bikers representing South Africa at World Championships. In addition to helping you ride faster, for longer, Devlin also has the personal touch when it comes to your bike setup, aiming at improving the overall rider experience. With his background as a Sport Scientist as well as a Strength & Conditioning specialist, performance is Devlin’s main priority, be it in the gym, the lab or out on the road or trails. Being a keen runner & cyclist and having completed the Cape Epic among others, Devlin has first hand experience in what it take to reach your goals. If you’re looking for a once-off training program or ongoing, high touch support Devlin has you covered.

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