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How to increase your cycling motivation in winter — essential tips to keep your spirits up on the bike when the temps drop

With the right kit, equipment and mindset, winter riding can be a joy. Here's what you need to know to keep you motivated to ride, whatever the weather

For cyclists, winter poses a unique challenge when it comes to motivation, with the cold, dark, and often wet conditions sometimes making anything seem like a better idea than venturing out on your bike. It’s surprisingly easy to talk yourself out of going for a ride, isn’t it? To prevent this from happening, we've rounded up 10 products, product categories anf general tips that we reckon will help make cycling more enjoyable for you over the winter months.  

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The days are shorter and the temperatures plummet, but winter cycling doesn't need to be a chore. Continuing to ride during the winter is a great way of maintaining your base fitness levels, and can give you a competitive edge when spring and summer arrive, whether that's beating your mates up a climb on a club run or entering some local races. It's also a great way to get outside and stay active during the winter months.

Even if you're not competitive in the slightest and just cycle to work, or simply ride a bike to get around, keeping it up throughout the year will make cycling more enjoyable, faster and more efficient for you, because you'll be fitter. Riding in spring and summer will feel like an absolute breeze with some winters under your belt!

Withour further ado, here are our 10 top tips. Don't forget to read up on how to dress for winter cycling and how to winterproof your bike when you're done here... 

1. Layer your clothing 

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> How should you dress for winter cycling?

Investing in good cycling kit makes heading out in the cold, windy and wet a lot easier, and a decent base layer will contribute significantly to a more enjoyable winter riding experience. They help regulate your body temperature and provide a layer of insulation to keep your core warm. 

A base layer is the first level of protection against the elements, and from there you can add multiple layers which will allow you to adjust your clothing based on the intensity of your ride and the weather conditions. 

2. The wider the better

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> Why you need to switch to wider tyres

Opting for some specific winter road bike tyres can enhance grip and improve puncture protection without slowing you down too much, and riding the widest tyres you can fit on your bike could make a big difference to your winter riding.

In addition to providing increased comfort, wider tyres offer enhanced grip and improved puncture protection. This ensures better control on slippery road surfaces, and reduces the frequency of roadside stops to fix pinch punctures. 

3. Wash your bike often 

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> How to clean your bike - from a quick lick to a full makeover

Winter rides expose your bike to salty, dirty water, accelerating damage and corrosion. Therefore, a good bike washing set-up is essential to encourage you to wash your bike as soon as you finish each ride. 

Dealing with strange noises every time you head out on the bike can be a motivation killer, so washing your bike regularly not only preserves the components, but also keeps the weird sounds at bay, ensuring you have a smoother and quieter ride. 

4. Keep your extremities warm

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> Best cycling socks

Riding in cold weather is challenging - wet and frozen hands and feet won't make things any easier. Your hands and feet typically get cold first, so some proper winter cycling gloves and some overshoes can have a huge impact on your riding happiness. 

Nothing is more miserable than freezing cold fingers and toes, and the bad news is that once they get cold on a ride, they're only going to get colder.

5. Insulate your liquids

2023 Eurobike Camelbak Podium (3)

You might not feel warm on winter rides, but it's still important that you stay hydrated. There's nothing less inviting than grabbing a chilled ice block when you go for a drink on an already chilly ride!

Investing in an insulated water bottle could be the solution to keep your water from unintentionally turning into a slushie. And here's a pro tip - add a pinch of salt into some squash for a homemade, non-freezing energy drink. 

6. Keep the spray at bay

Kinesis Fend-Off mudguards

If it’s the thought of getting caked in mud and water from the road that's putting you off riding, put some mudguards on your bike.

Mudguards make cycling a more pleasant experience in wet and changeable weather (that's a lot of the time here in the UK, unfortunately) by preventing a lot of the spray created by your tyres from turning you, and those around you, into a soggy mess.

7. To see and be seen 

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> Best front bike lights

The day seems all too short at the moment, and if you’re insistent on getting on your bike in daylight hours, you probably won't get much riding done.

Investing in some bike lights can make a big difference to your motivation, and keep you pedalling in the winter months. It allows you to extend your riding hours well into the evening, or start your ride before the sun rises. With some of the latest and brightest lights, there’s little to fear from the darkness nowadays. 

8. Find new routes 

2022 Garmin Edge Explore 2 GPS computer - 2

> Best cheap cycling computers

Exploring new routes is a good way to keep things interesting. If you’re tired of following the same old route you always ride, why not explore some new roads?

You can either use a free mapping website to plot your own route, or search for routes in your area and then download them to a GPS computer. Cycling computers can really enhance your riding experience and they can make following a route easier and hassle-free, thanks to bigger, more visible colour screens. 

 It’s a good way of expanding your horizons, and you’ll probably be surprised at how many good roads you’ve been missing out on. 

9. Mix up your training

2023 Rouvy indoor cycling app updates

> A complete guide to indoor cycling

Switching up your training and adding in some indoor workouts is a great way to stay motivated in the winter. It allows you to train without getting cold and wet and enables you to complete more time-efficient workouts such as interval sessions. 

Pairing one of the best turbo trainers with an indoor cycling app is a great way of adding variety to your cycling routine. Indoor cycling apps have a vast choice of workouts, opportunities for social interaction and virtual challenges, as well as a variety of structured training plans. 

10. Listen to music

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> Best indoor cycling accessories 

If you do decide to train indoors this winter, listening to music proves to be an effective way to make it a more enjoyable experience, and make your workouts feel shorter. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that you'll be eager to jump back on for another session. Well, we think so anyway!

Consider investing in some headphones to keep the music to yourself without disturbing others, or opt for a decent set of speakers if you don't need to worry about neighbours where you do your indoor training.  

What helps you to stay motivated during the winter months? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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Nerolab | 4 months ago
1 like

So far, Ciaron and Debi have failed to put me off getting in the car and in spite of wind & rain, I still love cycling to work through the winter. As you say, the key is decent gear.

For warmth, I have some great Lusso gear such as the Paragon deep winter base layer, Orange jacket and bib tights - they keep the chilly wind out and apart from torrential rain, are pretty waterproof too.

When it gets really wet, I add my new Gorre thermal shakedry jacket - its like witchcraft, the water just beads off and keeps you snug and dry underneath.

When it's cold and wet, my Shimano XC winter boots are superb at keeping my feet warm and dry however if the rain is running down your  legs, the neoprene ankle cuffs will eventually give way.

I have a few pairs of gloves, enduras proving the warmest so far, Lusso perform gloves are ghood in light rain and temperatures above 7 degrees with Sealskinz my back up for a dry ride home with their hi-viz material.

I have a few Merino wool brands of sock which are warm and not too bulky and dry well too. 

Finally my Sealkskinz skull cap keeps my head warm and dry when the mercury drops close to zero.

I need some decent waterproof pants for when the rain is really heavy and considering Gore once more however this stuff doesnt come cheap but less trips to the petrol station and tyre fitters mitigates my obsession with nice bike gear!

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