We all know a smug cyclist. The one that bikes to work and, when office small talk turns to traffic jams and train failures, they can’t help but brag how it didn’t affect them and that they enjoyed their smooth ride in. I’ve been that cyclist and felt that smugness.
However, the tables turn in winter. Those in a train or car sit snugly and look out into rain, bitter cold and darkness to see the dedicated cyclists grinding out their daily commute despite being chilled to the bone and soaking wet. I’ve also been that cyclist and know the discomfort.
These are the hardcore commuters. They’ll never ask for praise but their dedication to their two wheels and Lycra means there’s one fewer car on the road or an extra seat on a crowded train.
If you have one of these cyclists in your life, why not show they are appreciated and buy them something from our list presents to help them through their winter rides?
- Hat or helmet protection Most commuting helmets have a summer-friendly design with plenty of vents to allow for good air circulation. In winter, these become channels for cold rain to pour onto your head and down your back.
A full rain cover for your helmet, or even a thin casquette, is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to keep out the cold.
- Overshoes There’s nothing worse than cold extremities – and by cold, I mean to the point where you can barely feel them. If like me you’re on a budget, you probably only have one set of cycling shoes, which are designed for summer – plenty of ventilation and barely a nod to waterproofing.
Cheap upgrade number two is a set of neoprene overshoes. They might look ridiculous, but once you’re wearing full winter kit you barely notice them and they’ll convert your summer shoes into a water-resistant and windproof wrap. No more cold toes. Planet X usually have low-cost overshoes on offer at this time of year.
- Gloves Cyclists' hands are stuck in front of an air flow and are critical to keep warm – trying to feather your brakes for a sharp corner with frozen hands is not where you want to be.
In my experience it's worth reading reviews and asking around because many gloves just aren’t up to the task. They need to be both windproof and rainproof, and offer a good level of insulation without being bulky.
Chiba aren't as well-known in the UK but have a higher-profile on the continent. They have a range of sports gloves – and even supply them to firefighters and skiers.
- Lights Cycle safety has come on leaps and bounds – not only should clothes be hi-vis, there’s also no excuse not to be lit up on the roads like a Christmas tree.
I prefer dedicated bike lights rather than re-purposing my Christmas tree’s fairy lights – See.Sense and Blaze’s Laserlight are interesting options.
- Tyres You can’t talk to a winter cyclist for long without the topic of white lines and manhole covers coming up – both are notoriously slippery.
Tyres can’t fully solve this problem, but it does help to have some that are specifically designed for winter – a different tread pattern and width can enhance your bike’s grip and disperse water more effectively. They even have the added benefit of better puncture protection too.
- Coffee OK, protecting against the elements is never going to be foolproof. You can get all of the above stuff but on the days water seeps into your overshoes, the waterproofing in your gloves is overwhelmed and you forget your hat, it’s a miserable experience.
Fortunately, cyclists have a pre-programmed ability to feel a lot better when someone puts a steaming mug of quality coffee in front of them. Pact is a new business that delivers coffee to your door and offer a subscription service – it might be the perfect gift for the cyclist who has it all.
Finally, we are an insurance firm, so while it might not be on someone's Christmas list, having cover is still essential for regular winter cyclists. Policies can provide protection in the event of an accident and injury, both for you and your bike. Join our Cyclists group for free to get a members-only discounted offer.