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Professional triathlete and Giant ambassador Tim Berkel shares some of his best winter cycling tips for making cycling in winter a little warmer, easier and safer. Photos: Korupt Vision

As winter rolls in for most of Australia, there are some key things to consider as a cyclist when riding in cooler weather. Now for a small rider like myself, winter is definitely not my favourite season at all, I feel the cold weather big time!

Firstly it’s super important to have a few key winter cycling clothing garments hanging in your wardrobe. Invest in a quality long sleeve jersey, a cycling specific one with easily accessible back pockets. I also can’t live without my windproof or waterproof jacket and vest. Living in northern New South Wales we have a fairly wet winter so a good waterproof garment is always imperative.

Now with the winter months comes those dark early mornings. So always make sure your outer layer of clothing is highly visible or has some decent reflective panels on it. Many jackets including the Proshield Rain Jacket will have this feature.

Rain Jacket

My choice of cycling jacket for winter rides is Giant's Proshield Rain Jacket. The Proshield is a waterproof cycling jacket and It's available in three different colours, the cyan colour option is super bright and it also has high-vis details to enhance safety in low-light or foggy conditions.

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Neck Buff

Another handy clothing item on those super chilly days I choose to use is a neck warmer like the Giant Cuore Neck buff. If you get too warm it can be easily removed and put into your jersey pocket but it's a great accessory to have at the start of a cold ride.

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Warmers & gloves

Now if you don’t feel like investing in a pair of full-length cycling bib shorts like Giant’s diversion bib shorts you can always buy a pair of leg or knee warmers to wear underneath your regular cycling knicks. Remember to put them on underneath your cycling knicks or your mates might poke some fun at you at the cafe stop. They are also designed to grip to your skin and won’t slide down if put on the right way. Another must have is arm warmers and gloves. These will help your arms and fingers stay warm, there’s nothing worse as a cyclist than not being able to feel the tips of your fingers. Investing in a decent pair of windproof winter gloves will allow you to still have proper control over your brake levers and shifters. Numb fingers will definitely make this more difficult. I will also always wear a base layer on my chest, as the last thing you need is a chill, which could lead to the dreaded cold!

Last but not least are the accessories. Now is the perfect time to wear a windproof cycling cap or skull cap under your helmet keeping your noggin cozy! On wet days I choose to wear shoe covers as well so my feet don’t get drenched and your cycling shoes keep nice and shiny clean. Also choosing a warmer winter sock will help in the cold weather, check out merino options which offer great protection against the elements.

Lights

Lights on your bike are also a big must have to help stay seen and Giant’s range of Recon bike lights pack a punch. I opt for the Recon TL 200 as my tail light and the Recon HL 1800 up front. The head light is super powerful and the Recon TL 200 tail light's smart day mode can last up to 6hrs to cover even the longest rides and has the added benefit of being USB rechargeable.

Bike Maintenance

Now with the winter weather it’s also a great idea to ensure your bike is mechanically sound and that higher wear items like tyres, bar tape and brake pads are regularly replaced. You can also buy tyres better suited to a range of conditions, Giant’s Fondo tyre range makes a great choice for variable weather.

Ensuring your bicycle is regularly serviced will ensure your bicycle runs better in the long run. It’s also important to remember that if you live in an oceanside area like me that you hose your bike down to help prevent rust. Lubricating your chain after each wash will help give your chain a longer life as well.

If you're doing a lot of winter riding or commuting heavily in winter, it's even a good idea if to have a lower spec road bike in your quiver for winter cycling. There can often be a lot more grit and debris on the roads in winter that can also cause more wear to parts like your drivetrain, putting your winter bike through this can ensure your summer bike stays clean!

Lastly, no matter if you're a beginner or a professional, always be prepared if you're heading out on the road as well, my advice would be to pack some spares like a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a pump or Co2 inflator.

Group up

Now as much as I’ve been spending time on the trainer this winter, weather permitting I still much prefer to head out and pedal on the roads, especially with a few riding buddies. Heading out with other riders will help motivate you and will also help tick of those kilometres a little quicker. There's also nothing like a bit of friendly banter and trying to one up each other on the KOMs.

Also the more people you ride with on those dark and gloomy winter days the higher the chance of you being more visible to drivers out on the road. Remember to ride safely as well by being predictable and by using hand signals to ensure motorists know which direction you're headed in.

Mix It Up

If riding on the road or on the trainer isn't your thing then my advice would be remember to mix it up. One of my favourite things to do is to go for a loop on the mountain bike or gravel bike with the dog in tow. I'm fortunate enough to live on very quiet rural roads in Northern NSW but there's probably some nice trails or dirt roads in your own neck of the woods.

Taking it indoors

Now if the weather really sucks and rain is belting down, then don’t be silly, I recommend staying indoors. I’m lucky enough to have a great indoor cycling set up from Zwift! There are some great rides that you can experience all over the world that you may never get to ride in reality! So why not take that wet day ride opportunity and do the Alpe du Zwift, a virtual take on L'Alpe d'Huez, or even better join in on the Aussie Hump day ride, the best ride on Zwift. Check out the event in the video below.

Thanks for reading and I hope these winter cycling tips help you stay dry and warm out there as you pedal this winter!

Winter Gear