Warm up to Bike Winter

Photo by David Keogh

We’re working to provide everything you need to keep riding this winter. Read our winter riding tips, try it out at our annual family-friendly Coldest Day of the Year Ride (date to be announced January 2019), post a selfie showing us how you stay warm while riding (tag us @CycleToronto), and challenge yourself to ride on Winter Bike to Work Day

Our top winter riding tips

With colder temperatures and darker days, many Torontonians park their bicycles for the winter and take transit or drive to their destinations. This often means less physical activity and more sluggishness throughout the day. We highly recommend giving winter cycling a go.

Protect your extremities.

If you live in Canada, you’ve probably got most of the things you’ll need for winter cycling. Instead of being too cold, people newer to winter cycling often complain of overheating. Regardless of what jacket you choose, make sure you have a good set of gloves or mitts for your hands, boots for your feet and toque or earmuffs for your head and ears. Protect your eyes either with a pair of ski goggles or sunglasses.

Want more recommendations on what to get? MEC has some great tips on staying warm and dry.

Get the right bicycle.

While salt does wonders for melting ice on the road, it also accelerates rust on your bicycle. We recommend riding with front and rear fenders which also keeps slush from flying up your back. In addition to equipping your bike with fenders, wipe down your bike regularly. If you’re not up for all that maintenance, consider getting a ‘beater’ bike for winter. Mountain bikes are a good choice, with their hardy tires and braking systems.

There’s a lot of debate on whether to ride with fat or skinny tires; fat tires potentially provide more traction, whereas skinny tires enable you to cut through snow. Studded tires are generally not necessary due to Toronto’s relatively warm winter conditions.

Now is also a good time to try Bike Share! That way you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to getting around - plus you don't have to worry about maintenance.

If you can ride in a straight line, you can ride through winter.

Toronto roads are clear throughout much of the winter. But if you’re riding through a storm, or tackling the roads soon after, remember the basics of bicycle riding: ride more slowly than you normally would, avoid swerving and strive to ride in a straight line.

Nervous about cycling through the snow? Check out the City of Toronto's priority bike lane clearing program and you can plan a ride that will take you down (hopefully) clear paths.

Extreme conditions can be difficult for even the most seasoned winter cyclists. Have a back up plan or leave your bicycle at home and instead take transit or work from home if you can.

Winter cycling can be as much fun as riding at other times of year. With a bit of preparation, you’re good to go!

Join us for the annual Coldest Day of the Year Ride.

Want to give winter biking a go? There's no better way than a group ride to try it out. Stay tuned for details on our annual Coldest Day of the Year Ride and warm-up social. 

What does #BikeWinter mean to you?

Snap a selfie in your winter riding gear, tag us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @CycleToronto and use #BikeTO and #BikeWinter. 

Photo by Martin Reis