photo: John Fisch

Being a fair-weather mountain biker is nothing to be ashamed of.

Most of us mountain bike for fun, and we’re not having fun due to the weather, what’s the point? Based on our cold-weather riding experiences, many of us have settled on a cutoff to decide when it’s just too cold to saddle up.

Thanks to Rich Pinnola for suggesting this survey topic and responses.

# Comments

  • ImFat

    I bought some Head athletic under apparel for those colder rides. I’ll bundle up best I can if it gets into the teens, but it most likely won’t around here.

  • geofftrance

    It depends on conditions and it’s all about layers. Basically avoiding frostbite and hypothermia are the things to watch out for. Winds are a big factor at any temperature. That said with proper care and prep you can ride and run well below freezing. Use common sense though. No matter the temp, if you sense frostbite or feel too cold, layer up or if that’s not enough, go home and ride another day. Also, think about the duration of the exposure and prepare for mechanical or medical emergencies that could have you out longer. Loops that stay close to help and infrastructure are the safest as you can easily return. There is a lot of joy to be had in plowing through fresh snow in the wild unknown, just be prepared and don’t do it if you are inexperienced or not okay with the brisk.

  • Mann

    Being in socal, it’s not really a predicament for me. I will ride as cold as it gets (maybe upper 20s early morning) but it’s more about conditions (wet, mud, winds) than any temps I have to face.

  • rmap01

    I’ll ride with temps down into the teens as long as winds are < 10mph. Once it gets below that temp – or the wind is shipping – it's just no fun (for me anyway) on the trails I typically ride. However, if I was in an area with a lot of snow where the trails were groomed I'd probably ride into the single digits.

  • mad357

    The wind and amount of snow only thing that stops me.. thinking of getting a fat bike to help with the snow part . 🤷🏻‍♂️

  • Trailbikedad

    The amount of ice on the trail Is the limiting factor. You know what I mean if you have ever low sided onto a sheet of ice, then continue to slide into the next hard object (Tire studs only help if tires are on the ground). Also, chain lube getting thick and causing chain suck has been an issue starting around 0F.

  • jgmtb

    The weather i dislike most is actually in the high 30s / low 40s, because it’s generally cold and wet. When it’s around or below freezing during the day, the ground is frozen and generally it’s drier and more pleasant.

    That said, when it’s just above freezing or really cold I’ll generally go to higher altitudes in search of the white stuff.

  • Oldandrolling

    For me, it is a combination of cold and wet weather. I can handle down to 40F on a dry day. When it’s raining, I call it quits at 50F. As much as I enjoy biking, the discomfort of the cooler and wet conditions overtake the fun.

  • John Fisch

    I don’t think a number on a thermometer has ever kept me off a bike. Layers help. Also, no matter how cold it is, as soon as I start exerting myself, my body heats op dramatically.

    Wind doesn’t keep me off the bike either. I’ve lived n places that are always windy, so if you’re not willing to ride in the wind, you don’t ride. I got over the wind pretty quick.

    On the cold side, the only deterrent is ice. Won’t ride on the ice. Too many scars and injuries with long term impact from ice. Won’t do it any more.

    I do have a temperature cutoff on the high side though. I can’t handle heat. Or humidity. If it’s over about 85, I ain’t ridin’. Make that about 70 if it’s humid.

  • Phonebem

    I’ve been fat biking down to -5°F. Starting-out kinda sucks but after a climb things get shockingly comfortable. I really can’t stress the benefit of bar mitts enough though, they look stupid but I can get away with full-finger summer gloves all winter with total comfort.

  • Downhill Mike

    Dont ride colder minus 25 Celsius and I don’t ride on ice. I dont mind mixture of ice and snow but when it’s pure ice and even though i have a set of studded tires i stay home or go gravel grinding because gravel roads are usually ice free when trails are covered in ice.

  • Kenneth Kehmna

    Haven’t gotten into the whole fat bike thing yet, so I stop when snow makes it impossible to find the trail!

  • canterburynh

    -11 F is my record so far…had to stop after the first hour to switch shoes and warm up in the car for the second hour…biggest issue was the lungs didn’t want to function if you started sucking in too much air…so it was a slow and steady ride. Not sure I would want to go much lower…

  • tommydacat

    I’ll ride no matter what the temp is outside, however; my biggest complaint in cold weather riding is the wind in excess of 20mph. Usually the wind is blowing 20+, but there are those crisp days when its still and I’m out havin’ fun!!

  • Tim Whitney

    When its too cold to ski its too cold to ride and its never too cold to ski!

  • Trail Niels

    To me it’s more a question of too much snow on – or icy trails. Dry frosty trails are great hard pack.

  • Sum Guy

    I selected above freezing, but more accurately 45 degrees is about too cold for me. I look at the temp forcast of the places I am going. Its its under 45 for the high I am probably not going to make the trip. I will do something else on that time off. I live in south Florida, need I say more.

  • troutwest66

    If I’m moving then the cold is less of a factor. For me it’s traction and if the snow is too soft or deep. As long as I can pedal through it without over exerting I’m good to go.

  • Paul Loeffelholz

    I’ve ridden with -29c temps in Ottawa , Canada . In the forest so the wind was blocked and as long as I kept moving it was alright . Everything covered, balaclava , ski goggles and heat packs in my 45 north boots .Currently winter is having a slow start with only -6c temps which I’m out in for 2 to 3.5 hrs.
    I try not to stop for more than 60 seconds so the cool down process doesn’t start and sweat gets cold.

  • mongwolf

    Layers of course, but for me in the real extreme temps what makes it all possible are: bar mitts and winter gloves for the hands, warm boots and smart wool socks for the feet and head and face covering. If you haven’t tried bar mitts, give them a try. You won’t regret it. Great product.

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