How To Stay Warm When Biking NYC In Cool Weather


Here you are, in fabulous New York City! You’re on a bicycle – probably from Bike Rental Central Park.

A bike is a fantastic tool for economical, convenient navigation through the congested city streets. But what about in the evening? Or in November? Or the evening in November?

“We want to be sure everyone has an enjoyable ride,” said Jennifer Li of Bike Rental Central Park, “and what could be worse than shivering through a chilly wind?  Like the Boy Scout Motto says, “Always Be Prepared.”

New York City is located in the northeast, so it can get pretty chilly! You want to be prepared for that. Here’s some tips to consider before you even set foot near a bike.

  1. Wear Layers

When you’re on a moving bicycle, you’re constantly generating a breeze. You can thank aerodynamics for that. But, this means you’re going to be colder on the bicycle than you are on foot. An outfit that feels fine on the front stoop of your hotel/apartment will suddenly be too light as you’re zooming down the road.

There’s one easy way to get around this – layering! Instead of wearing one thick jacket, consider layering two lighter ones. For example, try a hoodie inside a fleece jacket. Mix and match to see what works best. That way, if you get too warm, you can take one off and stuff it in your bag. (Just don’t tie the extra jacket around your waist. It could get caught on your back tire or chain.)

  1. Wear earmuffs and gloves

So, your core is warm. That’s the most important part to keep insulated. But what about everything else?

Unless you’re a stuntman or experienced unicyclist, you probably can’t stuff your hands in your pockets while you’re riding a bike. Most of the time, your hands will be in front of you. They’ll be taking the brunt of the breeze. (Aerodynamics, remember?) So, bring some gloves.

Another thing to protect is your ears. Constant cold air rushing into your ears can cause ear aches, sinus problems and other inner ear trouble. A hat will probably fly off the first time you get up to speed, so try an earmuff that wraps around your head. Make sure it’s well-fitting, to prevent it from taking flight. (Also, earmuffs will fit better around your helmet!)

  1. Keep legs warm–and wear the right shoes

You’ve got a nice earmuff, two light jackets and some gloves. Now, what about your lower half?

When choosing your pants for the day, make sure they’re well-fitting. Your legs will be moving the most as you pedal around town. Flared bottoms or baggy jeans might get caught in vital bike components and cause you to wreck. The same goes for a long skirt. With so many moving parts, you don’t want any fabric hanging down.

Finally, your shoes. For a chilly day full of physical activity, you’ll probably be best off with a pair of sneakers. Make sure they can’t easily slip off. Consider using foot-pads and inserts for a comfortable, snug fit.

  1. Backpacks, not bags

Instead of a purse, you’ll be better off with a small backpack. It’ll distribute the weight evenly, which is essential on a bike.

In addition to bottled water, consider loading your bag with a thermos of hot chocolate, hot coffee or some other warm beverage. As you bike around, you’ll be inhaling a lot of cold air. Occasionally sipping something warm will keep your insides happy.

Like anything, prevention is better than treatment–so pay attention to the forecast before you go out, and use your best judgement as you create a stylish (but practical!) look. With a bit of prep, you can have a fantastic day out, in any weather!