The snow is falling, the mercury is dropping, and instead of spending the winter somewhere sunny, you’re stuck right here in New York City. And you don’t get to curl up under the blankets either. No, you have to venture out into the cold, day after day to get to work.

What happened to blissful summer bike rides? Well- they might not be as far off as you think. Did you know that with the right preparation, your bike can be a fast and reliable winter vehicle? You just need to take the right steps to stay warm, comfortable, and safe on all your winter rides.

We asked our staff and friends for some of their favorite winter riding tips, and this is what they had to say:

Nechama: If the road is very slippery, avoid using your front brake. Instead, feather your rear brake while pedaling. This will allow you to maintain traction while you decelerate. Take some air out of your tires when there’s snow out. This will give you more grip, and more control. But don’t take out too much air, otherwise you’ll get a pinch flat. Take out 10 to 15 psi (pounds per square inch) of air, compared to what you usually ride.

Switch your tires to ones with a more aggressive tread pattern, and if your bicycle frame can accommodate wider tires, winter is a great time to get them installed. If your bike frame takes only very narrow tires, you might consider putting the road or track bike away until spring, and purchasing a hybrid, cyclocross, or mountain bike for winter riding.

Installing tires

The Continental Traffic tire ($34.99 each) is a staff favorite for winter riding. The tread pattern works great on wet, slippery pavement. Get them installed for an additional $8.50 per wheel.

Mauricio: Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. In the cold, dry air, water evaporates out of your mouth and off of your skin quickly. And eye protection is good in any weather. There’s moisture in your eyes so if you cover them with sunglasses, ski goggles or even some basic safety goggles from the hardware store, you’ll prevent moisture loss that way.

Think about what kind of riding you’re going to do and dress accordingly. If you like to exert yourself through racing or high energy riding, then you don’t need a thick layer between you and the cold. You just need to wear something windproof and wicking. But if you’re not riding as hard, if you’re just going to cruise, you’re going to need to wear thicker layers.

And keep your head warm with a hat or a balaclava. When it get really cold or it starts to rain or snow, you can add a hood or a helmet cover.

A Merino Wool cycling cap

The Giro Merino Winter Cap ($30.00) is warm and lightweight, with ear flaps to block the wind.

Tara: Wear thick socks and gloves. Not just any socks and gloves will suffice; you really have to go balls to the wall. NY is a melting pot and lots of people live here who have moved from other places. So these people in particular need to be prepared. I grew up in California and we don’t really have winter there, so for my first winter ride I was like, gloves are gloves, if it’s cold I’ll wear gloves. But it’s not enough to wear gloves, you have to wear super gloves.

Giro Proof Gloves

Giro Proof gloves ($60.00) are now in stock at Bicycle Roots. The Proof consists of a removable, sweat-wicking liner glove on the inside, and a windproof, waterproof outer shell glove with a gauntlet-style closure on the outside. It’s not just a glove… it’s a super glove.

Joe L.: I disagree with Tara about the thick socks. The thicker your socks are the more you sweat, and then because the socks are so thick, your sweat doesn’t evaporate. Instead the sweat stays on your skin and makes you colder.

The longer that you’re riding, or the more you exert yourself, the more you sweat. On long or strenuous rides, thick socks will give you a disadvantage. Instead you should get shoe covers, and wear socks made of a wicking material that will let moisture move away from your skin. The shoe covers block the wind, preventing your feet from getting cold.

Endura Luminite Shoe Covers

Endura Luminite Shoe Covers ($44.99) are windproof, waterproof, highly reflective, and have an abrasion resistant sole. They can be worn over cycling shoes, boots, or sneakers. Pair them with a pair of Specialized Wool Trainer Socks ($14.99) for dry, toasty feet no matter how cold it gets.

Joe O.A.: Fenders. In poor weather, they keep any excess water off of you. The wetter you are, the colder you get. So it’s important to stay as dry as possible.

SKS Commuter Fenders

Joe’s bike, complete with SKS Commuter Fenders ($34.99 for a front & rear set). With full coverage fenders installed he can ride through snow, slush, and rain, all while staying dry.

Zain: It does get darker quicker now. So make sure you’ve got your lights and reflective gear ready. When you ride in the dark you’ve got to be seen.

Blackburn Click Lights

Zain’s bike sports Blackburn Click Lights ($14.99 each). Not only can drivers can see him coming from blocks away, but the lights’ all black casing compliments his bike’s stealthy look.

Edson: Protection against wind is the best thing you can do for yourself. Wear wind resistant pants, and something to cover your torso. Your torso is the most important part of your body to keep warm, because if your torso is cold, it will draw blood from your extremities, and then your fingers and toes will get cold, too. Wear an outer later that’s wind resistant, and wear something warm, like fleece or wool, against your skin.

The Endura Gridlock Jacket

The Endura Gridlock Jacket ($99.99) is a favorite of bicycle commuters everywhere for its technical features, high quality construction, and rugged durability. The Gridlock Jacket is windproof, waterproof, breathable, and has a fleece lined colar to keep your neck warm.

So there you have it. Tires, braking, hydration, dressing right… We’ve got all kinds of ideas for making winter riding fun. What is your winter riding do- or do-not? Let us know in the comments!

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