These Halo Ridge Line II wheels weigh more than their near rivals but they're simply more…
I genuinely love winter mountain biking. Here are the items that help me maintain my loving relationship with The Filth.
What are the key problems with winter riding?
- Getting cold.
- No grip.
- The aftermath. Cleaning and drying out everything.
I’d actually say that those three issues are listed in order of importance. They are all important to address for sure, but preventing yourself getting cold is by far the most important.
And when it comes to staying warm it helps to stay dry but… it isn’t genuinely achievable in my experience. You can stave off getting wet for a while with decent clothing but you’ll eventually get damp inside regardless. It’s just how it is and I’m not going to pretend it’s preventable.
The key thing is remaining warm even if you are a bit wet. And I’d say that it’s your extremities that should take priority. Hands, feet and head. Swiftly followed by using an effective long sleeve base layer. Anyway, am getting ahead of myself here. Here’s the dozen or so bits ‘n’ bob that I use, both on my person and on my bike (and in the shed).
My go-to filth kit, if you will.
Specialized Camber Helmet
- Price: £70.00
- From: Specialized
The comfiest bike hat in my collection. It can run rather warm in summer (which is also when the far-too-high visor position becomes an issue) but for autumn-winter this is my go-to helmet. Comfy, cosy (but not too cosy) and the pads dry out noticeably faster than my other helmets so it’s ready to wear day after day.
p.s. I also have a lot of time in winter for the ‘pizza delivery moped driver’-style helmet. Check out the Fox Dropframe as a prime example.
100% S3 Glasses
- Price: £169.99
- From: Freewheel
You don’t have to spend three-figures on eyewear. It’s fine. Just get some cheaper things. There are plenty out there. But I’m just going to say that these S3 glasses from 100% are the best winter eyewear I’ve used. Comfortable. The arms don’t clash with helmet retention straps. Massive eye protection/coverage. And, crucially, they are absolutely the best glasses I’ve ridden in in terms of not-fogging-up. Glasses you have to keep removing are annoying (and they get scratched more as a result of dirty fingers). These S3 specs just go on at the start of a ride and stay in place until I get back home.
Gore Wear Power Windstopper Softshell Short Sleeve Jersey
- Price: £125.00
- From: Gore Wear
First of all, stick some sort of base layer on first underneath. I have no real preference of base layers; I’ve never encountered one that didn’t work. Second of all, the garment above doesn’t exist anymore. Sorry! I’ve had mine for several years and this is what it was/is. Essentially, my recommendation is a short sleeve roadie jersey made from Gore Windstopper fabric. It keeps your core and neck from being cold without being overly hot or restrictive (like a long sleeve would do).
Rockrider ST700 Rain Jacket
- Price: £69.99
- From: Decathlon
This is jacket that just won’t quit. It still beads even after all this time. It still breathes as well as ever which, to be honest is ‘okay’ as opposed to ‘amazing’. When the weather is really hanging out there, this jacket is so great to have in my collection. You can pull it over a helmet. You can run the front fully up so you can hide your chin (and mouth) behind it. Or you can fold it over and it stays put. Read my full review here.
100% Brisker Cold Weather Glove
- Price: £31.99
- From: Silverfish UK
In a nutshell: pretty much standard issue for the UK Mountain Biker. Thin palm for feel. Insulated back for battling the cold. Loads of colours. Can ALWAYS be found in a sale somewhere. I personally don’t use any glvoes that are thicker than these. I carry a spare pair of Briskers with me instead so I can switch to a dry pair mid-ride if need be.
Troy Lee Designs Resist Trousers
- Price: £160.00
- From: Saddleback
The Troy Lee Resists don’t feel like overly baggy over-trousers. They feel and are cut pretty much like regular riding trousers. Suitably tapered, when wet they don’t end up acting like soggy sandpaper and removing all the paintwork from your bike’s stays or crank arms. There’s a nice bit of stretch to the fabric, which really helps things. They don’t feel overly nasty against bare skin. Having said that, well, see the item below…
H&M DryMove Sports Tights
- Price: £18.99
- From: H&M
Yep, leggings. They go over liner shorts. They go under waterproof trousers. They can go over or under knee pads, it’s up to you (I’d run leggings over pads FWIW). They are essentially base layer for your bottom half. A secret gamechanger. Much, much better than going down the wool route (wool is too hot, goes baggy and costs loads of money).
Ride Concepts TNT Boots
- Price: £159.95
- From: Silverfish UK
Some sort of waterproof socks.
Although Ride Concepts makes no explicit claims about weatherproofing, nor insulation, the TNT boots do a great job of keeping the wet out and the warmth in. The sole is made of Ride Concepts’ softest DST 4.0 MAX GRIP rubber compound. Both my on-trail testing and durometer hardness tester tool confirmed that this rubber compound is nigh-on indistinguishable from the Stealth rubber used on the Adidas-era Five Ten Freerider Pro. P.S. because I am a nutter, I have Stanley-knifed off the Velcro strap from my TNT boots; they feel less stiff/bunch and are easier to tie the laces on now! Just say no to Velcro straps on lace-up shoes.
Specialized Hillbilly T9 Tyre
- Price: £45.00
- From: Specialized
One of the best things released all year. The previous version of the Specialized Hillbilly was always a “good tyre for the money“, the new Specialized Hillbilly is a “great tyre”. Full stop. The relatively cheap price tag is the icing on the cake. It’s still fifty quid for a bike tyre but you just need to glance at the prices of premium tyre brands’ offerings these days (£84.99 anyone?) to see how impressive the value is. The latest Specialized Hillbilly T9 has earned a permanent place in my tyre pile. Read my full review here.
Schwalbe Dirty Dan Tyre
- Price: £72.99
- From: Schwalbe
This is not a tyre for everyone. I’m including it here as something of an oddball option. Basically, if you need a rear tyre that can cope with utterly insane amounts of mud, this is it. That said, you don’t really want to be pedalling it around anywhere that ISN’T insane mud. But on a push-up-and-slop-down muckabout day, or on an ebike, the Dirty Dan is a winner. Hella grippy on slurry climbs. Loadsa braking control on filthy descents.
Ikea Frakta Bag
- Price: £0.75
- From: Ikea
Excellently useful to have in your vehicle, if you ride somewhere that you’ve driven to. Excellently useful to have at home, if you ride from the doorstep. Hurl all your disgusting clobber in it at the end of a ride without polluting the rest of the vehicle/garage/house.
Mucky Nutz MugGuard Long
- Price: £25.00
- From: Mucky Nutz
Stop fannying out with small mudguards. Stick a proper gert ‘guard on yer fork and smile. Smile without fear of getting various undesirables lodged in between your teeth. Read our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike mudguards.
One of the main things that gets me through the winter of day-in day-out testing and riding is an e-bike. Sorry but it’s true. Here’s a link to some of our recent e-bike reviews to get you thinking.
Here’s a similar thing that Amanda wrote a few years ago, which is also full of good tips.
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