Make winter riding actually fun with these

by 62

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

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

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

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

Rockrider ST 700 Rain jacket

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

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

Troy Lee Designs Resist Trouser

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

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

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

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
issue 142 bag of shoes opener

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

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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Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

More posts from Ben

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 62 total)
  • Make winter riding actually fun with these
  • molgrips
    Free Member

    Glasses are terrible in winter. They get covered with mud unless you have good mudguards, in which case you don’t need glasses.

    Waterproof shoes are no good, you need something to keep the spray out. Boots that go under trousers. Also need something to protect your shins from spray. Once you get that dialed you can bash through the mud without getting any cold and wetness, it’s great.

    Oh and hot chain wax, because it’s the only way to keep your chain actually lubricated after the first 10 mins of mud.

    Full Member

    Vaude bike gaiters do a great job of keeping your feet and lower legs dry. 25 quid ex-MOD GoreTex do the rest of waist down, then add your jacket of choice.

    You’ll look a proper numpty but you’ll be dry and quids in.

    Full Member

    Ankle gaiters are perfect for winter.
    Not so long that they make your legs hot, but keep the crap out of your shoes/boots

    Full Member

    missed the most obvious thing for grotty winters… a rigid singlespeed, bugger all cleaning and just chuck pads in when they wear down, also great for learning some new skills, finding smoother lines and getting your mosh on.

    Full Member

    Five Ten Goretex Boots have been a game changer for me, second winter with them and they are just brilliant! 🙂 TLD Stage full face for the win too, it’s almost like it’s not raining. Almost. 😅 

    Full Member

    you don’t need glasses.

    You do with my eyesight 😂

    Boots, knee-length Sealskinz socks, tights and waterproof shorts.

    And those gloves in the article aren’t winter wear. Barely 3 season. The waterproof version are better, if a bit more bulky. What you want are Pogies 😂

    Full Member

    Forgot the boot-drier-out-er

    Full Member

    And those gloves in the article aren’t winter wear. Barely 3 season.

    Agreed. I’ve never got the Brisker for the winter love – they are not a winter glove. And we’ve 3 pairs in the household.

    Free Member

    a rigid singlespeed, bugger all cleaning

    Putoline, bugger all cleaning… And still gears.

    Free Member

    Thick merino wool socks are the best thing for me in winter. Yeah my feet get wet but after a few mins I don’t even notice it because they’re still toasty and warm regardless.

    I’ve used the original (non waterproof) briskers in -5c and they’re great, maybe I just have good circulation?

    Full Member

    Thick merino wool socks

    Which ones?

    I also have issues with jackets. I have to wash mine, every ride. I swear lots so I can’t do a jacket that can’t be washed and washed.

    Full Member

    Disagree with the glove doubters – Briskers all the way in the winter here. I think it just shows how different folks hands are. Anything thicker and my hands feel too hot once I’m moving.

    Neoprene overshoes are a game changer on the feet. Endura MT500 – make your summer SPD shoes cosy down to negative temps.

    Full Member

    I still need waterproof shorts. Now, ankle gaiters!

    Full Member

    missed the most obvious thing for grotty winters… a rigid singlespeed, bugger all cleaning and just chuck pads in when they wear down, also great for learning some new skills, finding smoother lines and getting your mosh on.

    ive never understood the singlespeed winter approach. i would never be able to ride half the hills around me on a singlespeed in winter. hell! - i can barely get up them on an ebike! and im only on the south downs so hardly mega hill central! singlespeed on the singletrack here is lovely in the summer though – i have one for that purpose!

    If i lived in oxford/swinley when all i could ride was riverside singletrack, or gravel singletrack, maybe a singlespeed would be appropriate for any actual mud on an incline then – no chance.

    best thing for winter riding is more rain. the sloppier teh trails the better and the more sideways you can get. the sticky, drying-out mud is just grim.

    Full Member

    How does sizing work for the Briskers?  Where are you measuring from/to?


    Free Member

    Check the printable sizing guide here

    Full Member

    An electric shoe dryer is the best invention ever – unless you’re a spoilt jurno who has different footwear for each day of the week 😂

    IME, waterproof shoes are just harder to dry once they are wet.

    Knee-length sealskins (army surplus from ebay is 1/2 bike shop price), worn under trousers (army surplus gore-tex if it’s proper bad weather) are better than anything else I’ve found to stay dry. The whole lot will be the right side of £50.

    A hat, sweatband, or any other way to keep your ears warm is vital.

    Sintered pads – I got 5 laps of this years puffer out a set – they last way longer than resin.

    Full Member

    Yellow IKEA bag…?  THIEF!

    Full Member

    I’ve tried the army surplus GoreTex trousers. You could fit two of my legs down each on them and I’m not exactly a stick insect!

    Free Member

    Which ones?

    Smartwool hiking socks, but honestly I’d imagine any thicker merino socks will work. They’re amazing for keeping you warm even when wet.

    Full Member

    I take a simple approach for winter, too much faff or thinking about it and I will procrastinate until spring 🙂 A hardtail with mudguards front and back, lights, waterproof socks, trousers and however many layers I need to be warm.

    When I get to the car, outer layer of clothes in a builders trug and straight home, shoes in airing cupboard to dry and me straight into the shower. If the outer layer of clothes are caked then I’ll rinse them off otherwise I put the lot in the wash. Bike gets a wash every few weeks when its really bad or when the chain needs attention. Other than that it gets the worst of the mud bashed off and put away.

    I always feel better having been out, even if it is filthy. The only exception is claggy mud that stops the wheels from turning, if it is like that I would rather stay at home in front of the fire and get fat.

    Free Member

    Glasses are terrible in winter. They get covered with mud unless you have good mudguards, in which case you don’t need glasses.

    I’ve known someone get a detached retina on a ride when an oncoming fly went straight into his eye, wear glasses.

    Waterproof shoes are no good, you need something to keep the spray out. Boots that go under trousers. Also need something to protect your shins from spray. Once you get that dialed you can bash through the mud without getting any cold and wetness, it’s great.

    Waterproof boots, gripgrab gaiters, doesn’t matter what you wear on top of that the only way water is getting in that combination is if you stand in a shin deep pudle and let it soak up the boot under the gaiters. It’s a combination I’m perennially amazed people overlook the existence of!

    Full Member

    I tried the cut-off Marigolds before the GripGrab gaiters came along. Sort of worked, but they were a bit fragile. 

    Free Member

    I have some knee length Sealskinz which are great for keeping cold muddy water off your shins. Great paired with waterproof shorts – full coverage and full flexibilty at the knee. Only issue waterproof fabric can be very cold and wet on your thighs in full rain so you need something warm under there.

    Full Member

    If mountain biking then singlespeeding is the way to go in the winter slop, so cheap and less hassle to clean.

    Or get out on your cx bike with proper cx tyres fitted, so much fun and surprisingly a lot less filthy than mountain biking due to the much skinnier tyres.

    Full Member

    Cycling trousers are great for keeping the mud outside the house, just strip to the pants outside. Tights with no chamois over bib shorts also work equally well for the skinny tyred folk.

    Full Member

    Agree that procrastination is a real killer of outdoor winter slurry surfing ambitions.
    The key antidote is to not give yourself any reasons to procrastinate in the first place.
    This means you need to prep, prep and prep some more the night before.

    • Charge lights
    • Check bike over
    • Pump up tyres
    • Lay out winter cycling clothes (for me this generally consists of old cycle clothes your wife would throw out if she carried out your post ride clothes wash).
    • Lay out shoes, jacket, gloves, buff and glasses.

    Did I mention you’re to prep?

    Full Member

    Agree with singlespeed rigid.
    I use chainsaw oil. Really cheap and works well.

    Short sleeve top for winter?
    Surely a long sleeve.

    Full Member

    Short sleeve top for winter?
    Surely a long sleeve.

    With a LS base layer underneath. Hot arms = overheating.

    Full Member


    I’ve used the original (non waterproof) briskers in -5c and they’re great, maybe I just have good circulation?

    Wow.  I don’t run especially cold but for me Briskers aren’t really enough much below +5C (so they’re great for the majority of winter but not really cold days) .  I think it makes a lot of difference how warm you keep your arms. I also find quite often cold at the start of a ride (or after a break) – so quite often carry an extra pair of warm gloves.  Once my hands are warm Briskers are enough to keep them warm if I’m active.

    Full Member

    Hi Molgrips,

    My experience differs.

    I find glasses good for riding in all weathers – for me they do what they need to do, protect my eyes from grit and muddy spray which may include dog egg slurry.  I do use a RRP front mudguard as it reduces a measure of spray.  

    I have found waterproof shoes great – especially those with a neoprene ankle cuff to keep out the worst of the spray.  I also use SealSkinz waterproof socks as they go up to my knees – well I roll them down to just below my pads.  In wet weather I also wear waterproof 3/4’s as they give me a good measure of waterproofness and breathability.

    Since last year, I have used Revolube in all weathers and it has kept my chain clean and lubricated and does not wash off – it also lasts at least 200 miles before I re-lubricate.  I would recommend.


    Full Member

    I use Briskers in the winter without any problems – in fact I’ve converted most of my riding friends to them. But we don’t get too cold here.

    Biggest struggle I have is finding some trousers that are fitted and have a waterproof a*se panel. I’ve got trousers for when its raining, but if I use them when its not raining but everywhere is soaked I overheat big time, tried MT500 Sprays (from around 6 years ago so design may have changed since then?) but too hot and the Madison Zenith’s but they don’t fit too well and are still hot. Ideally something like a Fox Flexor with just a waterproof a*se panel – any recommendations?

    Full Member

    Two things I don’t get

    – why don’t think 100% make an even warmer version of the Brisker? Very slightly more warmth on the inner (i.e. 50-100wt fleece) and a thicker outer

    – why don’t other companies make something similar?

    Full Member

    If you can still get one Altura make a riding jersey using Polartec for the body , they are brilliant 👍

    I tried MT500 overshoes but they aren’t big enough to go over winter boots ( which I guess is unnecessary anyway) but aren’t those gaiters the same thing?

    Full Member





    £40 decathlon cycling trousers with waterproof panel on rear

    I ride with these and find them brilliant, slightly short for my leg length, but dexshell socks cover this

    “Rear and shins = triple-layered waterproof membrane fabric

    On the thighs and waist = breathable stretchy fabric. Thanks to this fabric, the bottoms are lighter and dry more quickly”

    Full Member

    I find a bike bag and an airline ticket to warmer climes the best solution, even if it’s only a week that’s 5 or 6 rides in good weather which is more than 2 months of weekend riding

    Free Member

    why don’t think 100% make an even warmer version of the Brisker? Very slightly more warmth on the inner (i.e. 50-100wt fleece) and a thicker outer

    They do don’t they? The hydromatic brisker – I had a pair and hated the palm feel so sold them.

    “Rear and shins = triple-layered waterproof membrane fabric

    My experience of the decathlon trousers has been that they’re vaguely water resistant but certainly not waterproof.

    Free Member

    There is a new Brisker Extreme out now..

    Full Member

    Well **** me, I came along to say E-bike and the article beat me to it.

    Full Member

    I thought the 100% hydromatic was more of a waterproof than cool/cold weather glove

    Didn’t know about the brisker extreme, that looks ideal. Any real world feedback on them?

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