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 22 posts - 41 through 62 (of 62 total)
  • Make winter riding actually fun with these
  • thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

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

    I’ve got the winter version and it’s really just an extremely DWR softshell.

    I’d agree they’re not fully waterproof, but they are warm and dry-ish, even on a Welsh hillside in the rain while there’s still snow on the ground.
    Kinda like a thicker, baggier set of Roubaix tights. They’re water repellant enough that they don’t get cold.

    They are fantastic for the average night ride.

    Haven’t tried the thin version thought.

    Full Member

    here is a list of what works and what dont work for winter.


    mudguards, puncture proof tyres, good soft shell jackets, wool socks, Columbia fairbanks boots, walking gaiters if wearing trousers, three quarter shorts, cheap ski gloves, good leather walking boots in extreme shyte weather, keela trousers.

    Dont work

    five 10 winter boots or shoes, expensive waterproofs, fleece jackets, expensive WATERPROOF gloves and socks, disco slippers.

    you may or may not agree.

    Free Member

    Briskers are great gloves but echo the not for winter comments. I might try the new extreme one. It’s wet and cold here in the south west so we don’t get cold and dry, so wind, wet and poor circulation means I need something toasty.

    Have invested in boots this winter and those gribgrab gaiters seem a good idea, thanks. I found I would still get slightly wet and therefore cold toes with waterproof socks as water would get in through the ankle/leg, which this should hopefully help.

    Full Member

    you don’t need glasses.

    You do if you’re a contact lens wearer.

    Also, in a frustrating twist – waxing chains and singlespeed don’t go that well together as a freshly waxed chain elongates quite a lot over the first ride or two as the wax gets displaced, and SS needs a manual readjustment to take up the slack.

    Happily SS also uses BMX chains which are really cheap, and the system doesn’t get clogged up with oily messy gunk from wet lube so it doesn’t matter anyway.

    Full Member

    Those gripgrab gaiters – would they work with Freerider EPS shoes?

    Free Member

    I’ve got the winter version and it’s really just an extremely DWR softshell.

    Ahh I don’t think they did a winter version when I got mine.

    This thread really just goes to show that what works is different for everyone. I definitely want glasses when I ride, and I’m happy with a couple of layers, good waterproof jacket (I don’t sweat much), water resistant trousers, 2 pairs of socks, and normal riding shoes. If it’s negative temps then I have an ancient pair of endura cordura gloves I wear too, otherwise standard Briskers. I also hate having a rear mudguard, getting on and off the bike is hard enough for me already.

    Free Member

    Glasses every ride for me.  I’d rather get grit on them than my eyeballs.

    TLD Resit trousers are great when it’s soaking.  Pull them down over my Five Ten boots.  Waterproof socks with merino liners when it’s sub zero.

    Beware of the fit on the Hydromatic Brisker.  They are very narrow on the fingers.  I think they kept the outer shell the same and added a liner.

    My mate is a L in Briskers and my XL hyromatics were too small for him.  I’m crossing my fingers that Wiggle process my return/refund. At least I can cross my fingers now I’ve returned the gloves.

    I like the standard ones down to about 5 degrees, then I add a linger. I carry some Galiber barrier deep winter gloves when it’s closer to freezing but loose feel.  It’s either loose feel from cold numb hands, or loose feel from thick gloves so I choose  warmth/comfort.

    Free Member

    I found last year that winter riding was awesome. A lot of this was because I spent most of the winter in Spain.

    Currently in Finale and will be cruising down the Boot to Sicily. Should be just about bearable in the winter sun.

    Having said that I recently bought a pair of riding trousers for a sloppy day in the bike park. Not having pads that are covered in filth at the end of the day was worth the cost of the trousers.

    Also have a pair of winter 5:10s that are well insulated and kinda waterproof and a pair of thin snowboard gloves if it is cold out.

    Free Member

    I hate the slop for mtb, slow and slippery. Different in different parts of the country some of it is ok but crap down south. I now except it will only be the odd cold day that matches my free time until spring. Happy to do off road dad bike gravel poodle with family but MTB is out.

    Full Member

    Bit of a change of subject, but dry frosty rides or rides in the snow can be amazing.  They could be some of my favourite rides.  Night rides in the snow are also fantastic.

    Free Member

    I can get onboard with frosty and snowy rides

    Full Member

    Yep. Love those rides when you come home with the bike lathered in snow, it melts off and the bike is shiny clean. 

    Free Member

    I may be committing a heresy, but the Rohloff gives me the simplicity of a single speed with the advantage of dependable gears even in the heaviest filth. I may fit Gates at some point. I like a merino base layer and Bridgedale hiking socks. Six different winter gloves and neoprene for the rain, and three different under helmet hats. For my 27.5+ the surly dirt wizard is my mud tyre of choice, but awful and draggy in everything but deep filth. I commute mostly off road.

    Full Member


    Columbia fairbanks boots

    do you use the omni-heat ones? You made me look, and I must admit that those + gaiters look immensely good.

    Full Member

    do you use the omni-heat ones?

    That’s the ones.

    Full Member

    Some great advice here everyone. Tempted to try some gaiters after these recs. Also another fairbanks omni-heat owner here- have been really pleased with mine over the years particularly when it’s properly cold. Grip can be a bit slippy in proper mud but they’re so warm and waterproof. I think the only water ingress I’ve had is when I was carrying the bike through a stream and it went over the boot top, but even wading through I was fine.

    Full Member

    I hate the slop for mtb, slow and slippery. Different in different parts of the country some of it is ok but crap down south. I now except it will only be the odd cold day that matches my free time until spring. Happy to do off road dad bike gravel poodle with family but MTB is out.

    2 bikes yesterday were horrific, then the boy went out again this afternoon! Arggghhhh.

    Full clean needed, then blow dried and lubed on all

    Full Member

    “ 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.”

    This is so true! I love properly wet winter rides, where the mud just washes off the tyres.

    My other things I love for winter are big front mudguards so I can see where I’m going, proper tyres (Hillbilly T9 is my fav front tyre, I’m not so fussy about the back), and either going singlespeed hardtail or full-fat full-bounce ebike. Both have their place and both make more sense to me than unpowered geared bikes.

    Full Member

    “ Night rides in the snow are also fantastic.”

    Yes, group snowy night-rides are the best. There is nothing quite like the (absence of) sound of getting air on a crunchy snowy trail.

    Full Member

    Dunno if it’s something odd about my Bizango, but I have a Mucky nutz large front mudguard and still end up covered from ankle to chest. Admittedly it keeps shizzle out of my eyes (along with glasses to stop me crying (I’m old) 😂), but the combination of mudguard, downtube angle and shape, means I’m splattered every ride. I’ve even had to invest in capped bottles.

    Full Member

    I inherited some leather sheepskin gloves from my grandad.

    They are awesome on dry, it has to be dry, sub zero rides.

    As long as I’m putting in some effort I have warm hands.

    I don’t fancy getting the sheepskin liner wet. They’ve been fine for sweat, maybe the would be ok.

    After 20 years the palms are a bit shiny. Other than that, no signs of wear.

    Full Member

    Old school crown mounted mudguards. They’re cheap, light, easy to fit, they work great, they’re less ridiculous looking than the crown-mounted ones, and work better than all but the really massive ones, they can never clog or pick up a stick… .Topeak Shockboard is still great kit, the mounting hardware is terrible but god gave us cable ties. For me, crown-mount is for little all-year-round mudguards, crown mount is for actual weather.

    These don’t work with all bikes and they look terrible, but, they’re good…

    Win Wing 2 Gravel Black Dot

    Fits most of my bikes (but wouldn’t fit the Orange, and sits a long way out on anything 26er or 650b. Basically if it has something thta looks like a hardtail’s seat stay it’ll probably work). They go on and off in seconds which is a big bonus, and though they’re small, they cover the really important bits.

    Full Member

    do you use the omni-heat ones? You made me look, and I must admit that those + gaiters look immensely good.

    I am not Ton, but, I have these too and they are my favourite winter riding shoes. VERY warm though, I just got them out of storage, I can’t wear them til it’s proper cold.

Viewing 22 posts - 41 through 62 (of 62 total)

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