Fall/Winter Cycling Tips

The seasons have changed and the carefree days of summer are gone.  But you’re still going to ride your bike, right?  For work, errands or pleasure, fall riding is completely doable – and to stay safe and comfortable, here are a few tips…

BE SURE YOU HAVE LIGHTS.  NYS law requires cyclists who ride from half an hour after sunset to the half hour before dawn to be equipped with a white headlight visible from at least 500 feet away, and a red taillight visible from at least 300 feet.  These are minimums…the cyclists’ mantra should be THE BRIGHTER, THE BETTER.

Headlights:  You really should aim for the brightest lights you can afford.  Your life is way more valuable than the cost of any of your bike gear, so go for what you can.  Lights are rated by lumens, a measurement of the total amount of visible light emitted – the bigger the number of lumens the brighter the light (and the higher the price!).  Here’s what you get for your buck:

  •  25-50 lumens: Safety lights to let drivers see you
  • 100-200 lumens: Bright enough to actually be able to see with
  • 200-300 lumens: Great for road riding
  • 400+ lumens: Appropriate for road and mountain bike riding
  •  600+ lumens: So bright motorists will think a UFO is about to abduct them

Taillights: Most range from 30-65 lumens and have steady and flashing modes…the flashing mode catches a driver’s eyes more readily.  And don’t be afraid to use more than one.  Put one on the bike, by all means, but one on your clothing or backpack is a good idea.  Also, ankle or arm bands that light up will add to your safety.

For more detail, check out the Performance Bike online “Basic Guide To Bike Lights” at

Reflectors-YES!  The law requires them on your wheels or tires, and they are very important when crossing intersections.  In addition, there are a number of creative products that actually light up!  Reflective strips on your clothing add more visibility!

Clothing: staying warm – particularly your extremities – is key to enjoying cool weather rides.  Full-finger gloves, or glove liners you wear under half-finger cycling gloves are good for relatively mild conditions, but for cold mornings and at night, don’t be afraid to bring out your snow gloves.  Cycling-specific glove known as “lobster mitts” are also worth considering.  They give the warmth of mittens but allow you to grip the handlebars/brake levers/gear shifters that regular mittens would not.  Cycling caps or a headband can fit under your helmet and keep your ears warm, while wool socks are light, breathable and comfortable.

Layers:  Multiple layers of clothes are more versatile than a single, heavy one.  A base layer, followed by a light fleece/soft shell jacket/long-sleeve shirt and a windbreaker/hard shell/water resistant layer on top allows you to take one off as you warm up or the temperature rises.

Visibility: Wear clothing that is bright – and like with lights, brighter is better.  Think neon – safety green, international orange, high-vis yellow.