Dressing for Winter Riding: What Works For Me

When it comes to riding bikes in the Minnesota winter, dressing appropriately for the weather is very important to keeping warm, dry and comfortable.  For the last six years I have spent a lot of time riding in conditions where my non-cyclists friends and family think I'm crazy.  During that time I have learned a lot of what works for me and what doesn't.  In this post I will go over some of my findings and the gear I use to help you dial in the right apparel choices to beat winter's chill and stay comfortable without overheating.


Keeping my head warm without overheating isn't a challenge with the right gear for the conditions. Most of the time I'll wear my snowboard helmet in combo with a balaclava, beanie or neck gaiter.  My snowboard helmet (Smith Vantage MIPS) has two vent closures to help regulate heat and on really cold rides I can close the vents until I need to open them if I begin to get too warm.  When it's a little warmer out I'll wear my mountain bike helmet (Bontrager Rally MIPS) with the appropriate head/face covering.

Beanies (Bontrager B2 Beanie & Pearl Izumi P.R.O.Thermal Run Hat) work great when I need a little more warmth combined with some wicking action if my head gets a little hot.  Neck gaiters (Bontrager Convertible Cycling Neck Gaiter) are very versatile for a variety of conditions because they can be worn to cover the neck, face and head to trap heat and wick away moisture.  Wind stopping balaclavas (Bontrager Windshell Balaclava,  GORE WINDSTOPPER Balaclava & The Weatherneck) are my go-to for windy or really cold temperatures.  They completely cut the wind and protect my face from frostnip and wind burn.  For sub-zero rides I like to wear my ColdAvenger Pro SoftShell Mask.  It's fleece keeps my face and neck warm and dry while the patented ventilator warms and humidifies the cold dry air making it much easier to breathe in the extreme cold.

Goggles (Smith Knowledge OTG) are a lifesaver for a variety of conditions to see better, keep eyes from watering and give a little extra face protection from the elements.  Spend a little more on a pair of goggles with plenty of ventilation to keep them from fogging up.  A cheap pair of goggles does no good if they are frosted over fifteen minutes into a ride.  There are a lot of anti-fog products (I use Fogtech DX) on the market that work pretty good at keeping the frost at bay but good ventilation is the key.


Keeping my core warm without overheating used to be a challenge when I had only a couple baselayers and one jacket.  Over the years I've collected all kinds of baselayers (wool, polyester and wool blends) and purchased a few more jackets (including a Bontrager OMW Softshell Mountain Bike JacketBontrager Velocis S1 Softshell Cycling Jacket) to cover a wide spectrum of winter cycling conditions and temperatures.  Through my experiences I have learned the right combinations for layering of light/heavier baselayers (including Columbia Men’s Midweight Stretch Baselayer Long Sleeve Shirt, WSI Full HEATR Shirt, & Bontrager Evoke Mountain Bike Hoodie) and choosing the proper jacket to achieve a comfortable ride in just about anything Minnesota winters can throw at me.

By experimenting with different layering combinations and taking mental notes of the outcome for the conditions, you too can find that sweet spot without being too hot or cold.  Keep in mind that you will start out a little chilly but quickly warm up as you get going.  Baselayers not only trap heat but their other function is to wick away moisture for heat management.  Having a quality jacket that is breathable and windproof is key to letting sweat vapor pass through and to keep chilling winds from cooling your core.

An important note for making your selections is to keep in mind the type of ride you'll be doing.  Will it be a slow-roll on flat groomed singletrack, a moderate-paced trudge through 2" of fresh powder or a fast-paced ride with plenty of elevation change?  Use the right layering for the job at hand.  When I'm scouting or bushwhacking I'm rolling slow and not working up much of a sweat so I will layer more to accommodate the temperature.  Faster paced or more strenuous rides will require a lot less insulation as the body will be generating plenty of its own heat.


Legs may not require as much layering to stay warm as the core does, usually a thin baselayer and a windshell/breathable pair of pants or tights should do the trick.  This combination is simple and doesn't require too much trial and error to get it right for the conditions.  On days above freezing I will usually ditch the baselayer, but when its below freezing I will opt for a light baselayer (old Craft model no longer made) or the WSI Full HEATR Pant when it's really cold outside.  To keep my butt warm in the saddle I will always wear a pair of Bontrager Troslo inForm Cycling Liner Bib Shorts (not shown).  You'd be amazed at how a chamois can provide that little bit of extra insulation to prevent cold cheeks.

My Bontrager Old Man Winter Softshell Pants are perfect for all-winter fatbike riding because of their water-resistant and wind-resistant qualities.  Whether splashing through puddles or riding in a snowstorm these pants will keep you warm and dry.  When riding my gravel bike I usually go for my Bontrager Velocis S2 Softshell Cycling Tights for a more fitted feel with breathable thermal fabric.

For later in the winter when the snow gets a little deeper and I may find myself having to hike-a-bike I will wear a pair of 45NRTH Beargraven Gaiters to keep out the snow out of my boots and to provide a little extra warmth on my shins.


My feet get cold easily and they are the first things to start feeling winter's nip on a ride.  Because of this I have spent a lot of time, effort and money trying to figure out the proper sock/boot combinations to keep me riding in any temperature.  Before the boots go on the sock(s) choice is made depending on the temperature and length of time I wish to ride.  I'm a big fan of Merino wool socks and have a bunch of them in various thicknesses and lengths.  Merino wool traps heat, wicks away moisture and continues to keep its insulating properties even when wet.  Some of the brands I have used year after year because of their quality are Swiftwick, DeFeet, Wigwam and Carhart.

I'll use a lighter thickness wool sock for warmer winter rides and a combination of a WSI HEATR Sock as a liner under a heavier wool sock for longer rides or when it really gets cold out.  Through a lot of experimentation I now know the right sock(s) for the temperature and duration of my rides.

Sometimes my socks need a little extra help to keep my toes warm so I opt for chemical toe/foot warmers.  When needed, most of the time I will use adhesive toe warmers.  I can stick them to the sock on the top or bottom of my toes or for extra warmth, both.  My feet will still eventually get cold but these do buy me a lot of extra time out in the elements.  I will stock up on them at the end of the season when the stores have them on clearance giving me a cheap supply for next winter.

As I mentioned previously, my feet get cold easily so boot choice for the temperatures and conditions is important to me.  The factors I consider before a ride are temperature, duration, weather conditions (wet/dry/icy/snow) and sock options that will work best with the selected boot.

Early and late Winter will have a lot of warmer days where my choice is an old pair of Lake neoprene cyclocross boots with a merino wool sock.  This combo keeps my feet warm and dry, especially with the wet conditions that time of the year can present.

Throughout the rest of the winter considering the factors I mentioned above I will alternate between two boots, 45NRTH Wölvhammers (2nd gen.) and Lake MXZ 400's.  After several winters with with these boots in just about every kind of weather I've really tuned in the whole sock/boot combination thing.  Layering socks works too, just make sure there is still room in the toe box so as to not cut circulation which will bring on cold toes even faster.


Hands are usually the first to get cold and the right glove choice can keep you rolling instead of cutting the ride short.  I have four pairs of gloves (Bontrager
RXL Waterproof Softshell Split Finger GlovesBontrager Velocis S2 Softshell Split Finger GloveBontrager Velocis S1 Softshell Glove & an old pair of Louis Garneau Roubaix)  and one pair of WSI Sports HEATR Glove Liners to choose from depending on the length of the ride and the outside temperature.  For colder or extended rides I will opt for lobster mitts with or without the glove liners.  These mitts are windproof and waterproof keeping my fingers warm and dexterous in snowstorms and windy arctic weather days.

For those warmer winter days and nights I have a couple pair of full finger gloves which do the trick at keeping my hands warm without overheating. These are usually my go-to gloves for early/late winter and for those warm fronts that occasionally move in.

If your hands get cold in spite of well insulated gloves, try inserting a chemical hand warmer pack into each glove to give hands a little extra warmth.  These packs usually last five to ten hours depending on the brand and really help on longer, colder rides.

Image Credit: Markman Outdoor Photography

If you're new to winter cycling or just would like to do it more frequently, invest in some good winter apparel.  Conditions and temperatures continue to change all winter long and you will need more than a "one-outfit-fits-all" approach to what you will wear.  What may work fine for 25°F on a windless sunny day could leave you cold on a 20°F windy day.  Start building your collection of apparel for varying conditions and over time with some trial and error you will learn to dial in the right choices for the weather.

Penn Cycle & Fitness
You want to be on a new bike. We want you to be on a new bike. We love what we sell and we know you will too. Call or stop by any of our six metro locations and let us help you make your dreams become reality.


Winter Fatbike Downhill Riding Opportunities in Minnesota

If you're looking to do some fatbike downhill this winter here in Minnesota you have a couple of opportunities.  One of which has a two-day bike celebration in addition to lift-served downhill fatbiking on Sundays through March and the other is a one-time event.

Spirit Mountain

Image Credit: Spirit Mountain

Spirit Mountain in Duluth opened January 13th for their Fat Sundays lift-served downhill fatbiking.  The 2019 season will continue through the end of March, weather and trail conditions permitting.  Sunday hours are from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm for riding on slopes and bike park trails.  A mandatory bike check, helmet, minimum tire width of 3"-3.5" depending on weather or trail conditions and a regular lift ticket ($59) or winter season pass are required to ride.  For updates on conditions visit the Spirit Mountain Snow Report page.

The Frosted Fatty is Spirit Mountain's yearly winter fatbike festival that is to be held the weekend of January 19-20.  Festivities include bike demos, food, beverage and music.  Races include "Fat Bike XC, Staged Downhill and Head to Head Dual Slalom, where bikers, skiers and snowboarders race it out for a $500 cash prize!!" with male and female categories for each race except the Head to Head Dual Slalom which will name one winner as the "King of the Hill!"  Check for updates on the Frosted Fatty Facebook event pageOnline registration for the Frosted Fatty is available until January 18, 2019 at 5 pm.

Mount Kato

Mount Kato and the Mankato Area Mountain Bikers will be bringing back Gravity Fest on February 3rd after a several year hiatus.  This year's event is set to be bigger and better with a dedicated chair lift to haul bikes and riders up to the top, two ski runs and some groomed singletrack to ride, weather permitting. Gravity fest will be from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm for an open free riding session format.  Participants will need to sign a waiver and pay $25 for a lift ticket.

If you've never experienced winter downhill riding on a fatbike, don't miss these chances.  It will be the funnest time you've had on two wheels.


2019 Minnesota Gravel Events

Rural Minnesota is home to quite a few long standing gravel road races and with the growing popularity of the sport, rides to introduce those new to gravel are beginning to pop up, too.  With varying terrain, minimum maintenance roads, elevation changes, great rural scenery and unpredictable weather in the Spring and Fall, these events are sure to be fun and challenging.  Almost all of them are free, but unsupported requiring the participants to be their own repair and support crew.

This season's calendar will include all types of  gravel races and rides from around the state.  Some of these have registration cutoff dates, have a rider cap, or more information and registration details that are yet to be announced.  Below is a list of all of the gravel events in Minnesota that I'm aware of in chronological order.  I will continue to update and add events to this post as they become available.  If you are a race or event organizer and would like your event listed here and on my 2019 Minnesota Bike Tours, Rides, Races & Events Schedule, please send me an e-mail.

Saturday Gravel 1/5 : it’s a new year, let’s start it off right-January 5, 2019
Caribou Coffee
Lakeville, MN
35-45 miles

February 43 mi Fat Bike Gravel - Hugo, MN #1-February 16, 2019
Dunn Brothers Coffee
Hugo, MN
43 miles

March 43 mi Fat Bike Gravel - Hugo, MN #2-March 2, 2019
Dunn Brothers Coffee
Hugo, MN
43 miles

Gravel Training Ride 62 mi - Hugo to Marine #3-March 9, 2019
Dunn Brothers Coffee
Hugo, MN
62 miles

Gravel Training Ride 62 mi - Hugo to Marine #4-March 23, 2019
Dunn Brothers Coffee
Hugo, MN
62 miles

Ragnarök 105-April 6, 2019
Mississippi National Golf Course
Red Wing, MN
Postcard Registration open November 23-December 31, 2018
Facebook Event Page

Dickie Scramble-April 27, 2019
JJ's Tailgators Bar & Grill
Elgin, MN
80+ miles

Earth Day Gravel Grinder!-April 27, 2019
Imminent Brewing
Northfield, MN

Miesville FiftySix-April 28, 2019
Jack Ruhr Stadium
Miesville, MN
56 miles
Online Registration opens February 24, 2019

Alexander 380-May 17-18, 2019
Northfield, MN
380 miles
Facebook Page

Malanzo 50/Almanzo 100/Royal 162-May 18, 2019
Northfield, MN
162, 100, 50 miles
Facebook Page

RiotGrrravel-May 18, 2019
Hope Lutheran Church
Hastings, MN
33, 21, 10 miles

Le Grand Du Nord-May 25, 2019
Grand Marais, MN
120, 66, 20 miles
500 Rider Cap
Facebook Page
Facebook Event Page
Online Registration

Extreme North Dakota Terrifically Intense Country Klassic (END-TICK)-June 1, 2019
Solem Lutheran Church
Hawley, MN
200, 100, 50 miles

Keep Gravel Weird Volume I-June 1, 2019
Masonic Park
Spring Valley, MN

Westside Dirty Benjamin-June 8, 2019
Chaska, MN
Mileage TBD
Facebook Page

Luce Line Loops Bike Ride-June 9, 2019
Crow River Winery
Hutchinson, MN
75k gravel grinder, 50, 25, 12 miles

Believe In Me Bike Ride-June 15, 2019
Eagles Fraternal Organization
Rochester, MN
102, 82, 60, 34, 14, 6 miles
43 mile gravel

Heck Epic-July 20-21, 2019
Two Harbors, MN
225 miles
100 Rider Cap
Facebook Page
Registration opens February 2, 2019

Tour de SAVE-July 27, 2019
Sechler Park Pavilion
Northfield, MN
50, 25, 7 miles, 46 mile gravel
Facebook Event Page
Online Registration

Day Across Minnesota (DAMN)-August 3, 2019
Gary, SD to Hager City, WI
240 miles
300 racer cap
Facebook Page
Online Registration (Opens December 21, 2018)

The Rugged Growler!!-August 11, 2019
Gate City Events
Canton, SD

La Crosse Area Bicycle Festival-August 30-September 2, 2019
La Crosse, WI

Chasing the Wind - Gravel Bike Steeplechase Fundraiser-September 7, 2019
Jackson, MN
Solo 100, Team 100, 15 miles
Online Registration

Utepils Oktoberfest Fall Fondo-September 14, 2019
Utepils Brewing
Minneapolis, MN
100, 70, 40, 20 miles

Hero Gravel Classic-September 22, 2019
Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter
Stillwater, MN

Heck of the North-September 28, 2019
Two Harbors, MN
100, 55, 20 miles
500 Rider Cap
Facebook Page
Registration opens March 2, 2019

Gravel Grovel 2019!-September 29, 2019
Jack Ruhr Field
Miesville, MN
85 miles


Weekly Winter Fatbike Group Rides

Now that winter is into full swing there are a bunch of weekly fatbike group rides you can get in on.  Some are put on by bike shops, others are organized by clubs or individuals.  Below is a list with links to more details about these rides.


Tonka Cycle & Ski Ladies Ride hosts their weekly Emily's Fat Bike Group Ride on Sundays this winter from the shop in Minnetonka.

Join me for a group fat bike ride starting and ending at Tonka Cycle & Ski every Sunday this winter! This ride is for anyone who experiences barriers to cycling due to their gender. Any questions, please message the page! Or contact Emily at the shop: 952-938-8336.

This is a casual, no-drop ride. All fitness levels welcome! Rental bikes available for $25 (normally $50).

Image Credit: Pete Hager

Sundays are when the Mankato Fat Bikers set out for their weekly ride at various locations around Mankato including Mount Kato, the Red Jacket Trail, river bottoms and Kiwanis Park.  Visit the Mankato Fatbikers Facebook page for information on upcoming rides.

Image Credit: Now Bikes

Now Bikes hosts a weekly group ride and fatbike demo at 9:00 am on Sunday mornings.  The Sunday Morning Fat Bike Demo & Group Ride is no-drop for riders of all levels.  Locations change weekly and are based on trail conditions.  Check the Now Bikes Facebook page on Fridays and Saturdays for updates on the Sunday ride locations.

Come out and ride with riders of all levels, meet new friends and pick up winter riding tips on our Sunday Morning Fat Bike Demo & Group Ride!

- Free demo bikes to ride!  Must call ahead or stop by the Arden Hills location (651-490-7709) to schedule for us to bring a bike for you to ride.  

- Demo bikes from the following brands may be available: Salsa, Felt, Otso in all sizes XS, SM, MD, LG, XL

- Ride generally goes from 9am-11am 

- No drop ride, all rider levels are welcome!

- Location for ride is determined the Friday or Saturday before the ride and is based on trail conditions*

- *First Sunday of Nov., Dec., Jan., the ride will leave from NOW Bikes Arden Hills location, this ride will showcase the fun of riding fat bikes on road and paved trails!  We will also provide refreshments for after the ride.


Steven Orwig host a weekly Monday night mountain bike ride at various trails throughout the south metro of the Twin Cities.  Ride event pages are posted in the South Metro Group Rides Facebook group, which is a closed group so you will need to request to join to see these events and others for this area.

Big Ole Bike Club in Alexandria is now into their Fat Tire Monday Rides schedule for the winter.  Ride locations and ride leaders change weekly and start at 6:30 pm.  To get a text reminder: Text @snowbiker to 81010

COGGS hosts their weekly Monday Night Fat Bike Ride at various locations around Duluth on Monday nights at 6:00pm through March 25th.  Visit the Facebook event page for updates on locations.

Explore Duluth on the weekly COGGS hosted fat bike ride. Every Monday evening, long as the riding is good, 6pm. Location varies each week. Watch for FB post updates for details. All abilities welcome on this fun, casual winter ride. Hosted by Rudy O'Brien. See you there. 


Image Credit: CROCT

With winter is in full effect, Cannon River Offroad Cycling and Trails (CROCT) members host Fat Tuesdays out of Northfield.  They have some great trails there and are a good group of friendly riders.  Updates for these rides can be found on the Cannon River Offroad Cycling and Trails - CROCT Facebook page.

COGGS and Duluth Women MTBers host the weekly Tuesday Night Ladies Ride at various locations around Duluth through March 26th.  Visit the Facebook event page for updates on locations.

Join us for our weekly Tuesday Night Ladies Ride! All abilities welcome as we explore the trail systems across Duluth. Location varies each week. See FB posts for location updates. Ready to ride Tuesdays 5:30pm. Charge up your lights and join us! We have a blast.


Penn Cycle hosts a winter weekly fatbike group ride called the Wednesday Night Fat Bike Ride Series from their Minnetonka store. Rides leave the shop at 6:00 pm and operate at a moderate, no-drop pace.

Feeling adventurous? Join us for our weekly fat bike rides where we’ll explore a new and exciting route each week. The rides will be led by a knowledgeable guide and will operate at a moderate, no-drop pace. All riders will enjoy 15% off parts, accessories, and winter apparel one hour before and after the ride. Fat bikes, lights, and helmets are required. We can’t wait to ride with you!


Rich and Ambrose from Now Bikes will be hosting their weekly ride, Rich & Ambrose Rollin' Fatties throughout the winter on Thursday nights at 6:00 pm.  Once more snow arrives, future rides will include several mountain bike trails.

The event you've all been waiting for. Join Rich and Ambrose every Thursday night this winter (weather permitting) for a social fat bike ride. We'll depart the Now Bikes St. Paul shop (75 Snelling Ave, St Paul, MN) at 6PM sharp. Future rides will also include other MTB locations (such as Carver or Theo) once the snow accumulates. Check this page for updates.

Fat bikes available for demo. Demo lights from Light & Motion available at the shop as well. Must give 48 hour request - Contact Rich at the shop: 651-644-2354.

Notes: Please dress warm and bring lights. There will likely be a beer stop halfway through the ride on the trail (not mandatory). This is also an inclusive no-drop ride, however we will be traveling off-road and require SOME mountain bike experience. The ride will be from 6-8ish. Refreshments at the shop post-ride.

The Thursday Night Group Ride is held every Thursday that the trail is open at Elm Creek Singletrack in Champlin.  Rides start at 6:30pm and are no-drop.  Details for each week's ride can be found on their Facebook page.

Are you looking for a group of fun mountain bikers to have fun with on mountain bikes? Then you've come to the right place! The Thursday Night Group ride at Elm Creek Singletrack is a no-drop mountain bike group ride for any rider from beginner to expert.

We ride every Thursday that the trail is open, starting at about 6:30pm. However, if the air temp is below 5º or the windchill is below 0º, we won't have an official ride.

Michael's Cycles hosts their weekly Thursday Night Fat Bike Ride out of their Prior Lakes store at 6:00 pm. Some ride locations include Murphy-Hanrehan and Cleary Lake Regional Park.  Check the Michael's Cycles-Prior Lake Facebook page for updates and weekly ride details.  Rentals available from the shop.


Faturday is a weekly fatbike ride that has taken place for years on Saturday mornings at the Minnesota River Bottoms.  Start location changes week to week as well as routes and distances depending on the weather and trail conditions.  Rides are usually posted a few days before on the MORC Group Rides Forum and in the MN Fatbike Group Rides Facebook group with that week's details.

This ride stops to regroup frequently along the trail making it a good one for riders of all abilities. Most rides usually last two to three hours and sometimes conclude for a beer or two afterward at Bald Man Brewing in Eagan.

Michael's Cycles hosts their weekly Sat Morn Bikes and Coffee rides from their shop in Chaska.  They open the doors to the shop at 7:30am with donuts and coffee and roll out at 8:00am sharp.  Depending on trail conditions and the weather rides include both paved/aggregate and singletrack. Visit the Michael's Cycles-Chaska Facebook page for details on upcoming rides.

Downtown Cycles in Northfield hosts a bi-weekly Saturday group ride that includes fatbike or gravel rides dependent on the weather and trail conditions. These six Downtown Bicycles Winter Ride Series rides start January 12th and continue through March 23rd from the shop.

Join us on the second and fourth Saturdays during winter months to get out and ride with your buddies!  We will enjoy some great Fat Bike rides if we have snow OR we will find some fun gravel rides.  Meet in front of our shop at 1pm!

Occasional Rides

One Ten Cycles will be hosting Fat Bike Rides/Chili Feeds are Back! for two dates so far this winter. These rides will be on January 13th and February 10th and both start from the Sibley Historic Site in Mendota.

Join us for a casual, social ride, followed by chili, snacks, and coffee in the OneTen Cycles warming hut! Don't have a fat bike, OneTen has rentals you can pick up on Saturday. Meet at the River Bottoms trail head behind the Sibley House. See you there!

Otso Cycles will be hosting another Shakopee Brewhall Social Ride coming up on January 12th from the Shakopee Brewhall.

For all you fat bikers out there we will be starting the ride at the brew hall and heading to Chaska and if time allows Carver. The current plan will be to ride all snow and single track. Come join us for a great ride and some awesome beer after.


If weekly fatbike racing is your thing then check out the FAT Wednesday Fat Bike Races starting January 9th and going through February 27th.  Visit the Fat Wednesday Fat Bike Races Facebook page for updates.

We have 8 events with a crit style format. 30min and 60min options with a different course each week. Bonfire, Food, Beer, Swag, Fun, Friends, and much more!! 

Event day registration starts at 6pm and events start at 7pm. Event takes place at Keller Park off Hwy 36 and Hwy 61. Registration is in the clubhouse across the street along with the awards and raffle each night after the events.

Entry fee on day of event is $20 or sign up for all 8 events for the price of 6 ($120).

Starting Thursdays on February 14th and running through March 14th at Lord Fletcher's Old Lake Lodge is Freewheel Bike's Fat Thursday Cyclocrits.  This 40-minute crit-style race "features land laps that also run across the bay, with the option to launch or roll off Lord Fletcher's docks."  Registration is at 6pm and racing starts at 6:30pm.

FAT THURSDAY CYCLOCRITS ARE BACK!!! The fastest, thigh burning-est, big smiling-est, most ridiculously fun weeknight race series has returned. 

Every Thursday evening from February 14th (that's right, we love this so much we're kicking off on Valentine's Day!) to March 14th, line up with 30 of your soon-to-be-closest friends and speed past your Netflix- and Hulu-addicted pals.

There's no better way to ramp up for spring than rubbing elbows and coughing up a little icy phlegm. And nothing's more satisfying than crossing the finish line with a frozen perma-grin that lasts till Friday night.

All proceeds from this event series will benefit Deep Woods Trail Groomers!


Field Tested Cycling Gifts-Part 2

When it comes to cycling gear and accessories I'm always looking for something new that is functional and improves my ride.  I have field tested a lot of products over the years and found items that worked great and others that didn't.  This part-two post will highlight some products that met or exceeded my expectations and would make great gifts for the cyclist (or yourself) on your holiday shopping list.

Yeti Rambler with Chug Cap

I've been using the 18 oz. Yeti Rambler as my go-to winter water bottle for a couple of seasons now.  Its double-wall vacuum insulated design keeps my water from freezing up in subzero temperatures and ice cold for hours during the heat of the summer.  Yeti introduced the Chug Cap accessory for the Rambler which makes it even easier to take a swig out on the trail.

The 18 oz. Rambler fits perfectly in any standard water bottle cage making it a great choice for cyclists.  The 18 oz. Rambler sells for $29.99 and Chug Cap for $9.99 and both are available from Yeti, outdoor and sporting goods retailers.

Ass Savers

Ass Savers are lightweight portable fenders that attach to saddle rails without the use of any tools.  The Flip-Tip attachment system keeps it locked on securely and fits just about any standard rail saddle and even works with a saddle bag in place.  Its simple design is meant to do one thing, and that is to keep your butt dry for comfort on cold wet rides.

I purchased the Ass Saver Regular to use on my road bike for the wet fall riding season and it got its first real world test at this year's wet and snowy Filthy 50 gravel race.  While it wasn't long enough to keep some of the water and gravel slop off my back, it did its job well keeping my butt dry.  It's compact enough where if there's a chance of rain during a ride, I will store it in my frame bag and install it in seconds if needed.  The Ass Saver Regular fits tire widths between 25-35mm and is available from Zeitbike and Amazon for $11.95.

Bontrager Storage Bottle

The Bontrager Storage Bottle is a great way to carry tools and a flat kit stored in any standard water bottle cage.  It's always on my bike so I have everything I need in the event of a flat or mechanical problem.  It has a screw top lid for easy opening and padded inside to keep your things from noisily bouncing around.

For its small size it can hold a lot.  I keep my multi-tool, tire levers, chainbreaker, chain lube and CO2 cartridges with inflator stored in it.  When switching bikes, I grab the Storage Bottle from one and transfer it to the other and I'm ready to roll with all my essentials.  The Bontrager Storage Bottle is available from Trek and Trek Authorized Dealers for $6.99.

Banjo Brothers Large Top Tube Pack

The Banjo Brothers Large Top Tube Bag is a staple cockpit accessory on my road bike whether I'm heading out for a few hours on the gravel or a short commute to work.  This "gas-tank" style top tube bag has 65 cubic inches of storage with a rigid bottom and padded sides to hold its shape.  It's big enough to hold my wallet, keys and cell phone or a multi-tool and flat kit.  The zipper is easy to open and close with one hand while riding making this bag a great place to store gels and snacks for refueling during a ride.  Available from Banjo Brothers and local bike shops for $19.99.


Field Tested Cycling Gifts-Part 1

When it comes to cycling gear and accessories I'm always looking for something new that is functional and improves my ride.  I have field tested a lot of products over the years and found items that worked great and others that didn't.  In this two part post I will highlight some products that met or exceeded my expectations and would make great gifts for the cyclist (or yourself) on your holiday shopping list.


The Upstand is not your normal kickstand.  It's made from carbon fiber, is lightweight, compact and fully detachable.  It has a strong neodymium axial magnet that keeps it attached to the metal tab that installs on a quick release skewer or thru axle.  I recommend purchasing it with the Upclip so it can be attached to the water bottle boss bolts on the bike's frame for storage when not in use.  With the Upstand you no longer have to lean your expensive bike up against something or lay it down risking scuffs and scratches.

The Upstand is available for bikes with standard 26"/700, 29" and 20" wheels with either thru axles or standard quick release skewers.  Available from The Upstanding Bicycle Company for $34.95.

Hot Sockee

The Hot Sockee is a product I came across at Interbike '17 where I bought a pair to try out because the first thing to get cold on close to or below freezing rides is my toes.  These 1.5mm thermal neoprene toe warmers slide on directly over socks to give that little bit of extra insulation to keep phalanges from getting cold.  I primarily use them in the Winter with a cold weather cycling boot but have also opted for them in the Fall and Spring with my cyclocross boots or mtb shoes.

The Hot Sockee buys me some extra time out on the road or trail to enjoy the ride and because I roll with clipless pedals year round, they provide one more layer of warmth from the cold conducted through the sole from metal cleats. Pair them with wool socks to wick away any moisture if feet get a little too warm.  Available from TraxFactory in sizes S/M, L and XL in a two pack for $27 or a four pack for $50.

G.H. Meiser Accu-Guage

For accurate tire pressure readings in any temperature, you can't beat the G.H. Meiser Presta Valve Dial Gauges.  These gauges have bronze bourdon tube precision movement that is not affected by temperature, altitude or humidity giving the most accurate reading possible.  These easy to read dial gauges come in a variety of psi readings for everyone from the low pressure winter fatbike rider to the high pressure roadie.

I have two of these gauges, one for my fatbike tires (0-30psi) and one for my gravel bike tires (0-60 psi).  Meiser gauges really let you dial in that perfect ride feel/traction and they are all I ever use when checking my tire pressures.  These gauges make a perfect gift for any cyclist whether they are an avid rider or just get out for a ride occasionally on the weekends.  Available from local bike shops and Amazon for around $15.

Bontrager Ion Pro RT/Flare RT

The picture above is a very common sight on my desk. I use these two lights on every ride whether it is to be seen by motorists on the road during the day or lighting up the trail while mountain biking at night.  The Bontrager Ion Pro RT and Flare RT definitely are my favorite, and I have a bunch of different lights.  Both units have nice battery life and are extremely bright.

Pair them with your Garmin GPS device using the Bontrager Connect IQ app to control them and see the remaining battery life.  The Ion Pro RT has five modes (1300LM-1.5hrs, 800LM-3hrs, 400LM-6hrs, night flash-26hrs, day flash 22hrs) for daytime and night riding.  The Flare RT has five modes (Flash: 90LM-6hrs, 45LM-12hrs, 5LM-15hrs Steady: 25LM-4.5hrs, 5LM-13.5hrs) and is daytime visible from up to 2km away.

Available from Trek and Trek Authorized Dealer bike shops as a pair for $154.99 or individually, $99.99 for the front light and $59.99 for the rear light.

Look for part two of this post soon with four more of my field tested gifts for the cyclist on your list (or yourself).
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