We have talked with Jessica Unogård  about winter cycling, Jessica who works as a coach & test leader at Aktivitus in Stockholm, where she coaches athletes in various endurance sports. Jessica is 39 years old and lives in Sollentuna with her husband and two children. She is an ambitious exerciser who loves to challenge herself and try new things.
The other day, Jessica and two friends cycled for 4 hours in minus 10-12 degrees. It went very well and they had a lovely day outdoors! Here are some tips on how you can think about cycling outside in colder weather. Dare to try!

If we start with the clothes. Forget expensive, nice winter cycling clothes and let go of any thoughts of being "aero", now it's layer upon layer that applies and preferably a little baggy so there is some air between the layers.

Below are suggestions for what you can wear to keep warm.

  • Soft tights/underpants, cycling shorts and cross-country ski leggings on the bottom. Long base layer in merino or wool and build on top of that. There are different varieties of winter cycling pants on the market, but you can preferably wear what you have for running or cross-country skiing. Just remember that your knees don't become too stiff to bend and preferably have a pair of trousers with windstopper on the thighs.
  • Base layer in wool, a thick hoodie in fleece, medium-thick down jacket or down vest on the upper part. Preferably a windbreaker as an intermediate layer or over everything.
  • A cap or beanie in fleece or wool (preferably with windshield) under the helmet and buff/neckwarmer around the neck.
  • On the feet normal shoes, shoe covers and heating bags in the arch of the foot or on top of the toes. For those who want to wear cycling shoes, there are different shoe covers, some are thick with thermal lining.
  • On the hands use thin wool-liners, alpine ski gloves and thin cover gloves as well as heating bags. For those who want to invest in winter cycling, there are special thick cycling gloves with a special finger grip so you can switch gears.

What kind of equipment should you have? Here are some things that are good to think about:

  • Jessica rides a MTB with regular tires, so not studded tires, and it works just fine if it's not too icy. If it is icier and with more snow or slush, studded tires can be a good idea, there are both for MTB, road bikes and gravel bikes.
  • One thing to keep in mind is that the cooling effect of the wind is greater if you cycle for on the  roads than MTB int the woods, as the speeds are higher.
  • Jessica feels safer on a MTB in the forest and on smaller roads than riding a road bike on a normal road because you avoid the traffic and if there is snow, you land more softly if you fall. Choose surroundings where you feel safe and in daylight.

Many people do road biking during the winter, then it is good to have studded tires and stay on slightly larger roads and preferably cycle in a group so that you take up a larger part of the road together and do not end up in the peripheral parts of the road where it can be slippery.

Portable heating bags in the gloves and on the feet are good to use. There are also heated insoles, heated gloves and heated vests (which you can buy in hunting or riding stores) for those who really want to invest in being able to cycle without freezing in the winter.

Do not wash your face before the ride, and feel free to apply a layer of any thick face cream.

Energy, good to think about: 

  • A tip is to heat the sports drink beforehand so it stays from freezing. There are also backpacks for liquids with thermal liners that keep the drink from freezing.
  • Another tip is to have the energy inside the sweater or in, for example, a flip belt inside the jacket so it stays warmer longer and can be chewed on, otherwise there is a risk of freezing.
  • The body use more energy in the cold, so remember to eat properly and also to plan one or more stops where you can go inside and warm up if you need to and buy extra energy.


"If it feels scary, you don't have to go that far the first time, but try it, I promise you won't regret it!" Jessica says.

January 04, 2023 — Anna Wretling