The worst part about winter riding is being cold. The things that get cold the easiest are the extremities; your head, hands, and feet. Fortunately getting a thick hat and pair of mittens is relatively easy. Keeping your feet warm on the bike while still being functional is more of a challenge. In general, cycling shoes are designed to be lightweight and to keep your feet cool during the warmer months of the year. In the cold, wet, and snow, those attributes aren’t so beneficial. Luckily to keep all your paws warm there are shoes specifically made for cycling in winter as well as ways to make your current shoes useable in winter.
Winter Specific Cycling Shoes
The warmest and most functional option to keeping your toes warm in winter is to get a pair of winter cycling shoes. These cycling shoes are built specifically to keep your feet warm and dry with insulation, higher ankles, and thicker material. Choosing any one depends on your budget and what you’re looking for in a winter shoe. One sure thing to look for in a winter shoe is mounting for mountain bike cleats. Being winter you will probably walk in snow a time or two which can get caked and then frozen in the cleat rendering, them unclip-able. Road cleats are easily prone to this while mountain bike cleats are a much better option for traipsing around in the snow.
Louis Garneau – 0° LS-100
Price: $150 – 200
Louis Garneau always makes quality shoes at a solid price and their winter shoe is no different. Not only do you have to worry about cold toes in winter, but you also have to worry about how functional the shoes is when you have cold finers. The 0° LS-100 has a BOA tightening system keeping everything functional even with cold fingers.
Lake CX 145
Price: $200 – $250
If your riding includes a lot more wet riding and not so much cold, the Lake CX 145 will help keep your feet dry. They don’t have as much insulation as a normal winter shoe but can keep out the elements when needed.
Shimano SH-MW7 Winter Shoe
Shimano is, well Shimano. They make anything from top of the line fishing gear to your Dura-Ace Electronic shifter. Their shoes are in a similar category especially their winter shoe which they partnered with Gore-Tex to create a waterproof and insulated riding shoe.
Sidi MTB Ghibli Cycling Shoes
Sidi has a few different shoes for winter and one of their solid ones are the Ghibli’s. They have a durable sole for when you’re off the bike as well as use neoprene to insulate the upper part of the shoe.
Using your Current Cycling Shoes
Buying a second pair of shoes for only one time of the year can seem a bit much so if you’re looking to save and work a little harder to keep your feet warm, you can do it with your current shoes. Since it is winter and the shoes will take a bit of a beating, using an old pair of shoes is recommended and if you can get a used pair from someone who is a size larger, even better. You’ll start with wearing a thicker wool sock and your normal sized cycling shoe will scrunch your toes limiting blood flow which is what makes your feet cold.
The first thing to do is cover all those vents to prevent air from just billowing through. Although rudimentary, the best way to do this is with duct tape as it will stay sticking overtime. And don’t forget the hole on the sole of the shoe if there is one. After this you’ll need to find insulated as well as waterproof shoe covers. Instead of the insulation being in the shoe, it’s over the shoe. If it’s not enough insulation add a second shoe cover. It’s not the most functional, especially putting on and taking off but it gets the job done on the cheap.
Riding in winter can be quite fun but that fun can be short lived with getting cold. Getting the right gear for the task is the best way to keep it enjoyable. Since they’re only going to be worn part of the year, winter cycling shoes will last you many years. They’re a worthwhile investment. And if that investment’s not yet in your wallet you can still ride all winter by making some additions to your current shoe. Keep the toes warm and see how low the mercury can go before they start to get cold. You’ll be surprised at just how cold of weather you can comfortably ride in.