The biggest challenge of winter cycling is slippery road surfaces. When the asphalt gets icy, slick bicycle tyres quickly lose their grip. Whenever the weather forecast promises snowy or icy conditions, it is worth putting grippier tyres on your bicycle – just as you would on your car. Simply visit your nearest bicycle shop and ask for the most appropriate tyres.
Otherwise, winter cycling is generally the same as at any other time of the year, involving you, the saddle and the pedals. Naturally, when it does snow a lot, you may encounter new and surprising elements compared to summer conditions. You have to pay more attention to riding, as road surfaces can be rougher and your bicycle can handle differently – but don’t let that put you off. You can and should get off and push your bicycle whenever the riding gets too tricky.
Dressing appropriately for the winter conditions, especially considering Helsinki’s variable weather conditions, may seem challenging at first – especially when the previous day’s freezing temperatures turn into sleet and slush the next. The most important consideration when dressing is to keep warm, so wear warm clothing underneath and a protective layer on top to keep out the cold and wind. In sleet and rainy conditions, you will need a waterproof top layer, of course. Pay special attention to your head, hands and feet, where you will feel the cold first. The main thing is to find suitable clothes that combine comfort with your own style.
When riding through the dark, you must have lights on your bicycle: white or yellow at the front and red at the rear. When riding at dusk or in the dark, having a headlight and a red light at the rear is required by law in Finland, while it also improves visibility and safety.
These simple tips will get you started. Remember that you can always use public transport or other means to get about when the weather is really bad. Having said that, you should not automatically put your bicycle away for the winter when you see the first snow, as winter in Helsinki offers lots of wonderful riding experiences before spring arrives!
- Appropriate clothing
- Winter tyres