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I'm asking this question with a short bicycle trip to and from work in mind (approx. 15 minutes), so maybe there's no difference at all.

When it's cold outside, should I dress warm when cycling to work (so that I don't freeze; but maybe I'll sweat more); or should I dress lightly (so that I will probably freeze, but sweat less)?

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  • Beyond simple personal preference, I would say that it depends on how your body reacts to being hot/cold and which it tolerated better. – JustSnilloc Sep 3 '18 at 13:03
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I basically look at cycling dress as “Dress like it’s 20 degrees colder than the actual temperature outside.” I find that the combination of wind generated from the ride and local weather are generally good for an extra 20 degree drop.

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I was living in a cold city for some years. There, I commuted to work every day, around 7-8 k through the city in around 20-25 min. Most of times, in the winter temperatures would be below 0º C, with some rain and quite a lot of wind.

There are few things to take into consideration:

  • Adjust the speed to something that allows you to feel fresh, specially when in the way to work (you don't want to get there exhausted.)
  • Use a bike with gears, they are specially useful for the hypothetical climbs you will find in your way.
  • You tend to start sweating by the end of the commute, so it is not rare to arrive to your work quite fresh and then start sweating after parking the bike. For this, keep a towel and some clean clothes at work so you can change them in case of need.
  • When we walk outside we tend to dress homogeneously, trying to keep all the parts of the body with the same level of cloth. However, this does not work well when you ride: your hands will probably get quite a lot of fresh air, while your armpit will be quite warm. For this, I suggest:

    • wear windproof clothes for the most exposed parts of the body: gloves for the hands, scarf for the neck.
    • use jackets that are easy to open and close. I tended to start feeling quite well and warm but after a bit of pedalling I needed to open the jacket to let some air in for some refreshing.

When it's cold outside, should I dress warm when cycling to work (so that I don't freeze; but maybe I'll sweat more); or should I dress lightly (so that I will probably freeze, but sweat less)?

I think you tend to dress a bet cooler because of the effort you are doing, but you really need to carry a good jacket to put it on on the precise moment you finish the ride.

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