Question: It’s so cold that I have to ride with mittens instead of gloves. It’s nearly impossible to work my brake/shift levers because there’s no separation between my fingers. The mitten material jams between the brake lever and the smaller shift lever. Any solutions? — Amy P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Shifting in cold weather was easiest in the era of indexed down-tube levers. No matter how bulky your hand protection, you could reach down and nudge the lever forward or backward until it clicked into the gear you wanted.
You’re right — modern brake/shift systems require a more dexterous touch. Mittens or even thick gloves can make shifting difficult.
Here are four solutions:
- Consider setting up a winter bike with old-school down-tube shifters. Bar-end shifters are easy to operate with mittens, too. A mountain bike with GripShift throttle-like shifters works well for winter road riding and has the added advantage of going slower, due to the tires’ greater rolling resistance, so you don’t feel as much windchill.
- Shop around for insulated gloves that will keep your hands reasonably warm while improving dexterity. Adding a thin polypro glove liner might give you as much warmth as mittens.
- Split the difference by wearing “lobster” gloves instead of regular gloves or mittens. Lobsters have three compartments — for your thumb, first two and last two fingers. They pool fingers for more warmth but give you more dexterity, too.
- Ride a one-speed or fixed-gear bike in winter. Then you don’t need to shift at all!
Stephen Weeks says
Lobster Mitts all the way! I have a pair of Pearl Izumis that I’ve used down to 20 below zero Fahrenheit. I have no trouble operating the STI shifters on my road bike or the trigger shifters on my mountain bike and commuter bike.