Next in the series of entries on why we don't ride, I'd like to talk about an issue that I wish I had a quarter for every time I'd heard it. Which begs the question, How do we keep our hands warm?
Layers help. The Layers 101 post (http://lovemycommute.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-stay-warm-layers-101.html) gives the basics of the different kinds of layers. Those principles apply with keeping your hands warm too.
Liner gloves are thin, stretchy gloves that work great as a wicking layer. Fleece gloves work well for an insulating layer. Overmitts work great as a wind breaking layer. That combination of gloves can give you decent temperature range and let you ride DEEP into the winter for under $60. That, however, is not the way most cyclists ride through the winter.
Gloves seem to come more often in combination layers. Many winter gloves combine all three types of layers into one glove. That works well for many people, but doesn't really allow you to adjust well if conditions change during your ride. If it warms up a little, you either sweat or take off your gloves.
Since I ride all year, every year, I tend to collect a lot of different gloves. I buy a new pair every fall and then retire an old pair. That gives me a lot to mix and match as the years go by. I tend to avoid the winter cycling gloves that are designed for very cold weather because they end up, as I describe above, making me sweat then freeze.
What DOES work very well is having a mid-weight winter glove… something that I'd wear down into the mid to upper 40's, and when it gets colder, I'll add a fleece glove over the top of it. I have a few pairs of fingerless gloves that have a little mitten flap that can fold over the fingers for extra warmth. I have wool ones that I got at LL Bean when exchanging a Christmas gift last year. I have a fleece set that I got at a running store. If it is really cold, I use the mitten flap. When my hands warm up, I unhook the flap and my hands can breathe more. If it really warms up, I can take the fleece/wool gloves off and shove them in my jersey pocket.
When it really starts getting and staying cold, I bring out the big guns. When the morning commute is in the 20s or lower and the daytime highs don't get out of the low 40s, I use the Moose Mitts (http://www.trails-edge.com/retail/te_shirts/amfbikemits.htm). These are made by a little shop in Michigan and they are awesome. When it is 20 degrees out, I can wear a light glove inside them and my hands are toasty warm. When it is -20, I can drop chemical hand warmers into them and use a heavy glove.. perhaps with liners, and have a very good chance of keeping my hands warm. They come for either mountain bikes or road bikes (with drop bars). They are truly wonderful.
Impromptu Moose Mitt fitting session on the W&OD Trail.
There is a product called Bar Mitts (http://barmitts.com/), which are also nice. They're made of neoprene and keep your hands nice and warm. They have different ones for flat or drop bars, like the Moose Mitts. They don't allow as much flexibility with how you grab the bars. You're pretty much locked into using one hand position on the bars. They are very warm and comfy. They also work well with chemical hand warmers in them.warming label (obviously ignored for this photo) that warns that it is dangerous to ride no-hands with Bar Mitts installed.
Hopefully that helps in your quest to keep your hands warm.