I bike to work no matter how cold it is, and I have always had trouble with cold fingers. I typically have to resort to mittens as soon as the temperatures dip into the 40s. I’ve tried everything, but have not found any gloves that keep my fingers warm for longer than 10 minutes or so. Since I am often carrying a camera on my commutes, shooting photos in the winter becomes a real hassle, even with lanyards on large over mitts. Given our unpredictable Wisconsin weather, it is difficult to bring mittens with enough insulation to keep my fingers warm in the morning when it is colder, but not so much that my hands sweat during daytime errands or on the way home when it is warmer.
Despite having been a winter cyclist for more than a decade, this is the first time I have tried using pogies. Pogies are neoprene covers that fit over your handlebars and provide warm compartments for your hands, sort of like warm pockets for your bicycle. They allow you to ride without gloves in moderately cold temperatures or get by with breathable summer gloves if it’s below freezing.
A quick Internet search will direct you to a handful of companies that make pogies for bicycles. I have Bar Mitts, and I couldn’t be happier with them. It only took me a couple of minutes to install them on my Schlick Northpaw. You just slip them over your handle bar, brake levers and shifters and zip them closed. When you slip your hand in, you have plenty of room to brake and shift no matter what kind of shifters or brakes you are running. Bar Mitts makes pogies for flat/mtb handle bars as well as drop bars.
Over the weekend I tested the Bar Mitts on a handful of rides in temperatures from low 30s down to the upper teens. I was unsure of how well they would work, so on my first ride I brought a few different weights of gloves along with me just in case the pogies left me stranded with freezing digits. Instead, I was delighted to have warm hands even after a 2.5 hour ride. Since that first time using the Bar Mitts , I am so confident in their ability to keep my hands warm that I didn’t bother bringing any extra “emergency” gloves along the rest of the weekend.
I will be turing 50 next month and at my age it is rare that I discover something new in cycling that changes the way I ride, but this has been a year for exciting changes. The big change began with the fun of winter riding on a fatbike and that lead to the joy of warm hands through pogies. Anyone else a big believer in pogies?
I was so giddy over the fact that cold fingers are now a thing of the past that I threw together this goofy little bobble-head video of a ride I took over the weekend on the Menomonee River mountain bike trails. The song “Mittens” is by Heather Masse.