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Tokyo winter gear


Speeding Up
May 14, 2010
Hey guys. This will be my first winter actually riding in Tokyo and I am wondering just how far I need to go as far as clothing is concerned. In terms of legs I am just planning on using my normal cycling shorts paired with some winter leg warmers. My upper body I am less sure about. I was planning on wearing a base layer under my short-sleeved jersey and just picking up some arm warmers to through on with it. Will this get me through or will I need to pick up a jacket as well?
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Do think you will want a jacket - esp for the colder days. Most people I see have full jackets, but many are ok with something windproof in front and arms. I ride hot, so don't use the jacket too much, but nice to have for colder/wet days.

Might also consider
- gloves (wind proof types) and if you ride in rain, water proof. For insulation, liners are good also (100 yen store acrylics work well)
- booties - wind/rain booties. Many here like neopremes. FYI Lots of guys here also buy thin chemical warmers and put in their shoes...
- head cap with some wind proofing
- on leggings, I have a wind proof bib, but find that its too hot for most days. Leg warmers, or tights over shorts usually works.

Riding in winter here is one of the best kept secrets.. most days are dry, crystal clear and beautiful. Many smaller passes are closed (over 300-400 m elevation from ice), but long rides, warm soba/ramen lunch, quick warm up in combini's, and options for onsen when you are really hypothermic or just want to relax, and bail out options with trains make for super riding..
Are you planning to go west to the nearby mountains? Or just ride in the city?

Kori started a thread a few months back about winter gear. You should check it out: https://tokyocycle.com/bbs/showthread.php?t=2165

FWIW, I was a weekend river rider for most of last year's winter. Riding the Tamagawa end-to-end. I got by with shorts, a simple base layer, a short sleeved jersey, a thin arm warmer, a cycling cap (under the helmet), and long fingered gloves. A wind breaker sometimes. I have one winter jacket that I only used 2 times.
"In terms of legs I am just planning on using my normal cycling shorts paired with some winter leg warmers."

Remember if you do this, you only have one thin layer of lycra keeping your bum and other bits warm. I would recommend some tights to go under shorts and leg warmers. Uniqlo's "heat tech" tights are good for this. The upper body stuff is also goold. The turtle neck undershirt is good and you can pull it up over your chin if it gets cold. Heatech retails at 900 and something yen per item of clothing. Other chainstores offer similar products.

For gloves, I've tried many different kinds. I find the "thinsulate" woolen-like gloves to be the best for warmth. Better than any cycling-specific gloves I've tried. If you want to ride in really foul weather, then get fisherman's gloves from Komeri.


I keep it pretty old school and cheap:

1) Thinsulate gloves from the local 100yen store
2) Plastic rain jacket cut down from 100yen store - packs perfect in my seat bag or pocket
3) UniQlo base layer (Andy you are right on - I love that stuff, and its cheap)
4) Embrocation! Enough can't be said about the simple insulation and heating properties of a simple oil down of your legs. Add some camphor oil or Tiger Balm if you want to increase the temp.
5) Newspaper. I never leave the house without it - or pick some up at any conbini. besides adding just the right amount of frontal insulation - it also absorbs moisture and provides a great 'throw away' wicking layer. If you've sweated your ass up the mountain, the stuff some paper before you descend , you'll know exactly what I mean.
6) Shoe boots - again 100yen store socks work wonders to take the chill off the feet. And you can get them in bright yellow. People will think you are stylin with the Mavic covers, but in fact - its 100yen! Haha!
7) Those Japanese heating pads. Great insole warmers and hand warms. From any conbini.
8) Baked / Microwave Potatos. Very old school - but pack a few of these in your kidney pockets for long ride. Keep you just toasty on the way and great source of starch.
9) Wool. I'm still riding my Santini tights after more than 25yrs - I wonder how many 'modern' wear can say the same? Nothing beats 100% Merino wool, IMO. Breathable, insulates, works when wet, and most of all doesn't stink like the microfibers.
Tim, great advice there!

Yes, forgot to mention wool. Wool socks make a world of a difference. I have 2 pairs that are on constant rotation through the winter season. I think they were bought in Marks and Spencers many moons ago.

Tiger balm too is great on the legs before heading out.

Probably stating the obvious but it's your extremities that lose the heat, so keeping your feet, hands and head warm helps to keep the rest of your body warm too.


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