Geared Up: Brrrrrace for the cold

Mavic Crossmax SL Pro Thermo shoes, $225

Our extremities are the first to go in cold weather. The fear of frozen fingers and toes will keep many from even venturing outside. Mavic’s Crossmax SL Pro Thermo boots offer an insulated, waterproof GORE-TEX upper, a neoprene ankle gusset, and a sole with large rubber lugs for maximum traction. It is two-bolt clipless pedal compatible and uses Mavic’s Ergo dial closure. I found the Mavic boots comfortable down to 25F. Lower than that and I began to suffer. But to get out in freezing temps, and for riders who suffer from perpetually cold feet, the SL Pro Thermo boots may be the key to more outdoor riding. –NL

Shimano S-Phyre Bib Tights, $270

Yep, Shimano makes clothing. While most of us are more familiar with the Japanese company’s bicycle components, Shimano’s new S-Phyre line of clothing is aimed at road cyclists who are willing to shell out for quality apparel. The S-Phyre Bib Tights use windproof and water-repellent materials to protect from the elements and a brushed fleece inner surface to conserve body heat. Neon ankle accents enhance visibility while ankle zippers help putting them on and taking them off. The torso zipper is dual direction, allowing for easy nature breaks for male riders. I found the chamois very comfortable as well. For temperatures under 25F, I would recommend adding a pair of ski or fat bike pants for increased warmth, but the S-Phyre tights are nice and cozy. At 5’10” and 150 pounds, a size medium fit very well. –NL

Bell 4Forty helmet, $75

While not technically a fat bike or winter-specific helmet, Bell’s new 4Forty mountain bike lid packs a lot into its $75 price tag. With increased rear coverage, an adjustable visor, Bell’s Sweat Guide padding, and a full hardshell, the 4Forty also happens to be very comfortable and looks great. For an added $20, Bell also offers a MIPS version. In both cases the matte finish is attractive, though beware the Hibiscus color is far pinker in person, appearing redder on the website. My size medium test sample weighed 350 grams, not bad at all for a mountain bike helmet, especially considering the low cost. While ventilation is good, it’s not on par with high-end road helmets, but for winter riding, that’s a good thing. For me, there was still plenty of room for a windproof skullcap under the 4Forty. This made for comfortable cold-weather riding. –NL

Lumos Helmet, $199

I’ve been riding intermittently in the Lumos helmet for more than a year now, trying to figure out if this helmet-unlike-any-other is deserving of the hype it’s enjoyed. My final verdict is: yeah, this thing is special.

The Lumos features integrated LED lighting front and rear, a smartphone app, remote control, and a hefty price tag — all things that initially made me very skeptical. That, and the single size is just big enough for my sizeable dome ... no room for cold-weather hats under this thing for me. 

After charging the helmet (seriously?), downloading the app for my iPhone (seriously?!), and syncing everything via Bluetooth (is nothing sacred?!?!), I powered the Lumos up, hopped and my bike for an after-dark commute home, and … felt safer. A lot safer. 

The white LED light strip in front I’m not as sold on, but in what still looks like a mostly normal helmet, the Lumos packs a super-bright taillight and turn signals onto the back of your head. The turn signals are operated by bar-mounted remote, and I pretty quickly abandoned them as the remote never seemed to be on the bike I was currently riding. But the rear main light alone is worth the price of admission. It’s super bright, at eye-level with drivers, attached to your head, which I believe has a visceral effect on the decision-making of those behind the wheel, and has an accelerometer to detect rapid stops and increase brightness like a vehicle brake light. 

Even in cold weather, the Lumos didn’t require frequent recharging, which allayed an initial fear. You do pay a weight penalty for the tech, and while not uncomfortable, it is noticably heavier than a standard lid, which I suspect could grow tiresome on a long tour. (Lumos now has a cheaper "Lite" version that lacks some features but keeps the main front and rear lights for $140.) I found myself reaching for the Lumos less frequently during the long light of summer, but once darkness descends it’s truly amazing how much this thing did for my peace of mind. –AS