commuting,

Winter Bike Commuting in Tokyo

1/10/2014 Byron Kidd 2 Comments

One of the great things about living in Tokyo is that you can cycle to work all year round, even through the dead of winter.

Overnight temperatures in Tokyo rarely fall below 0 degrees Celsius, and daytime temperatures usually manage to creep up to at least 6 or 7 degrees. In an average winter Tokyo gets no more than a mere two or three snowfalls which means there is little excuse not to ride to work. In comparison with the recent Polar Vortex which has frozen large parts of the United States its practical tropical in Tokyo during the winter.


I commute daily in my work clothes and have cycled past winters in the following kit:

Upper Body:
Natural layer of body fat
T-Shirt
Woolen Turtle Neck Sweater
Windstopper Jacket

Lower Body:
Jeans

Hands:
Thinsulate Gloves

Feet:
Whatever socks don't have holes in them
Dr. Martens Boots

Head:
Shaved
Giro Helmet

That's it, essentially its just what happens to be in my wardrobe at the time. In fact I'd have dress warmer to survive a walk to the train station, by switching the helmet for a wool hat and replacing the windstopper jacket with a down jacket, as my body could not generate enough heat to keep warm just by walking.

I'm rather flexible when it comes to riding in the rain, but I avoid cycling to work when there is snow and ice on the ground. Sure people cycle in the snow for months on end in colder parts of the world, but I grew up in Australia where it never snows and as such I have little experience cycling on icy roads. Given the infrequency of snowfalls in Tokyo I've little opportunity to learn to ride on snow. So on those rare snowy I actually prefer walking to the station, because to anyone who grew up in Australia snow fascinating.

Fair weather riders like me aside, intrepid Tokyo cyclists will kit up and cycle icy and snow covered roads and sidewalks the few times a year it does actually snow in Tokyo because they know the convenience of the bicycle can't be outweighed by the inconvenience of a little snow on the ground.

For more stories, news and information about cycling in Tokyo and around Japan follow @tokyobybike on twitter.

2 comments:

  1. Icy roads safe for riding? What tyres do you switch to?
    http://www.triwithme.org/blog/new-winter-wheels
    Or better for a winter bike all together?

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  2. I live in Michigan, USA. So I see lots of snow, I ride my Specialized all year round. I use the same all terrain tires that came with the bike, I just drop the pressure to about 20psi-15psi and they work great! When summer rolls along I pump the tires back up to 80psi, and then I am on my way.

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