Bike News

Winter Bike Fashion Show 2016: Photos! Advice! Fun!

Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the Madison Bikes Winter Fashion Show! For those of you in attendance you know a good time was had by all. And for those who missed out on the fun, here’s a recap of the afternoon.

At the High Noon Saloon a great crowd gathered to mingle, share stories and tips for winter riding, and to chat with the hosts of the winter bike stations. At the winter bikes stations, folks had an a opportunity to chat with the bike owners about how they have winterized their bikes, what gear they wear to stay warm, and about their favorite winter rides. Winter bike stations were hosted by

Tim Staton from the Cargo Bike Shop. He had his Urban Arrow Family cargo bike with electric assist on display

Elysha Jones (remember her guest post on our blog?) also brought her bakfiets (Dutch for “box bike”)

Harald Kliems rides a “heavily evolved,” as he calls it, Surly Cross-Check year round

Matt DeBlass, our show’s MC from Revolution Cycles, arrived at the High Noon on his Surly Ogre–just one of many bikes he rides during winter.

Finnley Sonnemann showed off his 20-inch tired Specialized fat bike

The runway show itself started with Matt summarizing the varying conditions to expect when winter riding. Our volunteer models showed a variety of gear, ranging from more technical wear to things just about everyone has in their Wisconsin winter collection (or can find at the thrift store).

Our 2016 Madison Bikes Winter Fashion Show Models:

Tom Pearce

Tom is a graduate student in urban and regional planning at the UW. He commutes daily, two miles from the near west side to Park Street. Tom rides a Giant Yukon mountain with a studded tire on the front wheel. Why only in the front? Crashes where the front wheel loses traction are the most dangerous. And not also having a studded tire in the back helps to keep the cost and additional resistance of studded tires in check.

Tom was wearing casual work clothes with the following winter layers: short boots, wool socks, fleece, winter jacket, triple mittens, scarf, and a ski helmet with old goggles. On extra cold below zero days he also wears rain pants, balaclava and petroleum jelly to protect his skin.

Michael Jones

Over this past summer Michael bought a home in the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood. He chose the area in part because of its proximity to both bike paths and mountain biking trails. Through participating in a number of Madison group rides and events like Bike the Barns he is coming to be a part of the local cycling community. He sees this fashion show as yet another opportunity to meet people who share his passion for cycling.

Michael was wearing a Castelli Podium Jacket worn over a Pearl Izumi long sleeve jersey and a Craft Wind-stopper Base layer. Over his legs he typically wears a pair of Castelli fleece-lined bib tights under Fox Mountain bike shorts. On his feet he finds that Smartwool socks inside a pair of Lake MXZ 303 cycling boots works great. Hand protection varies depending on the temperature and wind conditions.

Nicole Nelson

Nicole Nelson is a professor at UW-Madison who commutes by bike year round. When her old car had her going to the shop repeatedly for expensive repairs, she sold it to her mechanic for $600 and bought a bike with that money. She has been a bike commuter ever since. When she’s not at work, Nicole loves to sew clothes, quilts, and occasionally outdoor gear for herself and her partner.

Nicole was wearing a North Face down jacket; neck gaiter, hat, and mitts all made of Merino wool; and Merrell boots. For those extra windy days, she has her ski goggles at the ready. And underneath it all, she’s ready for work with dress pants and a blouse that she designed and sewed herself.

Elysha Jones

Elysha Jones has been living in Madison for 5 years with husband, Scott, and their two little girls, Abby and Clementine. Originally from St. Louis, MO, they came to Madison because they wanted to live somewhere bike friendly. Since living here they went from being a two-car family to a one-car family, and for about 4 months they even didn’t have a car at all! They have totally embraced the bicycling life in Madison.

Elysha is wearing leggings, hand-knit knee-high socks, snow boots, a skirt, a thermal shirt under her sweater, a coat, gloves, a cowl, and helmet with a liner. Her little girl, Clementine, wears her normal clothes with snow pants and coat mittens over them. Clementine rides in the family bakfiets with the “bubble” (their name for the cover) and a blanket.

Jim Lorman

Jim Lorman has been riding bikes in Madison winters for 43 years! First to and from UW as a graduate student, and then to Edgewood College as a faculty member and now as Community Partnership Specialist for the Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership Program. Not too many years ago, he realized that it he was really tired of the sore body parts that came from slipping and falling while riding on snow and ice, and has since relied on studded tires on a dedicated winter bike, a heavy-duty Schwinn cruiser. Jim is hoping that the Medicare benefits he just acquired this month won’t disappear during the next four years. But even if they don’t, he would prefer not to have to use them as a result of his dedication to biking in the first place.

Having been at this for over forty years, his outfit emphasizes an “old school” philosophy of dressing for winter biking. “Nothing too high tech for this old man,” is Jim’s philosophy. Simply long underwear (usually lightweight, and often silk for its comfort), jeans, waterproof boots, wool socks (with silk liners in colder weather), and three to four layers of various thicknesses on top, usually including a wool sweater and always a thin waterproof shell. He has maybe six different pairs of gloves and mittens of various degrees of waterproofness and insulation. But today he’s wearing his favorite pair for the coldest weather – wool liners with leather mitten shells. Jim’s special winter tip: A good warm scarf wound tightly around his hat and face and tucked into his coat to keep warmth in and cold out.

Lyllie Sonnemann

Lyllie is 8 years old. She enjoys riding all year and has been riding her bike about a mile to school every day of her school career! For winter riding, she enjoys riding her green fat bike.

To keep warm, Lyllie wears her regular school clothes underneath snow pants, a down winter jacket, warm home-made mittens, hat, neck warmer and, on the coldest days, ski goggles.

Finnley Sonnemann

Finn is 6 years old and also enjoys riding his bike no matter the season. Like his sister he rides about a mile to get to school each day, on his blue and orange fat bike.

To keep warm, Finn wears snow pants, winter jacket, hat, home-made mittens, and neck warmer. On super cold days he adds ski goggles to his outfit.

The Foster Family

Winter biking has become a family affair for the Fosters. This will be the third winter of the whole family riding daily.


Kai wears a good thick coat, warm and waterproof mittens, winter boots, and a balaclava. Sometimes Kai takes a quick walk outside in the morning to gauge the weather and calibrate his outfit.


Sage wears a winter coat, mittens, hat, boots, and a balaclava. When it’s very cold, he sometimes adds snow pants and ski goggles. A sweatshirt underneath provides extra warmth.


Jenifer demonstrates that pants are optional for cycling in the winter — she doesn’t own a single pair of pants. Her winter biking wear consists of Smartwool tights and wool socks with wool-lined waterproof winter boots. She has her usual skirt and layered top, with a base layer Smartwool top, turtleneck and wool sweater. On extra cold days she’ll add wool arm warmers, a hand knit cowl and wool vest. To keep in the heat she tops it off with a merino balaclava and ear warmers. When it’s extra chilly, she’ll wear her ski goggles as well.


Grant has a longish commute at 8 miles and often travels to offsite meetings throughout the day. He lacks the patience to change between ‘bike’ clothes and ‘work’ clothes, and has found success wearing ‘regular’ clothes on the bike.

For his feet, it’s extra-thick wool socks and lightly insulated boots on normal days. When it drops below zero, he’ll add extra liner socks and heavier Sorel boots. He likes a thin merino liner glove under big mittens for his hands. A pair of wool leggings under his favorite Swrve pants is enough to keep his legs warm, with a second pair of leggings for below zero conditions. Most days he wears a merino shirt with a wool sweater on top–no coat necessary–and layers an extra shirt when it gets really cold. He doesn’t use ski goggles until the temperature gets into the single digits. When he does add goggles, he finds a ski helmet to be much more comfortable with its goggle strap. The Smartwool balaclava and headband are his favorite pieces, and he wears them from 40 degrees down to the coldest temps.

Impromptu addition to the model roster

Bike station host Harald discussing his recipe for winter riding during the intermission

After a short intermission our models returned to the stage for a Q&A session. Audience members had a chance to ask questions about gear, winter riding tips, or the best parts of winter riding. A big cheer came from the crowd when our model Jim Lorman described his favorite part of winter biking: To zoom past cars that are inching along on the snowy roads or even plain stuck

Some of the winter riding tips:

  • Try studded tires! Even just one studded tire on the front of your bike can add a lot of stability in icy conditions. Keep in mind that studs don’t help in the snow.
  • Riding gets easier as the season goes on. Cold and rainy conditions can often be worse than snow or dry cold. So don’t stop riding too soon!
  • Ski goggles can make a big difference in reducing the wind and cold in your eyes. For people wearing prescription glasses, there are goggles specifically made to fit over glasses. A cheap alternative to ski goggles are protective goggles from the hardware store.
  • Don’t overdress! Leave the house feeling a bit chilly, you’ll warm up as you ride and will avoid over heating. This is especially important when you go for a longer ride.
  • Not everyone needs special winter cycling gear. Many of our models ride in their regular winter coats, boots, and mittens.
  • Some models like a light wool layer. It provides warmth, some air ventilation, and is something that can be worn off the bike throughout the day.
  • Give your bike a thorough tune up at the end of the riding season. Road salt is hard on components.
  • Wipe water and salt off your bike when you can.
  • Avoid bringing your bike in and out of cold weather for short periods of time. The melting water and salt can be worse than leaving the bike frozen. 
  • Hang your lock key-hole side down to avoid a frozen lock.
  • Often the bike paths are plowed earlier and better than the streets.
  • Riding in the quiet winter snow is a treat!
  • Jacob’s guest post on how to dress in winter has some additional info
  • Give winter biking a try! You don’t need any special equipment or gear. It’s a lot of fun! And there is no shame in occasionally taking the bus, walking, or cross-country skiing to do your errands!

A huge thank you goes out to all the volunteers who helped to make the show a success. Let’s also give kudos to Aaron Crandall for keeping Madison Bike Winter and previous editions of the Fashion Show over many years. A special thanks goes to Matt D for doing a great job as our MC and to our models and bike station hosts for sharing their winter biking tips. And thank you very much, Rob Streiffer, for taking great pictures of the show! Big kudos go to Aaron Crandall, who has kept Madison Bike Winter and the Winter Bike Fashion Show going for many years. Finally, we are so appreciative of the great support of our sponsors who generously donated to our door prize contest.

  • EVP Coffee for coffee cards
  • Revolution Cycles for fun ear muffs, a water bottle filled with bike tools, and lots of packets of Revolution Roast coffee
  • REI for a sport backpack filled with a water bottle and a neck warmer
  • Planet Bike for a great collection of winter biking gloves, shoe covers, bike pumps and a variety of lights!

If you missed the Madison Bikes Winter Fashion Show, be sure to look for it again next year! Happy Winter Riding! See you during Winter Bike Week in February!

Madison Bikes winter t-shirts. We still have some left!

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