Winterized: Tips from Spencer Paxson

In this special edition of Winterized, our cold-weather riding guide, we hear from Kona Adventure team rider Spencer Paxson. Spencer grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has been dealing with cold wet winters his entire life, so he’s got some creative ideas on how to make your winter rides a little more tolerable.

During the winter I am riding a wide range of bikes, either MTB trail, cyclocross, or a road bike for winter training. Setup is a little different for each, so here are some of my go-to’s:
In general, layering is key. I live in a place that is really wet but doesn’t get super cold (by midwest or Alaskan standards, anyway). I find that for anything where you actually get your body temperature up, as long as it is above 35deg F, a combination wind resistance and fleecy/wool insulation is best. I rarely ride in waterproof anything since I just get wet from the inside with condensation. My most heavily used winter riding items are: wool arm warmers (I can pull down on hot climbs and pull up for cold descents), wool socks, wool base layer, windproof lightweight vest, fleeced nylon long-sleeve jersey, trousers for MTB or fleeced nylon leggings w/ windproof front for road, and neoprene booties for road.
Dennis Crane

It’s not snow… but it’s wet and cold, so that counts for something.

Keeping Feet Dry and Hands Warm: 
On the mountain bike, I’m a huge fan of riding in trousers, especially on the dank, cold days. They’re not waterproof, but they are windproof, at least on the front, with good ventilation. Pants need thick enough fabric that they hold a tiny pocket of air against your legs. They keep puddle splash off of my shins and keep more stuff out of my shoes. Plus, they look way better than tights and make a lot more sense than shorts in the winter. I also ride with an extra set of regular weight gloves in a Zip Loc bag, and use trail shoes with a thick flap over the laces, like the Shimano ME7. I hate riding with thick gloves on the MTB, so I keep a few extra dry pairs around and just plan to get warm on climbs and not linger too long at the top.
For cyclocross I just deal with being cold. It’s cyclocross! Usually no gloves and definitely no shoe covers. It’s race pace, so warmth usually isn’t an issue. I warm up in similar stuff to what I wear on the road.
On the road bike wind resistance is way more important here since speeds are so high, so wind chill is a HUGE factor, even on mild/warmer days. For cold/wet conditions, I wear neoprene booties and gloves, with good wind-proof coverage on my arms and legs to keep circulation working…otherwise the warmest gloves or shoes do nothing. My faves are thick Overshoes by Endura, and “Glacier Gloves” if it’s wet, or thick wool gloves if it’s cold and dry. A little neck buff is also good – keeping the back of your neck warm makes your whole body feel warm.
Best Tires to run:
MTB: Very personal preference, but if you live in a wet, soft ground, rooty place like I do, I’m a big fan of a tire that has aggressive, wide-spaced knobs, but can also run well at low pressure for deformation and traction over roots. This season I’ve been a fan of the WTB Vigilante 2.3, soft compound in front, hard compound in back. Depending on what I’m riding, I run anywhere from 14-18psi front, and 15-19psi rear. For reference, I weigh around 155-160 kitted up with a ~30lb bike.
Cyclocross: Very conditions dependent, but I’ve been doing well with the WTB Cross Boss 35c at around 24-25psi front and rear. For less sloppy days, I’m a fan of the WTB Riddler 37c – fast rolling center for road transfers (training) with aggressive side knobs that hook up on turns.
Road: Something thick and very puncture resistant, because the worst is changing a flat on the side of the road with cold hands. I run the WTB Horizon or WTB Nano 40c so that I have options to go off-road or deal with winter crap on the shoulder of the road.
Best Winter Snacks:
Hmmm…well, CLIF product is my go-to, especially the chocolate-peanut-butter bars, but to keep it toasty and pleasant I’m also a fan of:
bear jerky
landjaeger sausage
Costco muffins…the poppyseed or maple nut
Sin Dawgs by Dave’s Killer Bread
For really big, gnarly rides in the cold, I’m a huge fan of the Mountain House freeze-dried backcountry food. bring a camp stove and enjoy an almost real food meal.
A little flask of rye whiskey for the summit
A thermos of hot tea or coffee with something in it to warm the fat furnace, like butter or coconut oil
Random tip – Ride with a 3-pocked “XC nerd” jersey so you can put your phone in one of the pockets and use your body heat to keep the batter from dying prematurely in the cold. 

Winterized: Part 5

Welcome back to Winterized, the series of winter tips from Kona employees and athletes aimed at helping you survive cold, harsh winter rides. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the warmth of the indoors while considering these tips for your next frozen ride!


Name: Oliver Bartoli
Kona gig: Inside sales and warranty for France
Bike of choice: Rove ST
How Oliver gets Winterized:

I live in France close to Geneva ( Switzerland) at the bottom of the Jura mountain. We have proper winter, without being Alaskan ones, but cold temperatures and snowfall are regular.

I mainly ride my gravel bike ( a 2015 Rove ST), as it permits to spend a short time (less than 2 hours) outside, having good fun and also having good fitness. For the tires, I’m still struggling to find the right ones.

Some little tips: warm tea, not too much infused, is good to replace cold water in the water bottle.

For the riding gear, I favor flexibility and ability to move than warmth as my rides are short. I use some  Gore winter stopper socks which are quite good to keep your feet warm or at least not frozen. I also use Shimano all mountain shoes. These shoes have thick material on the front, so you do not feel too much the cold air.

The rest of my kit is quite usual ( base layer – Kona ones are great!-, winter jersey + good jacket, winter pant)

Name: Emmanuelle Zucchi
Kona gig: Sales: Switzerland
Bike of choice: Kona Process 153
How Emmanuelle gets Winterized:

My winter tips are:

  • Waterproof socks,
  • long bibs,
  • 1 Thermo layer
  • 1 Jersey (no more, it’s always better to let our bodies breathe)
  • 1 waterproof jacket (just in case of blizzard and snow)
  • Beanie, winter gloves and goggles (no fancy glasses) are mandatory.

Here we have a good variety of terrain, so tires and setups are kind of a sensible topic.

Some riders prefer to change them in relation to the conditions.. I prefer to use almost the same set up: Front Maxxis DHF 2.5 3c; Rear Maxxis DHR II  2.3 3c

Best riding snacks for my personal experience are CLIF BAR.

Name: Graham Agassiz
Kona gig: Kona freerider and team legend
Bike of choice:  Kona Operator
How Aggy gets Winterized:

My winter bike of choice is my 2014 Operator, equipped with 26″ 2.35 EXO Maxxis Beaver’s that are laced with sheet metal screws. Surprisingly this tire set up is still lighter than running normal 3C DH tires, and the with the studded tires the icier the better.
As for riding gear, I’ll use my Dakine Descent shorts, Dakine Mayhem knee pads and wrapped around my Giro shoes I run Gore Tex gators that keep any snow from getting inside the shoes.
As for a quick bike set up, a couple turns of the rebounds to help speed things up for when it’s cold.

Name: Justin Clements
Kona gig: Product Group Manager
Bike of choice: Splice-E
How Justin gets Winterized:

Winterized: Part 4

We’re back with Winterized, our guide to making riding in the winter slightly less crappy, and it’s the solstice! That means we can officially celebrate the shortest day of the year along with the first official day of the winter. Bittersweet, that one. We still have a long ways to go before we dig ourselves out of the dark, frozen days of winter, but at least we can take solace knowing that the sun will start to set later and later. When you’re trying to squeeze in those after work rides, every single minute counts.

Name: Hannah Bergemann
Kona gig: Bad Ass Ripper on the Kona Supremes Team
Bike of choice: Honzo AL/DL to keep her Process nice and clean during the gritty months.
How Hannah gets Winterized:

“Good lights are super important for me in the winter as it gets dark so early. I use an 850-lumen bar light and 1000 lumen headlight from Light and Motion.

I recently bought some waterproof Fox gloves that are awesome! They aren’t super thick or heavily insulated, so they breathe and allow you to retain dexterity, but still keep your hands dry/warm. The Kona winter gloves are also super warm for really cold days.

Smartwool wolly-bully socks for toasty feet

Packable rain shell (mine is an Outdoor Research Helium jacket)

Also kinda random, but my roommate bought me some special “sports detergent” for washing all my gear because it gets extra wet/smelly in the winter.

I normally ride clipless pedals, but sometimes will rock flats when its super cold or snowy as the clips get clogged with snow or freeze.”

Name: Aaron Hogg
Kona gig: Kona Graphics Master
Bike of choice: Honzo ST
How Aaron gets Winterized:

“Because we have fairly mild extremes in Christchurch winter riding isn’t bad,  but I do usually spend a lot more time trail building.

I have opted for the ghetto classic of plastic bags over my socks when it has gotten really bad but usually, I’ll just bung a thermal base layer on.
I tend to ride my Honzo St far more over winter as there is less stuff to get mud & grit into.”

Name: Scott Countryman
Kona gig: Kona Enduro Athlete
Bikes of choice: Process 153, Honzo, and Esatto
How Scott gets Winterized:


Winter is pretty mild here in northern Arizona so I’m lucky not to have to deal with anything too harsh. But here are some of my tips:
  • Preheat your shoes and gloves. Keeping your shoes and gloves inside where is warm is pretty obvious but if you can get them up to body temp before going out into the cold you will be much happier. I’ll put all my gear on ~20 min ahead of time to start warming them up and instead of wearing my gloves for that time I’ll slip them under my jersey so they still get body heat.
  • Get studded tires for your mountain bike. When it is cold and snowy out I find it much easier to motivate myself to romp around on the mountain bike with studded tires than to ride the trainer or go to the gym or try and find dry roads for a road ride.
  • Get a climbing gym membership. Rock climbing is an excellent cross-training activity for mountain bikers in the winter. The indoor gym is warm and dry and it is a fun, safe workout that you’ll want to come back for over and over.

Name: Richard James
Kona gig: Bikes and Buddies
Bike of choice: 2009 Kona Stab Supreme
How Scott gets Winterized:

  • The best way to keep your feet dry and warm is some Seal Skins socks They are the best socks EVER!  RRT £24.99
  • For the UK cyclist, they want a good glove that lasts but does not break the bank. Anything made by Endura is a winner.  The (Endura Strike glove) is the one I use.
  • As for the tyres, Schwalbe Marathon plus for MTB/Hybrid bikes and Durano Plus for road bikes. Very good kevlar tyres run about £34.99- £41.99 each. Food is an easy one. Clif Bar (peanut butter) is amazing. They taste great and give you a long-term energy boost like porridge.  Clif Shot Blocks are great for a short-term term boost.
  • Something that riders can do that makes a big difference is to clean their brakes after riding in wet conditions. Clean the breaking surface of the wheels and pads on a weekly basis. Then, if they have time, sand the rims down a little bit with some wet and dry sandpaper. This will make the pads last longer and stop the brakes form making a horrid squeaky noise.
  • They could also help to stop rust/corrosion by spraying GT85/MO94 or any other good oil on the mechs, cables and shifters. This would help to keep their gears running better for longer. It will also keep their repair costs down. Just be sure not to put oil on any brakes.

Winterized: Part 3

Welcome back to Winterized, our unofficial guide for how to make riding in the winter suck significantly less. We’re taking tips from Kona employees and athletes on how they manage to stay warm and dry(ish) in the dark, dank months. So, grab a toddy, stoke your fire, and check out the next iteration of Winterized!


Name: Trevor Torres
Kona gig: Warranty Service/Demo Manager
Bike of choice: Honzo with Maxxis Minions
How Trevor gets Winterized:

“I like to wear insulated gloves 40 and below.  Not waterproof as they always end up soaking from the inside, but ones with high breathability.
I also like to have a bin with dry warm clothes, towel, and shoes for after the ride.”

Name: Lacy Kemp
Kona gig: Communications Manager/New Kid on the Block
Bike of choice: Process 153 CR/DL
How Lacy gets Winterized:

“I ride a ton in the winter-mostly at night, and mostly alone, so no one hears me complaining about my numb hands. Speaking of numb hands, I’ll start with that. Apparently, I have terrible circulation, so keeping my hands and toes warm is a huge challenge. My saving grace has been Hot Hands Toe Warmers. I use them in my shoes (on the top of my toes) and shove them in the backs of my gloves when things get super cold. I prefer the toe warmers because they are flatter and have an adhesive so they don’t slip around. These things have turned what would have been a miserable day into so many good rides. Buy them in bulk from Amazon for the best deal.

Living in Bellingham means we have a lot of wet to deal with. Getting a good fender setup can be critical to both your vision and keeping your bike cleaner. There are lots of cool companies, but we have a new local company I’m excited about. Ground Keeper is by a Bellingham’s Keely Shannon, who is also part of the brains behind the super artsy Made Rad by Tony name. So, my Process looks awesome even when it’s muddy outside, I’m supporting a local business, and my face and bike are happier.

Another thing I do is deflate my tire pressure juuuuust a wee bit on those super wet days. I’m still learning what pressures work best for me, but with my Minions front and rear, I’m tinkering with around 19ish PSI. I’m a light rider so it’s definitely helpful when the tires grip the grease a bit better with softer rubber.

Lastly, if I’m riding with a pack, I’ll often take an extra jersey and pair of gloves to change into at the top of a climb. Nothing sucks more than dropping into a big descent with a sweaty, cold jersey and wet hands.”

Name: Joey Melweski
Kona gig: Warehouse Manager
Bike of choice:Process 153 CR/DL
How Joey gets Winterized:

“What I like to do to make winter rides more enjoyable:

1. Happiness is a warm rum. Depending on the ride, I’ll fill up a flask with a hot toddy or hot buttered rum.  Not only do they taste amazing, it warms up your insides, acts as a hand warmer and gives you some liquid courage!

2. Leave a towel and extra set of clothes in your car. Just knowing they are there when you get back to your car can make a ride more enjoyable.

3. Extra gloves. If it’s cold and rainy, the last thing you want is cold hands. Bring an extra set to change into before you drop in.”

Name: Matt Hoffmeyer
Kona gig: Kona Bike Shop Manager
Bike of choice: Honzo set up as a steel singlespeed or Honzo CR DL.
How Matt gets Winterized:

Things like how to keep your feet dry and hands warm…. Merino Socks when cold and damp. Showers Pass Waterproof socks for the really cold & wet rides.

The best tires to run…Past couple winters I have been a big fan of the Schwalbe Magic Mary Front and Rear, but this year I am giving the Maxxis Shorty a try.

The best winter snack is a flask of bourbon

I like to use Gore Tex Shorts & Jacket. I currently have 7mesh shorts and would recommend them to anyone.

Just get out there. Once you do you’ll be stoked and have fun. Rope as many friends into your ride, and make it happen on a regular basis.