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#283808 - 02/20/17 05:45 AM Core temp, cold extremities, sweating
bigmbogo Offline

Registered: 02/11/05
Posts: 82
My friend is an avid mountain biker, year-round. We were talking about dressing for the cold, and he told me that his hands and feet get freezing cold in the winter, despite wearing quality hand and footwear.

I suggested that his core temperature was too low, and if he kept his head and torso warmer, his extremities would warm up. He disagreed, saying that while biking his core temperature is so warm that he sweats profusely while his extremities freeze. Apparently the guys he bikes with seem to all have the same issue.

I guess I assumed that if you're sweating, that means your core temperature is warm. Maybe too warm.

He says he tends to dress pretty light, and seems to understand layers, etc.

I don't usually do anything as strenuous as he does, but I tend to stay warm outside. If I start to sweat, I remove a layer or ventilate, but my hands and feet tend to still stay warm.

What suggestions do you all have?



#283809 - 02/20/17 07:08 AM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
haertig Online   content

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 1960
Loc: Colorado
I have had a couple of times on a bike where my body was perfectly warm, but my hands were freezing. My daughter experiences the same thing, and she is much younger and more athletic than I am.

We thought maybe it was gloves lacking wind resistance. We recently bought her several pairs of gloves, it was 10 degrees outside, and we went out on the back porch with a carpet dryer squirrel cage fan (very high velocity and high volume of air output) and tested each pair.

Even with the best pair of wind resistant gloves, her hands still get cold (but definitely not as cold as with crappy gloves). The carpet dryer fan test was great for finding the best pair of gloves. The differences in gloves was immediately obvious. All the gloves said they were windproof, but there were highly varying rates of falsehood to those claims depending on the brand/model of glove.

It's not low core temperature that makes your hands cold on a bike. I don't know what makes them cold. Could be that your wrists are bent back as they contact the handlebars and that compromises circulation. Maybe with street bike handlebars (that curve down) you might not see the problem. But with mountain bike horizontal handlebars, I certainly do.

#283810 - 02/20/17 08:39 AM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
Tjin Offline

Registered: 04/08/02
Posts: 1712
Have the same issue on the bike or just running. Head and body sweating like crazy, but hands are cold. Wearing better gloves works for me...
My Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjQHh-hs39h6xWirxHo_HwA

#283811 - 02/20/17 09:02 AM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
Bingley Offline

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1375
Hand/feet warmers? Are there electrically heated gloves/socks? Hey, there are!

#283813 - 02/20/17 11:48 AM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
Herman30 Offline

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 217
Loc: Finland
Hmmm...strange problems. I dont´t bike so can´t say anything about that. But even in winter, with near -20 celsius, I can be outside without gloves after the core temperature has risen and blood flows warm. It takes usually about 15 min of walking to reach that stage. But that is only if there is nearly no wind, of course.

#283817 - 02/20/17 02:01 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
Quietly_Learning Offline

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 163
I've had the same problem biking in the winter as well. I could easily keep my core warm with light layers, a windproof jacket and the heat generated in my torso and quads by moderately strenuous pedaling.

I believe the answer for cold hands is windchill and hand position.

My winter bicycling specific gloves had a patch on the thumb to wipe off glasses. The wind would blow right through that patch and freeze my thumbs first to the point of pain.

Since my hands were stuck in basically one position holding onto the handlebars, (that allowed quick access to the gears and brakes), there was not much I could do. I tried other gloves I owned but they were worse with the wind.

A quick look at windchill numbers helps show the temperature difference:

For my feet, I found the problem was more that my clipless pedals conducted heat away from my feet. My soles would feel it first at the connection point between shoe and pedal. I could not fit too thick a sock inside my bicycling shoes.

For what to do to keep warm? I would say trying out different gloves and using toe warmers can help. If your friend can find gloves with liners, (that still allow access to the controls), he can slip toe warmers between the layers.

Two things I never tried were over booties and changing out the insoles.

#283818 - 02/20/17 02:04 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: Herman30]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6291
Loc: southern Cal
I have commuted by bike in fairly cool conditions, and it helps to start out slightly on the cool side, gaining comfort as you exercise. I found that insulating my head, usually a balaclava beneath my helmet, kept everything nice and comfy. Windproof is critical.
Geezer in Chief

#283819 - 02/20/17 02:22 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
chaosmagnet Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2887
Loc: USA
I use really good gloves made for bicyling in the cold weather and that seems to have a big impact.

#283821 - 02/20/17 03:17 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: chaosmagnet]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4739
I've only ever used fingerless gloves for bicycling and they would be useless in cold weather. But my bike doesn't like snow/slush/rain or even cold weather for that matter. It complains vociferously when its chain and sprockets get gunked up. wink

Sounds like wind-chill to me with gloves that are good for bike handling but not so much for cold weather at bicycling speeds.

#283824 - 02/20/17 03:44 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
M_a_x Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 974
Loc: Germany
I ride an enduro motorcycle that has shields for the hands. That feels much more comfy than riding bikes without those shields (+1 on the windchill
Ration sweat. Proper garment for the upper body and isolating forearms and legs may also help. If you are in a mode to disipate the heat, there may not be enough to heat your hands and feet.
I must admit though that cold hands or feet a rarely a problem for me.
If it isn´t broken, it doesn´t have enough features yet.

#283829 - 02/20/17 08:48 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 1014
Loc: Channeled Scablands
My friend rode the Bike-Iditerod with temps over the several days at -20 F.
She wore pack boots with super gaiters. Wind shell mittens over other gloves.

They all still stopped riding about every 30 minutes and pushed their bikes to warm up their hands, face and feet.

i would try hand warmers inside mittens and over-boots.

And use cross country ski pants and jackets which are windproof on the front and stretch breathable on the back. Craft makes some nice ones.

Local cross country ski racers went to alaska to race. They said they wore 3 hats-
two on their head and one in their pants. The boys anyway.

Edited by clearwater (02/20/17 08:52 PM)

#283833 - 02/21/17 01:16 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
williamlatham Offline

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 235
Loc: Stafford, VA, USA
It could also be Raynaud's Disease:


I think I have a mild case as my hands and feet are always cold even if my core is sweating. A friend has it worse. One thing for the hands is to insulate the wrists. When I use a liner layer that has thumbholes, my wrists stay warm and therefore my hands stay warmer. Conversely, if my core starts to sweat, opening up my wrists will remove a fair amount of heat. The cold wrist also trigers vasoconstriction which makes the problem worse. Feet more or less work the same way.


#283834 - 02/21/17 03:54 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: williamlatham]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2807
Loc: La-USA
I have Reynaud's Disease or Syndrome. I've found that wearing fingerless wool gloves helps a lot! The USGI gloves keep the wrists and palms warm which keeps warm blood flowing to the fingers. Fingerless gloves are good down to 60deg F. I need full fingered (USGI) wool gloves down to 50deg F, wool gloves and leather shells down to freezing temp. I'm now the owner of sheep's wool lined leather gloves (as a external shell) to go along with the wool gloves and (USGI) arctic mittens for below freezing temps.

I have not had a problem with my feet but the temps don't get to freezing or below in South Louisiana very often or for very long. I do keep a pair of USGI Arctic duck cloth green boots with wool liners (booties) for those times of low temps. Those boots may be ugly, in some folk's opinion's, but they are the most comfortable boot I've ever worn.
The best luck is what you make yourself!

#283871 - 02/26/17 03:31 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
bigmbogo Offline

Registered: 02/11/05
Posts: 82
Thanks for the replies, although I'm still a bit mystified. I don't think my hands or feet have ever gotten uncomfortably cold while I was doing strenuous exercise, unless they were wet. I've never biked in the winter, so maybe that's different somehow.

Would adding more core layer insulation help? My friend tells me he dresses pretty lightly overall, I think because he doesn't want to sweat too much. If he's going to sweat anyway, no matter how lightly dressed he is, does it matter if another layer makes him even warmer?


#283876 - 02/26/17 07:07 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: bigmbogo]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6291
Loc: southern Cal
Just one thing to add: make sure the gloves are windproof. Hands are exposed, stationary, and exposed to the elements and you are generating a lot of breeze. Merely thick insulation is not as important as wind proofing.
Geezer in Chief

#284049 - 03/12/17 08:50 PM Re: Core temp, cold extremities, sweating [Re: wildman800]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: wildman800
I've found that wearing fingerless wool gloves helps a lot!

So do I. My cold weather mittens are a pair of thick fingerless wool gloves with a windproof layer on top. (Some cotton canvas or synthetic thing, semi-water repellant). I use these when temps drop a few degrees below freezing or colder.

These kind of mittens are standard for equipment for cold weather skiing. Comes in all price ranges.

Operating brakes and gears aren't exactly "fingerspitsgefühl", but good enough.

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