I'm interested in how wind chill and temperature come into play while cycling. If I rode on one day with the temperature at 15°F (-9°C), but the wind chill was 1F (-17°C), how would that relate to a day where the temperature is 10°F (-12°C) or 20°F (-6°C) with the same wind chill?
1On the assumption that your degrees are all in Fahrenheit, I added units and conversion to celsius. If you actually meant 15°C, 1°C, 10°C, and 20°C respectively, please edit your own question accordingly.– gerritFeb 27, 2014 at 22:41
@gerrit nope, your right, I been trying to be better about these things, thanks. I was a little rush to get this question out the door since tomorrow morning is the coldest morning I considered riding (without the perfect gear). I done the -12c the other day, but it is going even lower.– BPughFeb 28, 2014 at 2:16
Personally, I feel like wind chill is more how quick will I reach the current temperature. The higher the winds, the quicker my temperature will decrease.– Carson ReinkeFeb 28, 2014 at 17:32
4Uh, when you're riding a bike you're generating the wind chill. In still 30F air, if you're going 10mph you're experiencing a windchill of 21F. And if the air isn't still it obviously depends on whether you're going upwind or downwind (though years of experience tell me you're never going downwind).– Daniel R HicksMar 5, 2014 at 22:08
Ok, let's start with wind chill. The faster the wind, the more chill Wind Chill chart from the National Weather Service Read along the top for the temperature without wind, then down for wind chill at different speeds. So, for example, at 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-9°C) in a 15mph (6.7 m/s) wind, effective temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18°C). (chilly!) That chart only works up to 40 degrees F (4°C), but it gives the idea! This Wind chill Calculator allows you to put in any value, and speed of air
Of course, that's if you're standing still. If you're cycling you almost always have a headwind, Here is a link to a page with masses of detailed information about headwinds. The faster you go, the faster the effective windspeed, and the lower the temperature felt. This can be really helpful on a hot summer day, or really chilly in a cold winter!
When cycling you have to take this into account - in the winter, layer up (and find a wind proof jacket if possible.) In the summer, it means that you can actually go up that big hill without totally overheating! I remember one hot day, on a steep incline, I rounded a bend, and came straight into the lee (wind shielded) side of the hill - in seconds I was feeling way too hot, without the cooling breeze.
1It's been my experience that the only time you ever have a tailwind is when you're going uphill on a hot day. Mar 5, 2014 at 22:11
A wind proof jacket is a bad idea, even in winter: Your sweat will condense just below the wind proof layer, and after some time your clothes will be quite damp. My experience is that it is better to strongly reduce air flow, but not to stop it. That way you body is still able to regulate heat by sweating, and your clothes will remain dry. That said, wind proof gloves with a good insulating layer inside are a must in winter. Jan 28, 2021 at 8:52
I think it will help the most to simply having a better understanding of wind chill. A wind chill of 1 is a wind chill of 1, regardless of the air temperature you start with ( Granted, to make matters more complex, there's not really a standard for calculating wind chill ). The wind chill you experience personally while on your bicycle depends entirely on your speed / the wind speed, and your direction vs wind direction, and those variables are typically changing constantly and often on a bicycle. If you are traveling at the same speed and direction as the wind, then you won't experience a wind chill.
If you go for a ride on a particularly windy day, the best thing you can do is bring the appropriate extra clothes you'll need to make yourself warmer or colder.
I live in a very cold, very windy place, and I ride all year. In my experience, wind chill as provided by weather reports is not very useful when biking, because it assumes you're stationary (or walking). It's much more useful to know the temperature and the wind speed and direction, and have some experience to judge what that means to you. If the wind is 15 MPH, but you're going to be traveling directly with it or against it, then the wind chill as quoted by the weather report is not going to mean much, is it?
First of all, dress such that there is a minimum of exposed skin. The wind is far less of a factor when you have a good windproof outer layer, after which you can focus on the air temperature. This winter I tried using a raincoat as my outer layer, and it has been remarkably effective because it completely blocks the wind even though it is not insulating at all. Wear whatever sorts of googles, hats, balaclava, etc. to block the wind but still be able to see and breathe.
Second, wear layers so you can adjust how much insulation you have. With experience, you will just pick the right layers for the ride and weather.
If it's going to be windy (maybe like 20+ MPH, where I live it's almost always at least 10 MPH), I'll think about an extra layer, the warmer gloves, etc. One thing that the wind definitely influences is my choice of eyewear. If it's really windy and/or really cold, I'll wear ski goggles, otherwise maybe I'll just wear sunglasses or nothing. Of course it's easy to just bring such things along no matter what, and use them if necessary.
Wind speed to temp table:
9 km/h 18 km/h 27 km/h 37 km/h 46 km/h 55 km/h 65 km/h 74 km/h 83 km/h -29°C -32°C -43°C -50°C -55°C -58°C -61°C -63°C -64°C -65°C -26°C -29°C -40°C -46°C -51°C -54°C -57°C -59°C -60°C -61°C -23°C -26°C -36°C -42°C -47°C -50°C -53°C -55°C -56°C -56°C -20°C -23°C -32°C -38°C -43°C -46°C -49°C -50°C -51°C -52°C -18°C -20°C -30°C -35°C -39°C -42°C -45°C -46°C -47°C -47°C -15°C -17°C -26°C -31°C -35°C -37°C -40°C -41°C -43°C -43°C -12°C -14°C -22°C -27°C -31°C -34°C -36°C -37°C -38°C -39°C -9°C -11°C -16°C -23°C -27°C -30°C -31°C -32°C -34°C -34°C -7°C -8°C -16°C -20°C -23°C -26°C -28°C -28°C -29°C -30°C -4°C -5°C -12°C -16°C -19°C -21°C -23°C -24°C -25°C -25°C -1°C -2°C -8°C -12°C -15°C -17°C -19°C -20°C -20°C -21°C 2°C 0°C -5°C -8°C -11°C -13°C -14°C -15°C -16°C -17°C 4°C 3°C -3°C -5°C -7°C -9°C -10°C -11°C -11°C -12°C 7°C 6°C 1°C -1°C -3°C -5°C -6°C -6°C -7°C -8°C 10°C 7°C 2°C 1°C -1°C -2°C -3°C -4°C -4°C -5°C
Print it and you will always know what to put on.
1If the wind's 83 km/h I don't put anything on. Just turn up the heat and crawl into bed. Mar 13, 2014 at 12:22
@DanielRHicks Agreed, like I did yesterday: "day starts chilly and raining"...meh, no biggy..."afternoon is well below freezing and snowing"...mmm, maybe, it has rained all day..."wind guest of 64 km/h"...screw you nature, I'll let the wife drop me off. That wind on the way home is both head wind and cross wind the whole way.– BPughMar 13, 2014 at 14:06
We use this table for motorcycles too. That's why it graduated up to 83 km/h Mar 13, 2014 at 16:36
If riding 10 mph into a 15 mph headwind, is the effective wind chill based on the 15 mph headwind only, or the 15 mph headwind plus the 10 mph speed at which you are riding into the headwind for a combined wind speed total of 25 mph and an effective 25 mph wind chill?– peterJan 28, 2021 at 4:59
This might work for pedestrians where wind speed dominates, and for motorcyclists where head wind dominates. But it's utterly useless for bikers where wind speed and head wind are typically on the same order of magnitude. If wind speed is 27km/h at -9°C, you can get a windchill anywhere between -9°C and -31°C. The trick is to clothe up in such a way that you can largely ignore the windchill effect. Jan 28, 2021 at 9:02