Given all of the outdoor riding that I have been been doing this winter partially due to the lack of snow, I've noted one thing consistently. My hand seem to get really cold, just about every ride. No matter how I dress I always seem to have the initial freeze and thaw with my hands, at which point they are then OK if I keep moving and keep them dry.
There is a work-around for this of course. If I get my heart rate up and going before I start a ride outdoors in the cold, for instance on a trainer indoors, I'm then OK when I go out and ride. If I just go outdoors though and start riding my hands freeze within the first 20 minutes and then eventually thaw and are OK. Sort of minor and not Earth shattering but annoying.
I'm not a big fan of the chemical warmers simply because I hate the idea of something that is just a 'use once throw away' item. I've contemplated heated stuff but really, this year seems to be worse than others in the past where the problem wasn't so pronounced. Or maybe the problem is just more evident this year. Or maybe I'm just getting old and soft.
Anyhow, the point of this was that I thought I'd give something different a try, hand muffs. I'd used them on snowmachines in the past when it was super cold and they helped for sure. It only made sense that they would work on bikes as well, I simply didn't know how the fit would be.
A couple weeks ago I order a couple pairs from a moto specific web retailer that I had used in the past. These were significantly cheaper than the one or two bicycle specific models out there but were designed to work with sleds or ATVs, so I figured that they would work for sure on flat-bars for MTBs. Turns out they they work fine for road drop-bars as well, as long as you ride on the hoods. There isn't enough room with them to get into the drops, at least not for me. They are made from lightweight padded nylon which gives wind resistance
and insulation though I suspect, is somewhat breathable. They attach
with a simple drawstring that you tie around the bars.
We used them for the first time last night on a SSCX ride around the Battle Road. The temperature when we started was about 24 degrees and it was a little windy but not bad. The muffs were pretty easy to install and getting in and out them was also pretty simple. I rode with gloves and liners and Cathy had lobster shells and liners but started with just the liners. On the bike path her hands got cold and she put the shells on over the liners. My hands started OK but got cold as usual. Directly following a hard effort and then slight recover they warmed up and stayed warm the rest of the ride. This is what usually happens to me. Cathy said her hands were very warm, though she never removed the lobster shells and went back to just the liners. In fairness, she doesn't have the same problems that I do with her hands staying warm. I think that the next time that I try them I will see if a thinner set of gloves actually help.
All in all, I think that they helped. I suspect that they would really be good on the road and would make a big difference on long rides. They would also help in snowy conditions as they would shelter your hands and help keep them dry. I will spend some more time with them but do thing that they helped and were worth the price that I paid. They also look so rad I can hardly stand it.
Or maybe not.