Dark morning and evenings don’t have to put an end to your cycling season. With so much great kit out there, designed to keep you riding right through the winter months, there really is no excuse not to carry on rolling come rain, sleet or snow. However, the harsh winter weather can play havoc on your bike and its components, so it’s worth spending a bit of time setting it up to suit the more challenging conditions. Here is our guide on how to get your bike ready for winter...
As we all know, prevention is better than cure, so make sure your bike is well looked after and all of the components are working well before winter begins. Check for worn brake pads, cables and chain corrosion and prevent any rust from forming by using a specially formulated lubricating spray like Juice Lubes JL69 which repels dirt and drives out any excess water.
Before your winter riding begins, it can be beneficial to treat your trusty steed to a full bike service. A good all-round check-over by a professional bike mechanic can help prevent any unforeseen breakages and ensure all the major components of the bike are performing well before you hit the road or trail. Visit our Bike Servicing and Repairs page for a full list of services and details on how to book.
With shorter days and longer nights, you’re likely to spend at least some time riding in the dark, if not all the time, during the winter months. With this in mind, making sure you have a decent set of bike lights is essential. On the road, you’ll want lights that will make you visible to other road users; a bright red light on the rear and a good-sized white light on the front. For high-speed road cycling, you’ll need a front light that is bright enough to see potholes, people crossing the road or intrepid wildlife. And if you’re messing around with some night riding on the forest trails, you’ll need an even brighter front light to illuminate the trail and obstacles ahead.
With typically more rainfall during the winter, the amount of debris washed onto the road increases. This makes your chances of getting a puncture in the wetter months that much higher. To guard yourself against some soul-destroying time spent repairing punctures on the side of the road in the pouring rain and bitter cold winds, change to a winter tyre with heavy-duty walls and a protective layer to stop punctures in their tracks. The obvious downside of this is that these tyres are normally heavier than your standard summer road tyre and rolling resistance can be higher too, but just think of it as extra fitness training. You’ll thank us later.
If you run with ultra-light carbon wheels or wheels with fewer spokes during the summer, you might want to consider a hardier wheel for your winter training. With more debris on the road and bigger potholes to contend with, a stiffer wheel will give you a more controlled ride and you’ll avoid costly damage to your precious rims.
Mudguards have got a bit of a bad rep for being bothersome and unnecessary, but they are actually a very useful bit of kit for winter riding whether you are a city commuter, enthusiastic roadie or hardcore mountain biker. Protecting your face, bum and feet from winter road splashes and mud will leave you drier and more comfortable on the bike. If you’re riding with friends, they’ll thank you too, especially if you are drafting or racing down muddy trails together. Mudguard design and build quality has vastly improved and you’ll find mudguards to suit every type of bike, from your reliable workhorse of a commuter bike to a fast and sleek carbon racing road bike or a fully slack mountain bike.
It goes without saying that your bike will get significantly dirtier during the winter months. Road spray, mud and rain will take their toll and if not cleaned off regularly, can cause components to seize and slowly grind your bike to a halt. A quick wash after every ride will keep your bike operating smoothly and prevent anything from breaking whilst you’re out riding; beware that power washing can damage the bearings and remove grease, so take care or stick to a trusty bucket and sponge or garden hose. It’s especially important to keep your chain free of grime and dirt and to keep it well-oiled with a winter-specific lubricant.