Winter cycling can provide a whole host of new practical concerns and safety requirements, so here is our rundown of just some of the most important…
The importance of winter proofing your bicycle is paramount, especially as the darkness seems to rapidly be becoming more common than daylight.
In no time, we will be seeing heavy rain, gales and snow – like there hasn’t been enough dull weather already!
For those of you who have to face the elements or are choosing to maintain your cycling hobby throughout these winter months, it’s about time you winter proofed your bicycle!
Protect yourself – and your bike – from the dark
Be seen! The darkness is one of the most dangerous elements of the winter. Bike lights are an essential no matter what time of year, but it’s paramount that you stay visible in dark and poor weather conditions. Do you ride mostly in daytime or on brightly lit paths? If so, you need lights to ‘make you seen’. On the other hand, if you ride regularly along dimly lit roads then you need lights to ‘allow you to see’.
Additionally, wear high visibility clothing and if that isn’t enough or you want more protection, slap on some reflective wrist bands on your ankles and wrists – you can also get reflective covers for your rucksack!
Consider changing your tyres
No tyres are 100% puncture proof but you can get better resistance from some – which is ideal for this time of year. Use wider tyres for better grip with less pressure inside and a thicker sidewall – this will all benefit you on ice and in debris. Consider the options of inner tubes filled with sealant as well. Speak to your local bicycle shop or professional for specific information about your needs.
Keep it clean!
Get into a routine of washing down and drying your bicycle, even if it’s just a bucket of warm soapy water and a sponge. You will find yourself doing this regularly over the winter as salty, wet roads start to corrode and rust your bike – no one wants an orange chain!
Although you can replace expensive bike cleaners with soapy water, never skimp on lubricating your bicycle. Using a lubricant, like the spray-based GT85, will prolong the life of your chain, rear cassette and front chain rings or crank/chainset components.
If you’re a regular commuter, make it a regular routine, so even though you don’t wash the bike every day you do lubricate these vital components:
- On a daily basis lubricate your bicycle to disperse any water in the chain and keep it running smoothly – being careful not to get any onto braking surfaces.
- Use a cloth to dry off your chain and between the cogs on your rear cassette
- Then spray some lube onto the chain, turn the pedals and as you do so change up and down your rear gears allowing the chain to move up and down the cassette distributing the spray.
- Wipe off any excess with a cloth.
Prepare for an incident
If you protect yourself and stay cautious you should be fine, but in the event of an incident you should always be prepared. In the winter months this also means preparing for varying weather conditions.
Carry a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a pump. Debris is on the rise as the winter months drag on and it can be fatal to your tyres.
Don’t risk it!
If the weather truly is too bad, don’t do it! Jump on public transport when conditions really deteriorate and be wary of changing conditions – namely wind, ice and snow – at all times.
Got some top tips about winter riding? Let us know at @UKBikeBus!