Riding and Gear Tips: Your Winter Bike Setup
With winter firmly here to make life more interesting for cyclists how should you be modifying your bike?
Step 1: Fenders
The first step is also the most obvious one. Fenders. If you’ve never heard of them you must be living in a magical world where whenever you go through a muddy puddle, it doesn’t launch itself towards you. But seriously, fenders are important for two reasons. The first is it keeps mud off your clothes and face. The second is that it keeps mud off sensitive components of your bike. Even the most sealed components can get mud inside them and that causes all sorts of havoc. If I was to add a third reason, it would be to keep mud and water out of the face of the rider behind you. However, some of you may look at that as a reason to not add fenders.
The next step is to choose which fenders you want. There are the road bike style fenders that fit around the wheel and sit close to the tire or the mountain bike style fenders that flap around graciously as you wiz around your favorite trail.
Alternatively, there are also folding fenders. For those with road bikes that refuse to take the typical fenders I can strongly recommend the Crud Roadracer.
Step 2: Winter Tires
Part of your winter bike setup should be to fit winter tires. For city riders that means something with a little more width if your bike will take it. Also, ideally you’ll look for something with puncture protection such as the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. This will save you from stopping to fix a puncture in the rain and cold.
For mountain bikers or for those who predict they’ll be cycling through the snow then studded tires are a good addition.
Step 3: Bike lights
With shorter days this is the time to have a good set of bike lights. Recently, I’ve been a big fan of USB chargeable bike lights as this saves me the hassle of remembering to buy new batteries. Not to mention the cost of buying them and how quickly it adds up. Plus, Iím sure there’s some kind of a eco-friendly angle here that satisfies your inner “eco-warrior”.
Don’t be afraid to back up your standard two lights with a light that attaches to your helmet or bag.
Step 4: Lubrication
Winter is a time of the year when more water will be hitting your sensitive bike components. Therefore, staying on top of your cleaning and lubrication routine is important. Unfortunately, I see far too many riders go wrong here. They’ll either never lubricate or go overboard. They never seem to hit the perfect middle.
You should clean your bike thoroughly and then apply a small layer of bike specific lubricant. As this is winter a wet lube is probably the best option. Leave the lubricant to sink in and then wipe away any excess. This is crucial as mud will stick to the excess lubricant and grind away at your components.
Step 5: Maintenance
With longer stopping distances on the roads, winter is a time to be on top of your bike maintenance. Either take it down to your local shop or do it yourself, but make sure your brakes are ready for anything that unpredictable conditions can throw at them.
This is a guest post by Andreas of London Cyclist Blog where he has also written about a winter bike setup in London.
What do you think?