Benjamin Franklin famously said, b By failing to prepare, you preparing to fail.b Winter is around the corner and if you want to commute by bike, train through the winter, or join your friends on club runs, you need to be prepared for the winter months. And remember, winter miles equals summer smiles. Cycle Art has put together a brief but helpful winter guide to help prepare you for the shorter days, longer nights and colder weather.
Get a Winter Bike
If you don’t already have a winter bike, it might be worth while getting one. Whilst it is possible to “winterise” your bike, it’s useful to have a bicycle that is set up to do the job. This prevents unnecessary wear and tear on your “good” bike, and allows you to hang up the carbon race bike until the summer keeping it dry and safe. We’d recommend a Ridley Xbow. Although the Xbow is a cyclo-cross bike, it has mounts for mudguards, plenty of clearance and is ideal for our British winter weather and road conditions. It can also go off road if your commute needs to.
Thereb s a common misconception that mudguards arenb t cool and are noisy. However, being wet, cold and miserable or covering your mates with spray and mud is definitely not cool and well fitting mudguards are not noisy. Mudguards are important for several reasons. Firstly, youb ll keep your legs and backside dryer, which will make rides a lot more comfortable and reduces the chance of muscular injury. Secondly, mudguards keep your bike cleaner, and can help increase the lifespan of your bicycle and itb s components. Thirdly, your riding companions will thank you for using them b riding in a group without mudguards is selfish! If your bike already has mounts and sufficient clearance, we have a range of Tortec reflector mudguards. If your bike doesnb t have mounts, this isnb t a problem, as clip on mudguards such as SKS Raceblades or Raceblades long in various sizes will suit most bikes.
Punctures are a pain at the best of times. Itb s even worse trying to change a tube at the side of the road in winter. Unfortunately, you are more likely to puncture in the winter, so now would be a good time to hang up your 23mm race tyres and swap them for some serious winter rubber. We recommend the Clement Strada, the Schwable Durano and Durano Plus, or the bombproof Schwable Marathon. Web d recommend at least a 25mm, and if your frame has the clearance, a 28mm. Continental Gatorskins are also pretty tough, and we have those in stock too.
Saddle Bag & Tools
You should be carrying tubes, tyre levers, a pump and multi-tool anyway, but in the winter it really is essential. With the bad weather there is a higher possibility of a mechanical issue, so a couple of good quality spare tubes, tyre levers, a pump capable inflating to a high pressure, and a multi-tool with a chain breaker is a very good idea. Make life easier by putting them into a saddlebag and store it on your winter bike permanently and donb t leave home without it. Web d recommend the range of Lezyne saddlebags, tools and tyre levers, and multi-tools from either Lezyne or Fat Spanner. Web d also recommend carrying some gaffer tape and a tyre boot for fixing slashes or any manner of mishaps.
Mini pumps look cool and are lightweight, but in the winter you might not be so happy at the roadside working away frantically with a tiny pump. Web d recommend a frame pump if it fits, as it will inflate your tyres quicker. CO2 canisters are also a very good option.
Lights are important for 2 reasons b firstly to see where you are going and secondly, so you are visible to other road users. Even if you are not planning on riding in the dark, the winter in the UK can bring with it some gloomy, overcast days where visibility will be poor. Not only that, if you do have a mechanical, you might get caught out. There are two main types of lights b those that help you see and those that make you visible. Web d recommend:
b ” a good quality rechargeable light on the front such as the Lezyne Deca Drive (800 lumens) or Cateye Volt 1200 (1200 lumens)
b ” a back up LED light on the front such as a Lezyne Micro Drive or Cateye Uno
b ” a good quality rear light such as the Lezyne Micro Drive or Cateye Volt 50
b ” a back up rear LED light such as the Femto Drive or Cateye Nima
b ” a helmet mounted light
For urban riding web d also recommend a side facing LED to increase visibility at junctions and roundabouts such as Cateye loop light.
If you donb t think high vis can be stylish b think again. Mavic and Castelli have some fantastic looking high vis clothing. Regardless, web d prefer to be alive and look silly than be dead and well dressed. The more visible your clothing, the more visible to other road users you are. Web d recommend at the very least a jacket in bright colours with reflective detailing. If you have a ruck sack, itb s a good idea to get hold of a high vis ruck sack cover.
Sounds silly but youb d be amazed how many people go out riding in the winter in shorts, with no gloves and nothing under their helmet. Itb s not big, itb s not clever and itb s not cool. Actually, it is cool b very cold in fact. Ensure you have a good set of winter base layers, outer clothes, jackets, warmers, gloves, buffs, under helmet headwear, socks, overshoes, glasses and suitable shoes for the winter. It will keep you warmer, dryer, safer and make your winter riding far more enjoyable. We have a wide range of winter clothing from Mavic and Castelli that will help you get geared up for the cold and wet. Hypothermia is not funny.
Keep it clean
A clean bike lasts longer. Why? Riding in the winter places stress on the moving parts because grit and grime damages components. Ideally, you should clean your bike after every ride. That way you will prevent parts rusting and the next time you ride you will not have grit and grime in the components. You can use a bucket and hot water with washing up liquid but we do offer a range of specialist cleaning products from Fenwicks, Muc-Off and Hope. Little and often is the key b especially when roads are gritted.
Cleaning it is fine, but cleaning products will strip the grease and lubrication off the bike that is required to keep moving parts from seizing or wearing prematurely. We would recommend a wet lube during the winter, although if you are prepared to regularly clean and relube then a good quality dry lube would also suffice. We stock a range of good quality wet and dry lubricants from Fenwicks.
Check your chain
Your chain will naturally stretch with riding but in the winter this can be worse. Itb s a good idea to use 2 chains and swap them over every 1000km. Why? The cassette (your rear cogs) wear at the same rate as your chain, so leaving it until your chain wears out you will probably need to replace the cassette (and sometimes the front chainrings too), which can be a very expensive proposition. If you swap your chains over regularly it will massively increase the life of your cassette and chainrings. Buy a chain checker and regularly check your chain wear.
Keep on top of your bike
In the winter, your bike parts wear quicker. Keep an eye on your brake pads and tyres to ensure they are not worn. If you do puncture, check the tyre isnb t ripped or worn, as getting stuck miles from home in the dark isnb t pleasant.
Take a phone and some cash with you
Sounds silly, but if your bike does break down and a road side repair is not possible, you will need to consider firstly how you will get home and secondly you will need to let loved ones know you are safe. Keep spare money in your saddlebag at all times and always take a mobile phone with you.