Want to know how to nurture your bike through the winter? Read on for our top tips on winter bike maintenance. Your bike will love you for it.
Rain, mud and salty roads can spell bad news for your trusty steed, accelerating wear and tear. The last thing you need when you’re out riding in the cold and wet is a mechanical – let’s face it, you should be congratulating yourself for not succumbing to the temptation of the sofa or the bus home. So what are the most important ways to look after your bike through the cold months?
Winter Bike Maintenance Tip #1 - Lube your drivetrain
Top cycling mechanics will tell you that most cyclists aren’t using the right lubricant on their drivetrain, ‘lubing’ in the wrong way or, even worse, applying no lube at all to their chain. A bicycle’s drivetrain (the gears, chain and crankset – basically, all the components used to ‘drive’ the bike along) features a number of highly expensive parts, which are all integral to its performance – so, investing in some decent lube is a smart decision, with wet lube being the most sensible choice at this time of year – wet lube lasts a long time and works well in the adverse British climate.
How to use wet lube
Apply the lube to a clean, degreased chain: best then to lube straight after you have cleaned your bike (read on to find out how important this is), running through all the gears to ensure it reaches all those hard to get places. Use a rag to wipe off any excess lube and ta-da: a drivetrain fit for a King.
How often to lube your bike chain?
The question of how often to lube your drivetrain is a difficult one, as it depends on how much you use your bike, however in general a weekly check should be sufficient. Get some lube
Winter Bike Maintenance Tip #2 - Fit some mudguards
Bike fashionistas take note: mudguards are the new cool. All the best cyclists in the world fit mudguards to their bikes in the winter – nobody wants to come back home or arrive at the office in a complete state. Fashion aside, mudguards can fit on just about any bike and as well as keeping the water and slush away from your rear end, will also protect areas of your bike that, much like cats, don’t like getting wet.
Mudguards: good cycling etiquette
Your friends will also thank you for fitting a mudguard, as a rear mudguard will prevent you spraying cold water into your mates’ faces when they are cycling behind you. This considered, a mudguard may actually encourage your peers to come riding with you on those tough winter days when the sofa’s calling. If benefitting your friends and your bike still hasn’t quite sold you, then how about this: mudguards can actually improve your performance. No matter how funny it may be spraying someone in the face for three hours, keeping yourself warm and dry on a winter ride is priority number one. Mudguards will stop unwanted spray from covering your feet and body, keeping you in peak condition to push that bit harder this winter. Choose a pair of mudguards
Winter Bike Maintenance Tip #3 - Clean, clean and clean again
It may be the last thing you feel like doing after a long few hours in the saddle, but cleaning your bike often will pay dividends in the long run. Despite the best efforts of mudguards, your bike will almost always accumulate a degree of mud and dirt, so cleaning it after each winter ride is imperative.
How to clean your bike
All you need is a bucket of warm water and a sponge to get the worst of the mess off the key areas of your bike – a set of bike-cleaning brushes are an added bonus for getting to those hard-to-reach areas. Tempted to use Fairy Liquid? Plain water would be preferable, as the detergents in regular soap can strip the lube (see above) from your components – or even better, use some bike-specific cleaner, which is both more efficient at cleaning the grime off, and will protect your bike from muck and mud next time. Making this part of your regular routine will help keep your bike in tip-top shape, allowing you to get the most out of its performance and have fun this winter. See bike cleaning products
Winter Bike Maintenance Tip #4 - Fit the right tyres
If you’ve been soldiering on with the same lighter-weight tyres you used last summer, it’s definitely worth swapping them out for some heavier-duty, more resistant tyres to cope with the differing demands of winter. You’ll still get plenty of use out of them, before you need to swap back to summer slicks. You don’t want to be that poor soul stranded in the middle of nowhere, changing a tyre in the dark with fingers too cold to function. Brrrr.
Finding the perfect winter bike tyre
The key things to look out for in pursuit of the perfect winter tyre are:
- Puncture resistance
Factor an element of each into your tyre choice this winter, and you’ll be much less likely to find yourself having to limp home on an ever-flatter tyre.
Lower your tyre pressure for the winter
The other thing to consider is tyre pressure, as when the roads are wet, running on a lower pressure can increase the contact area with the ground, improving your grip significantly. We’re not talking flat, but if you like to pump up your road tyres to 130 psi in the summer, then dropping them down a little for the wet-weather season should help keep you nice and secure in the saddle. Choose some winter tyres
And lastly – if all this sounds like a lot of work…
Winter Bike Maintenance Tip #5 - Buy a Winter bike
A winter bike need not cost the earth and to be honest, a good winter bike can receive plenty of use all year round. Right now, we have a number of winter road bike deals from a range of top brands that will help you strike that balance between affordability, performance and comfort. See our winter bike deals