As we are all aware, thanks largely to the likes of the Daily Mail and Daily Express, the big freeze is only just around the corner. This is bad news for your trusty steed as the rain and salt on the roads can all exacerbate the wear and tear on your bike. So, what can you do to get your ride ready for the winter months ahead? Here are our top five tips:
1) Fit some mudguards
For the fashion conscious amongst us, mudguards aren’t the coolest accessory to add to your bike. But, even the best cyclists in the world will be adding mudguards to their bikes in the next few weeks - as 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 will keep the water and slush away from areas of your bike that, much like cats, don’t like getting wet. Your friends will also thank you for fitting a mudguard, as a rear mudguard will prevent you spraying cold water into your mates face when they are cycling behind you. This considered, a mudguard may actually encourage your piers to come ride with you on those tough winter days when it is much easier to sit in front of the fire. If benefitting your friends and your bike doesn’t still quite sell a mudguard to you then this final point will, mudguards can actually increase 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.
2) Clean, clean and clean again
Despite the best efforts of mudguards, your bike will almost always accumulate a degree of mud and dirt, so cleaning it after each ride is imperative. It may be the last thing that you want to do after a long few hours in the saddle, but doing this regularly will prove worthwhile in the long run. All you need is a bucket of warm water and a sponge to get the worst of the mess of the key areas of your bike – you could use a toothbrush, but if you have that amount of time on your hands you really should be out there riding longer. Getting this into 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.
3) Lube the drive train
All top cycling mechanics will tell you that the majority of cyclists aren’t using the right lubricant on their drive train, ‘lubing’ in the wrong way or, worst of all, not applying any lube to their chain at all. Now, as a word of warning, Google searching ‘how to lube’ can be a treacherous, so the following will save you any embarrassment. The drive train consists of a number of highly expensive parts, which are both integral to your performance and you being able to afford that bike of your dreams in the not to distant future. Investing in some decent lube is therefore a wise decision, with wet lube being the most sensible choice at this time of year – wet lube lasts a long time and work well in the adverse British climate. Apply the lube to a clean degreased chain, best then to lube straight after you have cleaned your bike (which as you now know is something you should be doing), running through all the gears to ensure it reaches all those hard to get places. Use a rag to wipe of any excess lube and then you should have a drive train that is fit for a King. The question of how often to lube your drive train is a difficult one, as it depends on how much you use your bike, however in general a weekly check is probably sufficient.
4) Fit the right tyres
If you’ve been riding lighter weight tyres all summer it is probably worth swapping them out for some heavier duty, more resistant tyres to cope with the differing demands of winter. You don’t want to be that person who is stuck out in the middle of nowhere, changing a tyre in the dark with fingers that won’t function because of the cold. The key things to look out for in the pursuit of the perfect winter tyre are traction, puncture resistance and width. If you can factor an element of each into your tyre choice this winter then you will be much less likely to find yourself having to limp home on an ever flattening tyre. 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.
And lastly – if all this sounds like a lot of work…
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.