It’s now officially autumn, and while winter doesn’t technically start until the end of December, temperatures are about to plummet and the weather is due to take a turn for the worse.
Cycling will become more difficult – mentally and practically – with rain dampening your spirits and dark weather knocking your confidence. But with the right gear and a positive attitude it’s possible to embrace cycling in the winter.
Winter proofing your bike may seem like a chore, but a mud guard here and a little diligence there goes an awfully long way. The list could go on and on, but there are a few simple steps you can take to make your off-season that little bit more bearable.
Winter Cycling Bike Guide
Hovering just above your wheels to stop dirty water, mud and – quite frankly – shit shooting up into your eyes and the eyes of those around you, mud guards are compulsory winter cycling fare, especially for the club cyclist.
Yes, they’re annoying and noisy and don’t carry much sex appeal, but what they lack in those areas they make up for in their ability to mitigate the classic soggy bottom.
Racing bike without eyelets, tourer or commuter, there’s a mud guard out there for you. Just make sure you get the right mud guard for your bike – the correct clearance and sizing is vital. Oh and patience. You’ll need patience.
If you do have a road/racing bike and you’re struggling to find a good fitting mudguard, the Roadracers (mk II) from Crud – ‘for race bikes with minimum clearance’ – do the job nicely.
Second on our list is bike maintenance. Yes, you should keep your bike(s) in good working order year round, but we all get a little lazy and it never really matters in summer. It matters in winter.
All that riding around in the wet does a great job of removing any trace of lubricant from your chain, only to be replaced by mud, sticks, excrement, sand. You name it. But if it’s not lube, then it’s going to be exfoliating your drivetrain. While a good idea for humans, exfoliating is not advised for bicycles.
Cleaning your chain thoroughly after every wet and dirty ride will save you money and bother further down the line. Adequate degreaser and lube comes at a far smaller cost than new componentry – even this fantastic Muc Off Hydrodynamic chain lube.
And it’s important to keep your frame and other components clean and dry too. Leaving things dirty and wet will only lead to corrosion. In particular, keep an eye on those brake blocks – they can wear very fast in the wet.
During the winter, many cyclists head indoors either to the gym or the safety of their living room/garage for a turbo session. This is a great way to train over winter, but there’ no reason to stop riding completely.
A good set of bike lights does wonders, especially if you stick to relatively well-lit areas. Keep the miles ticking over with a little night riding and you’ll be in fine form come spring. Something around 400 lumens should do the trick for most night riding.
But even if you’re simply commuting, it’s a good idea to have a set of easy-to-use bike lights ready and waiting. Even if it’s a cheap set of blinking LEDs, being prepared for the dark isn’t a difficult task.
With these simple additions, you’ll be far better prepared for the winter ahead. You never know, you might even enjoy getting out in the dark for a spot of mid-week winter training.