How To Prepare And Protect Your Bike For Winter Cycling
Weatherproof your bike for the winter
Winter is on it's way and it brings with it a number of challenge for a cyclist. A particular difficulty is the effect that winter riding has on a bicycle. Mud and rainwater can have a corrosive effect therefore it's imperative a cyclist pays attention to their bike to ensure reliability and performance.
Below are a number of winter cycling tips to help you keep your bike rolling with a smile on your face while bike riding in winter.
Mudguards on the bike for winter cycling
Fit some mudguards/ fenders for winter cycling
The extra mud and water that you see on the roads during winter (and snow in some cases too) gets kicks up from your tyres and can end up over your shoes, trousers, backside and anywhere else mud and dirt can generally get while cycling. Fitting a set of mudguards for winter prevents this as the dirt and winter is funneled away from your body- keeping you drier, cleaner and ultimately warmer.
If you're out riding in winter with team-mates or friends a good set of fenders not only protects you from spray but those riding behind you from the spray that gets kicked up from the road.
If you have a road bike check that you have a set of braze on's (screw holes) near to your derailleur mounting for a set of permanent mudguards. Also check at the base of your forks for a set of braze on's that you can fit some fenders to for your protection.
If you have a road bike that doesn't have braze on's. (Most racing and performance specific framesets generally do not have braze on's for mounting) you can purchase a set of fenders which fit to the seat stays and front forks. These are often known as 'raceblades' and provide a more basic level of protection as opposed to a fully fitted set of bicycle fenders however they offer protection from water and mud to the rider.
If you have a mountain bike you can also purchase a rear fender which will fit to your seatpost to provide protection.
Mudguards on Amazon
Fit some extra length mud flaps
Think of others too- fit some mud flaps to your fenders
When you're riding with team mates and friends during winter and they're riding in your slipstream protecting themselves from the winter winds spare a thought for the fact your rear mudguard is protecting you- but not them!
You can make your own fender extensions like those pictured using a simple piece of lightweight plastic from your local hardware shop or DIY store. All it takes is a pot rivet or small nut and bolt to affix your piece of plastic to your fender for extra winter protection.
Be safe- be seen during winter cycling
Be seen while riding at night or in low light
Winter conditions can be dark and visibility limited
Winter cycling conditions are often darker with significantly less visibility due to more regular rain, freezing fog and sometimes even snow conditions therefore it's imperative that other road users are able to see yourself and your bike. In areas the sun may set earlier in the evening causing a daylight commute home to be replaced by one in a setting sun or in the dark.
Reflective stickers and tape help to increase your visibility to other road users and pedestrians.
Fit a set of lights to your bike to help increase visibility to motorists. Flashing lights are great to catch a motorists attention however if you are going to use a flashing red rear bicycle light you must ensure that you also have a stationary (non flashing) red light as well. This is because the brain struggles to establish the depth perception of a flashing light and therefore may increase the risk of an accident.
Fit some winter specific tyres to your bike
Winter roads require grippy and highly puncture resistant tyres. For more info on winter cycle tyres please click here.
Always consider winter tyres that have a high degree of puncture resistance and grip. Specific winter and hargwearing tyres such as Continental Gatorskins for road riding and Schwalbe Marathon's for touring provide excellent winter tires, Alternately consider cyclo cross tyres as they provide extra tread for mud and loose conditions- perfect on muddy farmers roads and cross country trails.
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