Preparing your bike for winter

06 December 2016
Bicyle in snow

Ensure you look after your bike and prepare it for riding in winter conditions for trouble free cycling throughout the season.

Follow the simple steps below to keep your bike running smoothly.

Safety checks

Essential all year round, but especially important in winter as the last thing you want is to have to make running repairs in bad weather. Performing some simple checks, such as the M-check, gives you peace of mind that your bike is in a safe working order.

Winterproof the bike

Adding mudguards to your bike is a simple but very effective way to make winter riding more enjoyable. They not only help to keep you clean and dry, but also stop dirt and water getting into your bike’s chain and gears, which can wear out alarmingly quickly if not kept clean. This useful article explains what to look for:

Mudguards
If you are serious about cycling and like to clock up the miles, it may be worth investing in winter tyres that are slightly wider and with better grip than you might normally run in the summer. Lowering your tyre pressure slightly can also help to improve grip in wet conditions.

Some keen cyclists even have a separate bike especially for riding in the winter!

Lights

It is a legal requirement to have a white front light and red rear light on your bike when riding in the dark, so get in the habit of keeping them fully charged or carry replacement batteries throughout the winter. We would also recommend switching your lights on when riding in overcast or foggy conditions during the day.

What type of lights should you choose?  It largely depends on what type of cycling you are doing, but generally speaking there are two types of lights: those that help you be seen by others and those that help you see where you are going.  For most urban situations, the former should be sufficient, but in areas that are very dark, such as country lanes, you will need a more powerful front light to help you see the road ahead of you.

There are some very useful guides online to help you decide which lights are best for you. Here are just a couple:

Wiggle
Cycling Weekly

Maintenance

It is important to look after your bike all year, but having to make emergency repairs in the dark, in winter, takes on an extra level of complexity. So, to ensure you get home safely without having to stop to fix your bike in freezing or wet conditions it is wise to ensure you keep it in good order at home.

Get in the habit of checking it over thoroughly after a ride, especially after riding in wet or muddy conditions:

  • Check tyres for cuts and embedded debris to help prevent punctures
  • Ensure the chain and gears are clean and well lubricated
  • Check that the gears are operating smoothly and do not skip when pedalling
  • Ensure the brakes work effectively and brake pads are not worn

Visit our cycle maintenance page for advice on how to check (and fix) each of the points above.

Cleaning

Prevention is always better than cure and the best way to help prevent mechanical problems is to make sure you keep your bike clean.  Pay particular attention to the drive train (gears and chain), wheel rims and brakes.

If you have been out in wet conditions it is worth taking a few moments to wipe your wheel rims to remove any grit and dirt that may damage the wheels or cause the brakes to wear prematurely.

Also, clean your bike’s drive train with a water displacement spray (such as GT85) as the components can otherwise rust alarmingly quickly. Once clean, make sure to re-lubricate them with a suitable bike oil.

The Bike Radar website has produced an excellent video showing you how to quickly and effectively clean your bike:

Cleaning your bike


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