Winter shouldn’t signal the end of your bike riding season. Some of the most enjoyable rides can transpire during the time of year when most prefer to stay indoors. Fallen leaves, the smell of wet pavement or even the occasional snow flurry can add an extra level of enjoyment to a ride. However, it’s good to take precautions before venturing out into the elements. Assuming you’re in good health and not suffering from flu-like symptoms or worse, equipment care should be your primary focus. An ill tuned bike or inappropriate clothing can put a quick end to your day, discouraging you from ever wanting to venture out during inclement weather again. Below are some tips to keep you and your bike ready for that ultimate winter adventure:
-Make sure your bike is clean and properly tuned-
*Nothing ruins any ride more quickly than a bike that isn’t ready to go. Your gears and brakes should be properly adjusted. Any dirt and muck you’re likely to encounter during your winter ride will only contribute to more severe issues with your drivertrain. Note: I also recommend making sure you have plenty of life left on your brake pads. Dirt and grime will act like sandpaper constantly eating away at your pads. It’s best to start the winter season with a fresh pair, but no less than about ½ life remaining.
*A lubed chain is a happy chain. Most cyclists tend to gravitate toward more of a dry lube during summer months. While a good dry lube is generally better at maintaining a clean drivetrain with less attracted dirt, a high viscous wet lube is the preferred during soggy months. High viscosity lubes like Dumonde Tech tend to have longer longevity through the rainy or muddy season.
*Check any pivots, bottom bracket, hubs, or headset for play. All of these areas have bearings designed to operate stiction free and bathed in grease. Now most of these areas have seals which will help to prevent dirt and water from contaminating said area, but if there is play or stiction, it’s likely the part could have already been contaminated or requires adjustment before your next exploration.
*Outfit your bicycle with lights during the time change. Winter is typically synonymous with shorter days. While we see much more brightly lit mornings, afternoons can be treacherous without a little illumination. Basic kits provide a front and rear light combo, so that you can see as well as be seen on evening rides.
*Bike fenders help protect you and your bike. A good set of front and rear fenders can help keep a little more of the winter muck off of you and your bike. Some fenders are even designed to protect delicate suspension systems from getting over-saturated with grime.
-Proper clothing will keep you comfortable and warm during mother natures wrath-
*Layers are the easiest way to maintain comfort on your bike. Skin tight, tech fabrics should be used first as they provide warmth, but also help to wick moisture away from the body. A long sleeve or winter jersey should be used over your wicking base layer to provide additional warmth and comfort. Once the cool crisp winter turns wet or frigid, jackets are a great addition. Be careful with the thickness of your clothing choices. You don’t want to start a ride warm! As your body heat rises from the effort, your internal temperature will rise naturally. It’s always best to start a little cold. After the first 5-10 mins your core temp will go up.
*Wool socks or shoe covers will keep your tootsies warm. Most of us can’t stand cold feet, but a nice pair of wool socks, or shoe covers if the weather is even a bit more dicey, will keep your feet happy and warm. Combine the two if the temperature drops significantly or if there is more moisture than usual.
*Thermal headbands are great for ear and head comfort. For severe cold a full cap style is recommended, but if the temperature isn’t too bad, more of a headband is preferred to allow excess heat to escape out the top.
*Gloves to keep your digits flexible. There are a wide variety of full finger gloves available for every imaginable condition. Glove liners are also an option as they add a little more warmth to your existing gloves.
*Arm and leg warmers are the holy grail of all winter clothing! Most are fleece lined or have a soft brushed interior surface so they’re comfortable against your skin. Best part about warmers is that they’re designed to be easily slipped off and thrown into a pack or pocket if outside temperature climbs.
Now that the equipment is tuned and you’re all geared up for winter riding, time to go experience one of the most enjoyable times of the year to be outside and on your bicycle!