Winter weather conditions can be hard on your bike, but if you prepare well you can still embrace everything winter riding has to offer.
Winter riding can be exhilarating, but mud, ice and extra debris on the road can speed up the wear and tear on your bike components.
A little extra maintenance and a few winter upgrades can help you to keep your bike in tip-top condition and ready to ride right on through to the spring.
How to winterproof your bike
Get a mudguard
Protect yourself and your clothes from that unsightly mud-splatter up your back, protect your riding buddies from a face full of road spray and give your bike a bit of protection too. A mudguard will stop all that gritty road dirt getting into all those nooks and crannies on the underside of your bike.
Cleaning, lubrication, and greasing
The combination of grit, debris, and water left on your bike after a ride can quickly lead to rusting and erosion. Left unchecked, you'll find yourself having to replace components more regularly which can be expensive.
Save yourself a lot of hassle by taking the time to clean your bike regularly.
To do the job effectively, you need to start by removing all the dirt and debris using a general bike wash, which is designed to shift most dirt from components and the frame of your bike.
Use an all-purpose cleaner for the bicycle's frame, saddle, steering components, tyres, and wheels. Agitate stubborn dirt using a good quality brush. The Mobi 5 Piece Brush Set has five shapes and sizes so you can get into all the nooks and crannies.
The next step is using a degreaser to shift muddied oil and grease from your drivetrain to keep the components working efficiently.
Degreasers are powerful, acerbic products and should be used only on the correct components - such as the chain, cassette, and chainrings - with care.
Finally, anything that’s been degreased needs to be lubricated. Winter-specific 'wet lubes' are designed specifically for wet conditions.
Four tips for bike cleaning:
- For best results, always use specific products for the job.
- Don't use washing-up liquid as it may contain harmful chemicals that can damage components.
- Start at the top of the bike and work downwards.
- Use a soft brush or sponge for the frame and components to help loosen any dirt.
A good set of lights is essential when you're winter-proofing your bike. What a 'good set' of lights for you is will depend on when and where you intend to ride.
If you're doing some of your riding in the dark but you'll be in a well-lit city, you'll need lights with eye-catching flash patterns and possibly side-on visibility so you're easy for other road users to spot. Be careful about using lights that are so bright that they distract other road users - dazzling pedestrians and drivers can make it hard for them to spot hazards themselves.
If you're riding in the dark on unlit roads or even off-road, you'll need something powerful enough to light the way but it's a good idea to look for lights that are dimmable in case you encounter traffic or other trail users coming the other way.
Even if you don't plan to ride at night, heavy cloud, rain and fog can impair visibility so you should consider carrying a pair of lights in the daytime. Some lights even have a setting specifically for daytime riding.
Extra mud and grit on the roads can cause brake pads to wear out more quickly than they do in the summer.
Get into the habit of inspecting your brake pads every time you wash your bike and replace them before they become too worn.
A new set will also give you a confidence boost while out on wet roads. So, considering their relatively low cost, they’re always worth an investment.
During the winter, your chain picks up additional dirt and salt from the roads. When this grime is combined with your chain lube it quickly becomes an abrasive paste which can wear out drive train components in no time.
Keeping your chain sparkling clean during the winter will help to prolong the life of expensive parts. It also makes it easier for you to check for signs of wear like warped links which can also damage drivetrain components.
To make your chain last longer, invest in a chain cleaning tool which has stiff brushes and a cleaning fluid reservoir to ensure your chain gets a really deep scrub. It’s a much cheaper alternative to replacing cassettes and derailleurs.
Keep a multi-tool handy just in case you need to make an ad-hoc repair while out on the winter roads. They don't take up much space in a pocket or saddle bag but can be a life-saver.
Pumps and puncture repair
If you’re riding during the winter, then getting a puncture is almost guaranteed, so you need to be prepared.
Repairing a tyre on a bitter evening at the roadside is never fun, so carry a spare tube that you can swap in and save the repair for when you get home. Of course, there's always a chance for multiple punctures to occur so you'll still need a patch kit as a backup.
Water, snow and ice, as well as extra grit and debris, affect the ability of your tyre to grip the road and there's also an increased risk of punctures.
If you want to get the most out of your winter riding experience then we recommend you switch to weather-appropriate tyres. Winter tyres come with more durable compounds and puncture protection systems, and what they lose in performance they gain in resilience.
You could also lower the pressure in your tyres which will improve grip and comfort on winter roads. You might even consider going tubeless and tubeless tyres can be run at lower pressure without the same puncture risk.