How to protect your bike in the winter
It’s difficult, occasionally uncomfortable, riskier, and tough on your bike, but whether you’re a road racer, MTB trailer, or a devoted commuter, winter riding is still definitely worth it.
Not only does it set you up for a successful season of riding in the new year ahead, but cycling the quieter frosty trails or roads in the biting cold can be an exhilarating experience. However, while you may be tough enough to handle the cold and the rain, your bike may need some extra care and attention to see it through the more testing conditions.
Heavier rainfall means there is more mud and debris on the roads, all of which has a knack of finding its way into your components and parts, vastly increasing the amount of wear and tear of every ride. Road salt and gravel can also play havoc when it gets into components if not cleaned away, while your tyres will be on the frontline and much more susceptible to punctures.To fend off these weather-related threats, you need to take extra precautions and give your bike a much-needed course of winterproofing to ensure it remains free from rust and damage and ready to take on the spring. Almost every area of your bike is affected by the changing conditions, so this bike winterproofing guide will provide you with an outline of the main steps to take to provide the best general protection against the elements.
Here is a selection of steps to help you winterise your road or mountain bike this cold season, with links to products and guides to help you get it right.
Get some mudguards
This isn’t so much about protecting your bike as it is about protecting you, but it’s still important, especially if you use your bike to commute. Not only will you get a horrible line of crud along your back and torso, as well as muddied legs and feet, but the spray from your wheels will more easily find their way into those hard to see nooks and crannies on the underside of your cycle. Your choice of mudguard will of course depend on your type of bike and the conditions you expect to encounter, so pop into Dorvics for some tips on picking the right mudguards for your needs.
Cleaning, lubrication, and greasing
This is your bike’s main defence against the weathering that winter causes. The combination of grit, debris, and water left on your bike after a ride can quickly lead to rusting and corrosion, which will mean having to replace a range of parts, if not the bike entirely.
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 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.
Dorvics stocks a range of quality cleaning products and we have our own ‘refill station’ so you can reduce plastic waste and fill your own bottle up with bike wash and degreaser.
Finally, anything that’s been degreased needs to be lubricated, while threaded components such as ball bearings, cables, headset internals, and your seat post, need to be greased again to ensure the mechanisms operate smoothly.
Four tips for bike cleaning:
- For best results, always use specific products for the job. Take a look at our range for some cycling-specific cleaners.
- 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.
Lights are essential
Having a good set of lights for the winter period is an essential part of winterproofing your bike to cope with the shorter days and longer nights. Not only will it make you more visible to traffic, other riders, and pedestrians, but it will also help you see the road or trail ahead and allow you to get more out of the ride.
Even if you don’t plan to ride into the depths of night, the winter will mean overcast days with low visibility and light levels generally, so a decent set of lights is still worth it. You’ll need something over 200 lumens to cast a beam and ride on unlit roads and paths at a sensible speed. We have a wide range of lights in store and can talk you through the various options.
Brakes are also essential..!
Brake blocks or pads will encounter all the rain, crud, and debris that cling to your wheel, and can wear out much more quickly in the winter. Every time you wash your bike, quickly inspect the blocks and replace them before they become too worn. A new set will also give you a confidence boost while out on those treacherous 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 cleaner, it’s a much cheaper alternative to replacing cassettes and derailleurs.
The tyre is the cyclist’s ultimate interface with the ground, translating your power and steering into performance. During winter, however, its duties increase, with water, ice, and snow all impinging on your available grip.
Winter riding is tough enough without fishtailing all over the road and dealing with endless punctures, so if you want to get the most out of your winter riding experience then getting weather-appropriate tyres is recommended. Winter tyres come with more durable compounds and puncture protection systems, and what they lose in performance they gain in resilience. Another step is to lower the pressure in your tyres. Going for a lower pressure will improve grip and comfort on winter roads. It won’t help much with puncture protection, but it will improve your winter riding experience.
This is especially relevant for cyclists lucky enough to have a cutting-edge set of wheels already installed on their bike. It may not be what you want to hear, but soaring around during winter on your elite wheels is probably not the best policy.
Poor conditions will mean the performance advantage of your carbon hoops will be negated, so it’s a good opportunity to give those high-class spinners a well-earned break. To that end, it’s worth downgrading during the winter to a pair of hard-wearing wallet-friendly wheels to see you through the off-season.
Post-Winter Service & Pre-Summer Service
As we get into spring we get busy with customers booking their winter bikes in for an overall and their summer bikes in for a check and some fine-tuning. Visit our online booking system where you can reserve your slot up to 3 months in advance. https://dorvicsservice.as.me/schedule.php
And finally, happy and safe winter cycling, don’t forget “winter miles mean summer smiles”..