While many people lock their bikes away, here at Wilco we’ll still be cycling right through the winter.
When cycling in winter, there’s no denying that waking up to torrential rain and grey clouds can be off-putting for most. With that said there are also some great benefits. Just 20 minutes of exercise in the morning and evening will help to boost your energy during the day as well as encourage deep sleep at night. Try not to be put off by the weather as whilst it can be miserable at times, nothing beats a brisk morning blast in the icy fresh air of the blue skies in autumn and winter.
So how do you keep your bike from succumbing to the damp, gritty damaging conditions when cycling in winter?
1. Get the bucket and sponge out
We might say it a lot at Wilco, but the first thing to do to get your bike ready for cycling in winter is to clean it. The main reason for doing this is to reveal any damage or extra wear that might have occurred during the summer months. Key aspects to look out for are; tyres, cables, brake pads and the gear drive train. It isn’t ideal to replace parts just after summer as cycling in winter will prematurely wear them out. However, if something has worn out completely there is no avoiding it and prolonged use may be unsafe. Be careful using Power Washers as they can push grease out of working parts!
2. Make sure everything is greased & lubed up
Cycling in winter will throw a lot of gritty water up at your bike. This gritty/salty water will make conventional lubricants evaporate so look to purchase some ‘Wet Lube’ that is best suited for winter conditions. Check that your bottom bracket, headset and any other moving parts are properly lubricated. Thick grease is best for bearings etc, whilst lube is fine for chains and chain rings, but remember to apply it more often during the winter months.
3. Check your brakes
Brake pads get worn down very quickly in winter. If you have rim brakes this is exaggerated further because the rims of the wheel are usually getting muddy. You will want to make sure that your brake pads have plenty of material on them before winter. This is especially the case if you have disc brakes as you don’t want them to wear out when stock is running low. Typically, rim brake pads can wear out within a year, sometimes even less. Make sure there is at least 2mm of material in the ramped section of the pad. Failing to replace worn out brake pads will cause your rim to wear out and fail, which is obviously very dangerous.
4. Make sure cables are shiny
The last thing you want is for your gear or brake cable to snap miles away from home, in the dark, cold and rain. Gear cables should be smooth to the touch and free from rust. If there is any friction in the cables moving in and out of the black casing they need to be replaced. Replacing your gear cables will usually improve the performance of your drive train also.
5. Don’t forget the wheels
Worn out tyres, inner tubes, rims or hubs will likely cause disaster when cycling in winter. The added wear from all of the elements will take its toll the most of your wheels. Make sure your spokes have a slightly springy/tensile feel to them, not rigid and hard as if they are about to snap. Potholes and road surfaces will inevitably deteriorate during the winter months and it is easy to snap and buckle a wheel in bad conditions. Run your tyres at 35-40psi to get a good grip-friction ratio that won’t slow you down too much but should keep your rubber side down.
6. Added Tip – Look after yourself!
Above all else make sure that you keep yourself wrapped up and protected from the elements. Items like waterproof gloves and over-trousers can feel like lifesavers, especially when the going gets tough!