Getting your bike ready for winter
When winter’s on the way it’s time to start getting your bikes ready for riding through the colder months. Read this winterise your bike guide to help gear up for the cold and wet weather.
Depending on when you ride, you might have already found that it’s getting a bit dark at the beginning or the end of your trip. That’s not all – you’ll also find that the sun is lower in the sky, and you’re more likely to be heading out in rain, mist, or other conditions where visibility isn’t great.
To make it easier for everyone else on the road to see you, it’s a very good idea to fit some lights to your bike. In winter this is true even if you arrive home before the sun sets. See our bike lights guide for more on this.
We’d recommend some lights that are rechargeable and easy to mount to your bike, so they’re always ready to stick on before you head out.
Mudguards can be a godsend in the winter. While they can’t protect you from the water falling from the sky, they can stop the dirty and gritty water from being thrown up into your face and shorts, and some models can give your drivetrain some protection from the road muck as well.
The more of your wheels that are covered by your mudguards, the more protection they’ll give you (and the rider behind you) from the road spray. We recommend full mudguards for winter commuter bikes, these can be mounted on most hybrid and cyclocross bikes. Not all bikes (especially road racing bikes with close tyre clearances) have mounts for full mudguards.
If your bike doesn’t have the mounting points for mudguards, or if you’re looking for something a bit smaller and lighter, worry not. There are still plenty of options for mudguards that can attach to your bike in different places and offer different levels of coverage. Some mudguards also offer additional features such as reflective stripes, rear reflectors, or even secondary lights.
You might be surprised to hear that changing your tyres is one of the best ways to make your bike suit the kind of riding you do. For winter, your priorities will probably change from wanting to go fast to getting extra grip on wet roads and avoiding punctures, which can be a real pain to fix with cold hands!
If you’ve got room in your bike’s frame, consider fitting some wider tyres. For example, if you use 25mm tyres in the summer, think about 28mm for the winter. It might sound obvious, but putting more rubber onto the road is a great first step to getting more grip.
Another benefit of wider tyres is that they allow you to run lower pressures. As well as giving you much more comfort, lowering the pressure increases the contact patch of the tyre, giving you more grip.
Of course, in winter, debris is more likely to be washed onto the road by rain, which can make punctures more likely. It’s a good idea to pick more puncture resistant tyres for your winter options. However they do come at a cost of increased weight.
Winter is not kind to our bikes. Rain and dirt speed up the wear on components, and the cold means we’re less likely to get out and clean our bikes as often as we should. If you’d prefer to keep your pride and joy for the dry and sunny days, why not consider a winter bike?
Favoured by many dedicated roadies, a winter bike such as a gravel bike or cyclocross bike is a dedicated bike which is equipped year-round with mudguards and winter tyres. Generally, they’re also a lower spec than your ‘best’ bike, so it’s a bit easier on your wallet when things wear out.
Having a winter bike keeps your best bike fresh, and it’s always reassuring to be able to jump on a bike with mudguards for the commute or when it starts to rain. Best of all, when you come to swap back to your summer bike in the spring, you’ll feel twice as fast!
Generally, riding on the road in winter makes your bike dirtier than in summer. Whether they’re wet and muddy, it’s raining again or, worst of all, road salt is flicking up onto your components, the moving parts of your bike are going to see lots more wear.
Even though we know it’s cold outside, and it’s not nearly as enjoyable as it is in the summer, cleaning your bike is something you should stay in the habit of doing. We’ve put together a quick guide to giving your bike a once over before another week’s riding.
If it’s really cold, or you just really can’t be bothered, we’d recommend at the very least staying on top of cleaning your drivetrain and rims (if you have rim brakes). These are the areas that will suffer the most from being ridden while dirty.