Staying off the couch and keeping active this winter is easier than you might think. Just follow these 5 easy tips to keep you riding and enjoy...
INVEST IN FENDERS
Fight off salt and oil-laden road spray by installing a full set of fenders. They will keep crud off clothing and grit from getting into, and wearing out, your components like the brakes, bottom bracket (the crank bearing), and the headset (steering bearing). There are many varieties that you can find, depending on how much precipitation you anticipate your area may get. Make sure to get fenders that leave an ample enough gap between them and the tire, to allow for the slush and muck.
PREP YOUR TIRES
Figure out what tires will fit on your bike with fenders. There are many different traction options, widths, and studded tires to choose from.
Some like to go larger and wider for winter, but we’ve also found that skinny road tires, such as those in the 700x28 range, sink through the loose top layers of snow and slush to provide a better grip on the pavement below. This concentrates your weight over a smaller area and pushes the tire down to the pavement. There are many choices to choose from, so pick what will properly fit your bike, as well as your riding style.
New tires will be easier to control on icy roads and slushy trails. Worn or hardened rubber is less grippy. And for added safety, look for tires that have a reflective strip on the sidewall.
Studded tires are a good option for anyone that rides below freezing. Investing in a good pair of studded tires will help you cut through the snow and Ice as well as handle any "black ice" spots that may surprise you.
If you're not doing any long distances, you can try the zip-tie method. Just run zip ties around the tire and rim in even intervals, with the knobby bits facing downwards, and in alternating directions. Obviously, this will only work if you have disc brakes or a brakeless fixed-gear bike.
Check out our selection of Tires here
KEEP IT CLEAN
Corrosion is a big worry in the wet winter months. For urban commuters, riding nothing but city streets, all the salt dumped on those streets is an enemy to your bike- no matter what your frame is made of or how well-sealed the bearings.
When you get to where you’re going, wipe your bike down, and wash it as often as possible. Don’t leave your bike in the frigid garage or outside to dry.
Once a week, degrease your chain, scrub it clean and re-grease it. If you know what you're doing, thoroughly clean and repack the bearings in the hubs and the bracket at least once during the snowy season. Keep all moving parts well lubricated and clean, and use a good waterproof lube. Bike lube doesn't just keep the parts from sticking, it also cleans and protects the parts from corrosion. During winter months, riding with a lubricant in your bag is great just in case any parts start seizing up. You can also wipe from your rims with rubbing alcohol.
Use a light wax lubricant or lithium grease on the cables, it will prevent them from sticking. Also, lubricate the moving brake parts with a light waxy lubricant to repel water, snow, and dirt, and be careful not to get any lube on the pads.
Often cyclist will simply discard their chain (and chainring and rear cog) at the end of each winter. This makes a lot sense for those with a single rear cog (either single speed or internally geared). While other cyclists just move the parts from a good "summer" bike frame to a more rugged "winter" bike frame every fall, then discard most of the parts the next spring.
In winter, no matter the time of day, the sun just doesn’t shine as bright as it does in the summer, and the daylight is fleeting. Get a bright light, for your front and for your rear. Ideally having at least 3 lights (front, rear, and one on your bag). Adding reflectors or spoke lights is also a great idea to add visibility to all sides. You want to be seen as much as possible while on your bike so getting reflective gear is also recommended. There are tons of great bags, clothing, helmets and shoes designed for riding with reflective material. We also carry tapes and stickers to decal your whole bike, or any items you have that didn’t originally come with reflecting parts.
Making sure you have the right warm and waterproof apparel makes all the difference in the world, ultimately the difference between sticking with your plan or cowing to nature. But, be sure not to make the common mistake of throwing on a big heavy coat. Those are for walking, where you aren’t really breaking a sweat. If you ride with a thick heavy coat, it will keep the cold out, but it will also keep all of the heat your body’s making in, causing you to sweat. When you stop pedaling, your sweat will freeze. Dress in thinner layers. Include a moisture-wicking base layer to get the sweat off of your skin. Also a must are, gloves, face masks, and a thin head covering under your helmet. All staples of your winter riding ensemble. Wearing wool on the outer layer is shockingly effective. If you do choose to wear a hard shell, ensure it’s breathable.
Goggles instead of traditional sunglasses will cover up the bridge of your nose and help prevent your brain from freezing, and are much more effective when the rain and snow fly. Nothing is worse than your eyes start blinking, making a strobe light effect, because water or snowflakes are obstructing your view.
Another piece of equipment worth it's weight in gold in the winter season is a Respro Mask. Here in Salt Lake City, like a lot of cities, the pollution from gasses and particulate matter increases. Cold starts from automobiles, cars running ideal just to warm up, and homes and offices needing to burn lots of fuel to stay nice and warm all add up to more pollution in the air. A nice Respro mask will do wonders for keeping this stuff out of your lungs as well as keeping your face protected from the wind and cold.
Happy riding everyone!