Winter is finally here and if it ever stops raining and the wind calms down for longer than half an hour, we might be able to get out on our bikes. I for one look forward to it as the turbo is becoming very boring!
Regardless of the current weather situation, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a winter bike, you’re going to need to make some changes to get ready for winter. Even if you can afford a winter bike, why would you need one? With a few quick changes, any bike can be made ready for whatever winter throws at you.
Regardless of the aesthetics, a good set of mudguards, or at the very least a rear crud catcher is essential. That becomes even more true if you ride in a group. You will need a set if you ride with others unless you want to be relegated to the back!
Not all bikes have eyelets for mudguards but there are plenty of clip or bolt on variants that can do the trick. While a front and rear guard is certainly best, a rear mudguard will at least help keep your derriere dry and those riding behind you unsullied by the rain your tyres throw up.
Talking of tyres, not all rubber is created equal. Those low rolling resistance tyres you have been running all summer might not be up to winter roads. While some are truly four season, you may need gripper, thicker tyres to cope with winter road conditions.
I tend to use endurance tyres such as Continental Grand Prix 4-Seasons. They are expensive but grippy, fast and seem to be able to avoid puncture quite nicely.
If you have read my piece of lubrication, ‘The importance of lubricating your road bike’, you will already know that keeping the moving parts of your road bike lubed is essential. Before you lube, you first need to clean. Cleanliness is next to godliness apparently and in winter you need to clean or at least wipe down, your bike after every ride.
Remove all moisture, check tyre condition, wipe your rims and check brake blocks, clean derailleurs and ensure your bike is operating at its full potential. Road grit, grit, salt, snow and rain all damage metal components so five extra minutes spent looking after your ride will translate into fewer minutes spent at the roadside managing a mechanical.
With shorter days and very changeable conditions, it’s worth fitting lights and leaving them on the bike during winter. You never know when the light will change or whether glare will make the low winter sun reflect off the road and make you harder to see. If you’re a driver, consider those times when you find visibility difficult and counter those while on the bike.
If you’re not a driver, don’t assume that because it’s bright sunshine that you are easily seen. Wear something bright, use a light. If the roads are wet, the sun is particularly low or the driver hasn’t used screen wash, you may be harder to see than usual.