Winter Cycling Tips
As winter begins to rear its ugly head - change in weather, shorter days, falling temperatures and unpredictable conditions – it’s time to think about protecting both yourself and your bike from the elements.
A few suggestions to help keep you cycling safely through the Autumn & Winter:
Lights – Most commuters will be facing at least one ride under cover of darkness – so good lights are essential. Choosing the right lights will depend on where and when you will be using them - pitch black country lanes or lit roads during an urban commute. The latest LED lights, and Lithium-Ion batteries have brought out a great range to choose from. As a rule of thumb – if you ride regularly in the dark it would be good to have two lights front and back. You can set one to constant and one to flash – and if one fails you will still be safe. Rechargeable lights can be a real investment – just remember to charge them!
Mudguards – make a significant contribution to keeping you and your bike clean, and can be fitted to most bikes. They might detract from the “great lines” of your bike – but are a worthwhile addition.
Brakes – Wetter conditions will reduce brake efficiency – are your brake pads worn? Are they suitable for wet conditions? Are they likely to cause you to skid in wet weather?
Tyres – Winter tyres may be a little heavier and slightly slower – but the better grip on wet roads and higher resistance to punctures from debris on the road can be well worth it.
Punctures – A fact of life for all cyclists. More common in the winter due in part to small bits of flint and glass being washed onto the road. Fitting tubes filled with sealant (Or even having sealant injected in to your existing tubes) could mean that small punctures are sealed as they occur – most likely without you even knowing you had a puncture!
Keep it Clean – Road grime & salt are a sure-fire way to speed up corrosion and stop things moving freely. A good quality bike wash, and frame polish will help no end. Word of caution – be very careful with a Jet washer or even a high pressure hose pipe – it is easy to blast the grease out of wheel hubs, headset & bottom bracket bearings and can cause big problems – fast.
Lubrication – Keep your chain oiled, and apply a little oil to cables will help keep things running smoothly. It is important to use an appropriate cycle oil as you don’t want a sticky oil that binds with road grime causing premature wear on your drivetrain.
Maintenance - your bike should be well maintained to give you performance you can depend on.When was the last time you had your bike serviced? Did you know most hydraulic brakes should have their fluid changed every six months? The winter roads can accelerate wear on chains and gears - even wheel rims wear out.
Bikes have become more complicated over the past few years – and many require specialist tools & knowledge to keep them in tip top order. The above suggestions will certainly help – but why not have your bike professionally serviced – it will help make your cycling safer, easier and more enjoyable.