Winter cold is upon us in the UK and the next few months will be darker and colder. We’ve already looked at how to stay warm on your bike in winter and this article looks at how to winter-proof your bicycle.
If you are looking ahead to a cycling adventure – perhaps on the NC500 or the Badger Divide – it’s a good idea to keep the pedals turning so you can stay fit. That means it’s likely you will need to be outdoors on your bike when the weather its less clement and a good deal gloomier.
Here are our tips for winter-proofing your bike.
First, think about your bike
If you are fortunate to have a choice, it’s a good idea to identify a “winter bike”. It could be it's your "second" road bike, or a mountain bike or gravel bike. This is the bicycle that you you will ride on winter roads or trails, where there is a greater chance of muck, salt and potholes.
Roads and trails will be wetter, dirtier and, most likely, icy or snowy at times. With this in mind, you should aim for winter bike tyres with good traction.
In addition, your cycling will be more enjoyable if you have tyres with added puncture protection. You could buy tyres that claim to have a greater puncture resistance or add puncture prevention sealant.
If possible, fit winter tyres, with a width 25mm to 28mm, to a road bike. These can be used at a lower pressure. In this way, you'll have better grip and comfort in slippery conditions.
You can reduce the amount of winter mud, dirt and wet that reaches you – and your bike – by fitting mudguards. Affix mudguards over the front and rear tyres for maximum protection.
Even when it is daylight in winter, the days can be overcast and dark. Then there are the mornings and evenings when it is properly dark. It’s a good idea to have bike lights, front and rear, permanently fitted to your bike.
Add refldctors to the bicycle and try to wear clothing that has hi-viz detailing.
It’s much harder for other road users to see cyclists in winter so these measures could potentially save your life.
Keep it clean
Ensure you give your bike a good wash when you return from a winter cycle. Pay attention to mechanical areas, such as chain, gears and brakes. If they clog up with dirt and grit, you’ll wear out the parts much faster.
You should make sure you keep mechanical parts well lubed and oiled. The winter conditions are hard on a bike and your prized machine will last longer if it is well cared for and maintained.
Hopefully these tips will help to keep you cycling through the winter – and planning for a cycling holiday next year. Highland Transfer offers supported cycling trips, with luggage transfer, such as the North Coast 500 and the Badger Divide in Scotland.