How to prepare and care for your bike through winter
With winter well and truly on the way, the lanes are filling with soggy water and salted roads are on the horizon. While winter can seem like a grim time to be outside on your bike, a few little changes can make a big difference to your riding experience, and keep you on two wheels until we see the sun again (probably sometime in July).
Preparing your bike
Mudguards are a great way to keep the water and muck from flicking up all over you and your bike. There are a number of great clip on options that work well with road bikes from brands like SKS and Crud, which can be easily removed for nicer weather or left on over the whole winter. Full coverage options like the SKS Raceblade Pro are the best for keeping you and the person riding behind you dry!
Something to note with mudguards is compatibility - if you have limited clearance between your wheels and frame/fork they may not fit, and you might have to go for something that clips onto your saddle rails and keeps the worst dirt off you like an Ass-Saver.
Making sure you get the correct width and size is important too, as if they’re too narrow you’ll still get wet, too wide and they may not fit.
Installation is generally pretty easy, with all brands having quite detailed guides included, however we can supply and fit them for you here in the G!RO workshop if you’d rather be saved the hassle!
Keeping your chain clean and lubricated is really important, as wet weather and grit can cause increased wear. A wax based lube like Tru-Tension All Weather is great for this, as it won’t pick much grit and stays nice and clean, usually a quick hose off post ride is all it needs. For (a lot) more detail on drivetrain care, check out this blog.
With more rain comes more glass etc washed onto the road, so a good tough tyre can reduce the risk of being stuck on the side of the road with freezing hands battling a puncture repair. If your tyres are tubeless compatible too, this is even better as the sealant will usually fix any little punctures without you even noticing.
In terms of tubeless tyre recommendations, I use the Continental GP5000TL all year round and have found them to be a great combination of fast rolling, grippy and puncture resistant. A tougher option would be the Schwalbe One TLE, and we have both options available here if you’d like us to set you up tubeless.
The perennial favourite for tough winter riding in a non tubeless style is the Continental Gatorskin. It’s cheap and the puncture resistance is good, but it won’t win any prizes for rolling resistance. Of course, if you don’t have tubeless compatible wheels, you can still use a tubeless tyre with a tube inside.
Winter light is pretty terrible, so a good flashing daytime set of lights for the front and rear is a really good idea to help grab other road users’ attention. We tend to use lights any time we ride, any time of year, but in winter it’s especially key.
This is a great time to get your bike booked in for a checkover and service to ensure it’s in the best shape possible to get you through the winter trouble free. Our Full Service includes a deep clean drivetrain treatment and bottom bracket service amongst other goodies, and we can install mudguards/new tyres etc for you while it’s here.
Riding through winter
A clean bike is a happy bike! Keeping your steed clean is very important, as grit, salt and muck are the enemies of anything that spins or turns. I’ve made it a habit to clean my bike after every wet ride, and we made a handy video with a 5 minute wash that’ll save you time and money in replacement parts.
A couple of important points - if you have a rim brake bike, cleaning the braking surface is key, as the grit that builds up can quickly destroy it and result in needing new wheels. You can also occasionally check the brake pads and remove any little bits of metal with a sharp pick.
Taking the wheels out isn’t entirely necessary, as you can often get it clean enough with them still on the bike.
See our other blog for this, but definitely lube the chain post cleaning/wet ride!
This could be a whole blog post in itself, but in general wider tyres + lower pressure have been shown to be more comfortable, offer better grip and are generally faster in most conditions. The added benefit is much more grip when it’s wet, so consider letting some air out of your tyres for a more confident ride.
Silca have a great pressure calculator that you can use to pick what works for you, I recommend using these as a starting point and have a play from there.
We’re currently working on a blog and selection of routes that we’ve found great for winter, but in general here are a few tips to maximise enjoyment:
Are there any other tips we missed? Chuck them in the comments below or send them through!
As always, if you’d like to get in touch, don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Team at G!RO
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