Winter weather shouldn’t stop you getting out on your bike. If you’re properly kitted up and prepared for the icy conditions, biking in winter can be just as much fun as in the summer as long as you and your bike are prepared. So whether you’re an all-elements commuter, training for sportives or just don’t want to give up your weekend bike rides, here are five things you must check on your bike as winter sets in.
One of the most unfortunate things about winter weather is that it makes your tyres far more susceptible to punctures. Wet road conditions mean glass, stones and even sharp pieces of flint are more likely to pierce your tyres. Whenever you’re riding in winter, especially if cycling in isolated areas, make sure you have a puncture repair kit and a couple of spare tubes.
Lights are the single most important part of your cycling kit during winter. There are two types of lights you should be aware of; ones to help you see the road ahead, and ones to help others see you. Both are vital!
To be seen, traditionally you have a red light fixed to the rear of your bike, but when it comes to the type of lights you need to see ahead, it generally depends on what kind of riding you are doing. If you are cycling in built-up areas, then a spotlight is usually fine. However, if your route takes you down unlit roads, then you are better off with a wide beam light. During the dark winter months, where fog can be an issue as well as poor light, make sure you have your lights with you at all times and keep spare batteries or the charger handy too.
You may think that mudguards are naff or for hipster bikes, but in winter, they can become an essential piece of kit. A bike wheel can spray up a surprising amount of wet leaves, mud, salt and water up your back, which can make cycling very cold and uncomfortable indeed. Mudguards will help to keep the spray heading towards you to a minimum.
You will need harder tyres for winter, so avoid thin racing ones; they not only lack grip but are also more easily punctured in inclement weather. Choose a tyre that has puncture protection; you probably won’t have a puncture free winter, but every little helps. You can also opt for tubeless or solid tyres, but these tend to be more expensive.
When it comes to tyre pressure in winter, common practice is to lower it, particularly in wet weather as it helps to maintain traction. Find your tyres usual PSI and lower it slightly – doing this will also help give you a smoother ride.
Get a winter bike
Winter can be hard on bikes, and this has led to many cyclists opting to have a winter bike which they only bring out for a few months a year. Typically, these are older models or a cheap bike – one you don’t mind taking a battering. The combination of mud and salt can be corrosive and have a negative effect on gears, so it might be best if you’ve got an expensive road bike to let it hibernate for a few months and use another bike that you don’t mind getting a bit muddy. Just make sure it’s kitted out with both sets of lights, mudguards and ideally opt for 25mm to 28mm tyres. Also, make sure that it’s cleaned up and in good shape before you retire it for the warmer months, otherwise next winter it won’t be in any state to help you out again.
Come rain or shine, having cycle insurance is utterly essential. At Cycleplan, we offer multi-bike insurance policies as well as equipment cover, so no matter what time of year it is, you can get out on your bike. Find out how you can cover all of your bikes today!
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