1. Winter tyres.
With more debris getting blown about the place, coupled with damp conditions making it easier for it to ‘stick’ to your tyres, punctures can be an inevitable part of winter riding. But, gang, it doesn’t have to be that way!
Pop on a pair of puncture resistant tyres (in our workshops we swear by Schwalbe Marathons or Continental Gatorskins), and save yourself the frustration of a roadside puncture repair. With a layer of kevlar stopping pesky glass shards from ruining your ride, puncture proof tyres are the best thing you can do for yourself and sanity this season.
You’ll also want to think about whether you have adequate tread on your current tyres. If you’re riding with a slick, or semi-slick tread pattern, rear wheel slippage can be an issue when climbing. Depending on the kind of road you’re riding on, you may want to think about something with a larger grooved tread pattern.
2. Degrease your components.
Really, you should be giving your bike a quick hose or wipe down after each ride, regardless of the season. But let’s get real; who has time for that. However, in the winter months excess grit and grime will work its way into your drive train even more than usual, wearing down components at a faster rate. So in the interests of preserving your steed, we’d suggest giving your bike a degrease once a week.
It doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes, but a quick spray over the drive train with a degreaser (Muc-off do a great one) and wipe down with an old rag, will pay dividends in future, not to mention improve your ride. And should you want to go the whole hog and give your drivetrain a proper degrease, GCN has a handy YouTube tutorial to guide you along the way...
3. Use a wet chain lube.
Hearing a scratching sound on each pedal turn? Or just degreased your drivetrain? You’ll need to make sure it’s re-lubed, using wet lube for the winter months. A wet lube in the summer months will attract excess grease and grime straight onto your newly cleaned drivetrain. In winter, however, it ensures your chain stays lubricated in rainy conditions. Top brands we’d recommend? Again, Muc-off do a great wet lube, as do Fenwick and Finish Line.
4. Start flashing 👀
With the vast majority of fettle followers using their bikes to commute, our customers are mainly pedalling in well lit cities. If you’re able to see whilst riding under a street lamp’s glow, you may think bike lights are ‘a nice to have’. However, if you’ve ever hopped in the car on a rainy overcast night, you’ll know just how poorly visible the unlit cyclist can be. Although we may be able to see clearly outside on the street, when inside a vehicle, the driver’s visibility is greatly impaired.
With the dark creeping in earlier, and the weather increasingly dark and overcast, lights are essential for winter riding. And once again, you don’t need to spend huge amounts to stay safe. Amazon do a set for £10 which which are both rechargeable and easily removed. Or should you want to spend a little more (but still keep costs down), Cateye do a great set for just £20.
So there you have it, a bit of food for thought as you get your bike ready for winter. Pedalling through all seasons shouldn’t be costing you an arm and a leg, but there are a few tips and tricks you can do cheaply to stay safe out there.
See you on the road.