Preparing your bike for the cold is just as important as preparing yourself. Winterizing your bikes and practicing proper maintenance will not only help ensure the lasting quality of the bikes but will also provide a safer ride in the winter.
Winterizing Your Bike
Best Types of Bikes:
Men's or women's mountain bikes, hybrids, or single-speed bikes often are the preferred type of bike for winter riding.
- Studded Tires: Although some cyclists do not find it is necessary, many winter riders will exchange their normal tires for a pair of studded tires that provide excellent traction on ice.
- Wide Tires: Another great option is to use wide tires. The larger surface area increases traction.
In winter it is also a good idea to reduce your tires' air pressure. Unlike pumping bike tires to the proper PSI in warmer seasons, deflating slightly in winter allows more tire to be in contact with the road and greater traction. The deeper the snow, the less pressure you want in your tires, but make sure to stay within the tires recommended pressure range. This is located on the sidewall of the tire.
If you want to stay dry and slush free this seasons, fenders are a must. Fenders or Mud Guards are designed to protect you and the drivetrain from the debris on the road and will make your winter experience much more enjoyable. However, snow can also build up within the fenders and may increase resistance if they are not cleaned out.
If you ride with clipless pedals or toe straps during the summer you may want to consider swapping them out for platform pedals. These will work well with boots and be safer in the event that you need to put a foot down.
Headlights and Reflectors:
Since the sun rises later and sets earlier in the winter, visibility becomes more difficult. Having proper front and rear lights as well as reflectors is essential to safe biking.
Time for a Tune-Up:
If you are uncertain that your bike is ready for winter, bring it into a local bike shop for a tune-up before you ride. The months of riding in snow, salt, sand and all the other nasty stuff that gets put on the road during winter will take its toll on all the bike's parts, so it is better to be prepared before you start riding.
Clean and Dry:
Cleaning your hybrid, single-speed or mountain bike after each use will dramatically reduce the amount of wear and tear that your bike will go through in the winter. It is also important to wipe the bike and chain dry after each use.
It is important to clean and lubricate the chain, derailleurs and cassette/freewheel regularly. This will decrease corrosion and wear on the gears while also extending the drivetrain's life.
Making sure your bike is properly maintained is important throughout the entire year, but it is even more critical for winter riding. A well maintained and winterized bike will provide an excellent and safe experience for any cyclist.
For additional information, see our article What to Wear When Biking in the Winter