From snowfalls to frozen surfaces, winter cycling can come along with a mixture of sorrow and a sense of awesomeness. With a slew of bike preps, even the coldest of days can bring a feeling of comfort and can be completely doable. There is no zigzagging here; your bike is destined to get trampled from winter commuting; which is why you need to customize it for the season.
Winterizing your bike before winter sets in makes it a whole lot easier to get it roaring in the extreme weather conditions for several months. Depending on the kind of bike you ride, there are a whole lot of aspects that will need to be addressed. Your number one enemy during winter is thoroughly moisture; so, a lot of your winterizing efforts will go towards keeping it at bay. Additionally, you’ll dedicate some love to fenders, brakes, chains, tires, and lights.
If you’re a cycling enthusiast, we’ve curated a list of easy ways that you can take advantage to winterize your bike before winter strikes. Let’s dive in:
Regularly lube your bike chain
Keeping your bike chain and other movable parts frequently lubed will go a long way towards keeping moisture build-up at bay, hence, mitigating any rusting and binding. For mild temperatures like mild snow and rain, the best course of action is to use your normal bike lube to maintain your bike running quietly and smoothly.
For extreme situations, you’ll need to up your game a little. Bar and chain lube perfectly fits the profile when it comes to lubing your bike’s chain in extreme temperatures, although it’s designed to be practically used in chainsaws. But it’s well worth considering for snowy and muddy roads. Although bike lubes are typically meant for bike chains, they can’t put up with the worst conditions. On the flip side, bar and chain lube will tremendously wear down your bike chain. So, using it only for the extreme cases won’t really hurt.
Get your tires spiked
If you desire to maintain a straight posture for extended durations, your tires will need to have extra grip than the normal smooth-tread street bike can offer. Consider using the knobbed off-road tires. Better still, you can go for studded winter tires if you have developed a habit of biking on ice-over-streets.
Whichever tire spike you select, just ensure that they aren’t overly thick, so that they constantly rub underneath the fork, or inhibit the brake calliper completely closing. If you are doing short-distance commutes, you can add extra grip by using the tying zips around your tire (zip tie technique)
Initiate an ideal bike cleaning technique
This is essentially a preventive action plan. You’re instituting a good practice of cleaning your bike during fairly good weather, which is laudable. But the moment the harsh conditions set in (when you really need to clean the bike), it becomes almost an insurmountable challenge. Set up an ideal bike cleaning technique before the bad weather comes knocking, so you are more than prepared. You can leverage the cheap pump action garden sprayer with a drain in the vicinity. You can also choose to head to a Home Depot for comprehensive cleaning brushes. To clean tight spots, take advantage of refrigerator-coil brushes or grout cleaning brushes. The bottom line is to get rid of grime from your bike’s movable parts and frame quickly. You should never allow grime to collect.
Exercise prudence when choosing your bike’s fenders
Fenders are meant to protect you and the underneath of the bike from sprays emanating from the wheels. Most bikes are fitted with full-coverage fenders, which are perfectly fine for good weather. But they’ll miserably fail when winter knocks, or in frozen conditions, for that matter. For snowy conditions, your best bet is to use the clip-on fender. Clip-on fender is pretty easy to move and empty, the moment snow gets clogged in.
Keep car wax close to your chest
Car wax is considered an old-fashioned technique of winterizing your bike, but it’s quite effective. You can ready your bike for winter by applying generous amounts on the entire bike, more so, underneath the bracket section and underneath the down tube. Components like spokes can be treated with car wax. This car wax is so effective that it creates a super slippery surface preventing dirt, grit, and grime gaining a foothold on your bike. It’s good practice first to clean the bike thoroughly, and then apply the car wax with a clean cloth. Give it time to dry out to a haze and finally, wipe off. Repeat the procedure, then buff to obtain a high polish.
On the other hand, you can make use of the spray-on after-wash coatings, which are based on silicone or light oils that are easily available in the marketplace today. This procedure is not too involving. However, it may need regular cleaning and reapplication.
Take care of your lights
Low visibility and short day’s weather render head and front lights an essential part of your bike riding. Lights and extremely low temperatures are not the best of friends. Lights are powered up by batteries, so, low temperatures negatively affect their functionality. Simply put, batteries perform optimally under particular temperature scales. To ensure the batteries don’t drain fast, mount your taillight to your backpack and your headlight to your helmet. Essentially, in the course of the day, the batteries should stay inside to prevent the possibility of draining.
Keep tabs on your tire pressure and rubber
Studded tires are a hit in extremely low temperatures. But more options suited to the winter are available, like the softer rubber compound that comes along with winter threads. On top of the list of the best rubber tires for winter is the cyclo-cross file-tread tire. It usually boasts an excellent rubber and remarkable casings and performs best in deep winter conditions. The file tread ranks higher since the side treads provide traction in crappy weather.
Another most important aspect of your bike is tire pressure. You might want your pressure to be just below what you’re accustomed to. You only need to ensure that the tire moves comfortably and able to grip the frozen surfaces rightly.
Ensure you’re on the right path to glitch-free winter by winterizing your bike early enough. Winterizing your bike should not end at the onset of winter, it should continue throughout the winter. Your winter exploits will only get better by strictly adhering to the above mentioned winterizing tips.