Road Bike

How to get your road bike winter-ready

With winter upon us, dry roads are a luxury at that time of year, and you can look forward to riding back with you your bike covered in dirt, grit, and other debris.

Daylight is also limited; the sky is often low when the sun is shining, affecting your vision and other road users.

Combined with frost, road salt, and possibly snow, these increases wear and tear on the bike and components, which can be expensive to repair or replace. The harsher the conditions, the better your chances of getting machinery – you want to avoid cold, wet, and miserable times by the roadside.

Here are our top tips for freezing your road bike and helping it survive various conditions.

Get it serviced

There are a lot of things you can do yourself to keep your bike running smoothly. We’ve outlined the central part and how to deal with it. Some maintenance jobs are easy to perform, while others may require special tools. We outline the most commonly used tools and their uses.

First, your shift and brake cables need to be lubricated to keep them running smoothly on the outside. If you have an outer cable guide, you can push the external cable guide out of its stop and re-grease the inner cable, although it is more difficult to lubricate the internal thread.

Check for wear and replace internal and external parts if necessary. Adding end caps to the cable housing or replacing old ones can improve weather resistance.

Headphone bearings, especially the lower ones, are on the road spray line, so keep them well-lubricated to keep water out.

Do you want to go a step further? Bottom brackets, hubs, shifters, and brake pivots can all benefit from TLC.

If all this sounds high-end, book your bike at your local bike shop for winter service.

Sort your tyres

You’ll often see more drivers on the side of the road fixing breakdowns in winter. There are many reasons for this – after cycling in the summer, your tires may wear a little thin, increasing the risk of a puncture, while increased rain in winter tends to push more dirt onto the road, Further growing the chance of a hole.

A heavier set of winter tires will add a little more weight but will be better able to withstand sharp sand and thorns. They also usually have a more pronounced tread for improved grip on wet mushy, or other loose surfaces.

Setting the tires to be tubeless is also worth considering. Many newer bikes have tubeless wheels, and your tires may also be tubeless so that the conversion may be easy.

Buying tubeless valves and sealant will incur costs, and you will need to check and replenish the bond regularly. But you can throw away your hose, which will save you running costs, and the sealant should significantly reduce the chance of a puncture.

Tubeless tires are also slightly heavier than tubeless summer tires, making them more puncture-resistant. Watch the tires, keep them properly inflated, and check for damage or embedded debris.

Make sure you can stop

Just like your summer tires, your brake pads are an item that doesn’t quite like winter conditions. If you have rim brakes, the combination of moisture and dirt can quickly wear them and your rims. Wet braking distances are also noticeably longer. It’s a good idea to clean the rim brake pads and brake surfaces more frequently to remove dirt, both of which wear out quickly.

Disc brakes are slightly better, farther from the road, and less prone to mud, but again, winter wear increases. It’s also worth investing in a proper disc brake cleaner to avoid contamination when washing your bike.

So when your brake pads look better, or when the dirt is embedded in the rim brake pads, it’s time to replace them for more stopping power.

Install the fenders

Fenders protect your bike from dust and dirty water, which is good for your bike and your world. Road grime seems to get into everything, especially the drivetrain and headset, and water quickly strips lube off the chain, causing it to rust.

Full-coverage fenders will protect most of the bike and increase comfort. If you ride with other people, they will thank you too. The fenders at the ends of the fenders are more helpful in preventing rim spray.

A few years ago, installing fenders on most bikes was a hassle due to the tight spacing and lack of mounting points. But bike makers now seem to have realized the error of their ways, and even many high-end performance bikes have fenders installed. Moving to wider tires also increases frame spacing.

Driving with lights and reflectors

The days are short, and it’s a good idea to wear a bicycle light when going out in winter. If you’re planning a ride of any length, chances are you’ll start or end at dusk, and a delay could mean night has fallen by the time you get home.

Lousy weather also limits the ability of motorists to see you. For most rides, a set of blinks may be enough. They are inexpensive, lightweight, and usually charge via USB.

In addition to lights, reflectors can help improve your visibility in low-light situations or when the sun is low on the horizon.

In the UK, red reflectors are required by law on the rear of bicycles and yellow reflectors on the pedals. Clothing with built-in reflective elements is also a smart move.

Keep it clean

You also want to keep your bike clean, and you may need to rinse it off after most rides. This is not only for aesthetic reasons but also prevents corrosion caused by moisture and salt – salt water can create electrical currents between dissimilar metals and metal parts and the carbon frame, corrupting them.

A bike protection spray can help waterproof and keep your frame and components clean.

It’s a good idea to use specialized bike cleaning products that clean dirt more effectively and are formulated to prevent damage to parts.

While they can be used sparingly, cleaning your bike with a spray cleaner can easily damage delicate components, tires, bearings, and finishes if you’re not careful.

It’s not just surface dirt on the frame that you need to avoid. Keeping the chain and gears clean is also essential, as the combination of dirt and oil can form an abrasive paste.

So buy chain cleaners and degreasers and use them regularly to remove dirt from the drivetrain, clean the chain, and re-grease. Also, watch out for the riding wheel. It can get clogged with sand and dust very quickly.

lubricating

You will also need to change the lube on the chain you use in the winter. A light dry lube will keep your chain clean on dry summer roads, while a wet lube is better for winter riding.

It should have more staying power and not easily wash off in the rain, although it does attract dirt, so you’ll need to step up your chain cleaning routine.

It’s not just the chain that needs lubrication: you should also keep your headset, bottom bracket, hub, cassette, rim brake pivots, pedal axles, and triggers lubricated.

Water can get into the top of the seat tube and corrode the seat post, so loosen the bolts, pull the seat post out, clean it thoroughly and apply assembly paste or grease to ensure it doesn’t freeze.

Don’t sweat it

Are you tired of outdoor cycling? If you decide to head to the indoor trainer before the weather improves and the sun is a little later, we regret to report that your maintenance task is in progress.

Sweat is the enemy of many bike parts, and you’ll be producing it barrel by barrel, spreading it all over your handlebars and controls. So it would help if you protected your bike.

You can buy a welding guard to hang on your railing, while Muc-Off makes a welding guard spray. It would help if you also washed your bike regularly to remove salt deposits, dry it off and keep it well lubricated to prevent corrosion.

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