How To Maintain Your Bike Over The Winter
As winter draws in, it's important to make sure you take care of your bike so that it can stay well maintained and won't break down. Follow our tips to maintain your bike over the winter so that it is ready to ride for the next race season.
Store your bike indoors
If you can, storing your bike indoors could save you a lot of hassle and help your bike last longer. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to store a bike in a garage or shed and you may need to find some more creative ways to store your bike indoors. There are many products available such as racks and hooks for you to store your bike in an apartment or smaller space.
Storing your bike indoors will protect it from the elements including damp and cold and will slow the negative effects of bad weather and cold on the mechanisms and frame.
Have a winter bike
This certainly isn’t a luxury we can all afford, but if finances and other key factors allow for the purchase of a winter bike, your well-loved racing machine will thank you come that first road race or triathlon of the season. Not only this, but the components on your winter bike will be cheaper to replace should they wear out and will be easier to tinker with if they go wrong.
Keep your bike clean
If there were ten commandments of cycling, this one would be up there at the top. Take an extra 10-15 minutes at the end of your muddy, gritty winter rides to clean your bike and it will save you time in the long run. Cleaning your bike doesn’t have to be expensive either. All you need is a brush, sponge, bucket and some washing up liquid. If you can, a basic bike stand will allow you to use both hands for cleaning and access those hard-to-clean parts.
Non bike-specific de-greaser can be bought far cheaper than your typical market-leading brands on the internet, but you will need to dilute these yourself before applying to your bike. It's also worth purchasing a proper chain-cleaning tool. There are lots of videos on YouTube outlining how to clean your bike properly and quickly, so it's worth checking them out so you know you're doing a thorough job.
Check your components regularly
In winter, the components on your bike wear out more quickly. From your brake pads to your chain, you should check all wearable components regularly and seek to replace them before they become unusable or dangerous. Not only does this ensure the safety of yourself and other road users, you will also save money in the long run. For example, replacing your chain in a timely manner will save you having to shell out on a new cassette if you continue to use that same chain past its recommended lifetime. Buying a chain gauge will help you in this specific scenario, or alternatively, turn to your local bike shop.
Choose the right tyres
Racing slicks aren’t going to cut it on winter roads as they will be more prone to punctures and offer you much less grip in wet and icy conditions. Invest in a good pair of winter tyres and stock up on inner tubes. It's also worth checking your tyres periodically for wear and nicks, as this will improve your safety on the road and reduce the likelihood of punctures.
Wet lube or dry lube?
The age-old question of which lubricant you should apply to your chain during winter. It’s largely personal preference, however as a rule of thumb, dry lube means your chain won’t pick up as much road grime but will wash off very quickly and will need to be re-applied before almost every ride if conditions are wet. Meanwhile, wet lube will last longer on your chain, meaning you won’t need to apply so regularly, but will attract more dirt.
Adjust your route
Particularly in icy, wet or windy conditions, you ought to adjust your route according to the weather outside. For example, if you know it’s going to be windy, it’s probably not the day to venture up onto the high-moor or ride along that low-lying coastal road which is gorgeous on a calm, sunny day but flooded in winter. This will not only ensure your safety but also hopefully make your ride more enjoyable.
Try alternative training
No matter how good your kit is or how hardcore you are, some days it is just better to stay indoors. Get friendly with your turbo trainer and reap the benefits come summer. With training packages such as Zwift or Trainer Road out there, there has never been a better time to sweat it out in the comfort of your own home.
For those of us who are lucky enough to live in the vicinity of an indoor track or velodrome, why not take the plunge and sign up for a track day with your club or a group of friends? Bike and equipment hire is often a reasonable price at these venues and beginners are very well catered for. Two hours on a track are likely to go much quicker than two hours on a turbo.
Get to know your local bike shop
This one is a must not only in winter, but all year round. A good local bike shop will be able to help you out with 99% of your cycling emergencies and queries, from ensuring your gears are in order to providing advice on what the best winter tyres are for you. As well as providing a community service, bike shops are now often competitively priced to compete with online retailers, so there really is no excuse not to pop in for a chat.
Many thanks to Sundried athlete ambassador Travis Bramley for contributing to this article.