Getting cold on your morning commute? Here are some tips on staying safe and snug this winter.
Words by Gordon Kanki-Knight
Winter’s here, the wind is howling and the air is damp. The last thing you want to do is make the journey to work, school or the shops by bike. But if you’re well prepared, the hardest bit of the journey is actually from your bed or sofa to the bike. Winter cycling can even be fun, it’s simply about making sure you and your bike are prepared for the conditions.
You don’t have to ride every day: when the rain is pounding down outside take a day off; and you don’t have to ride all the way: using public transport or driving part of the way saves time and money and can keep you dry and warm. Cyclists in Scandinavia, Scotland and even Canada, are adept at riding all year round– and looking good while they do it. So here are some tips on staying safe and snug this winter.
Before the ride
- Check your brake blocks now and then for shards of aluminium from your wheel rim surface. Remove with a toothbrush or awl. Brake pads wear down faster in the wet, so make sure you re-align them after riding in the rain to ensure optimal stopping power.
- Check your tyres for cuts and road debris and remove. Also check your tyre pressure: on the road, run a road bike tyre at 85-90psi, a mountain bike tyre at 45-50psi.
- Check that your lights work. Batteries lose charge over Summer. Consider adding a helmet-mounted light or two – a headlamp lets you see where you’re going and is very helpful if you have to do roadside repairs. A light at the back of your helmet helps drivers see you in heavy traffic.
- Think about attaching mudguards if your bike doesn't have them. Clip-on plastic ones such as Ass Savers (from Gothenburg, the wettest city in the world) are cheap and easy to fit.
- Consider raising your handlebars a little for a more upright position on the bike – it helps to see and be seen in poor weather.
- If your saddle is leather, give it a rub with Brooks Proofide wax; if synthetic, opt for a light spray of silicone waterproofer.
- Apply reflective tape (good for being seen from angles).
After the Ride
- It’s the last thing you want to do, but wipe down your wet bike after a ride – it removes road grit and protects against corrosion. Also apply a light spray of WD40 to your chain, wipe, then oil with chain lube, also spray then wipe gear mechs and brake callipers (avoid the brake blocks).
- Finally, brew up a hot cup of ginger tea – it warms you up and helps your immune system. Then take a bath!
Some Essential Gear
This article originally appeared in our Love Your Ride 6 Magazine.