Cycling - Knowledge

Cycling Basics: 10 Steps on How to Prep Your Bike in Winter

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Winters are harsh. From vegetation prosperity to human health, cold winds take a toll on everything, including your bike. Any bike in winter needs extra pampering. Winter roads are not very favourable and bike riding on them can mess up the wheels, the chain, and a lot of the other important components. So, in addition to layering yourself with winter cycling gears, you also have to prep your bike for winter riding.

Bike riding in winter especially for the commuters who are looking to set out and ride throughout the dreary season needs special attention. The roads are slippery, the visibility is low, the oil in the bike chain dries up sooner, change the wheels, and the list goes on. Bikes in winter need winter protection and extra cleaning.

So, how to winter-proof your bike? Keep reading to know about taking care of your bike in winter.

10 Steps on How to Prep Your Bike for Winter

bikes in winter
How Cold the Bike Must Be! And the Damage It Will Sustain (source)

As with any endeavours, a little preparation can pay a lot in the long run. If your bike is prepped well to face the elements, your commute becomes a whole lot easier and comfortable. To ensure that your effort minimises while you are riding in the cold, dark evenings, do a basic bike maintenance checklist.

Let’s begin with the tools you would require to perform a winter bike maintenance checking.

Tools Required

  • Bottom bracket removal: Shimano splined socket, lockring and pin spanner and crank extractor, or external cup splined type spanner depending on BB; 8mm or 14/15mm socket for crank arm bolts
  • For fasteners and other components: 3, 4, 5, 6mm Allen keys and/or 8, 9 and 10mm standard spanners; Phillips or flat screwdriver, pliers, small hacksaw
  • Frame Saver or similar
  • Slime tubes, Jagwire cable wiper seals
  • Mudguard flaps, rustless chains
  • Car wax or spray-on lubricants
  • Stainless fasteners, wider tyres and mudguards

Your bike in winter is going to get messy. It is going to soak on a lot of moisture and this means that you will have to deal with the inevitable cleanup twice as much.

Do you know how to do a winter bike maintenance?

Here are the ways you can keep your bike every ready for winter commuting:

Lubricate Them

Lubricating bike parts
Lube the Parts Well (source)

Save your steel and aluminium frames from corrosion by abating oxidation with proper lubrication. Treat the various cycle parts with 30wt oil or thick chain lube with a bit of WD40. To make handling and access easier, remove the cranks, bottom bracket (BB) and wheels, then spray the fluid into the tubes and plug the BB and seat tube with rags. Next, move the bike around to coat the inside evenly. Allow it to settle and wipe off excess.

Be sure to wear protective eyewear while spraying the bike parts.

Add mudguards and fenders

fenders for bike
Fenders Keep the Bike and You Clean (source)

If you are going to use the bike for winter commuting then mudguards (and fenders) are a needed winter bike accessory. They’ll prolong the bike life by shielding the components, in particular, the chain, from the potential damage. And not to forget the definite improvement on comfort. Further mudguards and fenders will keep the road muck off your backside, keeping you dry.

You can go an extra length and get the mudflaps too. These simple devices keep your feet a lot drier. Mudflaps are usually used in group rides as a courtesy to riders behind you, especially on group rides.

Learn how to bike in winter with these cold weather cycling gears and precaution steps.

Use Winter Bike Tyres

wide tyres for bike
Winter Riding Requires Wide Bike Tyres (source)

Switch to winter specific tires. Use wide set wheels that are puncture resistant, replace old tubes, examine the rim strips for wear and tear and also ensure that they adequately cover the spoke holes. Check the tyres for thorns and glass shards in case you are reusing them. Install the tyres with appropriate protection and confirm correct bead seating while inflating, especially at the valve.

Install Good Brake Pads

brake pads
Brake Pads for Better Stop (source)

Descending a climb on wet and salty road is tricky and after a couple dangerous accounts you probably are aware that carbon rims aren’t very practical and a normal brake pad isn’t quite efficient. Hence, improve your braking power in wet weather by using aluminium braking surface and a pair of brake pads designed for using in winter.

Seal the Cables

bike cable seals
Seal the Cables with End Caps (source)

Keep your gear shifts smooth with cable wipers and seals. Water can seep into the cable parts to decrease the performance of shifting and braking over time. While you can change the cables, one can also use cable seals. These cable seals or caps secure the cables end-to-end to avoid water and mud impeding the bike’s performance regardless of the wintry conditions.

Leather Parts Care

Leather bike seat
Vintage Leather Bike Saddle (source)

If your saddle is synthetic-made, then you can probably skip this step. But if you ride on a leather saddle, it will need extra attention during the cruel winter period. A leather saddle takes serious beating in the cold conditions, so much so that it may lose all the shine, leaving a scuffed surface. Using fenders will keep the leather seats dry and clean. Wipe the underside of the seat with a cloth and apply a coating of leather saddle dressing. This will maintain its natural shine and keep the dirt off.

Use Stainless Steel

Stainless steel
Stainless Steel Bike Chain (source)

Since the winters are mostly wet with snow falls and snow-covered roads, it is a good idea to use stainless steel items like gear and brake cables, chains, fasteners and even ball bearings. This will keep your bike rust-free and maintain the good look. Invest in a worthy stainless-steel bike chain and cables (on brakes and derailleurs) if you adding wipers or a piece of outer. Also, do not forget to lube them up!

Fix Good Bike Lights

Bike lights
Bike Lights are a Bike Essential, Regardless of Weather Conditions (source)

Winters are accompanied by gloomy daylight and early nightfall. Hence, fix your bike up with a set of excellent bike lights is an essential. This will not only protect you from road hazards, but allow your bike to dodge the harmful grime, sharp grits, and slimy dirt. In addition, add the good ol’ reflectors too, just in case the bike light batteries run low.

Check out these awesome bike lights for maximum visibility.

Wax the Frame

Wax your bike
Wax the Bike Before It Rusts to Death! (source)

The frame is the most expensive part of your bike. Protect the integrity of the frame material by treating it with a coat of car wax. Pay more attention to the downtube and around the bottom bracket, apply on the cranks and spokes too but do not wipe the braking surface.

You can also use the spray-on lubricants but you will have to frequently use it on a long winter ride whereas the car wax will take care of the frame for months at a go!

And since night falls sooner in winter, here's how to bike safely at night.

cycling in winter
A Well-maintained will Give You Comfortable Winter Ride (source)

Winters are not very friendly of the all the seasons. And as you move through the weather change, you need to make sure to guard your precious bike against all the harsh effects. Just wearing the appropriate winter cycling gear wouldn’t ensure a glitch-free ride. Your bike has to also be prepared well for top class functioning in the unfavourable weather state. So, when the chilly north winds blow, lube up the bike parts and change them if required. Take care of your bike in winter and it will take care of the winter riding.

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