5 Tips To Make Your Bike Winter Ready!
We might still be a month away from the official end of British Summertime but let’s be honest, October the 26th shouldn’t still count as summer, should it? If you’ve been out and about on your bike lately, you’ll have noticed that the temperature is far from anything that can be described as ‘summer’ and it’s only going to get worse as the weather turns and the long nights draw in. Here at CAMS, we’ve decided to give you a few tips for weatherproofing your bike for the days (or rather: nights) that lie ahead.
If you’ve ever ridden in the winter, you’ll know that it’s a fairly miserable affair if you’re caught unawares and unprepared. Obviously, a change of clothes will be in order and we’ll definitely cover that topic over the next few weeks but what else can you do to protect yourself from the elements? If you’re used to commuting on a road bike, then you might want to make a few upgrades before the seasons change and we’re going to tell you what you’re probably going to need and why.
Let’s get started!
If you’ve enjoyed the summer without any mudguards on your bike, you might want to consider getting some fitted for the winter months because if you got out for a wide without them, you’ll quickly regret it! During the wet, autumn and winter months you’re definitely going to encounter more water and mud on the roads, especially in the form of muddy puddles (and grit, slush and even snow, as the year progresses). Without a set of guards covering your tyres, you’ll quickly find that the mud and water on the road will quickly find it’s way up your back, across your face, up your trouser leg and into your gloves – in fact, it’ll find it’s way anywhere and if you had any hopes of arriving at your destination looking pristine, then think again. Even with mudguards on, when the season changes, you’ll be lucky to arrive anywhere looking anywhere near respectable!
It’s not just for your own protection either, anyone riding behind you will greatly appreciate it! If you’re riding without mudguards, at least the dirt that you kick-up from the front wheel will have the good decency to land on you but any crud from the rear wheel will catch any cyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian indiscriminately. No one cares about cars though.
Depending on what type of you’ve got, there are different options available. Most of the standard quality, commuter road bikes come equipped with mounting holes in the frame and forks for adding mudguards; you might have to look hard for them but nine bikes out of ten surely have them. If you can’t find them, head down to your bike shop and buy a set of removable guards that attach directly to your front forks and seat stays. Generally, these race-style mudguards aren’t nearly as good as the proper sets that mount directly to the frame but any protection is better than nothing!
Let’s briefly touch on something mentioned above: making other rider’s journeys better in a way to make your journey better. Mudguards are fairly useful at deflecting that road dirt but let’s be honest, they’re only really protecting you! Here at CAMS, we try to put your safety first, so adding a set of mud flaps to your guards could prevent you from any harm that may be directed towards you from the guy riding behind you, who has subsequently been covered in water and mud.
You can head to the shop and buy yourself a nice, professional set of mud flaps but if you’re not fashion conscious, you can simple fabricate your own at home from some thick plastic sheeting and a heavy duty stapler, a set of bolts or duct tape.
A set of mud flap will help to keep any other riders dry and clean as well as protecting more of your bike from that horrible grit and dirt that has a tendency to make it’s way into your mechanisms and the like.
As the evenings become darker and heavy rain clouds roll in, it’s well worth sparing a thought to your visibility: that means how far you can see and more importantly, if other people can see you. It’s no secret that the vast majority of cycling accidents are caused by other road users and their lack of observation but that doesn’t mean that you should wait for an accident to happen and then play the blame game; make yourself as obvious as you can. The best way to do this is to invest in some high visibility gear and as much reflective gizmos and tape as you can. If you can buy a decent roll of reflective tape, go nuts with it; try and make your bike as obvious as you can.
Of course, the most important thing in this department should be your lights. Lights aren’t there just to help you see better, they’re there to let others know where you are too. Stationary white lamps are a must for the front end of your bike but at the back you can choose from flashing or stationary. We recommend that you use both; the flashing light to alert other road users to your presence and a fixed light to allow the road users to judge your speed and distance – whichever you choose, make sure that your rear lights are RED!
Mountain bikes are already fitted with nice, weather resistant tyres that provide a decent amount of grip but it’s highly unlikely that your commuter-style, road bike is equipped with winter style tyres to navigate through the slippery and gritty winter roads.
If you cycle regularly, it’s well worth investing in a new set of winter specific tyres; winter style tyres are designed with more grip in mind and the better brands have puncture resistant walls that promise to get you from A to B upright and in one piece. Having the right tyres on will make your daily ride a hell of a lot more comfortable.
Alright, they’re not mittens but pogies are great things to have equipped for when the weather gets cold. If you’re not sure what a ‘pogie’ is: it’s a warm and protective ‘mitten-like’ item of cycling equipment that fits over your handlebars and keeps your hands warm and protected from the elements; unlike gloves, you don’t have to take them off – they stay on your handlebars. If you haven’t got a set, try and get some before the weather changes! You won’t regret it
So, aside from a bit of maintenance, you should be ready to go out and tackle the cold weather on two-wheels without feeling much in the way of discomfort. Check out our article on what to wear to stay warm this winter that’ll be coming out soon! Stay safe!