Welcome to the second part of our 2-part blog on winter riding. The first blog focussed on preparing yourself, this blog will focus on preparing your bike. We’ll share our thoughts on how to set your bike up for the conditions and how to maintain your bike.
The frosty chill in the air, pristine snow carpeting the ground, and the joy of gliding on a bike through this wintry wonderland – there’s nothing quite like cycling in the colder months. However, winter brings with it unique challenges for cyclists. Icy trails, reduced visibility, and the cold itself can make for some treacherous riding conditions. But fear not! With the right preparation and some essential tweaks to your bike, you can confidently tackle these challenges and enjoy the beauty of winter cycling. In the first part of this series, we delved into what to wear for comfortable winter riding. This blog will look at how to set up and maintain your bike.
BIKE SET UP
We’re going to look at making sure you have control, that you can stop and that you can see, all of which are pretty important.
As the only contact point between you and the ground, tyres play a vital role in keeping you in control. There are a couple of things you could change:
The cheapest and simplest thing to change is your tyre pressure. The lower your tyre pressure, the more contact you will have with the ground, giving you more traction.
Tyre Pressure Tips:
- Less tyre pressure equals more grip. Adjust your tyre pressure for better safety and experience the difference.
- You should have a lower pressure on the front tyre than the back.
- The pressure on the sidewall of your tyre as a starting point, will be too high. Instead, start around 25 psi and go from there.
- If you make the pressure too low, you’ll be more prone to punctures.
It’s important to note that not all tyres are the same with tread patterns, compounds and volumes making a huge difference to how the tyre performs.
Winter often leads to muddy/slippery conditions and the best winter tyres often have a higher volume and more pronounced spikes on the treads. When combined they will give you more traction.
Tip. If you change your tyres, ensure they are on the right way round using the rotational arrow on the side wall. Putting them on the wrong way round will significantly reduce their performance.
Pads will wear far more quickly in the winter than in the summer, so they will need to be checked and replaced more frequently. The next choice is the type of compound to use, the 2 main types are shown below:
- Made from organic compounds.
- The Good.
- Sharper braking
- The Bad.
- Faster wear
- Inconsistent in wet conditions.
- Made from Small metal particles are pressed into the compound.
- The Good.
- Longer lasting in wet conditions
- Consistent performance in wet conditions.
- The Bad.
We use Mudhugger Guards all year round, but they are a must when riding in the winter. They stop a ridiculous amount of water and mud getting thrown into your face and eyes, which helps you see where you’re riding. Don’t be sucked into buying shorter mudguards, they won’t offer the same degree of protection.
MAINTAINING YOUR BIKE
You’re not going to get away from the fact that your components will wear far more quickly in the winter than in the summer. But there are some things that you can do to reduce the speed of the wear.
Applied pre-ride to anywhere but your brakes, Kingud’s Protect has hydrophobic qualities that stop dirt and mud from clinging to your bike. It means that a quick rinse-off post-ride will remove most of the dirt making the bike far easier to keep clean.
Chain. Check that your chain has some lube on from the last ride, if not apply some and wipe off any excess. If you did clean and re-lube your chain, wipe off any excess before you start riding.
Oil Based Lubes.
There are 3 main types of oil lubes, dry, all condition and wet. Each lube is looking to balance longevity with the amount of dirt it collects.
- Wet Lube.
The thickest lube type will stay on the chain the longest but will attract the most dirt.
- Dry Lube.
A thin lube that will wash/wear off quickly but will attract minimal dirt.
- All condition.
Sits in between the 2 above.
Our go-to option! Ideally applied the night before a ride and allowed to dry, leaving a dry wax protective coating that doesn’t attract dirt. We use Kingud’s eco-friendly Dry Wax throughout the year.
Post Ride Cleaning.
Frame. Here are some tips for how best to clean your frame:
- Rinse the bike off with clean water first.
- If using a hose pipe/jet wash, set it on the least powerful spray setting (using a powerful water jet will strip your bike’s bearings of all their lubricants and force mud and grit into places they shouldn’t be!).
- Apply frame cleaner to your brushes/cloths directly rather than directly onto the frame, this will save you a lot of cleaner. We use Kingud’s eco-friendly Bike Cleaner.
- Once you’ve finished cleaning your frame, go over it with a damp cloth to remove any dirt that you’ve missed.
- Press down on your forks and use a soft cloth to remove any dirt that’s been collected on the stanchion.
This is where the most wear will occur and keeping your drive chain clean is a must. If you’re short of time and can’t clean both your frame and drive chain, then prioritise your drive chain.
Some tips for this are:
- Use a drive chain cleaning solution, designed to dissolve oil and grime.
- Clean your chain using a chain scrubber.
- Use firm brushes (old toothbrushes are great) to clean the rear cassette, the jockey wheels and the chainring; if you don’t do this, they will just pass dirt back onto your clean chain.
- When applying lube to your chain, look to drip it onto the inside of the link (the part that will be in contact with the chainring and cassette).
- Once applied, back pedal several times to get the lube into all the links; for e-bikes, you’ll need to lift the rear wheel and forward pedal (or on some bikes you can rest one pedal on something enough to have the rear wheel in the air. Then use the walk function on the bike to turn the rear wheel and chain).
- If using oils, wipe off any excess.
- If using wax lubes, allow time for the lube to dry.
Winter is a great time to get some lessons and develop your skills ready for spring.
Winter riding can be a challenge but is uniquely rewarding. If you dress appropriately and set up and maintain your bike according to the conditions, you will get the most out of it.
Have fun, stay safe and we’ll see you on the trails.