As the crisp winter air arrives and nights draw in, many cyclists hang up their bikes and retreat indoors, but for those who are determined to keep pedalling through the colder months winter can provide some of the most dramatic and rewarding riding of the year. To really enjoy winter riding though proper bike preparation is crucial. In this week’s blog we'll discuss essential ways to prepare your bike for winter and provide some of our favourite product recommendations.
A good set of lights is the key purchase to allow safe riding during dark winter months. If you only invest in one area, make sure lights is it and over index on your budget for them. Many cyclists will buy a budget set of lights that will only last one winter. This is a false economy – invest more and you will get a brighter (safer) and more robust product that will last for years to come. Once budget is locked in, think about usage. Do you just want to be seen on a well-lit commute or are you venturing onto dark trails that demand a powerful front unit to light up the trail ahead? If it’s the former, go for a compact front and rear LED set that will clip unobtrusively onto your bike – buy well and they’ll be lightweight but still with a long run time. If it’s the latter, then a more serious front light is a must, where power output (lumens) and beam spread become additional considerations. Team with a small LED taillight for enhanced safety. Regardless of your requirements, make sure your lights are USB rechargeable – hunting for those AA batteries should be a thing of the past.
Pro-Choice: Exposure Strada 1200 Road (£290) – mega powerful road-specific front light.
Mid-Range Option: Ravemen LS10 (£64.99) – stylish, super bright, robust metal construction.
Budget-Friendly Route: Smart 9 80 (£24.99) – budget conscious, but still pack a decent punch.
2. Winter Tyres
After lights, some suitable tyres are the next most important winter purchase and offer a range of benefits. The roads and paths become strewn with glass and debris in winter so punctures can be a lot more common. Winter tyres have enhanced puncture protection (usually at the slight expense of weight and comfort) but is a compromise well worth taking to avoid dreaded punctures at the side of the road. Winter tyres also tend to have more aggressive and thicker tread patterns for better grip in wet and slippery conditions, this can be boosted further by going up a size if your bike will take it. They may feel a little more sluggish than summer rubber, but the better traction and control in all weathers means you can confidently ride on regardless of what’s going on around you. The sheer choice of tyres available can be daunting, so we’ve picked out three of our favourites across road and commuter categories.
Pro Choice: Pirelli P Zero 4S 28c (£64.99) – great grip, enhanced puncture resistance and still light!
Mid-Range Option: Schwalbe Marathon Plus (£34.99) – a classic and still the best commuter tyre.
Budget-Friendly Route: Vittoria Zaffiro Pro (£24.99) – high-end road ride, entry-level price.
Mudguards are often looked down upon – partly due to the impact on bike aesthetics and partly due to a generally old-fashioned image. Well, things have changed. Mudguards can now be a sleek and lightweight addition to your bike that can transform winter riding. Until you have ridden with full-length mudguards on your road bike, you won’t believe quite how much water and grime is transferred onto your clothing and shoes without them – it’s a game changer! There are also more affordable clip-on guards for the fair-weather cyclists where more versatile protection is key. Not forgetting the mountain bike crew – for whom a whole range of MX inspired guards are now on the market. We’ve picked out some top choices below:
High-End Choice: SKS Raceblade Pro £ 49.99 – the ultimate lightweight, clip-on road mudguards.
Mid-Range Option: Flinger Deluxe £44.99 – durable, sleek black full length road guards.
Budget-Friendly Route: Crud RacePac £19.99 – on oldy but still good a choice, a doddle to fit.
Whilst getting your mudguards fitted or tyres swapped over it’s a good idea to get your bike serviced at the same time. Wet and grimy conditions will accelerate wear on components like your chain, cassette and brake pads, it also means gear and shift cables will get gunked up much more quickly. For this reason you should make extra effort to keep your bike clean and lubed through winter, plus increase servicing frequency. Checking chain wear regularly and swapping chains as needed could save you money in the long term by prolonging the life of the drivetrain. Keep up the maintenance as you progress through winter – your bike will thank you for it come spring.
As you can see, prepping your bike for winter riding is essential to ensure both your safety and your steed's longevity. Investing in quality winter tyres, mudguards and lights is essential to allow stress-free miles under your wheels. Embrace the cold and the wet this winter – with the right equipment and some forward-planning, you can safely enjoy the beauty of winter cycling.
Need a hand with that service or maybe some advice on winterising your bike? Get in touch: https://bike-hero.co.uk/pages/services-repairs