You shouldn’t let the cold weather keep you off the roads and trails: winter bike riding is a great way to keep up with your favourite form of exercise and stay in shape. Of course, you’ll need some equipment to help you adapt to the different conditions! Here’s the gear you should consider before taking your bike out for a ride this winter.
Don’t leave home without the right layers for the weather! Notice we said “right layers” – colder conditions don’t call for “as many layers as possible.” The human body produces lots of heat and sweat when engaged in strenuous exercise, even in winter. Riders who layer up too much can become too hot and sweaty, which leaves you vulnerable to dehydration, hypothermia, and other health risks.
Rather than pack on every sweater you own, layer smartly. Wear a base layer of Merino wool or a synthetic wicking fibre like spandex. On top of this layer, add some outwear appropriate for cycling – waterproof or water-resistant shell when it’s precipitating, a wind-resistant soft-shell jacket in cold, dryer conditions. For your head, a wool helmet liner or cap that fits under the helmet will be more than enough for most rides – however, carry a scarf or balaclava in case the weather catches you off-guard!
Another piece of winter-cycling gear is a set of gloves suitable for cold-weather riding. Proper cycling gloves have grips on the fingers and palms, making it easier to hold onto handlebars that get wet in the winter. Don’t let the intended use of the gloves stop you – many cyclists love using cross-country ski gloves!
Before hitting the road, pick up a set of winter tires. Fatter, studded tires give the cyclist more traction and stability on wintery roads. Tires can change depending on the model; have a back-up if you ride a road bike unless you live in a place that sees rain rather than snow in the winter months!
- Hybrid models can still be great commuter bikes in winter! In inclement, slippery weather, use studded 700C tires; milder conditions call for large-volume treaded 700C tires at a lower PSI. (Lowering the pressure by 10-15 pounds can give you more traction on icy, snowy routes).
- Mountain bikes can get good traction from regular knobby tires with a lower PSI inflation. If you want to take it out on icy, snowy conditions, have a set of studded winter tires with a wide tread pattern that will increase the grip.
- Fat bikes are the ultimate bike to take out in winter. Whether you love a snow-white trail or commute daily, the 4-to-5-inch tires and 100mm+ rims of a fat bike are perfect for the conditions. If you’re adding studded tires, expect to be the only vehicle on the roads!
Lubricant And Oil
The winter roads can be hard on your bike’s metal components. Snow, slush, road salt, and sand can all have a corrosive effect on the drivetrain. Many cyclists prefer to ride a bike with internal housing during the winter, which protects the delicate metal parts of a drivetrain from seizing due to exposure to harsh conditions. However, not all cyclists have the money to invest in a ride solely for the wintertime!
Multi-speed bike riders must wash their drivetrain, grease the bottom bracket, and coat the chain with a wet or wax-based lubricant throughout the winter. Use the lube at least three times a month if you’re riding regularly, and after every trip, wipe down your chain. If possible, riders should think about adding a full-length housing for their rear brake.
Gear That Increases Your Visibility To Other Vehicles
Early evenings, snow, and dazzling white conditions- these can all impact how well motor vehicles see you on the road. Along with highly-visible clothing and reflectors, pick up a set of waterproof lights and never go for a ride without them. Depending on your route, a model that’s at least 150 lumens is the most appropriate; if you are riding regularly only in the daytime or in well-lit areas, 60 to 150 lumens should be ample light.