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Winter And Your Road Bike
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Winter And Your Road Bike

Cycling in Winter Winter riding can be rewarding in the fact that, while you’re out doing something most of your mates are probably still tucked up in bed. This allows you to be justifiably smug about how you ride all year, while calling your mates soft for being fair-weather riders.

But there is a price to pay for this smugness, wear and tear on your bike. If your pride and joy is a nice carbon bike with expensive Shimano or Campagnolo running gear, then come summer you could be up for some expensive repairs.

There’s a couple of ways to combat this. Option one, take care of your bike. This means cleaning it after every wet weather ride. Especially the chain and cassette. The amount of grit and crap generated from wet roads is unbelievable, and left to sit on your chain and it will quickly wear the chain and then the cassette. Get in there with degreaser and a toothbrush, or you can use one of those chain cleaning devices, availabe from Park tools. This is clipped over your chain, fill it with chain cleaner and then turn the pedals to move the chain through the device, where it is cleaned by brushes. Once clean, dry and re-lube. You might want to use a wet weather lube, some of these are designed  specifically for wet conditions. Check with your bike shop as there are many different brands. 

Also pay attention to your rims and brake pads, again grit stuck to your brake pads will grind away at those expensive rims. Check the pads regularly and rub with sandpaper if you they feel rough.

Think about buying some cheap training wheels, and save the good wheels for summer.

Obviously all this cleaning is a bit of a chore, and requires discipline when it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

However there is a Better Way. Option two, and my recommendation, get yourself a wet weather bike. There are countless numbers of bikes for sale at this time of year. People who hardly rode during summer, certainly wont be riding in winter, so often decide to sell. Check ebay or your local auction site and have fun grabbing a bargain. Alloy or steel bikes make excellent second bikes. The idea behind this bike is toughness, so don’t get one with Shimano Dura-ace componentry or other expensive kit, get one with cheaper lower spec componentry. I replaced the front chain-rings, the chain and the cassette on my wet weather bike for just over $200 and that included labor. Fit mudguards, the best type are the ones that are fixed permanently to your bike, and hug your wheel, rather than the clip-on ones, though these are better than nothing. Not only will this keep you cleaner, but the rider behind you will be appreciative of  not being sprayed in the face by your rooster tail. Fit winter tires. There are plenty of puncture resistant training tires which don’t cost a fortune. You may want to fit a wider 25mm tire for more grip on the road, also run at a lower pressure, say around 85psi, to get more rubber on the road for even more grip. The beauty of a bike like this, is it needs very little maintenance. Just hose down after a ride and throw in the garage. Lube the chain occasionally, and that’s it. Also if you have a bike just for the wet, you’re more likely to go riding, as the excuse of not wanting to ruin the bike, will no longer be applicable.

There you have it, a perfect set up for winter. Wear the right clothing and you’ll find wet winter cycle rides can be fun.

One other advantage is you’ll find the winter bike is a lot heavier than your carbon speed machine. So come summer, after riding the heavy beast all winter, getting back on your good bike, means you will fly. As a friend of mine said, it’s almost like cheating.

 


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