Intro: The “Winter Riding Series” has been well accepted and while we were originally focused on how we keep comfortable in colder weather, we also were being asked, “What about the Bike?” What are the things that have helped us get more enjoyment out of Winter riding that are done to our rigs? In this post, we hope to cover some of the items that have done that for us and also we will pass on a few tips for maintenance as well.
We know the tips here are but merely scratching the surface, so take them as helpful hints, not an unabridged Winter Riding tip list. We hope you find this informative and useful.
For The Snow & Cold:
Here where I ride, the snow and the cold are big obstacles to riding out side. Obviously, most of my local single track gets socked in with snow, but we still find places to ride in Winter. There are not many things I do differently, but here are a few to consider…
-Changing Lube: Many times I will clean off my chain and re-lube with a heavier lube. this winter I tried out some Pedros “Chanj”, which has worked out okay, but I have also used Finishline “Wet” lube, soybean based lubes, and other similar “heavier” oily lubes to ward off wet snow and mud.
-Single Speed: Keep it simple, right? Less to go wrong, easier to maintain, and generally I am going slower in Winter anyway, so gears are not helping all that much anyway. Bonus if you can get big, fat rubber in your SS rig.
-Switch Tires: If you are running hardpack friendly, fast summertime XC kind of tires, changing out to a more “all around” or even aggressive tires can pay big dividends. Studded tires, such as the ones c_g favors, the Schwalbe Ice Spiker, may be exorbitantly expensive, but may be the only thing that works to get you outside and riding. And really…..you are worth it!
-Get Fat: Well, that’s easy, right? Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, then that long spell of watching T.V. and movies with those snacks at your side- how could you not help but get fat? Obviously- I’m talking about fat bikes, and for myself, the platform has revolutionized my winter riding. (By the way, they work great in non-winter-like settings. Don’t overlook the fat bike!)
Tips: Following are some ideas to think about that might energize your Winter riding and get you off the couch and into the fresh, crisp air. Again, these are drawn mostly from my personal experiences.
-Alternative Rides: If your trails are too sensitive for Winter riding, maybe you should explore some rural back roads. It can be very eye opening, and taken with the sense of adventure, you may actually want to do this other times of the year as well.
-Get It Outside First- Then Ride: One of the best tips to enjoying a smooth ride in cold weather is to let your bike acclimate to the outside temperatures before you take off. This is especially good if you have wet weather, slush, or snow to ride through. A colder bike will accumulate less frozen stuff than a room temperature bike.
-If At All Possible- Let Your Bike Warm Up Slowly: Conversely, if you can let your bike acclimate back to warmer temps of heated areas slowly, you will get less condensation inside frame tubing and components, which can lead to trouble later on. Of course, if your storage area isn’t heated, all the better…
-If You Don’t Do Anything Else: At the very least, you should immediately clear your chain of water after wet, snowy, and muddy rides. WD-40 is excellent for this. Then after dousing it, you can go about your business, but don’t forget to clean that chain and lube it regularly, or after every wet ride. It would also be good to de-gunk your drive train a few times every Winter.
So, that’s about it, really. It isn’t as hard as it may seem. In fact, when I asked Grannygear what he did to prepare for Winter rides, he replied with, “Pump up the tires and grab my helmet.” So- there you have it! The bottom line is to get out there and ride. Have fun, and the rest will follow.
We hope you all enjoyed our Winter Riding Series as much as we enjoyed writing it.