HOW CAN I WINTERPROOF MY BIKE?
Get through winter in one piece with this handy DIY guide
Winter can be a worrying time for your bike. Spray from wet roads can be particularly corrosive, especially if salt has been spread to prevent ice. Punctures are a big problem, too – replacing an inner tube on the roadside is much less fun in the cold. But, if you follow our plan to protect you and your bike, you’ll storm through autumn/winter with plenty of miles in your legs ready for a summer of racing.
Step one Mudguards cut down the amount of spray that hits you and your bike when riding on wet roads. There are several types that can be fitted quickly and easily to a race bike, but always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to assemble the mudguards.
Step two Best for a road bike are mudguards that attach to the brake area and onto the seatstays and forks. The set pictured above attaches to the brake pivots with zip ties. Thread each mudguard under the brakes and secure tightly. Rotate the wheels to check that the tyres don’t rub on the mudguards.
Step three Line up the mudguard stays and frame attachments so that the wheels rotate without catching on the mudguards, then secure them in place.
FIT WIDER TYRES
Step one If possible, buy a set of wheels for winter riding, especially if your bike has expensive race wheels. Look for ones with standard spoking and wide rims so you can fit wider tyres, which give good grip. Ceramic-coated rims are most durable and withstand salt water but require dedicated brake blocks and are quite expensive.
Step two Fit wider and heavier tyres. Soft compounds grip better but wear quicker. Use tyres with some kind of puncture-prevention strip in them, like Kevlar. Also use standard, not lightweight, inner tubes. Worn tyres puncture more easily so check regularly and replace them.
Step three Inflate the tyres after fitting, but not to as high a pressure as you would use in summer. Lower tyre pressures give extra grip and improve traction – 80psi is a good winter pressure for a 70kg rider. Fit valve caps in winter to prevent salt water getting in, oxidising the metal and causing them to stick shut.
PROTECT YOUR DRIVETRAIN
Step one Not only are the exposed parts of your drivetrain (chain, chainset and sprockets) attacked by water (and ultimately corroded), dirt can also stick to the lubricant and form a grinding paste that wears out these components. Degrease the whole drivetrain by spraying it with de-greaser and leaving it to soak in.
Step two Wash off with hot, soapy water. Use a sponge on the chain, and brushes to clean the sprockets and chainset. Work the brushes hard between the sprockets. You can buy bike-specific brushes but clean paintbrushes will do.
Step three Apply heavier lubricant than you would use in summer so it doesn’t wash off quickly in wet weather. But remember that heavy lubricant isn’t an all-winter fix. It still collects dirt, so this process – all three steps – must be repeated often.
“Iff possible, buy a set off wheels ffor winter riding, especially if f your bike has expensive wheels”