If you live in a cold environment, there seem to be three types of winter riders:
- Warm Weather Riders: Those who wait for warmth of summer;
- Winter Warriors: Those who ride;
- Winter Adventurers: Those who fly to the warmer weather
This is the first in our Three Part series about winter weather cycling (aka … what to do when you can’t Bike to the Beach).
Regardless of which type of rider you are, the beginning of winter is a great time for crucial maintenance tasks.
#1 – Take your bike in for a tune-up.
After a season of riding, your bike NEEDS some love. And, the winter is a great time to get a tune-up. The average Joe locks their bike in garage all winter, and on the first warm day of spring, flocks to the nearest bike shop to get their bike ready to ride. Problem is: there are 10,000 average Joes in your town and your local bike shop will be swamped. A swamped bike shop means slow turn-around times (it takes time to tune a bike) and high prices. Take your bike in during their slow season and you may also get a deal: many bike shops give winter tune-up discounts.
If you can plan ahead, take your bike in a little before the end of the biking season so that you can ride for a few days after the tune-up. Odds are that a something will be thrown “off” during the tune-up (even at the best bike shops!), so you will have time to bring your bike in again and have them make adjustments.
#2 – Clean you bike.
Bikes don’t like dirty roads. And chances are that you have been biking on dirty roads all season, and, if this is the case, your bike has been collecting dirt every ride. If you go long enough without washing it, your chain will wear, bearings will seize, and shifters may lock up.
You can use a bicycle-specific cleaner, but you can use a mild dish detergent (one with a degreaser) with a bucket of water to clean the frame and components. Use a clean rag to dry off, and then apply lubricant to components.
REI has a great guide to getting your bike winter ready.
#3 – Check or change your tires.
The average road tire last about 1,000 to 2,000 miles depending on a number of factors. After a long warm-weather season, your tires are likely due for a change. The good news is that the timing should be perfect: the “off-season” and Holiday season could be the perfect time to get a deal.
If your tires are good-to-go, be sure to store your bike tires with the appropriate tire pressure. Most Bike tires have a manufacturer-recommended storage pressure. You can find it on the tire manufacturer’s website for info.
If you are not gong to ride this winter, it is important to store it in the right place. Although you are giving your two-wheeled stead a must needed break, it doesn’t mean that you should just toss it in the garage. Choosing the right spot to store your bike is an important step in prepping your bike for the spring.
First, find a safe spot: make sure you leave your bike in a place where it will not “walk away” before the weather warms.
Second, find a place that is out of the way and safe from hazards. If you lean it against the garage wall, your in-laws may bump it when they pull their car in for Christmas dinner. Before you know it, you’ll have a bent frame and will be shopping at the bike shop in the spring (instead of riding by it on your tuned bike).
Lastly, you just dried and lubricated your bike, so keep it that way. Make sure your storage area is dry: water can rust your components and your frame. Avoid storing your bike outside. If you must, ensure that it is covered and protected from the elements.
If you are going to get out there during the winter, Bicycle Magazine has more tips for you.
Next Up – Winter Weather Cycling for Winter Warriors