Your bike is an investment. It may also be like your child. Either way, it needs love and protection from the cruel elements of winter. Follow these steps from Bicycling to keep your bike in prime condition in the off-season.
- Install fenders
Fenders keep snow and other nasty winter stuff off everything on your bike, excluding the wheels. Because most fenders won’t fit on bikes with dual-pivot brakes, use clip-on fenders, such as those made by THE Industries, Inc. These fenders can be manipulated to fit the bike better than standard fenders. Another option is to DIY! You can make a down-tube fender for the front by cutting a plastic 2-liter bottle in half lengthwise and mounting it with zip-ties.
- Prevent rust
Temperature changes can cause condensation to form inside the tubes. When you get home from a winter bike ride, remove the seatpost and hang the bike upside down to let any moisture drain. Never bring a cold bike into a warm place unless it’s totally dry!
- Wrap seals
In the winter, ice sticks to your bike, then melts and the water seeps into bearings, which causes rust—even as soon as overnight. Let the rust get bad enough, and you’ll have to replace a whole headset or hub. Lizard Skins makes covers for headsets, suspension parts and seatposts. And sealed cable systems such as Avid’s Flak Jackets help keep your bike shifting and braking well in nasty conditions.
DIY! For a headset use a piece of an old tube. Just remove the fork to slip it over. For hubs, small pieces of pipe cleaner can be wrapped around the ends of axles to protect unsealed hubs. For your helmet, a plastic grocery bag placed over your helmet will keep rain from getting through the vent holes. You can also use a plastic bag for the saddle.
- Change to wider tires with less pressure
Change to a wider tire and drop your tire pressure 10-20 psi for more traction. If you have 26-inch wheels you may want to go with tire chains or studded tires. BUT remember- studded tires are designed for ice only. The sharp points are great for sticking into the ice but just sink into snow. On a road, they’ll bite into the pavement, which will tear up the studs. Off-road, they could tear up a trail.
- Soften suspension
Cold weather can make suspension forks that use elastomers feel stiffer. Switching to the next softest level can help maintain consistent travel for winter. Most new forks don’t use elastomers. The only ways to tell if your fork does: Check the owner’s manual or open that baby up and look inside the fork leg.
- Clean twice as often
Wipe down your bike immediately when you get back from a winter bike ride. After a good hot shower and some soup, return to the bike. Remove all your winter seal coverings and give the bike a thorough wash. Then wax the frame with car wax to protect paint and make cleaning easier after your next ride.
- Buy lights
This one’s pretty obvious- there is less light in the winter!
Be sure to protect yourself from the winter too! The PURSUIT, made from Merino wool, is the perfect sock for staying warm on long rides.