Winter is here and with it have come tougher conditions to ride in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and ride as a way to shake up a trainer-dominated training week. With a few tweaks to your road bike, it will be fit to pound out winter miles. As long as you are willing.
1. Put on tougher tires
The last thing you want to do is fix a flat in the cold and wet on the side of the road. A set of tougher tires will lower the chance of that and the bonus is tougher tires are usually a little cheaper than the supple high-performance tires you run in the summer.
Measure how much clearance your bike has in order to put the widest possible tires your bike can accommodate. This will make the ride comfier but more importantly give you more traction since a wider tire can be run at a lower pressure.
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A tire like the Maxxis Re-Fuse or Continental Gatorskin are durable and feature puncture resistance. If you have a bit more clearance look for something with treads like the Schwalbe Marathon.
2. With winter usually comes precipitation
Use a heavier wet lube for your chains. If your city uses gravel, sand or salt on the roads rinse off your bike frequently, ideally after every ride. Make sure to lubricate the derailleurs and the braking mechanisms to ensure they continue to function well in messy conditions.
Remember wipe off the braking surface on your bike after rides so that your break pads wear out less quickly and on that note if you like using those carbon hoops in the summer, it’s time to swap them out for a cheaper pair of aluminum wheels. Look for braking pads made for wet conditions for better braking power.
3 . Add lights
There are fewer hours of daylight in the winter so it’s always essential to be seen. Have a set of clip on lights so that when the sun gets low you continue to be visible to drivers. Wearing high viz apparel can also ensure drivers see you.
Stay dryer and warmer by keeping the spray from your wheels at bay. Nothing like a wet soggy chamois to make the cold and wet even more miserable than it already is. Full fenders are ideal, but if your race rig won’t accommodate there are a variety of options from half fenders like the SKS Raceblade, to seatpost mounted fenders, or even Ass Saver Mudguard for the minimalists. All will be better than nothing.
5. Thicker bar tape
When it’s cold, hands are one of the first places to freeze and even with great gloves, there is no getting away from the fact that you are probably holding on to cold aluminum handlebars. Extra thick handlebar tape will better insulate you from the cold metal, helping keep your hands a little warmer. Go for something extra grippy for the wet conditions. Even those of you with carbon bars may appreciate the extra grip and cushioning.
6. Get bar mitts
The neoprene covers may look goofy but really work in keeping the hands warm in conditions even the thickest ski gloves fail. And they preserve your dexterity by allowing you to wear thinner gloves underneath. They come in a variety of styles for drop or flat bars.
Riding in winter can be extremely enjoyable if you are well prepared. On the other hand it can be absolutely miserable if you aren’t. Apart from getting your bike prepared for the cold weather, consider investing in some warm bib tights, neoprene shoe covers, and a good weather resistant breathable jacket.