Winter means short dark days, wet windy evenings and even bleaker mornings, and with slippy roads and cycling paths filled with debris even the most hardy cyclist out there might consider throwing in the towel and taking the bus or car to work on one those miserable mornings.
However, with the right gear, bike checks, and a little info it needn’t be. This month we’re seeing more and more cyclists asking us about new gear and bikes to help them through the winter months, and kitting out properly will definitely make your commute more enjoyable, but what advice do cyclists need this winter? We’ve collected the best tips for those who cycle a little further to work and we hope it will keep them in the saddle this winter.
Top Tips for Winter Commuting
- Lights, Lights Lights.
Obviously with less daylight hours cyclists will need to make sure they are visible on the road, plus it’s illegal to cycle at night without proper lights. Good quality lights with LEDs are best and although prices vary depending on quality you can get a decent set for around 50 euro. Rainy dark morning and evenings will impair both drivers ( and cyclists) vision so remaining as visible as possible with bright lights, and with added reflective gear it will guarantee to keep you being noticed.
2. Mud Guards
A wet muddy arse after a soaking morning ride to work is enough to make anyone lose the plot. Mud guards, both on the front and back of your bike will save you from the muddy and filthy spray. If wet feet are your downfall then consider waterproof bike booties to prevent your feet getting soaked.
3. Winter Tyres ( or is it tires?)
With wetter grittier roads, a tyre with more grip will make all the difference. A thicker road tyre such as the 25 cc Vittoria Randonneurs (€30 each) are perfect if you want to remain fast with added puncture protection and have better grip and durability than their slicker cousin. With thicker tyre you’ll want to lower your PSI ( pounds per square inch) on your tyre pressure. For winter road tyres we usually advise around 90 psi.
4. Clothing and Bags
Colder darker months mean your clothes will need to keep you warmer, and should provide some visibility and be rainproof. A good quality rain jacket, along with layers will keep you warm, but don’t over do it. A top cycling tip for winter cycling is always dress to feel a little cold before you start your trip. You’ll soon warm up. If you are carrying laptops or other valuables a waterproof cycling bag and or panniers is a must.
5. Bike Safety and Maintenance
Whether you have road, hybrid, or single speed, your bike will take some abuse over the winter months. Components that may need little or no care during the summer will need a quick check up and possible service during winter months. Your drivetrain will be the most likely to get dirty which can clog up other components. So after a particularly dirty day make sure to keep your drivetrain and chain clean and lubricate regularly. PS. Check your brakes, make sure they are working properly too!
6. Winter Riding
I find cars in the wetter darker days will keep their distance more, and with the likelihood of glass and other debris at the side of roads or in cycling lanes you’ll find you’re cycling a little further into the road. If you are, avoid making erratic movements, keep up eye contact with turning drivers, and always use your hand signals. Slippery roads means you’ll have to be more flexible on your saddle to absorb the quick movements of your bike, so stay relaxed and ride slower over rougher areas.
Remember a little cold dark wet weather is no reason to stop cycling this winter all we need is that extra motivation…
At The Bike Institute we stock everything you need for winter cycling including the products in this article. We also provide bike cleaning products, tyres, mudguards and huge selection of lights, panniers and, of course, bikes. If you want any advice on your winter commute, please drop by our store on Dorset Street, Dublin 1. Open 8.30am to 7pm.