Gearing yourself up with the right equipment can make year-round cycling incredibly rewarding. Follow our top winter cycling tips to help you stay safe and comfortable in the saddle through the winter months.
1) Dressing for winter cycling: ‘Be Bright, Be Seen’
During the dark winter nights wearing reflective and fluorescent clothing helps you be visible to other road users. In addition, the following items of clothing will help keep you warm and dry.
Helmet – Consider attaching a red light to the back of your helmet to help make you more visible to other road users, also a helmet with reduced venting may help to keep your head warm.
Jacket – If you decide to invest in a cycling jacket, why not buy one with visibility-enhancing reflective sections built in.
High-viz – Consider wearing a lightweight high-viz tabard and back pack cover over your outer clothing, to make you visible to other road users.
Gloves – Should ideally be windproof, waterproof, long enough to cover your wrists and not too tight.
Layers – Help to avoid overheating whilst cycling. A thermos base layer, over trousers and over shoes will help keep the warmth in. On the coldest days, a multi-tube will help keep the air off your neck and ears.
2) Winter riding tips
- Start slowly so that your body can warm up properly
- Leave extra time to cycle more slowly in wet and snowy conditions
- Have a hot drink in your bottle, like hot squash. This may help you stay hydrated during the ride and keep you warm
- Rain and damp reduces your bike’s braking efficiency. Always allow more time to stop and don’t follow too closely behind vehicles as they may stop suddenly
- Avoid puddles that may hide potholes or other road hazards
- Be aware of surfaces being slippery or icy, like painted lines, metal bridges and road plates – try to avoid these or cross them with caution
- When riding on settled snow, brake often to clear rims. Remember: braking can be up to six times longer when rims are wet
- If you encounter ice, steer straight, don’t pedal, and try not to brake as this could cause you to skid and fall
3) Winter-proof your bike
Wind, rain, snow, ice and salted roads can be tough on your bike. Following these set up and maintenance tips will keep your bike running smoothly through the winter.
Service – Book a bike service with your local bike shop. It will cost you a bit of money but ensuring your bike is in the best condition possible, is money well spent.
Mudguards – are essential for winter riding. They will keep you and your bike cleaner and drier, help protect it from corrosive salt and will make you a lot more welcome if you ride with a club or group.
Tyres – Wider tyres (25c/28c) will give you a greater surface area to grip the roads with, which may prevent skidding on ice. Check that you have got enough clearance if using mudguards.
Pedals – Wet-weather cycling calls for stable, relentlessly grippy pedals, especially if you don’t feel confident clipping in.
Protection – Consider applying some protective wax to your bike frame. The wax will act as an extra layer of protection against salt, and will make cleaning road grime off easier and quicker.
Lights – If you’re doing the first half of your journey in daylight, don’t forget to take them with you as it is illegal to cycle on public roads after dark without lights and reflectors. Here is a few of our bike light tips:
- The front light must be white, whilst the rear light must be red
- Get sidecut lights for extra visibility
- Save money and reduce waste by investing in rechargeable batteries
- Make sure you remove your lights when you leave your bike locked up
Clean it – Rinse the entire bike with clean water to remove dirt and salt, spray water dispersant on the drivetrain, run the chain through a rag and then re-lube the chain. It is only a five-minute job at the most and your bike will thank you for it.
Enjoy it – there are brilliant benefits of cycling right through the winter and arriving in spring feeling fitter and healthier than ever!