Hot Tips for Chilly Cycling
New year, maybe new me, but definitely the same temperatures and frosty mornings!
As we always say here at Bike for Good, cycling is not for just for summer; it’s important that you keep cycling in all temperatures and it’s even more important that you know how to stay safe in all types of weather. We’ve got the ultimate list of tips to keep you on your saddle this winter.
How often should I clean my bike during winter?
Every week or two – grit that’s used on the roads in icy weather can do damage to your bike, in particular your chain, so be sure to clean it well.
What are the minimum mechanical tools I should take out with me when I go out on my ride in the cold?
Other than the extra clothing we’re listing below, your normal set of tools should suit you well – a spare inner tube, tyre levers, repair kit, pump and multi-tool.
What kind of chain oil should I use, and how often should I apply it?
Wet lube is the one to look for as it’s designed for damp conditions. It can be stickier, so can pick up more dirt and grit from the roads so it’s important to keep it all clean too.
I’ve heard about ‘winter tyres’ for bikes – what are they, and are they necessary?
There are lots of different types of tyres, some ‘winter tyres’ are wider with extra grip and sometimes studs too, which can help with grip in icy conditions. For city cycling though, they’re not really necessary. It’s possible to spend endless amounts of money on fancy tyres, but it definitely isn’t essential. Even having the pressure reduced to 25/30 PSI provides better grip in icy conditions than fully pumped up tyres, and can save money too!
My brakes seem to act differently when it’s raining – is that ok?
Brakes can react to damp conditions, particularly brakes that use ‘pads’ on the rims of your wheels to slow you down – just because there’s more water on the rims too. This is normal. It’s important to check your brakes are tight enough to do their job i.e, to slow you down and stop the bike completely when needed. They can become loose naturally over time, and it’s a quick fix to remedy.
Is there anything I need to know if I’m cycling in the snow?
Take it easy – snow isn’t too bad to cycle through, but snow can conceal ice which is more treacherous for cyclists. Our advice would be to stick to main roads which have been gritted and where plenty of cars have melted and shifted the ice already.
Is there any special bike equipment I should use during winter?
Mudguards are a good idea, as it can get pretty grotty otherwise. Good lights are also important. Days are too short to not have them – even at dusk! A front one that you can see with (upwards of 1000 lumens) helps on country roads. A back one that is annoyingly bright also helps!
What clothing should I wear when cycling in cold conditions?
Here’s a list of clothing recommended by staff here at Bike for Good
‘Baselayers’ (aka thermals)
A mesh vest base layer traps warm air.
A thin long sleeve wicking acrylic base layer (available from Vanguard).
Long sleeve merino base layer for warmth (available on sale at Endura, or from Lidl, Aldi or TK maxx)
Altura have some quite cheap winter jerseys – look for “Thermal” or “Roubaix” fabric.
Light, wind-proof and waterproof jackets are worth searching for.
Longer jackets that cover your bum, and ones with velcro on the sleeves help to stop the cold air getting in.
Carry a packable rain / wind proof jacket in your back pocket. Choose a bright colour so cars can see you if you’re riding home in the dark.
Endura MT 500 rain jacket with hood is a recommended one.
Waterproof trousers that go over your normal trousers or a pair of cycling leggings are a good (and fashionable) idea, which will also provide a layer of warmth during these months.
‘Endura Gridlock Waterproof commuter’ overtrousers are recommended.
Something to cover your knees – warm knees prevent knee injury and psychologically make you warmer!
Cycling cap, wool or thermal acrylic hat, covers the ears, fits under the helmet.
A buff / snood acrylic or wool neck tube to cover your face, can double as a covid mask at shops.
Aldi winter cycling gloves are a great recommendation, and less than 10 pounds! or thick work gloves from brands like Tegera or Showa.
Wrist warmers are good too! from fleece or wool materials (you can cut up old wool socks for a budget version, or buy online) you don’t need to pay for fancy goretex gloves to have warm hands.
For bike maintenance in the cold, use hand warmers (disposable and reusable ones available) underneath thin nitrile gloves to get dexterity plus warmth!
A wee pair of woolen gloves under a pair of marigolds (washing up gloves), and you’ll stay warm and dry all day no matter how wet it was. Added bonus, you look cool too.
Take spare gloves on long rides, in a plastic bag. So you can put on dry gloves when your hands inevitably get cold.
‘Oven gloves’ (aka handlebar mitts), warm dry hands without double gloving (£13 approx).
‘Planet X’ do good waterproof ‘crab-like’ gloves
Try for waterproof shoes, thick socks, and a change of shoes at work for sure.
Woollen ski socks (cheap at TKmaxx) or Defeet Thermeator wicking socks, and neoprene overshoes from all the usual brands like Endura, etc. keeps your feet warm on wet days.
Waterproof boots (SPD) are worth the cost!