8 Tips to Prepare Your Bike for Winter
In order to get the most out of your components and to ensure that your bike is ready for the conditions that lie ahead, follow these eight tips to prepare your bike for the muck of the winter months.
Replace Your Old Tires
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The surface and condition of the road is much more hazardous during the winter months. Thorns, wet roads, leaves and oil from cars are just a few of the obstacles that await you.
If your tires are old and worn, you increase your risk for an accident or a flat tire. And while changing a flat tire during the summer might not be a big deal, when the temperatures are near freezing, exposing your hands to the cold while you fight to get your tire on can be. Make sure you have sufficient tread left on the tire before you head out.
Get New Brake Pads
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Rubber brake pads that are partially worn may look safe before you leave the house. But conditions outside can change in an instant, and when it starts to rain your pads will disintegrate just as fast.
Once the pad is down to the metal, you're exposing yourself to unnecessary danger. If it rains a lot where you live, buy pads specific for wet conditions. They won't wear as quick and offer better braking than a standard brake pad in extreme conditions.
Invest in Cheap Wheels
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Not only does the grit and grime from the road wear down your brake pads, but it can also wear down the surface of the rim. For this reason, it's best to leave your expensive race wheels in the garage during the winter months. Buying a pair of cheap winter wheels will save you a lot of money when you compare how much it'll cost you to replace your nice wheels in another season or two.
It's also a good idea to clean the braking surface every once in a while to keep grime from building up. Rubbing alcohol works well if soap and water isn't doing the job.
Look for Signs of Chain Wear
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When your chain wears, it damages your chainrings and the cogs of your cassette. If you have the money, buy one chain to use in harsh conditions and a different chain to use when it's sunny and dry. This will make them both last longer. Carry a chain tool and an extra link or two just in case it does break when you're in a tough spot—like in the middle of a rainstorm.
Keep it Greased
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There are plenty of chain lubes on the market, but not all of them are suited for winter riding. Use a wet chain lube when conditions are bad. It's water resistant and will keep your chain from rusting. It's also a good idea to keep the other parts of your bike greased too. Pay attention to the bottom bracket, headset, pedals and hubs, and if they haven't been lubed in awhile, a drop or two will do the job.
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Yeah, they might look dorky, but you know what's worse? Having mud and water spray all over your back, face, legs and bike. Fenders will keep you clean and prevent your bike from being a complete disaster when you get back home from a ride through the water and grit on the roads.
Always Keep Your Lights On
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Even in the middle of the day, weather conditions can change in a hurry. When the dark clouds roll in, visibility can decrease for you and for the motorist you're sharing the road with. Make sure you're always prepared by keeping the lights on your bike turned on during every ride.
Clean Your Bike
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It's a good habit to clean your bike right after every ride. It'll make your components last longer, keep your bike running smooth and save you from the hassle of having to clean off gunk that's dried because you let it sit.