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Cyclist riding during the colder months




Nine Essential Tips to Winter-Proof Your Bike

If this is your first winter riding, we have nine essential tips to ensure your bike emerges from the colder and darker months in a good condition.

As the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, it can seem less tempting to head out for a ride. Freezing headwinds and driving rain don’t just take their toll on you, the weather conditions can also damage your bike. But, a proper care routine and a few small, game-changing purchases will help see you through to spring. What’s more, you’ll be fitter, faster and ready to take on those longer rides come the new year!

Here’s how to winter-proof your bike.

1) Get used to cleaning

Let’s start with a non-negotiable. If you’ve been riding in the rain, clean your bike. Yes, this will be most of the time, but it pays off.

Most of the moving components are exposed to the elements, so keeping them clean is essential and will save you spending a fortune on replacements. If you’re in a rush, the very least you should do is clean your drivetrain with degreaser and wash off the grit from the road. 

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2) Invest in a good quality set of lights

Bike brake lights


Hi-vis clothing is optional, but lights and reflectors are required by law. 

If you buy some good-quality water-resistant lights that are USB chargeable, you won’t need to replace them for several years. Ensure you have a red light for the rear of your bike and a white light for the front. 

Lights are so you can see and to make you visible. If you’re an urban rider, usually found along well-lit roads, it’s more about being seen so consider a light with a selection of flashing and strobe modes. If you’re a rural rider you will want to light the path ahead and avoid those potholes.

3) Fit mudguards

  Don't want to be caked in mud and dirty water? Get the mudguards out. They will also stop you spraying others.

What you can fit will depend on whether your bike has mudguard eyelets. If you have eyelets, you can opt for full-length. If you don’t, a clip-on guard is the one for you. They don’t offer as much protection as the full-length guards, but they usually weigh less. It’s also worth checking out mountain bike mudguards, as they fit pretty much any bike, which can be handy if you have a road bike with less frame clearance. 

4) Go up a tyre size

Rain not only reduces your grip, but it also washes debris into the road, which makes punctures more likely. 

Upgrade to a hard-wearing tyre and go up a size on your regulars. Yellow Jersey recommends 28mm tyres if your frame can accommodate them. Also, look for a suitable tread grip for wet roads and thicker sidewall protection, as this is where a lot of the puncture resistance comes from. The added rolling resistance is minimal and the comfort and stability gained from a wider tyre far outweigh the lightness and ‘speed’ of a slimmer profile.

5) Buy some wet lube

Regularly cleaning and lubing your bike chain is the best way to prolong its life and ensure smooth gear changes. 

What’s more, a wet lube allows you to take on long rides in the wettest conditions. It is ultra durable and not easily washed off by the rain. It also prevents chain wear and rust. The only downside is it attracts dirt easier, so clean your bike after a ride.

6) Check your brakes regularly

Bike rim brakes


A bike’s stopping distance in the rain is at least doubled and worn brake pads disintegrate even faster when it’s wet.

Rim and disc pads gradually wear down over time, but how you spot when they need replacing is slightly different. Disc brakes often make even more noise than usual when they are at the end of their use. If you have rim brakes, check the pads for wear. They should be flat and even. Also check the braking surface. Some brakes come with wear indicators and it’s time to replace them when they become visible.

Remember to check your brakes before heading out on a long ride. If you hear a crunching or grinding sound, or are finding it harder to stop when applying your brakes, you should head to a bike shop.

7) Check your bearings

A build-up of salt, mud and grime from the roads will rot your bike from the inside out. 

To prevent this, check your bearings and ensure they are greased and can move freely. Check the headset, rear wheel bearings and the bottom bracket. Your bike should sound smooth and even. A crunching or grinding sound can be a sign of a worn-out bearing.

Bearing replacement or re-greasing varies depending on your bike model, so if you haven’t done it before head to a bike shop.

8) Prep your saddle bag

Bike saddle bag

Make sure you have a bike multitool, spare tube and a mini pump. 

The kit list will vary depending on the length of your ride, but as a bare minimum these will help you with the most basic bike maintenance. It’s also worth having a quick link in case your bike chain snaps. It will require a chain tool so make sure to get a multitool with one of these included, and that it is compatible with your bike. 

Roadside repairs are filthy and fiddly, so it’s worth packing disposable gloves or wipes. If you haven’t delved into your saddle bag for a while, check if your tube is still roadworthy. Friction from the bag can create tiny holes in it. To avoid this, you can pack it in a sandwich bag.

If you haven’t done bike maintenance before, it’s good to get some practice in before it’s make or break when you’re out on a ride.

9) Wax your bike

Waxing your bike gives the same results as waxing a car.

The wax will create a water-resistant protective layer against the rain. It’ll help stave off the mud and salt from the roads, and make cleaning easier. 

You don’t need to pay a professional. A block of wax will do. Just make sure to avoid your drivetrain, brakes and braking surfaces.

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