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How to Prepare Your Bike for Winter

You know the old cliché "prevention is better than cure"; well it's only a cliché because it's true. When it comes to looking after your bikes during the winter there's a number of things that you can do to make their life longer and your life easier.

Keep your mind out of the gutter. Seems obvious doesn't it, but many riders take exactly the same position on the road during the winter months as they do during the drier months. During the winter, there's a much greater build-up of debris and detritus along the edge of the road than during the summer. Muck and grit gets collected down the side of the road and becomes mixed up into an incredibly abrasive paste that gets flicked up by your wheels onto your bike and grinds away your chainrings, cassette and expensive chain in no time at all. Worse than that you'll find that all the bits of sharp metal, broken glass and other tyre destroying miscellanea doesn't get cleaned away by the road sweepers; so it's only a matter of time before something from the gutter takes out one of your brand new tyres. Save yourself the hassle- ride wider, stay outside the painted lines.

Prepare your bike for winter. If you intend on riding your bike throughout the winter then we recommend that you prepare it thoroughly. It's easy to do with a few simple tools and tubes of lube.

Your headset bearings, bottom bracket and hubs are all exposed to salt water over the winter. Stripping them down, prying open the rubber bearing seals and packing them out with a good quality grease will keep the water and salt out and help to keep them running smoother for longer. The same goes for your pedals as well. If you look after them they will look after you. There's no reason why well-kept parts shouldn't last you for years and years. Treat them poorly though and they can be trashed in as little as a few weeks.

Lube that chain! You can use wet lube, dry lube, wax, ceramic, Teflon lubes or even plain own motor oil, we don't care. How you use it and how often are more important than what you use. That said we've been having amazing results with the following method of weekly application of Muc Off wet-lube. Wipe your chain down thoroughly with a rag moistened with a little cleaning solution, Muc-Off is great, you could use a degreaser or even good old fashioned turpentine substitute. If you are feeling flush or prefer to have the right tool for every job then it's hard to beat a proper chain cleaning device filled with the right solution. Whatever you use make sure the chain is totally dry before you lube it up. Drip lube onto each link of the chain as you slowly turn the chain and make sure you've done the whole chain before you stop. Leave it a further half hour and then give it a light wipe with a dry cloth to remove any excess. Enjoy it for a week and do it again next week.

If you think that your chain is beyond hope then it's probably time to replace it. You can check chain wear using our Jobsworth Chain Wear Indicator. It's the perfect tool for this simple job. If you chain needs replacing then we have a huge selection of chains for 8-9-10 and 11 speed drivetrains at very competitive prices.

Bigger tyres are best. You might prefer to zip around during the race season on a skinny pair of 23mm tyres but during the winter there's a lot to be said for moving on up to wider tyres. You'll get a bigger contact patch; they wear more slowly and most importantly of all they are much less likely to pinch puncture. Most commuter bikes already use a wider tyre carcas typically 28mm and above, whatever you use currently going wider for winter will help. If your frame won't accommodate wider tyres then go for one of the many 'belted' tyres that are designed to be puncture resistant. If you are staying in the 23-28mm tyre width range then Continental Gatorskins are a firm favourite with our staff, offering high levels of grip with good wear rates and the best puncture protection on the market.

If you are going for bigger tyres then make sure you have a pump capable of easily delivering the increased air volume and pressure that your new tyres might require. We have pumps ranging from pocket sized to workshop suited and covering everything in between. Make sure you chose the right valve type to go with you inner tubes.

We are huge fans of using a cheap set of winter wheels, they don't have to be light, they don't have to look good, they just need to stop well in the wet and be tough enough to shake off collisions with the ever increasing number of winter potholes that you'll experience on your training rides and daily commute. We have winter wheels starting from as little as £149.99 for our A57 wheelset or the slightly lighter and more aero AL30 wheelset at the same price. If you are swapping over to new wheels put some new Selcof brake blocks in as well, they will help you stop sooner and won't be embedded with loads of road rubbish and metal particles.

The best defence against the winter is to use mudguards. It doesn't matter if you are riding on-road or off-road, a set of well-placed mudguards will keep the worst of the rain off you and your bike and shield your expensive, shiny moving parts from most of what the road and the trails have to throw at them.

Road cyclists can choose from a huge variety of mudguards, from pencil thin, tyre hugging guards like the SKS Race Blades from £29.99 and the Crud Road Race Mk2 at £27.99 all the way up to touring style guards that attach via dedicated frame mounts like those on our disc brake equipped, aluminium framed  London Road super commuter that starts at just £799.99. In between these two extremes, there is a huge range of mudguards that cater to all tastes. They all have their place and each offers various levels of protection to you and your bike. A good road mudguard will deflect and collect road spray, keeping it away from you and the moving parts on your bike. Due to the increasing amounts of winter salt use on the UK roads this is becoming increasingly important. Nothing will rust a chain, or oxidise aluminium faster than road salt- and once it starts it's incredibly hard to keep in check.

For off-road use mudguards tend to be more about personal protection, keeping you dry and the mud out of your eyes rather than keeping your bike dry.  That said, plenty of people commute on their old MTB during the winter and we have mudguards from SKS, Zefal and Crud which will provide all the winter protection you could ever need on the road.

Of course, the best way to protect your good bike is not to use it at all during the winter. If you are thinking about adding a winter bikes to your stable then consider one of the bikes selected for you at the bottom of the page. We make a wide range of winter trainer and commuter bikes, so you are sure to be able to find one that perfectly suits your needs.


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