I can hardly believe it’s already January. Winter solstice is behind us and cold weather is full swing. The habits you make now will likely stick around through end of March or later depending on where you live. Some things are out of your control like the weather. Other things are completely individual like your body’s response to the cold. Some things you will have to decide on each and every day like the clothing and jackets you will wear. Some things though, you can set and forget and those slight adjustments will aid you in conquering the elements all winter along. Here are 6 Ways to Set Up Your Bike For Winter.
1. Wider Tires/More Tread
Even if you don’t plan on riding off-road any time soon, in the winter, the roads are messy. Ice, salt, snow melt, slush, you name it… and it’s all going to end up on your bike. The roads are more dangerous in the winter. It’s just the way it is. Protect yourself by connecting with the road a little bit better.
A wider tire will allow you to run a lower pressure and allow you to have more traction on the road. More tread will grip the ground better and help to keep you from sliding out. In winter conditions, I pretty much live on Maxxis Refuse 40C tires.
Top off your sealant, now! You really don’t want a flat in the winter. With frozen hands, pulling a tire off of a rim can feel nearly impossible. Just top off your sealant now, at the beginning of the winter season, so that you can rest assured that you won’t be facing frivolous flats. If you ride in especially cold conditions, consider the Orange Seal Subzero formula.
Visibility is limited in the winter. If it’s not the shorter daylight hours, it’s the spraying water off of the roads, or the fog. All of it makes it harder for you to see cars and for cars to see you. Get a small blinking light and plaster that on your seat tube facing backwards. When you ride just turn it on. Something that small and simple could save your life.
4. Bar Bag
This was one of my most recent additions to my winter set up. Bar bags have become extremely popular for long rides that require lots of snacks, but I think that they are ideal for winter conditions as well. Not only can a bar bag hold extras such as extra gloves or an extra buff, but it makes snacks more accessible as well.
In the winter, when you are constantly adjusting layers, your ride food can easily get buried. Either you have to constantly be moving food to your outer most pockets, or it can quickly become inaccessible and a bonk follows closely behind. Throw a bar bag also known as a burrito bag on your handlebars and keep your snacks close by.
5. Bar Mits
These are a game changer! My hands are cold constantly. I’ve shed more tears out on the road because of frozen fingers than I will ever openly admit. Then…I got bar mits. These little caves will keep your hands warm in even the coldest conditions. Plus, you just slide them over the handlebars and they can stay there all winter long.
One way to guarantee that you get cold is to get wet. Staying dry is your life line on cold winter days. Put a fender on the front and rear of your bike to make sure that you aren’t dowsing yourself or those around you with the cold winter road slush. Fenders are a relatively inexpensive addition that can make a huge difference.
Embrace the Challenge
Riding in winter conditions is a challenge in and of itself. If you’re new to the challenge, don’t get caught up in perfection, just celebrate every success that you have. Over time you learn the tips and tricks that work best for you and remember that safety always comes first.