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How to protect your bike from winter elements
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How to protect your bike during the winter

Winter can be a worrying time for your bike. Spray from wet roads can be particularly corrosive, especially if salt has been spread to prevent ice. But, if you follow our advice on winterproofing your bike, it will be well looked after and you'll be able to storm through autumn/winter with plenty of miles in your legs ready for a summer of racing.

Fit mudguards

Mudguards cut down the amount of spray that hits you and your bike when riding on wet roads. There are several types that can be fitted quickly and easily to a race bike, but always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to assemble the mudguards.

Best for a road bike are mudguards that attach to the brake area and onto the seatstays and forks. The set pictured above attaches to the brake pivots with zip ties. Thread each mudguard under the brakes and secure tightly. Rotate the wheels to check that the tyres don’t rub on the mudguards.

 Line up the mudguard stays and frame attachments so that the wheels rotate without catching on the mudguards, then secure them in place. 

Fit wider tyres

If possible, buy a set of wheels for winter riding, especially if your bike has expensive race wheels. Look for ones with standard spoking and wide rims so you can fit wider tyres, which give good grip. Ceramic-coated rims are most durable and withstand salt water but require dedicated brake blocks and are quite expensive.

Fit wider and heavier tyres. Soft compounds grip better but wear quicker. Use tyres with some kind of puncture-prevention strip in them, like Kevlar. Also use standard, not lightweight, inner tubes. Worn tyres puncture more easily so check regularly and replace them.

 Inflate the tyres after fitting, but not to as high a pressure as you would use in summer. Lower tyre pressures give extra grip and improve traction – 80psi is a good winter pressure for a 70kg rider. Fit valve caps in winter to prevent salt water getting in, oxidising the metal and causing them to stick shut.  

Protect your drivetrain

Not only are the exposed parts of your drivetrain (chain, chainset and sprockets) attacked by water (and ultimately corroded), dirt can also stick to the lubricant and form a grinding paste that wears out these components. Degrease the whole drivetrain by spraying it with de-greaser and leaving it to soak in.

Wash off with hot, soapy water. Use a sponge on the chain, and brushes to clean the sprockets and chainset. Work the brushes hard between the sprockets. You can buy bike-specific brushes but clean paintbrushes will do.

 Apply heavier lubricant than you would use in summer so it doesn’t wash off quickly in wet weather. But remember that heavy lubricant isn’t an all-winter fix. It still collects dirt, so this process – all three steps – must be repeated often.

This article appeared in the December 2017 (345) issue of 220 Triathlon. You can subscribe to the magazine here

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