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Should I put my triathlon bike away for winter?

Spent the season racing your first tri bike but wondering whether you should put it in hibernation for the winter or if there's a safe way to ride it during the winter, without damaging it? Mat Brett weighs up the pros and cons

If you have the option of using another bike, it makes a lot of sense not to ride your tri bike much in the off-season.

Many people have a ‘hack’ bike for the winter – a road bike, or even a mountain bike, that’s cheap yet reliable. Chances are that during the off-season you’re going to shift to base training – long, steady sessions, essentially. Getting in the big miles will clearly wear your components, particularly if the roads are wet and all sorts of gunk and grime are sprayed up onto the moving parts. Replacing bog-standard components on a hack bike is a lot cheaper than replacing high- end components on a race bike.

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Plus, when the weather turns freezing and the council grits the roads, that stuff – a mixture of grit and salt – really corrodes your components fast. You might not head out when the temperature is sub-zero but the salt can stay on the road for ages… until it gets onto your bike. Sure, you can clean it off as soon as you get home, but who feels like doing that after a 2hr ride in the middle of December?

How to clean your bike during the winter

  

Also, you can fit mudguards and lights to a hack bike – we’re guessing you’re not going to mount either to a tri bike. And finally, a road bike is more manoeuvrable than a tri bike, which makes life easier when winter road conditions make handling more of an issue.

Although you might want to switch to another bike for most of your rides, it makes sense to include some regular rides on your tri bike all year round in order to maintain your aero position. Play that one by ear – just make sure you’re not struggling to get back onto the tri-bars at the start of next season.

If a tri bike is all that’s available to you or you just want to ride your tri bike because, what the hell, you’ve bought it, use wider tyres to increase the size of the contact patch with the ground (if that’s possible with your frame). That’ll reduce your chances of slipping in wet conditions.

Also, if your wheels have a carbon braking surface, swap to ones that use alloy instead. Some carbon rims provide decent braking but it’s usually stronger and more predictable with alloy, especially in the wet. Plus, you’ll save wear and tear on your race wheels. Don’t forget to change the brake blocks, too.

In terms of ride technique, just remember that braking takes considerably longer on wet roads and you need to round corners slower and more upright… but that’s common sense. Oh, and get some good gloves; you need your fingers to work properly if you’re going to stay in full control. 

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