What's the best bike set up for winter?
Disc wheels, profiled tubes and aerobars are all very well when you’re racing in the summer, but you’ll need something more practical for the winter winds and wet roads… Here's what your bike will need to see it through the winter months out on the road
If you want to keep tyre spray out of your eyes, as well as the eyes of anyone riding with you, then mudguards are a must. They can be quickly and easily attached to almost any bike and will keep you and your bike cleaner in inclement weather. They’ll also keep you more comfortable by preventing your bottom getting soaked in water from the rear wheel.
Disc wheels, deep-section rims and bladed spokes may slice through the air when it’s still or blowing straight on, but they catch crosswinds and can give a harsh, unforgiving ride over rough roads. Conventional rims with 32 (or 36 for heavier riders) round spokes will give you a comfortable ride without acting like sails. They can also be trued and fixed more cheaply and easily.
There’ll be fewer hours of daylight, which means more time on the roads after the sun’s gone down. If you’re riding on well-lit roads, then your main priority is being seen by other road users, so a small, flashing LED should suffice. If you need to light the roads yourself, you’ll need something more powerful. See p17 for more on mid-ride lighting.
Worn blocks drastically reduce your braking performance. Keep a close eye on yours and replace them when necessary. Many blocks have wear lines to show when they need changing. If your blocks are getting close to this line then it’s time for new ones. Keep your blocks clean and remove any debris from them, to stop them damaging your rims.
Slicks are fine for summer but, when the roads are wet, you’ll need something that sheds water. The answer: tyres with tread. Punctures are also more likely in the autumn, so beefier tyres will help reduce the chances of anything piercing them. They’ll also be heavier, so you’ll work harder and feel the benefit when you swap back to your racing rubber.
CLEAN & LUBE
Riding in bad weather means you and your bike get dirty. You clean yourself up as soon as you get home and you should do the same for your bike. An oily rag will get the worst off, and a spray of polish not only makes your frame shine but will also help to keep the dirt off in the future. Lubing all of your bike’s moving parts will ensure they run smoothly and remain rust-free.