If you’re on a tight budget, you can get by with a single bike. But if you want to make it last, you need to spend some time looking after it.
The main reason for a winter bike is to save wear and tear on your best bike that you use for racing, as winter can take a toll on your bike if you’re not careful.
It rains a little more in the winter and water stays on the roads longer, so your bike is likely to get wetter and dirtier.
Know your enemy
Water can wash away lube and grease, as well as getting into bearings and cables, while dirt, grit and grime can accelerate drivetrain wear. And not only can it also get onto your wheels and brake pads, it can also eat away at the brake tracks.
Also, gritting the roads in really cold weather might deal with ice, but it’s bad news when it gets on your bike. That stuff chews through everything.
And there’s only so much you can do to stop water and gunk getting onto your bike. Fitting mudguards will help, but that’s about your only option. What you should certainly do is look after your bike between rides.
It might be dull, but the best course of action is to clean your bike regularly – and always after wet rides. You want to get all that water and dirt off your bike as soon as possible, particularly off the moving parts.
If you do nothing else, at least clean the chain, chainrings, cassette and the jockey wheels of the rear mech thoroughly with a stiff brush, before drying them off and re-lubing the chain.
You really want to get to work on the rest of the bike too, especially the brakes and wheels. Check the cables and bearings frequently. Water can get inside the hubs, the bottom bracket, headset and pedals.
If it does, you need to open them up (if possible), clean and re-grease them. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, get down to your local bike shop.
Plus, if you have some high-end wheels on your bike and you can afford a spare pair of workaday wheels, do it.