Bike Maintenance tips for Winter Commuting

We know that our beloved bikes struggle throughout the winter months due to poor weather conditions, so we have put some top bike maintenance tips to help you both save money and survive the winter.

Fit Mud Guards

Mudguards are like Marmite, you either love them or you hate them. But no matter your feelings towards them, they are essential for winter riding as they will keep spray and dirt from covering vital components on your bike. The mixture of grit, water and grime increases in the winter months and by fitting mudguards to your front and rear wheel, it will dramatically reduce the amount of wear on your drivetrain and brakes. Studies also show that some mudguards are also aerodynamically efficient, making your commute faster!

 

Check your brakes

Checking breaks

Rim Breaks

Remove both wheels and wipe down the contact point on the rim. This will allow for extra traction under braking. A build-up of oils and unwanted grime will decrease your stopping power, which is vital in winter and wet weather. While wheels are removed, check your brake pads for wear as they are only rubber blocks. Metal on Metal friction will cause excessive wear on the rims that will ultimately result in having to buy a new wheelset (which is a lot more expensive than a pair of brake pads). If you are a bit more advanced, look at YouTube tutorials to tighten your brake cables. It’s simple and will save you some money. 

Disc Brakes

Disk brakes are not a lot different in terms of looking for wear. Firstly, remove the wheels and check the discs for wear as they can get thinner riding long distances or riding regularly. Secondly, remove the brake pads and also check for wear. Like rim brakes, check to see if pads are worn down before they are reduced to metal. Again, metal on metal will wear out your disk and could cause serious injury whilst riding should they fail. If you have hydraulic brakes and they are not feeling quite a sharp as usual, we recommend visiting your local bike shop as the are the experts and can quickly help resolve any issues with the correct tools. 

 

 

Keep your Bike Undercover

Bikes undercover

It may not sound the best tip for winter cycling but it will certainly protect your bike from the elements. Keeping your bike under shelter will reduce the effect of deterioration such as rust on your frame. In addition to this, the rain and frost will remove chain lube that will cause disruption to the drivetrain and will reduce the mileage of each component.  

 

New Chain and Lube

Bike chain

In relation to keeping your bike dry, a new chain will help the drivetrain last longer. You can check the wear of your chain using a chain checker tool.

On average, a bicycle chain should be replaced when the gauge reaches 0.75% (10spd ) or 0.5%(11spd) wear. Any more then 1%, your whole drivetrain will need to be replaced. Replacing a chain at the right time will reduce premature wear on your cogs and bad shifting between gears.

 

Advanced Bike Maintenance tips

The next set of bike maintenance winter tips are for more advanced riders who are willing to service their bikes themselves in order to keep them well maintained throughout the cold winter months. These tips may need specific tools for certain areas of their bike in order to successfully complete them. 

 

Frame saver spray

This technique is a way of internally and externally rust-proofing your frame. It is definitely worth applying if you have a steel or old frame. While servicing your bike for winter, it is worth spraying some frame saver internally such as in areas bottom bracket, seat tube, head tube and other areas where the inside of the frame can be seen (such as internal routing holes). Also, it is worth spaying where you may have chipped paint or where paint has flaked from the welding on the frame. This will stop rust evolving on the outside, making your pride and joy looking box fresh. When applied, shake well so that the internal spray can be spread easily.

 

Fit Winter Tyres

Wheel tread - Winter tyres

Your tyres are your only point of contact with the ground. You are also trusting that the grip from the tyre is keeping you upright in wet and slippery conditions. In addition to this, roads and paths become littered in unwanted items that can cause punctures. We recommend a harder wearing tyre which will offer better puncture protection. This will help with your confidence and will allow you to relax and feel less concerned about your ride to your end destination. 

 

Wipe down / Grease headset and BB

greased heatset

As a cyclist, there is nothing worse than noises coming from vital areas. Stripping the frame down to wipe excess grime and regreasing areas such as bearings, headsets and bottom brackets will help your bike working efficiently. There will be a point where these components may need changing and it is recommended that you go to your local bike shop to find out what tools are needed before advancing.

 

Bleed Brakes

Bike handlebars and breaks

Before starting, it is worth finding out what bleed kit and oil is needed. This is because different manufacturers will use specific oils and bleed kits to accommodate their braking systems. (Not all systems are compatible). There are some simple hacks to keep your brakes working sharply, such as just pushing some extra fluid into the caliper end of the brake. A full brake bleed kit is relatively easy, follow some YouTube tutorials at the same time and it should be straight forward. If in doubt please visit your local bike shop as they should be able to advise you.

 

Invisi Frame Kit

The best way to keep your frame looking brand new is to apply a clear tape over. This will stop scratches and chips from happening whilst riding, and also when it's locked next to other bikes that may be touching yours. An InvisiFrame kit is an ideal product to eradicate this issue, they also have custom frame kits ready for you to purchase on their website. 

See here to find your bike.

 

Go Tubeless

Firstly, make sure that your tyres and rims are ‘tubeless ready’ otherwise they will not be compatible. The advantages of tubeless is that it allows you to run lower pressures on your tyres without worrying about the risk of punctures. The sealant inside will help to seal and holes or pinches your tyre (unless the hole is a considerable size), some sealants will even give you the size of the hole it can block. Running lower pressure helps in increase the tyres contact patch with the ground which can give extra grip, necessary for winter riding. 

 

Buy a Bike stand and create a bike wash area

Bike stand

If you have some room in the garden, purchasing a bike stand for a wash area is a great idea as it means the dirt and water can be sustained on one area. A bike stand will allow you to clean and maintain your bike much easier than trying to do it when it's on the floor or when you are holding it. This will also help you progress your advanced skills such as brake bleeding and bike servicing. 

 

Get a Winter bike

Old grimy bike

If you do have some spare cash this winter, it is worth considering a winter bike. This will allow your main bike to stay warm and dry during the winter months, especially if it’s going to cost you in the future. A winter bike is a bike that you don’t mind getting dirty, not maintained to a good standard and is ready for any winter conditions. This bike would be an old/second-hand bike that may have cheaper parts but will have winter tyres and mudguards to future proof itself during the colder months. A must if you own a nice summer bike that you don't want to ruin in the winter.

 

Do you have any bike hacks or maintenance tip? Let us know and we'll make sure to add them.