It’s a sunny bank holiday Monday morning and I’m just in the café waiting on herself to finish work.
Work on a bank holiday is brutal.
But sure look, I love it.
The weekends have been good weather wise the last few weeks but don’t be fooled!
While tempting to leave off the mudguards and the likes it will hit us with a bang fairly shortly and it makes the whole process of getting out easier if you have your bike in order.
Like I mentioned in part 1 of this blog, not a lot of this is based on the most recent scientific.
This is based on years of trial and error and will hopefully save you a lot of hassle. The winter bike is such an essential part to everyone’s winter training it deserved a separate blog.
Ideally you should have a specific bike for the winter months. Nobody wants to destroy their prized possession over the harsh winter months.
A heavy, bombproof frame with cheap easily replaceable parts is ideal e.g external cables. However, try to ensure your measurements and contact points (saddles, bars and pedals) are exactly the same as your race bike in order to avoid injury.
There are some bike parts that differ slightly compared to those used during the summer months:
The perfect winter tyre has loads of grip in wet conditions and also offers plenty of puncture protection from the harsh winter roads (there is simply nothing worse than getting a puncture on a wet and cold winter day).
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get both qualities in a tyre as soft compounds used for grip tend not to be extremely puncture proof. On the flip side, puncture proof tyres utilise hard compounds which aren’t very good for grip.
There are some solutions to this problem. Wider tyres e.g 28mm offer more grip and more puncture protection due to their larger surface areas and larger air volumes.
Some people favour tyre liners. These are what they say on the tin. They line the inside of the tyre adding another layer which can be useful for preventing punctures on soft high grip tyres. Finally tyres with threads should be favoured over slicks during the winter months.
In terms of tyre pressure, 10-20psi lower than summer tyre pressures will ensure more grip on wet roads i.e 80-100psi
There is a big debate as to whether or not these belong on a road bike or not. At the A1 office we are in favour of them.
During the winter months when the roads never seem to dry, mudguards are essential for keeping your bike clean and functioning smoothly, keeping your arse dry, saving your kit from that dreaded brown spray up the centre of your back and most importantly on a group ride your training partners will thank you.
If they are good enough for Bradley, they are good enough for me.
During the summer you can often get away with a tube and a pump when going out for a spin. Mechanicals are far more common on winter spins as the wet, gritted roads slowly eat away at your bike. Ensure you have tools to cover every eventuality i.e Allen keys, chain breaker, power link, an extra tube and possibly even a patch kit. I assure you waiting for a lift home in the rain isn’t much fun.
A top tip is to invest in a frame pump or Co2 cartridges to speed up fixing a puncture and reduce your time standing on the side of the road.
There’s nothing better in this world than a fresh roll of white bar tape. It’s the ultimate pro look. However, there is no place for it on a winter bike. After one spin it is guaranteed to get destroyed. Dirty white bar tape is just not a cool look.
Black bar tape is the only way, yet again promoted by the main man Bradley Wiggins pictured above.
A rubber based bar tape is also preferable over cork based bar tape at this time of the year as wet conditions make holding the bars more difficult. Also a rubber based bar tape won’t soak up water like a cork based bar tape making your handlebars colder than they need to be. Be brave and get a mad colour to change it up a little. I’ve purple at the moment and it pisses people off something shocking.
With the days getting shorter during the winter months it is very easy to get caught out and end up in darkness by the end of your spin. Bad weather conditions and the low sun also make for poor visibility adding to the danger of riding your bike at this time of the year. For the sake of a few euro a set of lights on your bike will mean you won’t get caught out by the fading light again and you can have peace of mind knowing that the driver coming up behind you can see you.
This is definitely one of those “do as I say, not as I do” moments. Washing your bike after every spin or at least a deep clean and lube once a week will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. It ensures all the components are running smooth by removing all that salt and grit that covers the winter roads. It also gives you a chance to have a look over the bike so you can spot if any components are about to fail e.g a bent chain link.