These steps will help you to prepare your bike for the rigours of winter, for riding in a wet climate and if most of your riding is done off-road. Grit and sand thrown up by the wheels combines with lubricant to form a grinding paste on any moving parts. Water and salt, which is often used to treat roads where ice is likely to occur, will corrode metal parts. Regular cleaning and replacing old lubricant helps prevent damage, but preventing as much grit, sand, salt and water reaching the delicate parts of the bike in the first place helps even more.
Spray-protection devices shield you and your bike in wet weather. When you ride along a wet road your wheels pick up water, the rear wheel sprays it up your back and the front onto your legs. It’s even worse in a group if you are following somebody with no mudguards, because their rear wheel sprays water right into your face. This is not too bad in summer, although water coming up off roads can carry germs, which you end up swallowing. Seriously, cyclists have got ill through this.
Spray protection comes in many forms, from simple flaps that clip onto saddles to full mudguards that bolt to the bike’s frame. Saddle flaps and short guards that clip onto the bike’s seat post will block a lot of spray from the back wheel. There are also guards that clip to the frame and are secured in place with tie-wraps, which catch spray coming off the front wheel. Clip-on spray catchers are great for summer conditions because you can add and remove them as and when you need to, but full mudguards provide the most protection from spray. There are two types: mudguards that bolt to custom eyes on the bike’s forks and rear drop-outs, and temporary mudguards that fasten to the seat stays and fork blades and are thin enough to fit race bikes. Modern race bikes do not usually have mudguard eyes.
WEATHERPROOFING THE DRIVE-TRAIN
Clean your bike’s chain in winter as often as you do in summer, plus after every wet ride, which is good practice at any time of year. Apply the same light lubricant that you use in the summer, so it works down into the chain and coats everything, then apply a heavier lubricant over the top to prevent everything washing off quickly.
Dribble oil on the pivots around which the front and rear mechs move. Use a heavier, wet oil instead of the oil you would normally apply during the summer. Every time you dribble oil like this, first flush out the old oil by dribbling some degreaser on the pivots and letting it sink in for a few minutes.
CLEANING & LUBRICATING THE PEDALS
Apply heavier, wet oil to lubricate the retention mechanism of clipless pedals after treating the moving parts with degreaser. The heavier oil will not wash off as easily as dry oil. Regularly clean off old oil with degreaser and apply new oil in order to prevent the accumulation of grit and the consequent increase in pedal wear.
PROTECTING WEAK SPOTS
If you ride a lot in a very wet climate, it might be worth taking some extra steps to prevent water from damaging your bike. The point where the seat post enters the frame can be a problem, especially on bikes with steel or aluminium frames, because moisture getting in this joint will cause corrosion and can eventually bond the frame and seat post together. To prevent moisture getting in, mark the point on the seat post where it disappears into the frame, then remove the seat post from the frame. Pull a piece of narrow road bike inner-tube over the frame. Insert the pin through the inner-tube to the point where you made a mark, and secure the tube in place with a tie-wrap.
You can also buy waterproof headset covers, which you might consider if you have an older bike from the days before modern A-headsets were fitted, and you ride a lot in the wet. The protectors go over the headset without removing any components and are held in place by Velcro.
In an ideal world you’ll have a winter bike with mudguards and a summer bike without. (Although in the UK the weather often takes a turn for the worse, even in the summer.) As you can see, I’m not practising what I preach regarding overshoes and mudguards in bad weather here!
Clipping in and out of your pedals needs to be seamless and without stress, and a build-up of dirt and grit can slow down your pedal action and erode the mechanism.
How to Ride a Bike by Sir Chris Hoy published by Hamlyn 20 September 2018 – https://amzn.to/2OO3Bmb
Photo credit: Chris Terry