Nov 16, 2010
“Winter has a tendency to creep on us, one day we go from a beautiful autumn morning ride to chewing the bars into a headwind with horizontal rain and wondering when the transition occurred. Then it happens – “Puncture” is called from the back of the group, now we’re cold as well as wet and tired! In an attempt to preclude this and other incidents which remove what little joys there are to be had from winter training the aim of this article is to suggest some of the low cost things we can do to our bikes to get us through to spring. This is a basic, quick fire of checks and kit which will make our lives easier. Lights, bikes and clothing are not covered here and are best left to the individual.
Wheels: Check the tyres, they should be at least 23c and have no nicks or cuts in the side walls. If they need replacing there are plenty of good tyres out there varying in price from the Vittoria Rubino to Conti Gator Skinz. Also, run the tyre pressures a little lower, between 80-100 psi will give for a more comfortable ride, more grip and increased puncture resistance.
Brake Blocks: Unless they are brand new or nearly new, you could literally go through a set in one ride: dont find out they need changing half way down a descent!
Mudguards: Good etiquette or bits of plastic, stiff old cycling clubs require you to have before they’ll talk to you? That question always sparks conversation and debate and this article is not here to discuss which is right. The old days of Blumels or thin alloy randoneering mudguards are numbered. Today’s racing mudguards are light, easy to fit and unobtrusive. They keep your bike cleaner and your bum dryer: you’ll have enough with water coming down from above without it bouncing up from the floor too! That said many people are firmly in the ‘no’ camp – mudguards are for cars and geography teachers. Suck it and see, if after the first bit of winter you’re bored of having a wet bum and no-one will ride behind you – it might be 30 quid well spent! Recommends are SKS race blades or Crud Guards
Tool Kit: Carry 2 tubes, one puncture is unlucky, two is also unlucky! At least two tyre levers are also recommended, wet tyres + cold hands = slow tube changes! Then we move onto the pump v CO2 debate. Pumps are cheap and don’t cost anything to use. CO2 inflates a lot quicker and therefore back on the road sooner, even at up to two pounds per cylinder getting going again so much faster is worth it. Finally, carrying a pair of latex gloves stops you getting strange looks at the cafe when your grubby hands are all over your teacake.
Cleaning: Some people spend small fortunes keeping their bikes clean through the winter. As long as the bike started the winter with grease in the right places then unless it is your absolute pride and joy or you have time to spend as long cleaning as riding then a thin lube and brake and clutch cleaner will do the job. Plenty of lube on moving parts and clean the brake pads with the brake/clutch fluid will see you on the sofa in no time.
Finally, enjoy it – there’s no point riding like a nutter now if you get ill by Christmas! See you on the road…”