It is already October; the leaves have been falling and the temperature continues to drop. In just a few weeks, Sweden will turn into a winter wonderland which may not be that much “wonderful” to bike owners. Stories of winter riders breaking their limbs after a fall in the snow are far too common and has led to a lot of bike owners abandoning their bikes over the winter. There are some dare-devils, as people see them, who continue to bike through the winter, the snow barely a hindrance. These cyclists are well-equipped and prepared to soldier on through the harsh weather until spring returns. Below are things that they are doing right and are something that we can all learn from
Bike Lights: Your headlamp and rear lights will come in handy if you decide to bike to office or the university and since you will be almost certainly riding under cover of darkness, these are essential. Bike experts will tell you that you should have two pairs of lights, two in the front and two at the rear, with one acting as a flashing light to alert people of your presence and the other in a steady state for your visibility.
LED bike lights are the most common options and they come with rechargeable batteries which might run out owing to heavy usage. Always replace your batteries in the case that you notice flickering or dimness.
Mudguards: Most folk have realised the importance of the mud guards after their tryst with the recent rains. Love them or hate them, they are essential in the coming months, both for your own comfort and that of fellow riders. What is sacrificed in terms of aesthetics is made up for in protection from the water, mud and grime which will you will inevitably find on the roads. Mudguards not only protect you from staining your pants or cold water being sent up your back, they will also stop the jet of water that might be thrown on to cyclists coming up behind and for both your sakes, we would strongly recommend throwing on your mudguards if you have not already. You could get extended mudguards which are rigid and cover almost half of the wheel or a clip-on a.k.a. “mountain bike” type mudguards which are not great at doing what they do but will get the job done.
Regular Cleaning: The roads are salted in order to avoid the accumulation of snow on them, which is a very good thing for without it, we would not be able to ride. But it also a corrosion agent and is notorious for corroding the metal bits on a bike if care is not taken to avoid it. The salt along with the grime, mud and water will continue to accumulate on your tyres, chains and moving parts slowly destroying them. It is for this reason that we recommend periodical maintenance and cleaning. Washing your bike with mild soap or even just water will wash off the dirt while cleaning and lubricating your chain will keep it in good condition while avoiding the accumulation of grime on it.
Tyres: Last on the list but the most important of them all, bike tyres. As mentioned in previous blogs, the tyres are the only points of contact between your bike and the riding surface which makes it essential to the way your bike performs. If you intend to ride in the winters, then you must get winter tyres. This is of course not a rule but is highly recommended. Punctures are a great evil for cyclists and, unfortunately, the probability of a punctured tire increases during the winters as debris (glass, flints and the like) are washed onto wet roads. Winter-specific tyres are typically heavier and have a higher rolling resistance than normal tyres but are more durable and offer increased puncture resistance. Winter cyclists also have the option of putting on some tubeless tyres on their bikes, with come with a sealant inside that protects the tyre from small cuts or penetration from foreign bodies. Deflating the tyre to a lower pressure could also be an option as they increase its surface area thus giving it more traction on the roads.
Winters are a tough season for cycling and is hard on the bike and rider. It is damp, cold and the water always seems to make it into every part of your bike. Staying safe and having an enjoyable ride are things that you can experience without too much trouble while regular maintenance will help reduce the wear and tear on your bike, which is usually worsened during the season. In the case that you feel unsafe on the road because there’s something wrong with your bike, be it on the streets, at work or at home, reach out to us and we will be happy to help. As always, have a great week ahead and Happy Cycling!