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BMCR is on a winter break! We'll be closed from Saturday June 1, re-opening Monday July 8. See you on the other side...

Don't Let Winter Ruin Your Ride

Posted: 1 July 2021 Tips & Tricks

Detail of a Surly Ogre frame against a graffitied wall, rain droplets on the top tube

Some people take the cold weather as a sign to shove their bike in the shed for several months.

We call those people 'cowards'.

Ah, just kidding. But still, there's no reason why you can't keep rolling through the wet weather months. However, you do need to use a bit of common sense and some preventative measures.

Here's our handy guide on How To Avoid Your Bike Falling Apart Post-Winter.

A cyclist trying to ride his bicycle through a river which is almost knee-deep
"This was an excellent idea."

Keep things lubed

You need to lube your chain more often in winter than you do in dry weather. Why? Because wet weather (or riding through a river) washes lube out.

Chain lube does two things:

  1. It prevents premature wear and tear on your drivetrain (thus saving you money); and
  2. It stops your bike sounding like a bag of hammers while you're rolling along.

You may also need to switch to a more weather-appropriate lube if you're currently using a light one; go for something like Rock N Roll Blue if you're running disc brakes or Morgan Blue Rolls Pro if you've got rim brakes. Why the different styles? Because dry lubes like Rock N Roll Blue won't spray across onto the disc rotors and contaminate them, whereas a traditional wet lube (e.g. Morgan Blue) might.

Regardless, remember the golden rule: try to lube your chain once a week in winter.

A cyclist riding his bike through a river so high that all you can see of the bicycle are the handlebars
"This was also an excellent idea."

Keep the water out of your frame

You may have heard us bang on about this before (we're mechanics; we can't help it) but it's true: if it gets inside your frame, water is an excellent way to destroy your bike. Not only does it work its way into bearings, but it also funnels dirt or road grime into moving parts (e.g. your gears). This is bad, and also costly.

At a pinch, don't ride in heavy rain. (Ideally don't ride in the rain at all, but we understand that sometimes you've just got to get to work/training/the pub.)

If you know you're heading out into crappy weather, a piece of old bicycle tube slipped over your seat post slot will help stop gunk getting inside your frame. You're welcome.

Make friends with mud guards

Mud guards not only help prevent stuff spraying all over your bike, but also help keep your clothes clean, as aptly demonstrated by Pete, below.

And, yes, roadies, we can hear you complaining about ruining the line of your stealth bike or whatever, but there are many lightweight and unobtrusive mudguard options. (Come and check them out at the shop! #shamelessplug) Besides, do you really want to get your Rapha jersey covered in crud?

Pete from Bio-Mechanics Cycles & Repairs, shown from behind, covered in mud after a winter mountain bike ride
Pete, who is not friends with mud guards

Keep your bike clean

So you rode in the wet, and now your bike looks like it crawled out of some primordial swamp. You need to wash it, but with a few caveats, as followed.

Don't use a hose

Hoses are great at forcing water past suspension seals and bearings. You don't want that. Use a bucket of soapy water and a sponge instead.

If you must hose, make sure to use a fine mist. Don't aim and shoot like you're trying to put out a fire.

Don't put your bike upside-down

An upside-down bike not only risks a soaked saddle but also helps water run into your headset. That's bad.

Top view of a bicycle covered in mud
This is what it sounds like when bearings cry

Make friends with silicon spray

Silicon spray is brilliant. Applied to your frame, it acts like a Teflon coating and makes cleaning your bike much, much easier - the muck just slides off.

Note: keep it away from your brakes. Slippery frame: great; slippery brakes: not so great.

Check your bits

Speaking of brakes, brake pads can wear very quickly in the wet, and if you ain't got brake pads, you ain't stopping. Make sure to inspect them regularly.

(Not sure how to tell? Drop past the shop and we'll check 'em out for you.)

Be seen

No, not in the 'I feel seen' meme sense. We mean it literally: make sure you're visible. Crappy weather means even more crappy drivers, so keep your lights bright and your clothes reflective.

A cyclist toting a yoga mat, sitting on a bike amid a flooded street
"At least I won't be late for yoga."

Get serviced

If you're riding all-year round, we recommend bike servicing twice a year; pre- and post-winter services are perfect as they prepare your bike for the wet season and then fix it up afterwards. You know what to do.

And there you go! Simple steps which will make the difference between coasting happily into spring or limping out of winter. Remember: you've got to stay one step ahead of the magpies, right?

Pete from Bio-Mechanics Cycles & Repairs, spattered with mud after a winter mountain bike ride. He regrets nothing.
"I regret nothing."

What You Say

Just got home now after going the "long way home" and just wanted to let you know the Surly is back to form after the service you did today. The gears are changing without a hitch again, all bearings are running as smooth as silk again, and the wheels are true and tight. So thanks again…Andrew Graham
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