The cold chill of winter is upon us, and without a winter bike, you may face months away from cycling. No reputable cyclist wants to give up their riding obsession for months at a time! It’s times like these that you may wonder if you need a winter bike.
How is a winter bike equipped?
A winter bike is specially designed to handle riding in the winter (obviously). As such, these bikes often have disc brakes, mud guards, and wide, rugged tires. You could maintain such parts and then swap them out when you need them, but many cyclists find it easier to simply buy (and maintain) a second bike for winter cycling. These bikes undergo additional wear and tear and may need more maintenance than their year-round counterparts.
Many winter bikes have studded tires. These tires increase the grip and traction when you ride in snow, ice, and other slick conditions. Most winter bikes are not constructed with carbon fibre. Steel winter bikes are common, though some cyclists insist on continuing to ride their carbon fibre bikes. Don’t forget that winter bikes tend to get beat up more quickly. The road salts and chemicals can do major damage to a carbon frame. As a matter of preference, I would opt for a steel road bike during the winter months.
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Why a winter bike?
Unless you plan on holing up inside for the winter, you probably need a winter bike. Winter roads are salty, dirty, and sometimes slushy. These roads are a recipe for disaster for any bike that isn’t equipped to handle them. Rather than seeing your majestic bicycle lose face and slowly degrade in the poor weather conditions, consider purchasing a winter-only bike.
A winter bike doesn’t have to be any special bike, but rather just one that you equip to handle poor weather conditions. A fine choice would be to equip an older, retired bike for the winter. Outfit your bike with wide tires and mudguards and you will be well on your way to being able to handle salty, slushy, and wet weather. Or, shell out some money on a new winter bike. A good choice might be a gravel bike with disc brakes and wide, rugged tires.
Caring for your winter bike
Caring for your winter bike is a bit more complex due to the salt, sand, and other road debris often encountered during the winter months. You will have to look after your bike as you normally do, paying extra attention to wear and tear that is expected to occur more rapidly in winter riding conditions. Maintain your winter bike by washing it off whenever you ride in salty, mucky conditions. Salt and road chemicals can cause corrosion and eat away at the components of your bike. Maintain a thin layer of lube on the chain but watch for a buildup of dirt which can lead to corrosion.
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Can I get away without purchasing a winter bike?
You don’t HAVE to have a winter bike! But understand that poor weather conditions will affect your ride and can also lead to greater wear and tear. When you have spent thousands of dollars on a bike, you probably don’t want to watch it deteriorate from use over the winter months. But in a pinch, sure – you can use your regular bike. Just be certain to maintain it carefully after each use.
Whether you choose to purchase a specialized winter bike, convert a previous bike to your winter bike, or simply use your regular bike for year-round conditions, you should note that you must exercise extra precautions when cycling in the winter. Winter roads abound with potholes, and conditions are often slick even when the temperatures exceed the freezing point. Road chemicals and sand can gunk up your components causing your bike to become less responsive, as well. And drivers continue to overlook cyclists and drive distracted.
The choice to ride your bike year-round or choose a different bike for the winter months is yours. The gurus at your local bike shop will be able to show you an assortment of winter bikes. They can also make suggestions for how you can optimize your bike for the winter weather conditions.
Remember, no matter the season, if you are struck or even pushed off the road by a driver, contact Kass & Moses for assistance. We’ll work diligently to help you get fair and just compensation in your case. We’re available every step of the way and persevere where others give up. Call on Kass & Moses today for a free initial consultation.