Winter Riding FAQ

November 17, 2015 0 comments

With regards to winter riding, gone are the days when people would look at you like you’re a crazy-pants cuckoo bird when you tell them you’re thinking about riding your bike during the winter months. There is a growing culture in Edmonton that encourages winter riding and helps winter riders stay warm and safe during those months of the year that many of us would rather pretend didn’t exist.

The basics are important, and if you’ve ever heard someone talk about winter riding, they will likely hit the points of dressing warm and in layers, so you can easily peel away a layer once you start to warm up. Most heat loss happens at the extremities of your body, so before tackling this activity, it’s also a good idea to make sure you have clothes that will properly protect your fingers and toes, as well as your head and neck areas. For example, some toques and gloves might be fine for walking to the corner store, but allow wind to pass right through them when a rider gets up to speed, so it’s important to experiment with different winter clothes to see what works, and more crucially what doesn’t. Also, safety still remains the number one concern when riding a bike, so choose a toque that will still allow you to wear a helmet, and just like with summer riding, choosing the safest route to get where you’re going often means choosing the streets with the fewest cars to contend with.

As far as newer technologies, more and more people have been latching on to studded tires, which make riding in hard-packed snow and icy conditions a lot more safe. A solid set will run you upwards of $250 installed, and should last multiple seasons, depending on how often you ride and how you store your bike. Also, fatbikes have hit in a pretty big way, and owning one makes it so that fun on trails no longer has to be limited to summer months.

As far as bike maintenance, this is the part that’s closest to my heart, since I try to baby my bikes as much as I can and encourage all my friends and customers to do some really simple things that can have a big impact on the lifespan of their bike. I’ve seen winter riding wear out components on a bike 3-4 times faster than summer riding, because of the grit and grime that tends to get on drivetrain components, and because of the damage that can be done to hubs, bottom brackets, headsets and any other area on the bike containing bearings, if moisture and sand are allowed to creep in. Keeping these areas as clean and lubricated as possible, as well as avoiding letting slush melt on vulnerable components during the times when the weather warms up quickly, will go a long way in extending the lifespan of your ride. In short, love your bike and it will love you right back!