You are aware of how to prepare yourself to ride despite the chilly weather, but what about your bike? You may be bundled up and feel warmer than a cup of hot chocolate from Tim Hortons, but the amount of enjoyment you have on a winter mountain bike ride is directly proportional to the capabilities of your bike.
Cars are prepared for the winter by their owners by taking measures such as installing snow tyres, switching to an oil with a lower viscosity, and switching to a washer fluid that is resistant to freezing temperatures.
Getting a bicycle prepared for the winter is quite similar, and if you want to have fun riding in the snow and ice, you really need to take a few measures to guarantee that you are ready to ride when it starts to get extremely cold outside. Here are some helpful hints…
Choose the Right Winter Tires
If you want to ride your bike in inclement weather without risking your safety, this is the single most significant modification you can make to it. When it comes to winter bike tyres, however, the old adage that “money can’t buy happiness” has shown to be completely false.
The Nokian Hakka WXC300s are the greatest winter tyres money can buy if you have the means to purchase them. These come at an exorbitant price (about $125 USD per tyre! ), yet no other tyre on the market performs better than they do.
The Hakkas are equipped with 300 carbide studs and have a tread pattern that has been expertly engineered, making them an excellent choice for use in both thick snow and ice.
It is understandable that not everyone has the financial means to purchase bicycle tyres that cost far more than automobile tyres; hence, several manufacturers, including Schwalbe, Continental, and Kenda, provide a variety of studded winter tyres.
Visit your neighbourhood bike store to get a better idea of what’s on offer at a price that starts at around $40 USD. A lot of individuals also create their own studded tyres for their mountain bikes by utilising screws and regular mountain bike tyres.
Although it is a challenging task, the price of a box of screws at around $5 is hard to match. The issue here is, of course, the product’s longevity. In addition, if the tyres are not built correctly, you run the risk of having them go flat. In addition, studded tyres that are created at home often perform poorly when used on the road.
If you do not have the financial means to get mountain bike tyres that are properly studded, you are often better off opting for classic mountain bike tyres that have deep and aggressive treads. These kind of tyres will provide you with a decent traction while riding in the snow.
Pick your Pedals Carefully
Pedals are one of only three points of contact that your body has with the bike; tyres are the only point of touch that your bike has with the ground (pedals, seat, handlebar). During the winter months, selecting the appropriate pedals is of the utmost significance since getting caught with the incorrect pedals while riding in inclement weather may result in some hazardous scenarios.
Good, old-fashioned platform pedals are your best bet when the going gets difficult in the winter. Choose a pedal that is somewhat aggressive and has a good amount of studs, but given that you most likely won’t be wearing shin guards, I wouldn’t suggest a pedal with pointed studs that may turn your warm jeans like swiss cheese. Go with something in the middle.
But hold off on putting away those clipless pedals for the time being. Because of the large gap between each pedal, the Crank Brothers Eggbeater pedals are an excellent choice for riding in the snow. It is not a good idea to utilise clipless pedals that are not effective in the mud because in places where the mud just binds up, snow and ice will freeze, making it almost hard to clip in.
The Drivetrain: Less is more
This one is easy: when it comes to cycling in cold weather and selecting gears, fewer options are better. In an ideal environment, the best kind of bicycle for riding on snow and ice would be a single-speed model.
There are no derailleurs, so they cannot get clogged with gunk and freeze, and there are no shift cables, so they cannot become rigid and break. When heavy winter gloves are worn, it might be difficult to use the shifters, which can be another source of frustration.
If you can’t go with a single gear, make sure that your whole drivetrain is always well-oiled and spotless. It is my recommendation that you shift as little as possible, and that you make the most use of your front derailleur rather than your rear one since the front one is less prone to get coated in snow.
Stop Well with Disc Brakes
If you’re still riding V-Brakes, I highly recommend upgrading before taking your retro-ride out on an epic winter cruise because the more snow there is, the more packed up V-brakes become. Packed up V-brakes turn your wheels into anchors as they try to turn through the thick snow and ice that has built up around the brakes.
Disc brakes work in a completely opposite fashion. The nature of disc brakes is that they clean the rotors as you’re braking, and because the rotor and calipers are in the middle of the wheel, they rarely see snow.
Pre- and Post-ride Maintenance
Regular pre- and post-ride maintenance on your mountain bike is the most important part of winter riding. Before you go, lube the chain with a wet weather lube such as White Lighting’s Epic and make sure your derailleurs are clean and working properly.
For grease, stay away from anything too heavy as it can freeze. The same goes for lubing shifter and brake cables — lubed cables can freeze up and cause big headaches in extremely cold temperatures.
After the ride, you’ll want to get all of the grit and grime off the frame, wheels and all of the components. This is especially true if you’re riding on the street or anywhere with road salt. Moisture and salt will quickly rust and damage chains and other components, so wipe down everything and re-lube frequently.