So, nothing has changed here, and I don’t really expect it to until April or May: Well, I expect it to get worse, it always gets worse. The rain is drumming on the window, the temperatures are struggling to get hot enough to be noticed and now we have added wind. It is almost enough to make me want to take the car to work......almost.
Sometimes of course the choice to ride through winter is pretty much made for you. If you live in some of the Northern States, Canada, Scandinavia etc then it is just not really an option. Of course if you are in the South then most of what I write today is of very little interest, apart from pure curiosity value about how the other half live, because your winter is better than our summer! The choice to ride through winter, for me, is difficult. It is hard to look past the car keys and take the bike ones when the wind is blowing and the rain is battering the windows, or when early morning fog and low temperatures ensure a cold and damp arrival at work. Surprisingly though cold , sub zero °c mornings are not a problem, as long as the roads are dry and the sky is blue, in fact they can be a real pleasure.
There are certain things that you have to take into account with winter riding, obviously personal comfort matters, but that a subject in itself so I will save it for later. What I am talking about is bike related and most of it you should be doing anyway.
First , tire pressures, cold temperatures will lower the pressure in your tires. 10°f difference will drop or raise it by about 1psi so if you are still running the pressures you had in the summer then your tire could be well under inflated. Also you are going to be running in a lot more wet weather so it is no good trying to do it on pseudo sports tires with next to no tread. Get yourself a pair of decent touring tires something like the Michelin Pilot road 4’s or now even the 5’s. For me they are the best in the wet but everyone has their preferences and what you are comfortable with is the best for you.
You are going to have to clean your bike a lot more as well. Even if you are lucky and have a winter ride you still need to clean it. Road crud and salt not only makes it look bad and corrodes all the shiny bits it also plays havoc with bearings and chains. Talking of chains , pay special attention to cleaning and lubing them because salt corrosion will weaken them and you don’t want a snapped chain. Ah and don’t stint on the polish for the paintwork ah and make sure the electrics get a generous squirt of WD40 to keep the damp out. A rag in a plastic bag under the seat is a good idea, that way if you go to a jet wash and clean your bike you can always dry the seat off before you go home…much more comfortable that way!
Another good idea is to fit some enduro brush guards to your handlebars, not only will they protect the leavers but you can add some extensions to them and they will keep the wind and rain off your pinkies. Talking about protection, crash bars are a must, or crash bobbins at the least. Ok they might not save your bike in a decent off, but a low speed drop on greasy town or city roads will then just be annoying rather than actually stopping you in your tracks.
Oh and make sure you don’t stint on the servicing and that everything is working and in good condition because the last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of the road, 20 miles from home in the rain that is turning to sleet because of some stupid little fault on your bike….
And after saying all that I am wondering why I bother to ride in the winter, let me think about it and I will get back to you.