Are you ready for winter?

Yesterday I cleaned the bike, chainset, sprocket and fitted a new chain. Here’s a picture taken at work on my lunch break (because it was dark when I finished and so I’ve dirtied it a little getting it here, but it still looks clean compared with normal):

The observant amongst you will have noticed the winter tyres too. Yes, as it’s also going to get more and more icy this week I’ve also fitted my winter tyres:

As you can see, the front rim is narrow and it is a bit of a pain to fit the tyre:

Everyone should ride winter tyres when the frosty season starts, I ride Schwalbe Marathon Winter tyres, I’m not sure if many other brands are widely available elsewhere, but in the UK there’s not much choice.

Availability of winter tyres is a bit random at times, they sell out pretty quickly when the slippy weather starts, but for comfort and safety I fit mine fairly early on and ride them until the weather is good again. Some people will get a season out of them, others will get several, I’m hoping to get three, but this will be number two, so let’s see how much harsh braking I do – this morning’s test doesn’t count šŸ™‚

Currently I’m using KMC X8-93 as my chain of choice – for no particular reason other than it is supplied with a missing link and KMC have served me well thus far (definition = only breaking through neglect, I’m trying to avoid neglect now, so no more breakages since):

Chains really suffer in winter, the rain, filth and salt really eat through them, so do remember to look after your chain. I regularly check chain wear using a chain wear indicator, but generally ignoring 1% wear, only changing when the indicator won’t fit anymore (probably meaning 2% wear or more). Those with deraileurs need to replace at 1% wear šŸ™‚

Clothing, everybody knows how important it is in winter. Everybody likes different things though, I don’t mind rain, but hate boil in the bag waterproof clothing – which is never waterproof anyway. So for me, waterproofs are an expensive waste of time. I do like windproof fabric though, my Gilet and winter jersey (which both have windproof fronts) are brilliant before the peak of winter. Once winter peak hits, it’s more about covering the legs and arms too. Until the freezing temperatures I still wear shorts and only have my arms covered by a base layer or jersey. Once it is freezing I wear warm unpadded tights with padded shorts underneath, that way I don’t need to change the tights everyday, but can change the shorts, hence I don’t need so many pairs of tights (which are expensive). I also wear a warm base layer and a windproof jacket, I carry my gilet and arm and leg warms in my bag as emergency clothing just incase. If it is -10 celsius like last year then I’ll wear an extra jersey or base layer under the jacket too. When I mention warm here I am specifically referring to Roubaix or Merino fabrics.
More on winter and clothing to follow I’m sure.

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One response to “Are you ready for winter?

  1. Thanks for the tips, can’t afford ice spike tyres currently, so will have to wait. I won’t cycle on icy roads till I get some. Fortunate, so far, only one day with ice on roads, but looking to set up my turbo trainer(ugh!!) asap., just to keep me pedalling if the ice hits soon. When I think back four or five years ago, when I started commuting, I realise I was so foolhardy, I used to cycle in everything snow, sleet, ice and never had a fall? Extremely lucky, I suppose, but I’ve had four or five bad falls since, so my luck stopped, and I’ve stopped cycling if there’s even a sniff of ice about. Right wimp eh?

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