I really do like riding in the winter. The roads seem emptier and sure it’s cold but how awesome is it when you can ride through snow covered fields when it’s 30ºF and be comfortable? When you nail the winter outfit and it’s no sweat, literally?
Well I think that preping your bike is just as important as how you dress. The good news is it doesn’t take much to get your bike ready for winter, just a few tweaks.
For starters you gotta have a pair of fenders. They keep the road spray off your feet, which keeps them warmer for longer. This is especially crucial on the road when you are usually avg’ing higher MPH and the wind chill cuts deep.
Personally I like the ones that are easiest to put on and take off. The ones in this pic use an adjustable rubber strap for a universal fit on every frame I have ever had.
The easy removability is nice because you can take them off during long periods of sun but slap them on when you need to stay dry. Plus, when you are swapping tires often (road to gravel and back) sometimes a 40c tire will not fit in a fender made for a 28c tire. Either buy big or be prepared to swap fenders when you have to.
After fenders I like to have a frame bag. I use one all year round but it becomes especially important in the winter when you don’t want to have to get into pockets with giant gloves on. Everything is easily accessible right between your legs with one zipper stroke. You can see what you are grabbing and if you are going real big you can stash even more food or water.
I have a front light on, which I don’t usually ride with, however, during the winter when the days are shorter sometimes the fading light sneaks up on me. So it’s nice to always go out with one then when I get stuck out as the sun is going down I am covered.
I also always use a rear blinky light but during the winter it is often more gloomy and not so sunny. So those bright blinky lights can have an even greater effect. Especially when snow is crowding the road shoulders, it’s nice to have a little more of an attention grabbing effect.
There is the option to throw the Bar Mitts on, which I am all for. I have hands that do not handle the cold well. Bar Mitts are a full proof option for sub 30º days. Or even from warmer days but when you have to start early.
The cool things with Bar Mitts is that you can use a thinner, mid-weight or lighter, glove and you actually have a lot of dexterity with your levers. The down side is you are more or less stuck in one handle bar position.
The tops are open but a bit crowded and you have to reach back into the Bar Mitts to shift. This doesn’t sound like a huge deal but if you ride in punchy terrain and are trying to mix up your hand position but have to constantly reach into the Bar Mitts to shift it can get frustrating.
That about covers the bike. Keeping your self warm is a whole other post…