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Winter Ride Essentials

You shouldn't leave home without

Crisp mornings, picturesque sunrises and quiet, glistening lanes; in many ways winter cycling can be an enjoyable affair, albeit, an unpredictable one. When the conditions take a turn for the worse, even the most seasoned cyclists struggle to find the motivation and courage to brave the wet, cold and blustery road ahead. Whilst we cannot control mother nature, we can suggest some useful additions to ensure you are fully prepared to tackle winter head on.

As the weather worsens, the chances of getting a puncture unfortunately increase. Carrying the correct tools for a roadside puncture repair can often be the difference between an enjoyable ride and a nightmare.

Avoid that deflating feeling

Whilst carrying a spare inner tube is a given, with the increased likelihood of a flat we would suggest packing an extra tube too. Should you be unlucky enough to sustain multiple punctures, a repair kit, specifically a pack of pre-glued patches is another handy addition to your saddlebag. Similarly, whilst many of us can confidently seat a tyre without the need for tyre levers in the summer, it can be a completely different affair when the cold sets in, we would therefore suggest holding on to a set, just incase.

Get pumped up

We always lean toward carrying a pump in addition to carrying CO2 canisters in the winter. Unlike canisters, which have a single use purpose, a pump can be used repeatedly, ideal for inflating your own tyres, as well as your fellow ride companion’s should it be required. The head of a CO2 canister is also renowned for freezing when being used in colder temperatures, an unpleasant experience if it accidentally makes contact with your hands.

Take on winter with a tyre boot

A tyre boot is another saddlebag essential necessary for dealing with those unwanted, yet all too common winter punctures. Occasionally your tyre and tube can be damaged to a level unrepairable with a patch or replacement inner tube alone. In this instance a tool can be placed inside the tyre, covering the tear, with an aim to protect the inner tube from road shrapnel and an inevitable second flat.

Tackle those mechanical mishaps

Mechanicals are not limited to punctures though, poor conditions can place increased stress on your bicycles components and in turn increase the chance of a failure. Carrying a multi tool, ideally one with a built in chain breaker, is a sensible idea in the winter as it improves the chances of dealing with irritating, smaller jobs at the roadside.

Keep your chain in check

The weather conditions place strain on your bike's chain too, making it more prone to breaking. As the name suggests, a quick link provides a simple and fast solution to a broken chain, directly replacing the damaged link and allowing you to carry on with your ride. When purchasing a quick link take care to ensure it is compatible with your chain, as they are specific to your bike’s speed and the brand of chain.

Spoke Key

Spin smoothly

Spokes are another component susceptible to failure in the winter, mainly due to the increased number of potholes on the road. A spoke key allows you to quickly remove a snapped spoke and increase the tension on the surrounding spokes to compensate, helping you to ride back home safely.

Now that we’ve covered the essentials for looking after your bike, we can look at some key items that can be stored in your pockets or a saddlebag to help take the sting out of winter riding.

Dress for the conditions

Cold, wet hands are always the first thing that cut a training ride short. Simply packing a spare set of gloves is an easy fix, yet latex gloves offer a cheap, space saving alternative, with equally effective results, read our guide on keeping your extremities warm. Similarly, a lightweight, packable waterproof jacket or gilet can be easily stored in your jersey pocket and is invaluable should you get caught out in the rain.

Ensure your valuables are close to hand

Given the unpredictable nature of winter riding, carrying money and your phone is essential. These are however useless if they sustain water damage in heavy showers. A purpose made waterproof wallet or pouch provides the perfect storage solution for your valuables, keeping them safe all year round.

Utilising all the tips provided in this article you should now be in a position to brave those winter miles comfortably and with confidence. For the optimal winter riding experience, it is worth ensuring your machine is equally well adapted for harsher conditions, read our guide to winterising your bike.

About the Author

  • Ollie Boulton
  • Height: 178cm
  • Weight: 80kg
  • About Ollie Boulton : Ollie has been riding for the past ten years and has worked within the cycle trade since leaving university. His weekends are spent riding, with time equally split between the trails and tarmac. Ollie loves to travel with his bikes and has spent a full summer riding enduro in the alps as well as completing the Paris Roubaix sportive.

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