Winter can be a great time of year for us roadies. Clear, crisp days can make for some epic rides out. The downsides? Wet, greasy roads and all manner of hazards such as grit, glass and leaves that can bring you off. That’s without the uneven road surfaces and potholes! This is why thinking about converting your bike into a winter road bike is important.
It’s also the time of year when we’re most likely to suffer the cyclist’s curse, that dreaded puncture. It goes without saying whether you’re training or commuting the last place you want to be is at the roadside replacing an inner tube. Usually it’s cold, raining or dark (or all of these!), whilst you’re fumbling around with cold fingers trying to get the tyre off the rim.
Choosing Your Cycling Equipment
In winter daylight is often fleeting, which is why using bike lights is highly recommended for your safety. In order to be fully visible at night, you have plenty of options including the B’Twin Vioo 320 USB Dual Bike Light at just £8.99.
When cycling in the rain in winter, your bike can suffer from water which can affect your stability and speed. To avoid this, it is important to consider using a mudguard such as the SKS Bluemels 35mm Road Bike Mudguard Set. This one is very discrete and offers a great protection. Also it is always a good idea to carry inner tubes such as the B’Twin 700 x 18 25 Self Sealing Bike Inner Tube in order to avoid punctures.
If you’ve not already done so now is also the time to change the tyres for some that are more durable with puncture protection and some grip. What’s the difference? The tyres that you usually ride or race on in summer are lighter and faster, so they’re more prone to punctures. In a lot of cases they’ll be slick so there’s no grip when the road gets greasy or wet. A winter tyre has a thicker tread usually with some sort of puncture protection. The sidewalls will normally be stronger too so there will be more resistance to uneven surfaces and potholes.
As for tyre size if there’s clearance, the wider the better! Certainly no less than a 700 x 25c but if you can get away with it go for a 700 x 28c. Wider tyres will offer more comfort and give you a bit more traction. There’ll be less rolling resistance for a wider tyre but this will help make up for the stiffer sidewalls. Sure there will be a slight weight penalty but for me that’s a small thing as I’d rather stay upright and not have to worry about getting a flat.
How to Choose Your Winter Tyres?
There are plenty of quality tyres out there but the Continental Gatorskin is a reasonably priced peace of mind tyre for this time of year. Available in 700 x 25c and 700 x 28c options it offers excellent puncture protection and grip. It’s a high mileage performance tyre and is available as a wire bead or folding tyre.
Another classic Continental is the GP 4 Season. This one offers more protection from punctures and it’s an excellent training tyre also available in 700 x 25c and 700 x 28c. Slightly more expensive than the Gatorskin but a faster tyre.
For regular commuters the Vittoria 700 x 28c Randonneur is perfect and won’t break the bank. It features double shielding puncture protection, all weather tread and and a reflective sidewall.
Once you’ve fitted some new winter boots the next thing is to keep them maintained. Obviously tyre pressure is important and it always pays to keep an eye on how much air is in the tyres. You can run with a slightly lower pressure when the roads are wet but not too much! Also checking the condition of your tyres on a regular basis is important. Look for cuts in the rubber or any road debris, such as glass, flints or metal shards embedded in the tyre.
And lastly try and keep out of the gutter as this is where you’ll find the rubbish that causes punctures just waiting for an unsuspecting cyclist to ride over!
Want More Information?
In order to be fully safe while cycling in winter, we recommend browsing our online range of Bike Accessories. Also, do not hesitate to have a look at our friendly advice on What to Wear during Winter Cycling!