How to prepare for a season of winter biking
As the temperature drops, the days grow dark, and the rain continues to fall, it’s obvious that winter biking conditions have set in. West Coast riders are a hardy bunch and stay out there ripping up the trails, roads, and race courses year-round. Why let a little weather slow you down?!
In our neck of the woods, that means rainy season for the most part—and lots of it. To arrive at your destination, and/or play on the trails safely, you’ll need to gear up both your bike and your body. With a little bit of bike preparation and a few extra layers of clothing, you’ll soon be ready to put hours in the saddle all season long.
Dress for success
As the days get shorter, you’re likely to find yourself commuting in darkness at least one way. When it comes to clothes, make sure you can be seen with bright, reflective, and waterproof clothing like pants and jackets.
Like other winter sports, dressing in layers is the key to staying comfortable. We carry base layers that are made specifically for biking. They allow freedom of movement and wick away moisture, while providing bulk-free warmth. A breathable mid-layer of fleece followed by a waterproof, windproof outer layer will help keep you cozy and dry.
Don’t forget to keep your extremities happy. Cold, wet hands, head, and feet definitely take the fun out of biking, so make sure you invest in some warm, waterproof gloves, socks, and shoe covers. To keep your head and ears toasty, get a light-weight toque, headband, skullcap, or balaclava that fits under your helmet. You can also opt for a helmet cover to keep the rain out and the heat in. Just be sure to light up your helmet cover to add you some visibility.
Winterize your bike
Wet winter road conditions are magical for attracting thorns, shards of glass, and sharp pieces of rock to your tires and puncturing tubes. So, get your tires checked and keep at least two tubes handy and a good pump in case of a flat—or two. With our relatively mild conditions you can use low-pressure knobby tires on both the front and rear wheels. Some riders like to have tires with more channels for better grip on wet pavement. For that occasional cold snap with snow and ice, winter tires with spikes and a wide tread pattern will clear snow and increase traction. Fat bikes are the ultimate option for winter commuting and trail riding. With substantial tire clearance, they are like a mountain bike with snowshoes.
Grab yourself some fenders—they are worth their weight in gold come wintertime. Not only do they keep all that wet, grimy spray from covering you but they also keep it away from those riding behind you.
It’s a good idea to check in with us about changing your chain lube for the season, as well as making sure that you clean your chain regularly. In fact, all of your bike maintenance should be doubled up at this time of year because sand, salt, mud, and grime takes an extra toll on brake pads, chains, bearings, and tires. A tune-up going into and out of the winter riding season is highly recommended.
When commuting during the winter, make sure to give yourself a little extra time to get where you’re going. Brake early, don’t make hard turns, and be well-prepared for some gnarly conditions. It’s always a good idea to keep a charged phone and some cash handy. If you’re ready for it, both commuting and recreational riding can be an enjoyable year-round endeavour.
Don’t be shy, we have all the gear you’ll need—plus a knowledgeable, handy mechanical crew ready to help get your bike in shape. Stop by our full-service shop at 1999 Lake Trail Road in Courtenay Tuesday through Saturday, or give us call at 250.334.2456 to book your bike an appointment.