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Commuting 101 – How to maintain your bike in winter

The life of a bicycle in winter isn’t an easy one – rain, snow, slush, salt, road grime, and freezing temperatures. Dirt and debris gets into just about every nook and cranny on your bike and can cause unanticipated mechanicals at the worst of times.  Thankfully, there’s no special trick to keeping your bike in good working order, you’ll just need to dedicate a little more time and energy to maintain it than you typically would. Take good care of your bike and it will take good care of you!

Winter bike maintenanceMany riders store away their primary bike for the winter and find a cheaper ride specifically to take the abuse of the wet, salty, and frozen conditions. If you do choose to get a second bike, look for a simple bike with an aluminum frame, which is less likely to rust. Hardtail mountain bikes are a good option, as are singlespeed road bikes; fewer moving parts means less to maintain.

With all that road grime on your bike, you’ll need to clean it often to stay in good condition. A bucket with soapy water or degreaser, brush kit, and old rags will do the job. If you don’t have the time to wash and dry your bike, wait till it has air dried and use a soft brush to dust away the dirt on your frame, rims, and brake pads. Make sure you give your chain and drivetrain some TLC, keeping it clean and dry is the key to avoiding rust. Park Tool and Super B make chain cleaners, which can make the process easier (see video below). The key to cleaning your bike on a regular basis is to make it simple, so find something that works for you and stick with it!

Park Tool Bike Cleaning Brush Set

Four brushes to help keep your frame, components, cassette and chain squeaky clean. MSRP – $30 CAD.

Park Tool Bike Cleaning Brush Set

Super B Drivetrain Cleaning Kit

All the tools you need to clean your chain and drivetrain, including degreaser and folding brush. MSRP – $37 CAD.

Super B Chain Cleaning Set Bike Maintenance

Once your bike is clean, you need to lube your chain to keep your bike quiet and shifting smoothly. In wet winter conditions, thicker wet lube (versus dry lube for dusty conditions) works well and will last longer between applications. Check out this video by pinkbike.com to learn exactly how and where to apply lubricant. Plan to lube your chain in between washes too, as salt and water from the road will remove lubricant and rust your chain.

ProLink Xtreme

Lube for long-distance and extreme conditions, resists build-up and sheds water. MSRP – $14 CAD.

prolink-xtreme-bike-lube-winter-maintenance

Park Synthetic Lube with PTFE

High tech lube with Teflon that works well in wet or dry conditions. Ideal for chains, cables and pivots. MSRP – $10 CAD.

park-tool-synthetic-bike-lube-PTFE-winter-maintenance

While your bike gets the once-over, you want to check all your moving parts to make sure nothing has seized up, or is loose. Key areas to check are your headset, cranks, and wheels. And don’t forget to check the condition of your brakes and pads – when roads are slick you want all the stopping power you can get.

When it comes to bike handling, quality tires are essential. Commuter tires have better traction on wet and slippery roads and are more durable against puncture than road tires. For riding on ice or snow, studded tires are an option, but you need to be careful not to tear up the trails!

Freedom Ryder

A great do it all tire for any weather or road condition. MSRP – $37.50 CAD / each.

Freedom Ryder All Season Bike Tire

Schwalbe Marathon Winter

Studded tires for a safer journey on icy roads, available in a range of sizes. MSRP – $100 CAD / each.

Schwalbe Marathon Winter Bike Tire

After months of riding in less-than-ideal conditions, pay a visit to your local independent bike retailer – your bike will deserve a new chain, new cables, and an overall tune up. Think of it as your way of saying ‘thank you’ for getting you through the winter with a smile on your face!

Super B Drivetrain Cleaning Kit Demo: