Winter changes?

by Eebijeebi   August 28, 2014  

I used to ride quiet a lot but never as my main sport, just summer fitness, charity rides and fair weather commuting.
After a 10 year lay off from all kinds of exercise (due to illness) I climbed back on to the old Bianchi in March as it's the only form of CV my shot knees can take - but am loving it and will keep at it through the winter. I shall be looking to join a local club to drag me out.

My question is about winter and bikes. Assuming I brave it past the trainer on fair days, are there things I should consider specifically regarding the bike? Mudguards, wheels, tyres or maybe or a separate bike altogether? Mountain bike - or does that make me the anti-christ?

Thanks for reading,
E.

20 user comments

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Mudguards... end of conversation.

There might be an argument for getting a disk specific bike, but honestly, if you do one thing for winter, its get some decent mudguards.

Good lights is another. I run two rear lights. This is so that I can run one on constant beam, and the other flashing. Best of both worlds. Also, its to protect against light failure... the chances of both lights failing on a ride or very, very small.

if you;ve not done so already, stick some 25mm tyres on. Just that bit grippier in the wet.

I don't believe in 'winter' tyres, but plenty of people do. I don't like them because what they give you in respect to puncture resistance and longevity, they take away in respect to grip and safety.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [305 posts]
28th August 2014 - 14:43

3 Likes

Mudguards... end of conversation.

Definitely! Why some people, unless you're racing, seem completely averse to them in the winter is beyond me; they actually do keep the cr#p off you, and the bike, without slowing you down. Lots of different options depending on how much protection or versatility (eg on/off ease) you want. I think clubs insist on them if it's wet.

MTBs are for off-road. Too many people puffing away commuting on them.

Shades

posted by Shades [211 posts]
28th August 2014 - 14:57

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A club will probably expect you to have mudguards in winter otherwise whoever is on your wheel gets covered in crap spraying up from your tyre. Personally I hate fitting them because they can be fiddly for a clumsy oaf like me, but if you need to buy some the shop will probably fit them for a few quid.

The lights advice is good, if it's murky you really should have a light imho. The only other thing I'd mention is a spare tube and a puncture kit, much more likely to get punctures in winter due to stones etc being washed into the road.

Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [188 posts]
28th August 2014 - 15:04

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I wouldn't rule out the mountain bike as it's n+1, a different kind of riding and a good way to put some work in when the roads are covered in the wet slimy mulch of fallen leaves. One of the hardest rides I have done is london to Brighton off road in January. In addition, the highest elevation to miles ridden ratio I get are off road in the North downs - good for your climbing legs and skinny tyres feel like floating on air after mtb training.

posted by arfa [513 posts]
28th August 2014 - 15:13

2 Likes

colinth wrote:
A club will probably expect you to have mudguards in winter otherwise whoever is on your wheel gets covered in crap spraying up from your tyre.

Most London clubs don't, but I do, so I have to ride solo for most of the winter. Before cycling apparently became "cool", you would not have been allowed NEAR a club run without full mudguards and rear buddy flaps.

posted by deblemund [114 posts]
28th August 2014 - 15:30

2 Likes

Mudguards, lights, proper pump and/or co2 inflator for quick changes and importantly, some decent winter clothing.

Doesn't need to be expensive but does need to keep you warm and dry.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [858 posts]
28th August 2014 - 23:26

1 Like

I'd endorse the above, mudguards, dual lights (front & back), puncture repair kit or spare inner tubes (I prefer spare tubes and 2 of them), pump/co2, waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, over shoes and a decent selection of jerseys/base layers to cope with the cold!

posted by DaveG [20 posts]
29th August 2014 - 11:32

1 Like

A winter bike.
Come the clock change the summer/race bike goes away and the winter bike comes out.
Full guards, bit heavier, slightly more durable tyres, lights etc.
Just makes getting out a bit easier, and the extra weight makes getting onto the summer bike feel like getting on a rocket.

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [468 posts]
29th August 2014 - 11:45

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Mountain bikes are not the lung busters people seem to think they are.
They give better traction, and easier handling for when the country turns white and frosty.

They are also great for when you want to hit a trail or the canal paths, and are great for improving your road bike fitness over winter.

People really should not knock MTBs, they are good all round work horses.

Plus it means a new bike Smile

posted by Binky [115 posts]
29th August 2014 - 12:06

1 Like

Binky wrote:
Mountain bikes are not the lung busters people seem to think they are.
They give better traction, and easier handling for when the country turns white and frosty.

They are also great for when you want to hit a trail or the canal paths, and are great for improving your road bike fitness over winter.

People really should not knock MTBs, they are good all round work horses.

Plus it means a new bike Smile


I like a bit of off-road now and again, especially in winter when it's fun just to splash around the forest in the mud. And they teach good balance and control and stuff.

But commuting on one? Compared to a CX or roadbike with mudguards my 29er hybrid is about 20% slower, it's 50% heavier... and wider bars make it harder to filter through traffic.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [894 posts]
29th August 2014 - 13:14

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Thanks for the input chaps. All common sense with the mudguards being essential.
I took myself to a Bianchi shop yesterday and almost walked out with an end of line Infinito - still agonising. Suppose I could turn my trusty old girl into the winter bike!

Forum rudeness is for the weak - pity them.

posted by Eebijeebi [62 posts]
29th August 2014 - 13:27

3 Likes

Kind of what I did, I replaced my gruppo and wheels, and bought a cheap winter frame. Moved the lot over and got some finishing kit for it.
If you are thinking of a winter bike, something designed to take guards is much better than one where you need race blades or something, the coverage of full bolt on guards is a million times better.

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [468 posts]
29th August 2014 - 13:56

1 Like

Gizmo_ wrote:
Binky wrote:
Mountain bikes are not the lung busters people seem to think they are.
They give better traction, and easier handling for when the country turns white and frosty.

They are also great for when you want to hit a trail or the canal paths, and are great for improving your road bike fitness over winter.

People really should not knock MTBs, they are good all round work horses.

Plus it means a new bike Smile


I like a bit of off-road now and again, especially in winter when it's fun just to splash around the forest in the mud. And they teach good balance and control and stuff.

But commuting on one? Compared to a CX or roadbike with mudguards my 29er hybrid is about 20% slower, it's 50% heavier... and wider bars make it harder to filter through traffic.

But the bikes have different gearing! It's like comparing a Datsun Sunny to a Ferrari!

I'm not demanding that anyone should do as i say, just to not dismiss any possibility's because of not understanding some facts.

People should ride what makes them happy. My 29er has not let me down and gets me working (part-time messenger) and they are not really that slow (depends on the riders fitness) but they are not road bikes or cyclocross bikes so there will be a difference (depending on cyclocross gearing)

Ride and be as happy as you can. Smile

posted by Binky [115 posts]
29th August 2014 - 14:42

1 Like

The n+1 theory is rubbish for offroad - first you get a cyclocross, then a 29er MTB, then a 29+ and then a fatbike - by my reckoning that's n+4!
I head offroad if there's snow and ice - I'll use studded tyres on icy roads but numpties in 4x4s don't realise that heavier cars brake worse when it's slippery.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [366 posts]
29th August 2014 - 14:56

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I would love to have an MTB especially as at present riding with the family doesn't really work.
Surely when it comes to training/fitness work (not commuting), how fast you're going isn't an issue but the effort going in is? Could not slower with better grip be argued as a safer way to train in slippery conditions?
I appreciate this may be heresy - I know how I feel about snowboards!

Forum rudeness is for the weak - pity them.

posted by Eebijeebi [62 posts]
29th August 2014 - 15:15

0 Likes

Defo full mudguards. They'll protect your chain set, seat post, headset and your kit. Set of decent lights with spare batteries just in case. Wider tyres 25mm at the least. I use fixed all year round and definitely through winter. Means that maintenance wise all I do is wipe and lub the chain every now and again and clean my brake pads regular.

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posted by giff77 [1059 posts]
29th August 2014 - 15:23

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This isn't bike-specific, but if you've got bad knees as you say, then really make sure you keep them warm and dry to avoid repetetive strain injuries. Let your knees warm up when you're heading out before going too quickly, and you'll probably need to keep them covered up even if it doesn't seem terribly cold. It can be tempting just to get out there in shorts, but injured joints can be very sensitive to temperature, and if you want to keep riding for years to come then a little TLC goes a long a long way. Keep your knees happy!

thesaladdays's picture

posted by thesaladdays [37 posts]
1st September 2014 - 17:20

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I would suggest that before you do anything you have a good think about what you really want - it may just be my interpretation but you seem to be conflating several different issues. On the one hand in the OP you seem to be asking about "what is the minimum change" to keep you on the road over the winter, but a few posts later you admit to nearly buying a brand new bike with a RRP of £2K? which - whatever its other merits - is certainly not a winter training bike. Then further down thread you almost invite someone to recommend using a MTB.

Be honest - if you really want a new bike because you fancy some retail therapy and are attracted by the immediate pleasure of riding a new bit of bling - then admit the fact - at least to yourself. Its OK! And quite natural and most people here probably have similar feelings if they're honest. The other question you need to answer is what sort of riding you (realistically) want to do (or be able to do) this winter.

If you have the freedom to choose your route, the time of day, the weather and the pace i.e. if you are just going out in good weather, in daylight on dry roads that you know/trust and either solo or in a small group where you can choose your pace - well in that case your current bike may well be OK as it is. The main change will be some extra layers for your self.

On the other hand if you are going to be forced out in marginal or down-right horrible weather (because you need to get the training miles for some event) or regularly ride after dark because you intend commuting or cannot afford the time at weekends. And perhaps be forced to use routes/roads that are pot-holed/glass-strewn and ride with a group at speeds faster than you can react ..... then you need to start taking on board the comments up-thread.

If you tend towards the second of the scenarios above then the next question you need to answer is whether your current Bianchi is suitable for use as winter training bike. If it has no mud-guards mounts and minimal clearance even with a 23mm tyre then you are going to end up with something less than ideal. Usable? .... yes, but ideal for winter? ... no. So that is the first thing to work out - and it might lead you to a need to change bikes anyway - although I am sorry to have to tell you that - no mater how much of a bargain it might be - an Infinito is unlikely to fit the bill!

One other question you need to answer is ... are you going to ride off-road ? (I'm not talking about tow-paths and a bit of gravel on a wide and level track) but proper off-road bridleways, forest tracks etc. If you actually fancy mountain biking then just be honest and admit it . Buy a MTB, use it for its intended purpose and have fun doing so! There's no stigma and if you push yourself up the right hills you can get just as much exercise off-road as on.

But don't buy a MTB for the wrong reasons! Two things that I think most people would agree on is this ... you don't need to buy a MTB to ride safely on the roads in winter ... thousands of people riding road/touring/CX bikes are testament to this. And secondly no bike (unless you fit spiked tyres) will enable you to safely negotiate road ice. Yes I know you can find YouTube clips of people riding across frozen lakes, but only in straight lines, very slowly and when they knew in advance what they were about to do. If fat tyres enabled you to ride care-free over road ice then why, on frosty mornings, are the motor-cycle sheds at work emptier than the car park on a bank holiday Friday? A MTB will not help.

Lastly I would personally not buy a MTB just to make riding more difficult to increase the CV benefits. If you want to make life difficult just let the tyre pressure down on your current bike or pedal harder uphill. Buying a MTB just to make road pedalling more difficult sounds pretty perverse. Remember that in order to "brave it past the trainer" (your own words) the alternative has to be MORE attractive. Is a heavy, hard-to-pedal, MTB on the road actually any more attractive than jumping on the turbo? I'm not sure but if you feel you will need the motivation to get out in the winter then you should at least make sure that the bike you use is fun to ride!

I have a couple of specific comments about winter bike kit which I will put in a separate post as this has already dragged on far too long.

Good luck and no matter what you end up doing, well done for getting back on the bike after such a break !

posted by Blue_Brevatto [23 posts]
5th September 2014 - 12:37

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'If you have the freedom to choose your route, the time of day, the weather and the pace i.e. if you are just going out in good weather, in daylight on dry roads that you know/trust and either solo or in a small group where you can choose your pace - well in that case your current bike may well be OK as it is.'

Blue, I think you're probably right, it'll be on the trainer or out on fair weather days (except club rides maybe).
Just to clarify -
I'd love an MTB to be able to ride where my kids do but would never be a serious off roader.
I put the Infinito idea to bed for the winter as it wouldn't seem such a bargain being in the shed for six months (and anyway I really wanted one in celeste)! So a 2015 model and if a test ride lives up to the hype I won't be able to resist.
I took things like clothing and lights as a given, and already went to 25mm tyres for comfort so it's really just a mud guard issue.

I may be doing London - Paris for Alzheimer's in April so I best type less and ride more.

Thanks for the food for thought.

Forum rudeness is for the weak - pity them.

posted by Eebijeebi [62 posts]
5th September 2014 - 16:17

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One thing I think is worth bearing in mind, is that there's always one more thing to buy. Whatever you decide on - whether it be the bits and pieces to see you through the season, or a new bike altogether - you'll probably still end up needing one more component, accessory or item of clothing that you never bargained on buying. Budget wisely and put a bit aside for the eventualities.

posted by bamilton wackad... [49 posts]
5th September 2014 - 17:21

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