The winter in the northern hemisphere can be grim for riding a bike outside, with grit on the roads and often wet or icy weather to contend with. All that rain, salt and mud can quickly turn your pride and joy into a creaking, crusty mess, which is something none of us want. This is why some cyclists switch to a dedicated winter bike when the wet and dark months roll around - to keep the most expensive parts lasting longer and ride something a little less bling and fancy through the grimmest time of the year. In this guide, we'll take a look at some of the best winter bikes that we've tested.
Best value winter bike: Merida Scultura Endurance 4000
Best money-no-object winter bike: Mason SLR SRAM Force
Best for speedy winter miles: Giant Defy Advanced 1
Best budget winter road bike: Vitus Razor Disc Claris
Best women's winter road bike: Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2
Best for quality winter bike frameset: Moda Stretto
Best single-speed winter bike: Spa Cycles Audax Mono
Best do-it-all winter road bike: Fara Cycling F/AR
Best aluminium winter bike: Mason Definition Chorus
Best winter bike for carrying a lot of things: Tifosi Rostra Disc Tiagra
Best off-road winter bike: Marin Gestalt XR
Best steel winter bike: Windover Bikes Bostal
Best winter gravel bike for fast rides: Vitus Venon EVO-GR Rival AXS
Best all-road winter bike: Vitus Venon EVO-RS Force AXS All-Road
Best budget steel winter bike: Ribble Gravel 725
Best budget winter gravel bike: Cube Nuroad EX
Best versatile but affordable winter bike: Orro Terra X GRX400
Best winter bike that comes with mudguards fitted: Spa Cycles Elan Ti Mk2 105 R7000 11-speed
While 'winter bike' isn't necessarily a bike genre as such, there are key attributes that make a bike more suitable for riding on the road year-round. One of the most important ones is mudguard mounts - or if your bike is truly ready for winter off-the-peg, it might already come with mudguards fitted.
Increasingly, though, you can find lightweight mudguards which don't require frame mounts to keep you dry, so even mudguard mounts aren't an absolute requisite for a winter road bike nowadays.
In addition to mudguards, in the winter you might be after a little more comfort, as it's unlikely you'll be racing or training quite as hard outdoors as you might be indoors and during the summer. That's why endurance road bikes or gravel bikes are popular all-season bike choices.
These bike genres will usually offer a more stable ride feel, and often more tyre clearance. The extra clearance will allow you to fit plusher, wider road bike tyres for extra traction and comfort.
A relative newcomer to the bike market is the 'all-road bike', and anything described as such will often make a great winter bike because it will be equipped to deal with brief off-road forays, while being a bit more nimble than a dedicated gravel bike.
> How to make the most of winter bike rides
Once you've got your winter bike sorted, you should of course equip it with the appropriate mudguards and good quality bike lights, so you can not only see in front of you, but also be seen. Then it's just a case of dressing right for the weather, and those winter miles are suddenly not all that bad!