[This article was last updated on January 9, 2018]
Winter is a tough time for cyclists. Short days and long nights limit riding time in the sun, the cold drains energy faster and bad weather can make it dangerous on the roads. It's bad for the road bike too, all that rain and dirt. To help you and your bike survive the winter, we've picked a selection of products to help you survive the winter months.
All the road grime and dirt from riding in the winter can quickly lead to a squeaky and rusty chain, but doing serious bike maintenance after a ride when you can’t feel your hands isn’t much to look forward to. This Muc-Off Bio Chain Doc makes the task of cleaning a chain really quick and easy, so you can keep your drivetrain in good working condition without the mess and hassle.
Keeping road spray, especially if riding in a group, dirt, mud and the rain out of your eyes with a pair of cycling glasses is preferable to trying to see through mud-filled squinted eyes. These Decathlon Orao glasses have a wraparound design and the clear lens is ideal for low-light and night-time riding.
There is a way to avoid manky weather, and that’s to do your cycling indoors. A turbo trainer, as they’re called, is a simple frame the rear wheel of a bicycle with the tyre resting against a roller, turning your road bike into a stationary trainer. This Tacx Vortex Smart trainer can be controlled by a computer or phone app such as Zwift or TrainerRoad to vary the resistance so you can train to specific power levels and not waste any training time.
With the addition of state-of-the-art graphene, Italian tyre manufacturer Vittoria reckons its brands new Corsa tyres provide a massive boost in both puncture resistance and wet weather grip compared to its previous tyres. The Corsa G+ rivals long-standing favourite the Continental GP4000S II for both rolling resistance and puncture resistance and has excellent wet-weather grip..
Many cyclists have no choice but to do the majority of winter riding in the dark, so investing in a decent front light should be a priority. The British designed and manufactured Exposure Axis LED light may be small and light (99g), but it blasts out 1000 lumens, enough to light a dark country ride. It can be mounted to the handlebar or helmet and the battery can last for 24 hours in the lowest setting.
If you’re planning on cycling indoors to avoid the cold, rain and dark (who can blame you) then a really good training aid is the popular Sufferfest system. It's an app offering a range of structured training session with videos using actual professional road racing footage to make you feel you're part of the action.
Nothing says winter like cold toes, and a pair of woolly socks will definitely make your ride a little more enjoyable. These Woolie Boolie socks are thicker than most cycling socks, made from luxuriously soft merino wool, and long enough to avoid an ankle gap below your tights. They're best used with roomy shoes. Try and stuff them into shoes that fit snugly over thin summer socks and you'll just reduce the circulation in your feet, making things worse.
Adding a set of mudguards to a bike, and these simple plastic Crud RoadRacer mudguards can be fitted to most road race bikes, provides a decent barrier against road spray, and makes cycling on wet roads much more tolerable than without mudguards.
Keep your ears warm and your head toasty with a hat worn underneath your helmet. This Rapha Pro Team Winter Hat uses a soft shell fabric to provide insulation for your brain and it’s got a DWR treatment so it’ll be good in the rain too.
To help you stand out on the commute or evening training ride is this fully reflective Proviz Reflect 360 jacket. The magic is in the material, which is completely coated with a reflective treatment so the whole lot lights up when a car's headlight is focused on it.
Your brakes can take a bit of a hammering in the winter, with the rims caked in mud, grit and salty water, and brake blocks can deteriorate very rapidly. It’s important to keep a close eye on them, and replace them before they get too worn down. These Kool Stop Dura 2 Dual Compound brake blocks are a good replacement, with solid stopping power in all conditions.
It’s a fact of life, you’re much more likely to get a puncture in the winter. There’s more debris on the road, especially after it has rained, with mud and stones from the edge of the road washed into your path. And water acts as a really good lubricant for sharp objects to slice through bicycle tyres. This Lezyne Lever Patch Kit has everything you need to fix a flat and it’s all contained in a neat metal case, along with two tyre levers, and is small enough to be stashed in a jacket pocket, saddle bag or backpack.
Okay, this is a jolly expensive product recommendation to help you survive the winter, but a dedicated winter bike like this Condor Fratello Disc, equipped with disc brakes, mudguards and wide tyres, is ideal for battling through the winter. It’s comfortable and smooth, making it ideal for long steady rides, the proper full-length mudguards will keep you drier than without them, and the beefier tyres will better resist flatting. And the disc brakes reduce maintenance and provide a bit more stopping power.
Any products not on this list that you recommend?
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.