The commute is the best way to keep riding in the winter. But if you want to do it right and keep going all the way through the cold months it’s worth doing a little prep, and perhaps spending a little bit of money.
Here is our list of tips, derived from years of slogging to work through UK winters during rain and shine.
And don’t forget our 10 top tips for winter mountain biking.
Don’t overdress (and do layer up)
The temptation when it’s really cold is to wear your warmest, heaviest gear. And while shivering on your ride is no fun it’s easy to underestimate how much warmth your body will create on the ride.
Simple way to avoid that is to ditch the heavy jacket and wear or carry lots of layers – packing right is a must so you can react to the change in weather and body temperature.
Head, hands and feet first
Where you don’t want to stint is on your extremities. Spend your cash on really good gloves, get overshoes (which will also help preserve your shoes) and a cap to wear under your helmet and keep your head (and ears) warm.
Get this right and the cold weather suffering stops and the commute will become your friend.
Cap: Gore Bike Wear Universal WS Thermo Helmet Cap AW16, £29.99 or less, as recommended by my wife – keeps your ears nice and warm in the winter.
Overshoes: Caratti Deep Winter Waterproof Overshoes, £35.00 as recommended by road.cc
Get the right tyres (or practice fixing punctures)
Your race-ready 23mm rubber is not going to cut it in the winter. In fact they are going to get cut and you’re going to practice puncture repairs on a regular basis.
Get yourself some hard wearing, winter ready tires and it will massively cut down on the time your pumping away at your spare tube on the side of the road with freezing hands rather than sitting in the warm at work.
Continental GatorSkin Folding Road Tyre, £25.99.
Waterproof is your friend
Depending where you live, rain is going to happen. Embrace it. Get ready for it. Buy waterproofs. Proper waterproofs, not shower proofs. A (lightweight – see above) jacket and a good pair of overtrousers, when combined with overshoes and good gloves will mean the rain never has to stop you getting your ride on to get to work.
Keep your lights charged
So simple. So often messed up. If you’ve got USB-charged light then make sure you have somewhere at work or at home where you can easily charge them up. If your lights are battery charged then buy yourself plenty of spares and and pack them (waterproofed, of course) on the bike so you don’t have to remember every time you go for a ride.
Preparation is the key here, people.
Knog Blinder Mob Four Eyes USB Rechargeable Rear Light, £34.99.
Clean your bike!
Mud, rain, snow, slush, grit and salt from spreaders – all these things are going to damage the working parts of your bike. If you don’t look after it and give it – AT THE VERY LEAST – a weekly clean you’ll end up with no bike to commute on. If you get the right kit then washing your bike is one of the most satisfying things you can do when not cycling. Honestly.
Muc-Off Bike Care Essentials Kit, £20.