If you live in the northern states or anywhere else around the world that is far enough above the equator to freeze during these impending months, then you probably know that winter is not necessarily the season most conducive to riding your bike. Yet, there are those who pedal on through the drifts and over the ice to get to school or work or sometimes even just for fun.
Take, well, myself for example. I have a very modest 5 mile commute to and from the office every day of the week. While owning a car is simply out of the question due to gas and parking expenses, cycling is not. Thus, the late months of the year find me contemplating ways to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’…or weather the weather on my bike.
Let’s start with the bike. I ride a stock SwissBike LX. This standard set up takes all of the abuse winter can throw at it. Moderately treaded mountain bike tires grab well on ice, road salt, and snow, while the front suspension easily soaks up potholes hidden under wintry road conditions. The drivetrain on the LX is durable; able to get dirty, wet, and frozen (all at once) and keep spinning smoothly. Basically the bike can take care of itself.
I however need a few more creature comforts to make it through the daily commute. Hence for the winter months, I like to attach a standard set of fenders over the front and rear wheels to keep the road gunk off my back and face. From experience I can recommend the Freddy Fender line from Planet Bike. These fenders work well with our folding bikes. I personally use the “Full ATB” model. Also, in poor visibility situations, I turn on my front and rear lights to let vehicles know where I am. You can virtually use any lights out there on the SwissBike. On my LX I use the Sigma Micro W/R. These lights require no tools to attach and can be removed and repositioned very quickly. If I become too uncomfortable or cold, I always have the option of folding the LX and bringing it on the train or bus with me. The folding aspect is great when I get to the office or home and inclement weather is looming.
Winter weather also means having the right clothing to keep you warm. Below is my list of essential stuff to keep the body warm and dry:
- Insulated moisture wicking base layer
- Windproof shell and tapered windproof riding pants – great insulation against the frigid winds.
- Wool socks – I like to have them come up under the pant legs to keep my ankles from exposure.
- Lobster mitts (adopted from the XC ski world) – Keep my fingers free to brake and warm while I am doing it.
- Insulated winter hat – worn under the helmet. The body loses much of its heat through the head, if the head is insulated, the rest of the body will stay much warmer and warm is what winter riding is all about!
Feel free to share what tactics you use to stay on the bike through the winter.
Keep riding, keep warm,