Tips for preparing your mountain bike for winter

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Definetly, the cold season has begun, except for a few very, very lucky places on the globe. Good for you. The rest of us will have to make do with biking in snowy and chilly days, which isn’t such a strong reason to throw the bike in a dusty corner of the attic. Cycling even during wintertime has its perks, and it’s up to each one of us to find out what rings your bell. In any case, the winter conditions aren’t as mild on your bicycle as we would like them to be, so let’s see what can you do in order to keep the harm at bay.

Besides the thicker set of clothes you’ll probably be wearing, you’ll need to fit the bike with several types of components and accessories, like a strong pair of fenders and some lights, since the days are shorter.

Bicycle winter tyres

Their importance is even bigger now that the tracks are covered with ice, snow, slush, mud and everything in-between. If the tires do not provide the needed grip, not only will you lose precious energy, but you’ll be in danger of crashing and injurying yourself. So, we find 3 solutions to this issue:

  • Metal studded tires: Such tires are available not only for mountain bikes, but for city bikes as well.
  • Chain traction systems for tires: A good example of such systems are the ones manufactured by Slipnot. With a price of 84$, two big advantages stand out, namely the easy installation and compatibility with tires having widths from 2.25 to 2.8 inches.

  • Reinforced-sidewall tires: Used with a downhill inner tube, they can be very helpful if you encounter sharp blocks of ice that might leave a nasty cut. However, if you’ll use a tubeless system, make sure you take along a spare inner tube, preferably, as thick as possible.

Lubrication

Lots of snow, mixed with mud and with ice-melting substances spread on the road, isn’t good at all for your bike.

On the top of your priority list should be keeping your chain clean and greased, this being a process recommended after each ride. Even if it sounds over the top, you really should clean your bike after each snowy adventure, and treat all the components with the utmost care, by lubricating them. Even small parts, like the quick release or thru axles need care, the 20/15/12 axles even requiring some grease.

Lubrication is also required wherever bearings are present: the headset, crankset and wheel hubs. If you’re a daily user, then one session of servicing per week should be enough. The pedals should get some attention as well, although their system is much tightly sealed compared to the ones of other parts.

The cables are pretty exposed, so harsh conditions may take their toll on them. This will turn into a big problem since the derailleurs, brakes and other mechanism rely on them, so a regular interval should be established for greasing them, usually when you feel that they do not work properly anymore.

Other solutions

Particular situations, like if you live in a region that has more snowy months than the average, can be solved with particular solutions. For example, Ktrak offers a system that transforms your rear wheel in a track adapter, and replaces the front one with a special ski.

On the other hand, you’ll notice that some components might work differently when there are low temperatures. It’s nothing out of the ordinary since oil, like the one found in the suspension fork or the brake system, turns cloggy. Don’t be afraid, it’s just the cold!

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