5 tips to keep your bike in top shape this winter

Ready to work toward your 2017 bicycling goals?

Whether you're looking to commute, complete STP, or just ride more this year, keeping your bike maintained is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re getting the most fun out your ride when you put your feet on the pedals. Your bike and your wallet will thank you for fixing minor issues and staying on top of routine maintenance throughout the year, particularly during these winter months when roads are wet and gritty. 

Before things start creaking and groaning (and you’re fighting the bike more than riding it), remember that the best type of maintenance is preventative maintenance.

To avoid major repairs, consider these five tips for winter that will help keep your bike (and you!) in top shape:

  1. Use fenders to keep your bike’s drivetrain clean and grit-free. Your local bike shop will be able to help you pick the right ones out and even install them if you need assistance. Fenders also help keep you and your clothes dry when roads are wet. 
  2. Routinely check tire pressure to avoid pinch flats. Investing in a pump with a pressure gauge on it will allow you to fine tune your pressure according to the tire specifications you’re riding. You can find the minimum and maximum pressures listed on the sidewall of your tire.
  3. Keep your bike clean. Even with fenders your bike will get dirty in the winter. Road grit will find its way onto your frame and drivetrain and can lead to bigger problems down the road. If you can, give your bike a quick rinse after you ride in winter months. Feel free to use the high pressure hose setting, but avoid spraying directly onto sealed parts like your bottom bracket (where the crank arm attaches to your bike frame). If you don’t have access to a hose, your shower can work as a washing station, or you can also purchase a garden sprayer with a pressure nozzle on it for around $15. Most gardening stores will have them in stock.
  4. Keep your chain clean and well-lubed. Even if you don’t do a full degreasing and cleaning, keeping your chain lubed will keep things running smoothly. Ideally in the winter you should try to do a full degrease and clean at least once every couple weeks if you’re riding daily, but if you’re short on time, just applying chain lube is better than leaving it for extended periods of time with no maintenance.
  5. Inspect brakes for wear and replace the pads when needed. Winter riding is hard on brakes when grit accumulates on the rim or rotor and grinds pads down. If your brakes are worn down below the wear line, replace them or take your bike into your local shop to have them do the work. Braking in the snow or rain can be hard enough without worn brake pads!

Staying on top of minor maintenance and preventing bigger issues will not only help you meet your 2017 goals but will also save you money in the long run. Happy riding!