Winter days in Colorado Springs can vary greatly; from days with inches of show that don’t get out of the teens, to sunny days warming into the 50s. While the right bike can definitely help keep you comfortable, the bike itself is rarely the barrier to riding year round. below we’ll cover some tips that will make winter bike riding safer and more comfortable.
Watch the snow
Aside from staying warm (which we covered here), the slick nature of winter moisture can add another slippery complication. A dusting of fresh snow can prettify a grimy curb—and that can actually be a problem for a cyclist. Simply put, you have no idea what lies beneath, be it rubble, grates, or garbage. Accordingly, it’s best to cycle a little bit further from the curb and avoid any snow banks. Bear in mind that any road surface that glitters will likely be slippery even if it appears dry. And on days after snow has melted, don’t forget to be on the lookout for leftover gravel on roadways from maintenance crews sanding that may pose a crash risk or losing control of your bicycle especially when cornering.
You don’t need a new bike (Unless you really want one)
Grab a PikeRide
If your bike isn’t best suited for winter riding or if you don’t want to muck up your own bike on those slushy, snowy days, give a PikeRide bikeshare bike a shot. Pikeride bikes have fenders, lights, and electric motor that can help make getting around throughout the winter that much easier
The bike you have will work
Fat bikes are awesome, but you don’t necessarily need four-inch tires to have a blast in the snow. Winter cycling can be rough on bikes, though. If you have another bike gathering dust in your rafters, think about getting that running again rather than risking your primary bike.
Lower your saddle
Simply lowering your center of gravity is likely to make your bike far less wobbly, a small change that can make it far easier to manage icy patches. A lower saddle also makes it easier to manage any risk of skidding, says Luten, because you can use your feet to keep your bike balanced. “If your feet can sit flat on the ground, you’ll be far more stable and less likely to slip.”
Let some air out of your tires
An ever-so-slightly saggier tire will give you more grip on a slippery road surface. Depending on your weight, you might be able to ride 15 psi or lower. (Be sure to experiment with tire pressure in the fall, so you’re not changing flats in the middle of winter.) Also, try running the widest tires that you can fit on your bike. Some Scandinavians go for special winter tires, with die-hards using spiked versions, that may well be a step too far for most, who are probably fine with a standard fat tire (Click here for some winter tire recommendations). Icy weather may indeed be a signal to leave your skinny-tired bike home.
Fenders keep slushy road spray off you and your bike, and more importantly, off the people you ride with. Some bikes have mounting points to attach permeant fenders made from plastic, metal, or even wood. For a quick and easy way to add fenders take a look at SKS Race Blades or a similar clip on product. Don’t want to spend the money, and fancy a DIY solution? Fashion makeshift fenders out of a two-liter bottle or paint tray—you can easily find directions online.
Keep your bike clean
It’s only when you find yourself cycling through grit-laden slush—that can easily spray the seat of your pants—that you fully realize how worthwhile it is to have a bike with proper mudguards on its wheels. Riding in the slush and snow will kick a lot of salty, dirty water onto your bike’s parts, which can cause corrosion and damage over time. Be sure to wash your bike, or at the very least wipe it down or rinse it, as soon as you finish each ride.
One of the first rules every cyclist learns is to never use WD-40 on a bike—but spraying it on the frame before a ride will help repel ice and grime that your tires have kicked up. After the postride cleaning, spray it on your bike chain to get rid of excess moisture. Use a thick lube to keep everything running smoothly on your next frozen ride.
Over our winter biking series of posts we will dive into the details, to make sure your comfortable and safe while riding through our winter.