8 Essential Hacks to Winter Proof Your Bike

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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8 Essential Hacks to Winter Proof Your Bike

To stay safe cycling during the winter, you’ll need to wear the right clothing and change the way you ride. But while many cyclists take these precautions, they often forget that winter-proofing your bike to adapt to the weather keeps things working smoothly.

Use these simple winter cycling hacks to keep your expensive frame and components intact and keep your bike rolling in less-than-ideal conditions.



Rain, snow and road grime that are common during the winter can wreak havoc on your wheels. While switching to brake pads that wear much slower than normal is a must, road grime can still damage the braking surface of your wheels.

Instead of wearing out your wheels quicker, invest in a cheap wheelset dedicated to bad weather riding. Keep in mind carbon wheels offer decreased braking power over aluminum or steel hoops, which is another reason to opt for cheaper options during the colder months.



Like your wheels, your chain wears more quickly from rain and road grime during the winter. While your chain is a fairly inexpensive part to replace, the bigger problem is that a worn-out chain can cause other more expensive parts like your derailleurs, crankset and cassette to wear out, too.

Since you’ll need to make sure your chain stays in good condition, buy a cheap chain that you put on in the winter instead of opting to replace your expensive chain more frequently. Once warmer weather rolls around you can put your nicer, race-day chain back on your bike.



When you think about lube, the first thing that probably comes to mind is your chain. Dry lubes that are OK to use during warm, dry months will wash off quickly in wet conditions. For this reason, wet winter lubes last longer and protect your parts better.

In addition to your chain, other parts like your derailleur pivot points, cables, hubs, bottom brackets and headsets should be lubed to avoid drying out from excessive moisture. If you aren’t sure how to lubricate these parts, your local bike shop can handle the job for a reasonably small fee.



Depending on how icy and cold the conditions are, if you’re a hard-core commuter, it might be a good idea to switch your clipless pedals for a flat set. While clipless pedals require you to wear traditional cycling shoes that might not be very warm, flat pedals allow you to wear winter boots that provide better protection from the cold. These pedals also won’t require you to clip your frozen feet in and out in the rain or snow and allow you to quickly put a foot down if you happen to slide out on a patch of ice.



Waxing your frame and components is a well-known tip for winter cycling to prevent corrosion and keep moisture away from your bike. What isn’t as well known is that using a cooking spray on your clipless pedals can make it easier to clip in and out by keeping them clean and free of gunk. The same trick can be used on your frame, too, preventing your bike from accumulating excessive road grime and making it easier to clean once you’re off the bike. Just keep it away from the brakes and braking surface on your wheels, since it can make surfaces much slicker than normal.



Wider tires provide better traction and are more comfortable when road conditions are less than ideal. While they can also help prevent pinch flats if you opt for a lower psi, you can take things a step further by adding a tire liner to keep glass and other debris from causing punctures. Some brands are guaranteed to prevent punctures and weigh less than thorn-resistant tubes. You also won’t have to worry about any gooey messes, which can harden in colder temperatures.



When it’s warm, valve caps are largely a useless part that do very little other than add a bit of weight to your bike. But during the winter, your valve cap can keep ice and grime from getting into the valve, preventing corrosion and freeze ups that can make airing up a problem roadside. For those situations when you need to repair your tube and fill it back up, keep your valve caps on when it’s cold.



Lights and reflective clothing are absolutely-essential during the winter. But can you ever be too reflective? We think not, and upping the visibility of your bike is a good way to step up your game. Reflective stickers and tape are cheap and can be a great way to make yourself even more visible when the weather is dark and gloomy.

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.


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