Solely written for BikeExchange by Harold Whitford
While most of us would shudder at the thought of cycling in the cold, adventure lovers live for this kind of thrill.
After all, from free parking and no gas bill, cycling comes with it’s set of benefits. If you’re considering cycling in the winter, we’ve got your back.
These 9 safety tips on winter bike commuting will equip you with everything you need to know before taking up this challenge.
Winter Bike Commuting: 9 Ride Safety Tips
If you’re someone who regularly rides the bicycle for commuting, you’re probably not new to its benefits. In case you’ve gone through the overwhelming bike reviews and got one for yourself, the perks are even better.
Anyways, apart from skipping traffic jams, it also keeps you fit and healthy. If you cycle regularly, not only will you save a ton of money but you can also skip the gym.
Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
However, cycling in the winter comes with its own set of challenges. In order to overcome them, here are our 9 tips.
Tip 1: Wear appropriate clothing
The first and most common concern when it comes to winter biking is, what should you wear?
Now although purchasing a full set of gear only for winter cycling may be expensive, it’s a must. The right gear will last for ages and enable you to ride comfortably, so it’s worth the price. Sometimes, amateur bikers think of saving money on riding gear and instead, just layering woolen jackets. Although this can keep you warm, you’ll find yourself in a pool of sweat once you’ve cycled a bit.
We recommend you invest in some good quality gloves, a waterproof and windproof jacket, and some good biking shoes. Also, skip hooded jackets and invest in an insulated cap to keep your head warm. If you live in a freezing area, having some good waterproof socks can also keep you toasty.
When it comes to keeping warm, always remember that the head, chest, palms, and feet must stay protected.
Tip 2: Take care to avoid punctures
In case you didn’t know, the cold makes your tires more prone to punctures. That’s because wet and cold roads often attract sharp stones or glass.
So if you’re heading out for a long journey, it’s best that you have an extra pair of tires just in case you puncture yours. Also, don’t forget to carry a pump, just in case you need to inflate your tires.
Tip 3: Keep the bike cold
Before you head out, make sure that you give your bike some time to adjust to the weather, especially if there’s a huge temperature difference indoors and outdoors. If you keep the bike at room temperature and directly bring it out in the cold, you might risk ice forming in your gears. This can lead to some nasty accidents.
So make sure that you keep your bike in the garage for a while before taking it out.
Tip 4: Fuel up your body before the ride
Ask any seasoned biker and they’ll tell you how important it is to fuel up your body before you go on a ride. This is especially true in freezing temperatures where you’re expending more energy. So always make sure to load up with nutritious foods. Also if possible, carry a warm drink in a flask.
Tip 5: Opt for a fat bike
If you have an option from a few bikes to ride in the cold weather, always choose a fat bike. Also if you’re looking to buy a new bike just for winter commuting, this is your ideal pick. That’s because the wide tires of a fat bike provide you with a nice grip which goes a long way on slippery frozen roads.
Wide tires also will help you to ride through snow and you won’t have to worry about your tires sinking right in. Moreover, you can easily avoid ruts on frozen roads. All in all, it’s the most comfortable and wise cycle choice.
Tip 6: Install lights on your bike
Installing lights on your bicycle is a wise decision all around the year, but it holds especially true as winter sets in. This is because we get very few daylight hours during the freezing months.
Today you can purchase led lights just for this purpose. They’re inexpensive, bright, and just do the job!
Tip 7: Maintain your bike
Maintenance is also something which you should keep up all year long. However, winter brings in some new set of challenges. This is because chains and gears can accumulate snow and dirt and just create a mess. In order to avoid this from happening, make sure to wash your bike regularly. Also, keep the chain oiled and check the cables regularly.
Tip 8: Use public transport to take a break
If you have a long-distance to cover on a dead cold day, sometimes even taking all the precautions just doesn’t cut it.
On such days when you simply can’t muster the energy or you need a break, consider taking public transport. However, check beforehand if bicycles are allowed.
Tip 9: Keep weather conditions in mind
Last but not the least, always check the weather conditions before you head out with your bike. Even if you’re an adventurous soul, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
So if the weather forecast calls for heavy snow or icy conditions skip the bike altogether and just take public transport.