October 4, 2021
Biking in the colder months can be a very different experience from riding in the summer. If you bike in an area where temperatures drop substantially from October to March, you should be prepared for the road ahead. The right gear and maintenance practices can keep you riding through whatever mother nature has in store.
Whenever fall rolls around, you should be sure that your bike is in good condition for the weather. As rain and other inclement weather return, tires, rims, and frames tend to pick up dirt and dust. While dirt won't necessarily ruin your ride, it can clog brakes and other key parts and introduce rust over long periods. After riding, always check the condition of your bike and give it a quick clean if necessary.
Because leaves, puddles, and even ice can impact the performance of your tires, it is important to equip yourself with tires appropriate for the season. Your choice of tires is highly personal, but it's usually preferable to use thicker, more abrasive tires than smaller, smoother ones.
Fall and winter weather can generally be sorted into two categories: wet and cold. For either condition, layering is key.
If you see rain or sleet in the forecast, you should bring a high-quality, breathable, waterproof shell with you on your ride. While it can be tempting to bring the toughest, most waterproof parka you can possibly find, you can still overheat in cold weather, resulting in sweaty, smelly, and, most counterproductively, wet garments. Let your other layers do the warming and remove them as needed.
If you have never biked through a snowy winter street, you may be in for a rude awakening. Should you try to ride without properly equipping yourself for the weather, you will quickly grow to understand why weather channels incorporate wind chill into overall daily temperatures.
The solution is covering up. The more skin you can cover with windproof gear, the less wind chill you are likely to feel. As you get good at dressing and layering, winter riding can even become comfortable.
When packing for rough weather, make sure you have room for extra garments and supplies. Though a backpack can sometimes do the trick, specialized pannier and messenger bags maintain your bike's balance and leave plenty of room for your things. Whenever you head out, make sure to have on hand:
Unless you plan to ride only during the brightest hours of the day, you should also equip yourself with front and rear-facing lights. Fall and winter nights are long, so safety should be a key priority.
When biking, you should always have water on hand, as dehydration can creep up rapidly during extreme exertion. Food can also help to restore electrolytes and keep you alert and aware.
If you commute to work, the suggestions outlined above are particularly important. Most commutes take place in the early morning and late afternoon, so lights, safety gear, and warm clothes are essential. Remember, never attempt a commute without proper equipment. Plan your route and check the weather before leaving home.
Riding through the fall and winter can keep you active, fit, and happy. Doing so, however, takes a little more preparation than cycling during the spring and summer. Among the most important steps is to equip yourself with a good ride. For some of the best, check out our full line of Sixthreezero electric and standard bikes.