Bike tips: How to make it through winter

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Snow, ice, slippery ground – in the Simplon Magazine, we’ll spill the beans on the most important tips for biking in winter. Read more here! 

Winter is coming! Tips for biking in winter

Icy roads and snow-covered trails – for some, that’s a reason to put away their bike for winter. For others, the hunt for icy thrill has just begun. Or are you among those who use their bike to get to work every day – unphased by seasons and weather conditions? 

No matter which winter bike type you are, with the right riding technique and equipment, safety in the snow is guaranteed! Simplon has a few tips on how to make it through the colder months with your bike … 

3 riding technique tips

Uphill, downhill, through narrow curves and all that on snow slush and frozen ground. Before you know it, you could end up on the ground spread-eagled on the ice. To prevent that from happening, it’s important to ride more defensively. Slow down, stop pedalling in the curves and avoid braking sharply. 

The riding technique tips in detail: 

Taking curves the right way 

Mountain bikers love curves. But what about riding curves in winter? Due to bad grip, the motto is: Keep your feet steady and reduce the speed ahead of every tilt! This lowers the risk of swerving. Helpful too: Keeping the foot on the inside of the curve always in a position to catch you in case the bike slips away. That’s particularly recommended for audacious downhillers.

Uphill fast

You want to take your bike on a mountain tour in winter as well? Then you should keep one thing in mind: There’s less traction while riding in the snow. If you’re going uphill, you’ll quickly be pushing the limits of your endurance. So: Stay put on your saddle and try to steadily and continuously push the pedals! On steeper passages, try to shift the weight and, thus, your centre of gravity to the front. You can do that by sliding forward on to the tip of the saddle. 

Look ahead!

That’s part of the riding technique as well: looking ahead! Keep your eyes focused on what’s upfront. That’s how you can brake in a more controlled manner – without sudden movements and steering manoeuvres or dangerous jinks. The same holds true for downhill sessions with the mountain bike. The secret sauce: Always keep an eye on the ideal line and tilt your head towards the end of the curve! 
 

Wide tyres

City and trekking tyres with proper profile are usually sufficient for a ride in winter. The wider the tyres, the more grip and comfort you’ll have though. For an extra adrenaline kick: Use studded tyres! Blunt metal studs in the outer tyre ensure that the bike has enough traction to make it safely through the curves and when braking on slippery ground, you can bring the bike to a halt fast.  

Let the air out!

Mountain bike, road bike or trekking bike – in wintry conditions, we recommend letting a bit of air out of your tyres. This increases traction and helps you stay safe on icy ground. The general guideline regarding tyre pressure: the lower it is, the higher the comfort and traction. At the same time, the risk of getting a flat tyre increases. The higher the pressure, the lower the rolling friction and wear of the tyre. 

Lights on!

The days are getting shorter. You’re riding in the dark and in poor visibility conditions – in snowfall, rain or fog – more often. On night rides: Keep your lights on! Be it a battery-powered lamp on the handlebars or the dynamo-powered light system: Front and rear lights as well as reflectors are a must – in order to see and be seen.

The proper equipment

How do you know you’re appropriately dressed for a ride in winter? When getting dressed takes you almost as long as the tour itself! Yes, it is a little annoying to dress like an onion, but also incredibly important! Multiple thin layers of breathable clothing, a rain jacket, warm socks, gloves, hat, scarf and the like keep you warm. 

Keep it clean!

Ice and road salt don’t bother you? Well, the same isn’t true for your bike! When road salt sticks to the bike, it can cause rusty spots. To make sure the crystals don’t take hold in the bearings, you should rinse down your bike with water after every winter tour. Then store it away at a sheltered location. Ideally, you should also grease the chain, shift and brake cables as well as joints and bearings every once in a while. 

Don’t overestimate your abilities!

If you venture out to hit the ice in winter, you have to be prepared for an entirely new riding experience. Familiar routes that you know like the back of your hand can quickly become slippery challenges. Opt for a more cautious approach! 

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