It goes without saying we’ve had a very short riding season this year, but the onset of winter doesn’t have to mean hanging up your helmet; a bit of the old three Ps – Preparation, Prevention and Protection – means you can ride right through ‘til spring, and keep your bike in top condition too. Here’s how;
The first thing you should be thinking about is your tyres – they are the vital link between you and the road, and need more attention during the winter months.
Most manufacturers offer specific winter tyres that are designed to cope with the low temperatures and the increased amount of water on the roads. If you can afford to invest in a set, do so. If you can’t, make sure you have plenty of tread on your existing ones and check pressures and their condition before every ride.
Punctures are also more likely when the rain starts falling – the water acts as a lubricant for nails and screws etc. It’s worth thinking about a tyre sealant to reduce the risk, and carrying a puncture repair kit with you.
Key to staying warmer and dryer on your bike is reducing the amount of wind and rain you’re exposed to. Fitting a larger touring-type screen, double bubble (for sports bikes), or fly screen (on a naked bike) can go a long way to keeping you protected from water and windchill and is worth the investment.
A set of heated grips and / or handlebar muffs will keep your hands warm, and means you can opt for a less bulky winter glove too.
Looking after your battery is also important – especially if you’re going to be running heated grips or clothing. Low temperatures have a significant impact on batteries and it’s worth upgrading to a larger capacity battery, (with a higher Ah rating), if you’re powering lots of accessories..
Using a smart charger, like the Gear Gremlin 12v Intelligent Battery Charger, will help keep your battery in tip top condition too. Most are fully automatic, so can just be plugged in and forgotten whenever the bike is stored between rides.
Clean and protect
Left unchecked, water and salt can cause lasting and irreparable damage to your bike, so it’s crucial to properly clean, dry and treat it on a regular basis.
It’s equally important to choose the right product, as some cleaning solutions can do more harm than good. An all-in one cleaner like Silkolene Wash Off will cut through the grease and grime without damaging sensitive surfaces.
Make sure you rinse it properly, dry it with a chamois / soft cloth (air-drying leaves marks) and then give it a dose of corrosion protection with something like Scottoiler FS365, for extra defence against salt.
Don’t forget your chain. Again, use a specific cleaner like Silkolene Pro Chain, rinse and dry thoroughly, and then apply an even coating of chain lube. Also consider fitting an automatic chain lube system, like the Scottoiler.
If you’re storing your bike outside, a good quality cover will keep off rain, frost, snow, spray from passing vehicles and guard against UV exposure – as well as prying eyes.
Get the best you can afford – something like the RiDE Recommended Gear Gremlin Classic Neon Cover – and make sure it’s waterproof; allows moisture to escape; is shaped to fit properly and has an elasticated bottom to stop it coming off in the wind.
Next time… Home and Dry: what to wear