Look after your drivetrain and put the WIN back into winter (not sorry).
When the weather takes a downward turn, the majority of cyclists will feel a knot of dread in the pit of their stomachs as memories of the previous winter creep into their brain. The difficulty of waking up in the dark and the extra 10 minutes required to put on additional layers. The mid-ride moment when you wonder whether your fingers and toes are indeed still attached to the rest of your body. Remembering to charge your lights in the evening and stuff your shoes with newspaper in the hope that they’ll dry. Locating a coffee stop where you can sit inside, but maintain a permanent gaze upon your beloved steed...
The perpetual need to clean your bicycle.
The first of those downsides are overcome by the sheer love of riding your bike. Or the extreme competitiveness that drives you to train in any conditions. The latter must be dealt with pragmatically. Unlike summer, you can’t just climb off your bike, caress the top tube affectionately and leave it alone until the next ride. No. You must clean it after almost every ride. BUT if you do, it’s a small job regularly, instead of a big job occasionally (plus a chunk of cash for new parts).
We’ve been using a Wend waxed chain throughout the summer. A waxed chain doesn’t pick up as much grit and grime as a lubed chain, due to the paraffin-based formula that includes proprietary friction reducers.
Don’t believe me? Check out this video:
However, after being caught in a downpour, or after riding on very wet roads I still recommend the following:
1. Take a dry rag and wipe your bike down, absorbing the worst of the wetness and brushing away excess grit. Pay particular attention to moving parts.
2. Apply Wax-Off to a clean rag and pass your chain through it until it’s shining once more.
3. Re-apply a generous layer of Wax-On, massaging it into the chain thoroughly.
4. Grab the Wax-Off again and apply a small dribble to your fingertips, brushing it along the top side of your chain through an entire crank revolution.
5. If you commute by bike, keep a rag at work and use it to dry your bike components when you arrive. A Wend Pocket Wax is perfect in this scenario if you need to top up, as it’ll ensure you get home squeak-free.
If you leave your bike indoors in a warm environment, but with wet components, you’re asking for a good rusting. This breakdown of the metal via chemical reaction weakens your components, which could lead to an eventual catastrophic failure and an expensive trip to the local bike shop.
Prior to failure, your bike will give you a few chances to save it. It’ll do this via a variety of clicking, rubbing and/or squeaking noises, and you don’t want to be the person riding the noisy bike for 4 hours… If you start to hear noises, give your bike a once-over and look out for rust spots or areas where water may have crept in. Some parts (such as the bottom bracket) may need cleaning and re-greasing; a cheaper option than a complete replacement.
So, in order to keep your bike on the road and running smoothly (and silently), and to save yourself unnecessary expenditure (or embarrassment), get into the habit of sprucing your bike after every winter ride. It’ll be a very worthwhile 10 minutes.