Prepping For Winter Bike Commuting (Part 3 of 3)

It’s time to wrap up this topic. There’s a good 3 months left of snowy biking and honestly, I’m anxiously looking forward to taking off the studded winter tires and feeling the speed and freedom of leaving all that weight behind. But until spring comes, here are some final thoughts on getting the most out of commuting by bike in the winter.

Know your chain

Winter biking is super tough on your chain. Due to moisture from ice and snow, and wear from sand, salt and chemicals used on roads, a bike chain can rust very quickly in the winter. And rusty chains have a nasty habit of snapping when it’s really cold or you are far from home. Maintaining a healthy chain is the best protection. Regularly using a chain lube rated for cold weather is a good idea. Also, give your chain a good wipe down with a rag when you get home. It’s also a good idea to have a multi tool and spare quick-link, and the knowledge of how to use them in case you do snap a chain while out. This is good to practice at home so you are not left out in the cold with frozen hands trying to figure it out. Otherwise go on to the next tip.

a picture of chain lube from Muc-Off made for einter conditions

Carry emergency taxi cash (or a charged phone to Uber)

I always carry a $20 bill stashed away in my bike pump/multi-tool. It can be a life saver if your bike breaks down and you need to get a taxi home. Similarly, keep a good charge on your phone so you can call an Uber. I like to have the emergency cash on hand just in case I’m stuck in a situation where I need to get home, my bike is broken and my phone is dying. In the days before Covid-19, the emergency cash was also good for running into a friend and grabbing an emergency pint of beer.

Wash when the weather is good

Similar to maintaining your chain, it’s a good idea to regularly give your bike a wash in the winter to get rid of all the winter grime that collects quickly. A simple bucket of soapy water and a quick rinse is a good idea, but degreasing your drive train then lubricating it, and greasing axle bolts is also a good way of avoiding break downs, rust, and extending the life of your bike components. I try to keep an eye on the weather for warmer days to do this once every week or two.

In a rush? Leave the bike at home.

Biking in the winter is a great way to stay healthy and commute. However with the added dangers and challenges, it’s never a good idea to head out when you are in a rush. You are more likely to make dumb mistakes or take extra risks. The weather, road conditions, traffic and light conditions should determine your pace and bike ride, not the time.

Lock your shit up!!!!

Finally, a quick reminder that bike thieves are pieces of shit, and they don’t hibernate in the winter. When it’s cold, it might be tempting to use just one bike lock and get inside where it’s warm, especially if you are just popping into a store for a few minutes. But stay diligent and lock your bike up securely each and every time you get off. Thieving pieces of shit only need you to get lazy once. If you want some tips of making your bike more secure check out my previous post on the topic

And that wraps up my gleanings on getting the most out of winter biking.

Stay safe and keep the rubber side down.