At the Crest CC we tend to put our nicer bikes away about October/November and switch to dedicated winter bikes for a few months. Not all riders do this so I thought I’d take the time to explain why we do.
Typically a winter bike will be cheaper and lower specification than your lightweight carbon treasure, fitted with mudguards, winter tyres and with stronger wheels. So here are some reasons why we use them.
- Mudguards (with mudflaps) on a winter bike keep us and our bikes cleaner, drier and therefore warmer. This is especially true when riding in a group on wet, muddy lanes which can turn in to a pretty grim experience on a mudguard free ride. If all attentees are ‘guarded’ up the effect of poor weather and road conditions is minimised to the point where the riders produce less spray from their wheels and so a more enjoyable ride for all.
- Winter tyres mean more grip and fewer punctures. Punctures can plague group rides if everyday tyres are being used where the roads are less forgiving.
- The roads in the winter are dirtier and often with salt residue, both of which cause corrosion to bike parts. We don’t want our more expensive bikes to suffer this so a lower spec winter bike saves money in the long run.
- Thick socks and overshoes can lead to the inside of a riders heel rubbing on the chainstay. Carbon frames are less durable than a steel or aluminium frame.
- There tend to be more potholes on the roads in the winter and they are more likely to be hidden under surface water. The stronger wheels on a winter bike are more likely to cope with a pothole hit that a lightweight wheel.
Points one and two are the most important as they benefit the whole group. Mudguards and heavier duty tyres quite simply make winter group rides more enjoyable which is what it should be all about. The others points are more of a personal choice as they don’t really effect others. Some club members have a single bike that they adapt for the winter by adding mudguards and swapping the tyres for dedicated winter ones.
So if you don’t have a winter bike, don’t let the tradition many cycling clubs have of using them for the worst months of the year put you off coming out with us. You are welcome to join us on whatever bike will get you round. And if after a few weeks you become a regular we’ll be very happy to help you get some mudguards and tougher tyres on your bike for the winter. Once you’ve seen the benefits of them you’ll want nothing less.