Avid mountain bikers will know that every season is mountain biking season. Don’t think that biking is limited to the warmer, drier months. The change in season will also call for a change in bike maintenance, preparation, biking precautions, and aftercare.
Mountain biking in winter requires winter tires or a decrease in air pressure, weather-specific lubricant for components to avoid corrosion, mudguards, and proper post-ride cleaning. Riders must wear waterproof gloves, clothes, and shoes, adjust their braking techniques and use clipless pedals.
Prepping Your Bike For Winter Riding
The pre-ride care of your bike will differ slightly in the winter months as you will need to consider the temperature, terrain, and moisture.
Preparing Your Tires For Winter Biking
Unless you have dedicated winter tires, the pressure you use in the summer will differ from winter. It is better to have your bike tires at a lower pressure when the trails are wetter and more slippery. Reducing pressure by 10psi ensures better grip and traction, especially when braking. If you take winter biking seriously, you should invest in winter tires or tires with longer spikes.
Lubricating Your Chains
Using lubricant (specifically for bikes) on your chains and cables will protect your components from weather conditions that may lead to rusting or faulting. Be sure to use a lubricant for wet conditions, as this will ensure that it acts as a deterrent. Always ensure that your chain is clean before you apply the lubricant.
Mudguards For Winter Mountain Biking
Installing mudguards for winter biking is essential. It will protect the bike and the rider from any splashes of mud that may cause interference. As much as you don’t want mud in your eyes, you don’t want mud corroding your bike’s vital parts. Mudguards will also make your post-ride clean-up easier.
Prepping Yourself For Winter Riding
A wardrobe change is required here. You will want to kit yourself in warm, functional, and waterproof gear. Waterproof gloves and shoes are recommended. Wear goggles may be a good idea; otherwise, glasses should suffice.
And as with any mountain biking excursion, stay hydrated! You may exert more energy due to the change in conditions, so don’t skimp on the water just because it’s colder. Just as you would prepare for any mountain bike ride, you should have your essentials and emergency kit, especially during winter.
How Will Muddy Conditions Affect Your Ride?
The main issue with mud is what it does to the bike itself. Depending on the mud you encounter, your ride could be a bit more slippery, require harder pedaling, or be unaffected. Preparing your bike for these conditions, as well as the aftercare cleaning, is extremely vital to the well-being of your bike.
Mud can wreak havoc on every inch of your bike. It has a talent for reaching the most intimate places. By not taking care of your bike after a muddy ride, you could be faced with parts that have seized and corroded.
How Will Wet Weather Mountain Biking Affect Your Ride?
Like mud, snow and rain will impact your ride and bike. If your chains, cables, and bolt haven’t been treated with the appropriate grease, the cold, wet climate will cause them to deteriorate.
Biking In The Rain
The main concern here would be braking. Wetter conditions will see you losing traction and grip, and your braking technique will have to be altered. Many riders prefer the “feathering” technique when braking in wet conditions. Clipless bike pedals are preferable for rain as they prevent slipping. Braking when descending in wet conditions should be avoided.
Biking In The Snow
The snow can be fickle when it comes to mountain biking. Some areas of snow will offer excellent traction and grip, whereas others may send you sliding. The terrain will be concealed to an extent depending on the depth of the snowfall. If there is a thick snow blanket, you may want to consider fat biking instead.
Aftercare Of Your Bike When Riding In Winter
This is perhaps the most crucial part of mountain biking in winter. If you fail to clean your bike after a winter ride, your bike may not be fit for riding come springtime. If your bike is caked with mud, rinse it, pat it dry, wipe everything down and reapply the lubricant. Check all the hidden spaces and crevices for any mud that may be concealed.
If your bike is wet from the snow or rain, dry it off and reapply the lubricant. Store your bike indoors or somewhere dry and not too cold. Certain parts of your bike may require servicing by a professional to keep it in the best condition.
Your suspension may require new seals and lubricant to see through winter. For an in-depth tutorial on cleaning your bike, you can check out Berm Peaks’ video on YouTube.
Mountain biking in the winter is an exciting experience that adds a new layer of appreciation to your outdoor adventures. Your bike will require some extra TLC during this time.