Just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean you should pack your mountain bike away in the garage for a few months. While those ride to work cyclists may jump back on a bus at the first sign of frost or a little rain, you’re made of much sterner stuff.
You’ve spent most of the summer getting to grips with your full suspension mountain bike, now it’s time to try it out in those difficult winter conditions. Here’s all you need to know.
Hitting the trails
Timing is key in winter. If parts of the trail are frozen you may want to head out early, about 10 o’clock or so. This means you’ll hit the exposed bits of the trail before the sun softens them and it gets too muddy. If it’s been snowing, give it a little longer – maybe until around 1 after the snow has started to soften a bit. You also need to think about your timeframe of light. Opting for an earlier ride to make the most of the daylight is a good option; but if you’re really adventurous why not opt for a night-time ride? With some good quality lights, you’ll be set.
Some trails become almost impossible in winter; you don’t want to be pushing through too much mud; or worse yet, wet clay. If they’re the trails you’ve been riding for a while you’ll know where is suitable. It’s also a good idea to head to some trail centres in winter as they’re always well maintained.
Fixing up your bike
You know the importance of keeping your bike properly maintained, but when winter comes along you’ll also need to make some slight modifications too. Winter tyres are always your first port of call. The wider tread will help you lose the mud, and you’ll need that extra grip. It’s important not to make them too wide however, as you may not have enough clearance in your frame.
You may also want to change up your brakes. Disc brakes as opposed to Vs are much better in these conditions as they aren’t affected by dirt at the rim and so help you to stop much better.
Getting yourself kitted out
Layering is important when riding in winter. If you’re battling through tough conditions you’ll start to sweat, while when hitting a fast downhill you’ll feel the chill. If you layer, you can adjust depending on the action. If you haven’t already (which you should have anyway), kit yourself out with some good quality gloves, if you come off in difficult conditions you’ll want the protection as well as the warmth. You also need to think of the extra pressure on your hands is you’re fighting through the mud. Choosing some endurance mitts from Scott bikes for example will be ideal for those long tough winter days. We don’t have to remind you about your helmet either do we?
And remember; look after your bike following each ride. If it’s clogged up with mud get cleaning. You’ll appreciate it next time you ride.