The Four-Season Commuter: Your Winter-Ready Bike
What you need to keep riding through slush season
For many people, the arrival of fall means the end of bike commuting season. This doesn’t have to happen to you.
For advice on commuting in the cold months, we reached out to Massachusetts-based Belmont Wheelworks, recently voted one of the best bike shops in the country by our readers. We spoke to Wheelworks co-founder and part-owner Peter Mooney for advice on getting your ride winter-ready. Also see parts one and three of this series: What to Wear and Staying Safe.
Your Bicycle: When conditions aren’t ideal, you probably shouldn’t subject your high-end road bike to the elements. “Ride an old beater,” suggests Mooney. “Bicycles that end up going through the winters, they age a lot faster—I’d say, three or four times faster.”
Maintenance: “The road salt is absolutely devastating to a bicycle. In cities they dump an incredible amount. If your bicycle starts getting that white patina of salty flakes, it’s been too long. The best thing for a salty bicycle is a garden hose. [Also], run a little heavier lubrication on your chain.”
Fenders: “You want something with fenders. When it’s cold like that, if you end up getting your feet, your back, your legs all wet, you’re going to get uncomfortable much faster.” Detachable fenders are also available.
Tires: If you have the option, switching to studded tires can be a good choice for winter riding. “They do give you a little peace of mind and every year they seem to get better,” said Mooney. If your bike can accommodate tires with a wider section width, that would also be a good way to increase your traction on potentially hazardous surfaces, he said.
If you’re going to be riding in the snow—although this definitely goes a step beyond simple winter commuting—Mooney suggests you consider a bike with fat tires, also known as a "fat bike."