Winter is here (for the TWB team in the UK at least) and that means almost constant rain and trails that are always muddy. As much fun as these conditions are to ride in, all that mud and water does take its toll on the bike, so here some tips to help your expensive mountain bike survive the winter grind.
Clean your bike
An obvious but essential tip this one. Mechanical parts on a mountain bike don’t really take too kindly to being caked in mud and asked to still work flawlessly despite such horrible conditions. Metal and water don’t mix, but regular and thorough cleaning will prevent rapid deterioration. Jet washing a bike isn’t ideal but provided you are careful it’s a fast way of clearing the bike of mud. Follow up with a proper clean with a bucket and brush/sponge.
Use the time cleaning your bike to carefully inspect it. There’s a lot more wear and tear on the many components of your bike, and, in particular, pay attention chain, cassette and chainring teeth, cables, brake pads, bottom bracket and headset bearings and pivot bearings. Spot any potential problems before they become a problem during a ride.
A pair of winter tyres, with deep spikes and open tread pattern to avoid clogging, can transform riding in the winter. Instead of slithering around struggling for grip, mud tyres will provide a lot more traction. They’ll also clear better than regular tyres so your bike won’t get all clogged up.
Lower tyre pressure
Along with tyre choice, tyre pressure is hugely important when tackling the mud. Generally you want to go with a little less air pressure to provide you with more traction when it gets muddy. Like tyre choice, though, it can be dependent on your local terrain. Do you ride somewhere rocky or rooty? And the tyres you choose will influence the pressure. Our advice is to don’t be afraid to experiment until you find a good balance.
Lube your chain
Choose a lube designed for wet weather conditions, as any oil can quickly and easily be washed off the chain when riding through deep snow and slush. To ensure your bike runs smoothly, make sure to lube the chain before and after each ride. There’s a huge choice of lubes but generally a wet lube will be better suited to riding in mud. If it’s dry and frozen a dry lube will work well, but dry lubes need more regular application.
There will undoubtedly be a lot of mud and crap being thrown up into the air and much of it will land on your body, which as anyone who has experienced this will know is very unpleasant. So stay warm and dry with a set of front and rear mudguards. Okay, so we know they’re unfashionable and all, but they provide a good first line of defence against the slop coating you from head to toe. We’d always step out with some sort of front guard at the very least.
Protect your frame
Riding in mud can cause more damage to the paint work of your bike, with muddy shorts or trousers rubbing against the frame when pedalling, acting like a sandpaper on the delicate paint. Adding a clear plastic tape, such as InvisiFrame Bike Protection, will protect your frame from such damage. It comes n pre-shaped cut sections so it’s really easy to fit to the frame.
Pack tools and spares
Having a mechanical is bad enough at the best of times, but when it’s pouring with rain or your toes are frozen, it’s the last thing you want to deal with. Make sure to carry all the essential tools and spares you need to keep your bike rolling on a ride. At the very least carry a spare tube, decent pump, tyre levers if you need them, and a high-quality multitool with a chain breaker. Other things to consider are spare brake pads, a spare mech hanger, and a few spare chain links can be a good move too.