Winterizing Your Bike
So, have you decided to try and do some winter riding? If the answer is yes (and even if it’s no) then read on…
Your drivetrain is the first place to start: A high viscosity or “thicker” lubricant should be used for wet weather (spring, fall and winter) because it has a higher resistance to being washed away.
If you have front shocks then a lighter weight oil must be used for the colder weather – check your owner’s manual (or your bike shop) for the specifics. Also, make sure your shock boots are in good shape to keep the water (and eventually ice) from getting into the fork.
You may want to consider using a headset protectors such as Lizardskins which helps prevent water from getting into the headset.
Clipless pedals should be lubricated more frequently to prevent the pedal mechanisms from icing up.
If you’re riding with a slick tire or one with a less aggressive tread, switch to a knobbier tire to provide more traction in the snow.
AND, for the minority of you who aren’t planning to ride in the colder weather and plan to actually store your bike away….read on:
You should, as a minimum, perform the following maintenance before putting it away: clean and lubricate your complete drivetrain. Over the summer you may have had water drip into your seat tube which could sit inside the bottom bracket and potentially rust out your frame or bottom bracket. Take your seat post out, turn your bike upside down and leave it that way for a day or two. After uprighting it, put some WD-40 (or equivalent) down into the seat tube to displace any moisture which may remain and to provide protection in the future. The off-season may also be the time to make those repairs which you’ve been putting off all summer – changing the freewheel, chain, chain rings, overhauling the hubs, bottom bracket, headset, etc. Or maybe upgrading some of your components: stem, bars, shifters, derailleurs or brakes.
Remember, hurry up and get at that work because, before you know it, that warm sunny spring day will be here and you won’t be ready for it.