Winter Bike Clinic Wrap Up
Thank you all for coming out to the Winter Bike Clinic! We had some great discussions about how to make riding year round part of your routine. Here's a summary of our discussion from Wednesday night, with more to come later.
If you're interested in reading more about winter biking, we highly recommend Tom Babin's Frostbike. We have a copy in our store library, and we recommend curling up on our cozy couches (yes, we have cozy couches!) with a tasty latte while thinking about winter riding.
Winter bike basics
You: Stay warm and dry. Start your ride a little cool (not frigid, just cool), and your body will warm as you ride. Protect your hands, ears, and feet with warm gloves, a toque, and wool socks. Dress in layers so you can easily take add/remove warmth as needed. Wool = warm! Stay dry with rain layers, jacket and pants. Think outside the "bike" section of stores - the ski section can be your friend at MEC, and of course we have a good selection of winter gear here at LBC. Goretex offers best outer shell protection, but $$$. Ride slow, avoid sweating, enjoy yourself!
Your bike: use studded tires to keep you from slipping, fenders to keep you dry, bright lights (red in the rear, white in the front, use solid lights, no flashing!) to keep you visible, and have waterproof/resistant storage to carry your belongings. Clean your bike regularly: a bucket of warm soapy water in the driveway, or a self-serve car wash can serve your purpose. Wash from the top-down, and try to avoid spraying your hubs directly. Live in an apartment and tight for space? Try the back alley, or your bath tub (yes, I do this regularly with my Brompton!). Regular chain cleaning/lubing is essential to maintain your drivetrain. Grit from the winter is harsh, keeping your drivetrain clean will extend its life. Tires? Studded are essential for safe winter riding. If you do one thing this winter, get at least one studded tire (on the front of your bike). Keep the tire pressure on the lower end of the recommended range. Store your bike inside where it can be dry if you have space. Get your bike professionally serviced, (especially any grease-packed hubs!) in the spring once the salt is clear. If you're riding every day, a mid-season service might not hurt, either.
Which bike? It doesn't really matter, any bike can be a good winter bike. BUT any bike you ride will take lots of abuse. Aluminium doesn't rust, powder coated bikes (like Simcoe and Detroit Bikes) are intended to stand up to harsher conditions than painted bikes. Single speed is simple and clean, and internal gear hubs can give you some assistance without a derailleur to collect road grime. Fat bikes can be really fun, but are less practical the longer your commute. A POS bike from Kijiji with studded tires can be your best option for a winter ride. Always consult your local bike shop to make sure it's safe!
London's climate is fairly easy for winter riding. Apart from a few large snow storms, the temperatures aren't very extreme in Southern Ontario compared to Minneapolis, and we get much less snow than Montreal. Pick and choose your riding days; you don't have to ride every day. Rain is as big an issue as snowfall in the winters in London. What starts as fluffy snow in the morning can turn to slushy nasty rain in the afternoon. That rain might clear the roads in the afternoon, but freeze overnight creating black ice. Ride slow. Be cautious.
Average temperature / snow (cm) / rain (mm)
December: -0.9 / 48 / 47
January: -5.6 / 49 / 33
February: -4.5 / 38 / 33
March: -0.1 / 29 / 46
Community: join the Frostbike Facebook Group. Use #LdnOntBike on Twitter. Help each other out. Find buddies to ride with. Come out for winter bike day (tentatively February 9!) Winter riding can be amazing and fun!!
Winter biking can be for everyone. In some parts of the winter world, riding all seasons is just a normal, regular activity. Let's make it normal here, too. We're a winter country, let's be proud of that and enjoy the peaceful silence of fresh tracks on new snow.
Happy Frostbiking, everyone!