We've had quite a winter so far here in Philadelphia, and our bikes being covered in salt and unidentifiable crust is evidence. Sand, salt, ice, snow, grime and the ever present usual Philly filth is on every single road in the city. While we might think the cold in our face is the worst part, our bikes would definitely disagree. Our bikes are a valuable tool and if you treat them right in the winter months you can save yourself some costly repairs in the spring.
- Clean your bike -
This may sound like no-brainer mixed with nuisance. It is incredibly important to keep all the moving parts clean and free of debris so they don't wear out quicker, but who wants to clean their bike every time they use it? The trick to remembering and actually doing
it is making it easy on yourself
. It may not be glamorous, but just leave a rag inside your door. You'll get to wipe off your bike before you get all comfortable and don't feel like it, plus it's way easier than cleaning it once everything has dried and crusted up. A damp rag is enough for light daily cleaning, and for a deeper clean we stock Green Fizz
and Bike Lust
which are both made specifically for cleaning and polishing up your whole bike.
Important places to clean up: Brakes, around the bottom bracket, under the headset and anywhere else that looks particularly gross that day.
- Lubricate your chain -
The chain is the unsung hero of your bike. It's not exciting, but it literally is the singular most important part when it comes to turning your efforts into forward motion. They get super dirty in wet, grimy conditions which is terrible for not only the chain but the entire drive train. Luckily for you, cleaning and lubing chains is easy and when done right isn't even very messy.
How to: Lean your bike against a wall. Pour any biodegradable degreaser onto a rag and hold it around your chain with one hand and pedal backwards with the other hand to run the chain through the rag. Now that the loose grit is gone, it's time to lube it. We sell various chain lubes here at the shop such as T9
which are inexpensive and are made specifically for bike chains (WD-40 may seem like a decent alternative but it's designed to be more of a solvent than lubricant). The aerosol T9 even has the added benefit of preventing corrosion when sprayed into your frame and other steel parts. To apply lube, drip it onto your chain while pedaling backwards with your right hand. Now wipe the excess off and you're done! This will keep the moving parts working better longer for sure and only takes 10-15 minutes max. We recommend doing this once a week for daily commuters.
- Put thicker, tougher tires on -
This is good for two reasons; if you ride in gross conditions you'll have more control, and tougher tires will less likely strand you with a flat tire you'll have to freeze your fingers to fix. If you have more control you're less likely to fall and hurt yourself or damage your bike, and if you don't have to worry about flat tires as much you'll be more likely to ride your bike often and with confidence.
- A note about full fenders -
Ok, so this isn't really bike maintenance BUT full fenders have a number of maintenance related benefits so it seemed fitting to include them. If you use full fenders
(generally $45 and up here at the shop), you have less cleaning to do on your bike because the fenders not only keep you dry and clean, but they keep your bike mostly dry and clean, too. They catch the road grossness before it even gets on your bike which saves you time cleaning and makes riding less messy all around.
Your bike does a lot for you and is a piece of equipment you've likely invested hundreds of dollars in. By doing these small but important things throughout the winter it will thank you for sure.