cycling · fitness · winter

Sam’s real obstacle to winter riding: bike cleaning

In many ways I love winter riding. One of my best rides ever was in a blizzard that closed our city of London, Ontario. Motor vehicles were advised to stay off the streets. But I’d ridden to work, I stayed late, and I had to get me and the bike home. I was going to have to walk anyway so I may as well take my bike. I figured I’d ride as much as I could and otherwise walk the bike.

It was magical. There were no cars on the streets. There was snow falling. I was shocked at how easy it was without cars to worry about.

And in recent years I’ve fallen in love with fat biking. Biking through the fields and woods, making quiet tracks through the snow.

Bike commuting for work though is different. There is traffic. Often there isn’t snow. There’s slush and ice and salt and dirt and it’s anything but magical most days. Riding on the road in those sorts of conditions is hard on your bike.

Some people have, or purchase, a beater bike for winter commuting. You ride them into the ground and dispose of them when done. I could do that. But I have a nice bike for commuting with lights and panniers. I want to ride that bike. And that means keeping it clean.

Here’s Momentum Mag on keeping your bike clean for winter riding.

Why does it matter? Grit gets in your chain and then in your moving components. Pretty soon parts need replacing rather than just cleaning.

“After each ride out in snowy, salty conditions, wipe down your bike, making sure to get slush and snow off your rims, spokes, chainrings, cogset, chain, brake cables, cranks and frame to prevent rusting. You wouldn’t put dirty pots back in the cupboard. You wouldn’t put grimy cycling shorts back in your drawer. Store your bike clean!”

I find the challenge in winter is finding a place to clean the bike. Not indoors. Messy! Not outdoors. Brrr! And winter lube means you need to clean the chain before reapplying more. It’s higher maintenance than the summer stuff.

Luckily last week we had one day when it was 4 degrees so here’s me and Cheddar cleaning my bike in the yard.

One thought on “Sam’s real obstacle to winter riding: bike cleaning

  1. I commute almost 2 hours a day in Montreal on a high end gravel bike. In the winter, I have a 5ft long plastic sled that my bike sits in in the hallway of my apartment, and when it’s slushy out I spend 5 minutes each night with a bucket of soapy water and a rag rincing off the salt, focusing on the derailleurs, brakes and chain. when the roads are dry, I wash it about once a week.

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