It’s been a great summer, but we all know Fall is on the way. Soon enough, everyone will be dealing with lower light and wet, cold conditions. In order to continue riding and commuting safely into the coming months, adjustments have to be made to your ride preparation. Luckily Cycle U is here to help you prepare! Here are some tips and gear suggestions to help you tackle winter weather riding. Whether a first time commuter or a lifelong winter rider, these are some must have tools to get you through Seattle’s rainy days!
- Lights - Unless you are planning your ride or commute smack dab in the middle of the day, chances are part or all of your ride will be in low-to-no-natural light. Not only are bike lights a legal requirement in Washington at night, they are essential for your safety and the safety of others around you. Investing in a good quality front and rear light will certainly give you more peace of mind on the road.The price of lights has gone down considerably in the past couple years. Serfas offers headlights 155 lumens and up starting at only $35. Many lights now available are USB rechargeable, especially convenient for those who commute to work.
- Fenders – Do yourself, your bike, and those riding around you a favor, and fender up! Nothing is less appealing than arriving to your destination with a spray of mud reaching up your back. Adding fenders will not only save you from having a skunk stripe- it will help keep gunk from building up in your drivetrain. A clean bike is a happy bike! You have several different options when it comes to fenders: bolt-on fenders are semi-permanent and once they’re on, you can ride without worrying about maintenance or taking them on and off. For those who like the less-permanent solution, strap on fenders are available as well and take only a minute to remove.
- Layer up!
Make sure your outer gear is bright and visible. Some clothing companies integrate their rain and winter jackets with built in lights and reflective strips (Endura is one example, see our review below). Whatever you wear, make sure it’s bright for low light conditions. This may be a tough decision for some as fluorescent, slightly baggy clothing is not usually not at the top of the fashion list. There is no skimping on safety however, so get used to rocking those 80’s colors! The brighter the better! While you’re at it, other essentials in wet and cold weather riding are: base layers to insulate while keeping you dry, shoe covers to keep your feet warm and long-fingered, insulated gloves. Make sure whatever you buy is truly waterproof, not just water resistant. it gets wet out here!
- Tires and bike maintenance - Keeping your bike clean may be a hassle, but it’s important to go over it regularly and so you can make sure that all the parts are debris free and in good working order. Hosing your dirty bike off is an option, just make sure the spray is light so that none of the parts are damaged, and that the chain is then dried off and lubed. Finally, make sure that you have a set of tires with tread, or appropriate grip if they are road tires. Continental, for instance, makes several road tires options that are both sturdy and extra grippy for wet conditions, such as the Continental Grand Prix Four Seasons or the Continental Gator Hardshell. The former tire is a lighter-weight option that has slightly more grip, while the latter has sturdier flat protection while still offering traction.
By Coach Vanessa