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Enjoy Winter Cycling

With 11 tips from Dedham Bike

"woman cycling in the cold"

11 tips for winter cycling: taking care of your bike and body

When the temperatures drop and the leaves fall, most riders find themselves cycling less. It’s easy to take the car to work or get your exercise somewhere indoors and warm, but fall and winter cycling doesn’t have to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. 

We’ve put together a guide to cold and wet weather riding that will help you keep your bike running smoothly, stay safe out on the roads and trails, and continue to enjoy your time on the bike even in the “off season.”

Taking care of your bike

These 5 tips explain several great practices for keeping your bike running smoothly all winter long. It doesn’t require too much effort, but the right routine and equipment will make a huge difference.

"Muc-Off bike cleaner spraying mountain bike"

1. Clean often

Bikes pick up all sorts of grime and salt in wet and cold weather. Leaving that mess on too long can wreak havoc on your components, and you’ll find yourself spending a bundle on replacements before long. Regular quick cleanings will save you money and keep you riding smoothly.

What to do: 

  • Use a hose to get the gunk off as soon as you get home before any material you’ve picked up has a chance to harden. Really blast the brakes and the drivetrain. 

  • If you can’t use a hose, a quick wipe down with a rag can reach most places.

  • Use a chain cleaning tool and a cassette brush, or make your own with household items.

  • Wipe off your grips and saddle so that the material doesn’t deteriorate over time.

Our favorite: Muc-Off 8-in-1 Bicycle Cleaning Kit


"woman hanging bike on overhead garage rack"

2. Store inside

This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s worth mentioning, as keeping your bike out of the elements is one of the most important things you can do to protect your bike. 

What to do:

  • Store your bike in your garage or shed, preferably will all the tools you need to complete your post ride clean up.

  • If you don’t have space inside, protect your ride with a tarp or special bike cover.

Our favorite: Saris CycleGlide Bike Storage


"Finish Line bike lube being applied"

3. Lube your chain often

If you’re routinely washing the muck off your bike, you’ll need to reapply chain lube more frequently. It only takes a few seconds, and you’ll extend the life of your chain while keeping your gears shifting smoothly.

What to do:

  • For normal conditions, regular bike chain lube works well. For extreme conditions, heavy duty lubricants may work better but at the cost of shortening the chain’s life.

  • Be sure to wipe off the excess; lube left on the outside of the chain will pick up dirt.

Our favorite: Finish Line Wet Lubricant


"all-city bike with fenders"

4. Install fenders

Fenders can make a world of difference when traversing wet roads. Not only do they protect the bike from dirty water and salt spray, they’ll also help keep your feet dry, which if you ask most people is reason enough for picking up a pair.

What to do:

  • Check what sort of fender mounts your bike has if any.

  • Decide on fenders bolt to the frame or ones using a quick release method. Fenders bolted to the frame are generally sturdier, but are harder to clean and can catch debris in snowy/icy conditions.

Our favorite: SKS B65 Commuter II Fenders


"panaracer gravel king SK tire"

5. Swap to bigger, grippier tires

If you put winter tires on your car or truck, you know how beneficial extra traction can be in the colder months. It’s no different for bikes, and having a set of grippy tires for winter cycling can make your ride safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable. You’ll find yourself fishtailing less, cornering with more confidence and stability, and absorbing bumps better.

What to do:

  • Find out how much tire clearance you have and decide if you want to run fenders or not, as they will decrease your maximum tire clearance.

  • Some may want to consider studded tires that offer superior traction for extra icy/snowy conditions.

Our favorites: 


Taking care of your body

Keeping your bike running smoothly is only half the battle when it comes to winter riding. You won’t be admiring how well your bike runs if your hands and feet are going numb. It’s just as important to make sure you’ve got the right gear to keep yourself safe and comfortable so you can continue to enjoy riding all year.

"vehicle behind cyclist with bright taillight"

6. Use front and rear lights

The days are getting shorter and that means there’s a good chance you’ll be riding at night. Overcast skies, rain, and snow affect your visibility out there as well, so it’s a smart move to use headlights and taillights when you ride. With front are rear lights you’ll be able to see what’s ahead and be seen by traffic, keeping you safe on your commute or weekend loop.

What to do:

  • Decide between battery-powered or USB rechargeable lights. Rechargeable lights are typically more expensive but often brighter and higher quality.

  • Find lights that have several modes, blinking/flashing lights are great for being seen, and are very effective as daytime running lights.

Our favorite:  NiteRider Lumina Micro 850/Sabre 80 Combo


"cyclist wearing bright jacket and helmet"

7. Wear bright/reflective clothing

If you want to increase your visibility even further, consider wearing some bright or reflective clothing so cars will have no trouble spotting you on the roads.

What to do:

  • It’s been proven that wearing bright or reflective materials on parts of the body that are in motion while cycling is eye catching to driver, so look for bright or reflective material on shoes, socks, pants, and gloves.

Our favorites:


"women wearing two layers of cycling shirts"

8. Dress in layers (and bring extras)

The fabric material of your cycling outfit is important this time of year. We tend to bundle up before heading out, and sweating soon follows once your heart rate increases. Certain materials become damp before long, inviting the cold air to chill you to the bone.  Pick materials that will keep you warm, dry, and ventilated.

What to do:

  • Cotton is your enemy, wool is your friend. Stock up on wool and specifically designed thermal cycling gear and you’ll be a happy camper.

  • Dress in layers. Hit the road with a few layers on that you can eventually peel off to prevent sweating.

  • Bring extra clothes to change into once you get to your destination.

Our favorites: 


"man riding bike in snow with gloves and jacket"

9. Protect your extremities

Keeping you hands, feet, and head warm on cold rides makes a world of difference. With the proper gear to protect your extremities from the elements you’ll be much happier and able to ride longer.

What to do:

  • Cover your ears and nose, and find something that fits under your helmet. The helmet will add to your warmth while keeping you safe.

  • Grab some gloves that block out the wind. Find a new pair specific to cycling for increased dexterity or use what you’ve got at home like big snow mittens.

  • Look for waterproof shoes and shoe covers that will ensure your feet are toasty and, well, not completely numb.

Our favorites: 

"cyclist putting on rain jacket"

10. Invest in good rain gear

It’s usually not much fun to ride in the rain or freezing wind, but you’d be surprised how tolerable it is with the right clothing. Cyclists who ride year round invest in dependable rain gear and wind-proof clothes so that even those poor weather rides can be enjoyable.

What to do:

  • When buying rain gear, look for items that offer great ventilation. Without ventilation, you’ll end up being wet on the inside anyway. But warm sweat is better than cold sweat so get what you can afford and it will be fine.

  • Look for lightweight windbreaker shirts and vests. If you can keep your core warm you’ll be set. Most models pack small so you can easily stuff them away if you get too hot.

Our favorites:


"cyclist riding at sunset with bright headlight"

11. Keep riding (it's good for you)


Winter can seem long and dark, and for almost everyone, the lack of sunshine and activity can be draining physically and emotionally. Getting your heart rate up, your blood pumping, and your endorphins rushing can make the colder months much more tolerable.


People who continue to exercise year round are generally healthier and happier than those who don’t, and cycling is a perfect means to that end.


Even if at first glance out the window you’d rather not ride, try to go for it anyway. Once you’re out there moving it’ll be better than you think, and when the ride is over, your body and mind will thank you for it.

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