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Know Your Bike Well

Hal: Winter riding

This article first appeared in the Fall 1996 edition of the Bicycle Habitat newsletter.


Ask Hal: Ready for Winter?
by Hal Ruzal

There are many problems with riding during the winter. The first is that there is more night than day; so, you need lights. A very good idea is to get a flashing light for the rear of your bike. Battery life is over 100 hours for a rear flashing light. A front flashing light would be a great idea if it weren't illegal (if they want to annoy you, the police can give you a ticket). You need a front stationary beam light. For New York City, brightness is not an issue as the streets are well lit. Any light emitting one watt or more will do. If you ride off road, you need at least 10 watts.

Full fenders are a great idea for winter riding as they keep the snow and slush on the road where it belongs rather than on you. Full fenders are a royal pain to install because they have to be properly sized. Expect to spend at least $25 for installation. Quick release fenders are also available but don't protect you nearly as well (although) they are much easier to install).

Your bike will suffer from winter riding as some water will work its way into the bottom bracket shell no matter how well-fendered you are. I recommend drilling a weephole through the shell. Water will then drain out rather than sticking around to corrode your bearings and frame. If the hole is properly drilled nothing will be damaged.

Speaking of damage, your chain, freewheel, spoke nipples and brake pads will suffer greatly from winter riding. Clean and relube your chain frequently. To prevent frozen nipples (ouch!) lube the spoke-nipple joint with Tri-Flow. You should also plan to inspect your brake pads often for grit and sand them occasionally. If you don't, the grit will erode your rim sidewalls causing you much expense. Protect your tire sidewalls with Armor-All. The elements extract a heavy toll and this will help prevent sidewall rot.

Of course, you can always do what the majority of our customers do -- hang your bicycle up until the weather improves this Spring.