He hates you. He sits unloved in the corner just hating you. You know that he hates you. You hate him. You’d both kill each other if it wasn’t for the fact that you’d be ensuring your own deaths. It’s like the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction. Much like mutually assured nuclear destruction, killing your winter bike would also mean far fewer miles cycled between November and March.
My Dad’s got a load of old gym equipment. The sort of stuff that no one uses anymore as it’ll invariably lead to you pulling your back out or making your neck burst. The sort of equipment that your 70 year old supply PE teacher would insist on you using. The sort of equipment where the accompanying literature recommends that before you use it you eat 12 raw eggs and have a smoke. Your winter bike belongs with that equipment.
Now that we’ve confirmed that your winter bike is awful but that you’ll definitely need it until it stops being horrendous outside, it’s time for The Hard Road’s top tips for winter bike maintenance.
1.Oil. In terms of oil you should treat your winter bike like the big oil companies treat seabirds. You want to literally cover it in it. Unlike those volunteers do with the seabirds, where they use fairy liquid to clean them up real nice, you don’t want to bother with that. Just keep adding more oil each week until your chain and cassette look like they’re covered in tar. They make roads out of tar don’t they? And they last all year round. I like to have little bits of leaf stuck to mine for a kind of autumn camouflage look.
2. Tyres. Remember when you used to do rides that averaged over 20mph? Yeah? Well forget about them. Those days are dead to you. If you try to survive the winter on memories then you’ll be dead by Christmas. What you want are tyres where the rolling resistance is equal to about 99% of the force you can put through your bike. That spare 1% is for actually moving forward. I recommend using a tyre that is so thick and stiff that if you get a puncture you’d rather just abandon the wheel and use the rest of the bike to make a rudimentary shelter to live in until spring, by which time you’ll definitely be dead. Remember that in winter the air is thicker and has roughly the same consistency as eggy bread, so you never actually need to bother with pumping your tyres up.
3. Brakes. Despite only being able to travel at walking pace, you’ll occasionally want to stop. Perhaps to admire a delightful village church, or just to have a little cry. To stop you’ll want a set of brakes. I recommend going for a nice big set of disc brakes. Not only will these add extra weight to your bike, bringing it closer to that magical 100kg mark, but they’ll also make a haunting groaning sound every time you use them. The sound is ideal for reminding you that you still have brakes, When you hear the haunting sound try to make sure you are using your brakes. If not then you’re almost definitely being followed by a ghoul and you’ll want to do something about that.
4. Cleaning. Your winter bike covers itself in mud to avoid predators. Never clean it. Even if it begs you to clean it you must stay firm. If it continues to beg then tell it that it’ll get a bath in June if the weather’s ok. Also tell it that you’ll lock it in the shed if it doesn’t shut up. Then lock it in the shed anyways.
Have fun and ride safe.
Winter is coming.