Preparing for riding your bike in winter
22 November 2021
As the days are getting shorter, darker and colder, some of us might be looking back on fantastic bike adventures from the summer: adventures to the local park, a lake or to the sea, bike-packing, or just simply using the bike to get to school and visit friends. The fun does not need to be over now that we are approaching winter. There are still plenty of opportunities to get on the bike and with these tips there is no excuse to stay on the sofa.
We have reached out to our Sales teams and Ambassadors in Scandinavia.
As Tuomas, father of our ambassador Jaako in Finland, states “ -20C is not unusual here and -30C doesn't cause headlines either…”. The winter will not be as impressive for most of us, but here is a compilation of tips and tricks from our winter experts on how to make cycling in cold conditions a healthy, safe and fun experience for the whole family.
1. Cleaning and lubricating your bike
The first and most key point to start is giving your bike a thorough clean in autumn and throughout the winter months. Cleaning your bike is always important but it becomes a necessity in winter. Road salt that is often used on streets is the biggest enemy of your bike as it accelerates corrosion. Clean your bike as often as possible, it is best to do it after every ride and if your bike has a suspension fork, pay special attention to upper tubes.
After cleaning your bike, it is important to lubricate the chain. Mikkel, Sales Representative in Denmark, warns “Never skip the cleaning and do not just put extra oil on a dirty chain.” Dirt that is stuck in the links of the chain will act as an abrasive and will wear down the parts faster.
Ville-Valter, Frog Bikes, Sales Representative in Finland, explains: “ The bike chain needs more lubrication and maintenance in the winter. Clean the chain with a cloth or brass brush, add the chain oil evenly over the entire length of the chain and wipe off any excess chain grease. We recommend the use of Wet Lube chain oil, which is specially designed for wet conditions.”
It is a fun activity to include children in the cleaning and care of the bikes. Try to look for biodegradable and solvent-free cleaners and lubes, which are both safe for the environment and safe for kids, e.g. the Muc Off x Frog Bikes Clean and Lube kit or the Bike Workx biodegradebale oils and lubricants.
2. Winter tyres
Allour Scandinavian experts agree that replacing the tyres with studded winter tyres is a good idea in icy and snowy weather. Ville-Valter explains “Without studded tyres, the risk of tipping over increases and the braking distance will be much longer. Studded tyres for Frog wheels are available in 20-26 inch models”. Your local stockist can advise you about the appropriate tyres and fit them for you. Find your nearest Frog stockist here.
Evgeny, father of our twin Ambassadors Mikhail and Stephan suggests using winter tyres with spikes from Schwalbe , similar products are available from other brands too. David, Frog Bikes Sales Representative in Sweden, also thinks it can be great fun to ride in ice and snow if you take the right precautions “For freezing temperatures, there are good studded Winter tyres available to mount on the bike - For extra safety and fun also when there is ice! ”
3. Getting wrapped up
Good warm winter clothes are important. They need to keep you and your child warm (but not too warm) and be bright and reflective so that you both can be easily seen.
David also advises that it is best to choose clothes with several layers and a windproof top layer with reflective properties. Head, hands, and feet are the most common to get cold. Thin headwear under the helmet, good gloves and foot warmers can help to keep warm and extend the time that you can have fun on your bike!
Ingunn from Norway, the mother of Gabrielle and Haakon, Frog Bikes Brand Ambassadors, stresses that “The most important thing regarding clothing is WOOL. Always wool as the inner layer, and the next as well.” If the temperatures fall under -10 degrees, three or four thin layers of wool under a waterproof and windproof jacket will keep you warm even in (for us in the UK) extreme conditions.
She further recommends “...warm, good quality boots and wool socks inside are a must and a thin wool sole in the bottom of the shoes can add an extra layer of insulation”
She also shares with us an old trick: “If the winter conditions are very wet, I use a thin old plastic bag around my feet over my socks.”
Bar mittens are another great way to keep the hands warm. They surely get the endorsement by Ingunn: “They are the best thing ever. They are not very Instagram-friendly, but oh so smart! They come in different designs and they can be fitted to any bike, gravel or mountain bike. Inside you can use wool mittens or gloves. And always bring a spare pair in the saddle bag. You never know if you'll need it. Or your friend.”
4. Lights on
This should really be a no-brainer. Always make sure you can see clearly, and be seen! It is very important to be as visible as possible when riding in the darker months. You can even turn on your lights during the day when it is particularly dark or foggy.
Ville-Valter advises that bike lights should be checked regularly. “The absolute safety equipment for the dark season is the front and rear lights. There can be large price differences between light sets, the local bike shop can help you choose the right light set for your needs.”
Evgeny told us that “Nordic winters are dark, so it is mandatory to use lights on your bike! In addition to the lights on your bike, reflectors or reflecting parts on clothes are another important feature to increase your safety. In Finland every kid takes at least one thing that is light reflecting with them.”
5. Riding “winter style”
Evgeny told us that “Winter style” should be applied when riding in winter: “Kids should learn to keep low speed, to avoid sudden steering movements and to use brakes more gently. Kids will fall down several times before he or she understands these basic rules. But it is totally normal. They learn fast. The more they ride, the faster they learn!”
Now, there is no excuse to sit on the sofa. If the guys from Scandinavia can ride their bike in winter - you can do it too!
Head out on your bike and get some fresh air and exercise, and remember to keep warm, visible and safe!
A special thanks for contributions to this blog to our sales representatives
- Ville-Valter Storm from Finland
- Mikkel Nielson from Denmark
- David Pettersson Draganis from Sweden