Prepare your bike for winter cycling in 5 easy steps

Protecting your bike from the worst that winter can throw at it can enhance your safety and prolong your bike's life, so we've put together a few tips and tried and tested methods to help you get the best out of winter cycling:

Winter-proof your bike

It may seem counter-intuitive to clean your bike before heading off onto winter's wet and salty roads, but a clean bike can reveal any mechanical defects and hopefully it may get you into a cleaning routine for the winter. It doesn't have to be onerous – a simple wipe down after a ride with a proper clean of the drive train every few weeks should do it.

Give your bike a service

Ensuring that your clean bike is running smoothly and everything operates as it should is an important prerequisite for winter riding. Inspect the bearings, chain and cassette and check the brakes and cables for signs of wear and tear and then apply a good-quality lubricant to the chain. If there's anything amiss and you don't feel confident doing it yourself your local bike shop will be able to help.

Get some mudguards

If there's one simple thing that you can do to make winter cycling a more pleasurable experience, then it has to be fitting a pair of mudguards. Winter roads can have mud and grit all over them, so to reduce spray from your bike which can catch both you and riders behind you, fit some mudguards!

Fit winter tyres

It's worthwhile fitting a pair of winter tyres to take all that the season can throw at your bike. Not only will you get added grip on uncertain surfaces, but you'll also benefit from extra puncture protection. In addition, wider tyres – 25mm-28mm – can be run at a lower pressure which will provide additional grip and comfort in slick and icy conditions.

Install good lights and bike reflectors

As the nights draw in and many bike commutes are undertaken in the dark, ensuring that your bike is fitted with good quality lights and reflectors is an absolute must. Your bike should have at least one, and preferably two rear lights ready for winter in addition to a front light. Reflectors also provide added visibility and can be a lifesaver if your bike lights run out of batteries during a ride in the gloom.

Apply some car wax

This is an effective way of sealing the surfaces of your bike and preventing harmful grime, grit and dirt from gaining a foothold. After cleaning your bike, spread the wax on with a cloth, allow it to dry to a haze and then wipe off. Repeat and then buff to a high polish.