Gear Tips for Winter Mountain Biking

Posted on Dec 18, 2013 in News | Comments Off on Gear Tips for Winter Mountain Biking

Gear Tips for Winter Mountain Biking

When the mercury dips below freezing, it can be tough to muster up the motivation to ride. But don’t let low temps, icy conditions, or short daylight hours get in your way! Snowy trail time will up your technical skills, improve your fitness, and let you have a whole lotta fun.

Get fat. Fat bikes are the newest trend in the cycling market, and they look like they’re here to stay. These bikes feature almost 5” wide tires, which spread out the rider’s weight to stay on top of the snow. In areas with heavy snowfall, they make an awesome addition to your cold-weather stable. But even if it’s not in your budget to spring for a new bike this winter, you can apply the concept to your regular steed.  Try tires as fat as your frame will allow; they’ll serve you best in a snow-covered world.

Run lower tire pressure. A lower pressure will give your tire a bigger contact patch with the ground. This gives you a bit more grip in slippery situations, and a smoother ride on hard-frozen ground. Don’t go too low, though. Changing a flat in sub-freezing temps can cool your core unpleasantly fast. Experiment with pressures, and see what works best for you.

Use a heavier chain lube. Off-road riding can take you through some serious slop. A heavier chain lube will prevent water and grit from working their way into the pins and rollers of your chain. This adds up to a longer chain life, and less money spent on repairs.

Light up the woods. Dusk falls quickly on gloomy winter days. There’s no harm in bringing an extra light with you. But don’t use the same small light you’d pick for bright city streets. Choose one with high lumens that can strap to your helmet or handlebars. In case darkness catches you by surprise, you’ll be able to see the trail ahead with plenty of clarity.

Try studded tires. When trails are covered in packed snow or ice, these grippy tires are an excellent choice. Many studded tires are designed with a snow-shedding tread pattern, so you won’t need to clean them off constantly. Most importantly, they can mean the difference between staying upright and getting a faceful of snow in an icy environment.

Be prepared. If you experience trouble on the road, you can be relatively certain that a car will come by sooner or later to bail you out. This isn’t true for off-road riding. Be aware of your limitations and your surroundings, and know where you can go to get help in an emergency. Always stick your charged cellphone in your pocket, and bring some supplies with you—a fire-lighting kit, flares, a map, and extra food are all good ideas.

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