As the seasons continue and the weather becomes slightly wetter, slightly colder and decidedly more winterish, we, as riders, have some tough choices to make. Is it time to hang up the bike for the year and pursue other passions? Should skiing/boarding, sledding, snowshoeing etc replace that which we have dedicated our summers to? The answer, for those of us lucky enough to live on the Shore, is a resounding and emphatic NO!
That being said it is important to remember that riding through this season can wreak havoc on your precious rig. The constant abuse from the moisture and grime can lead to premature wear on almost every component of your steed. “So what should I be doing” you may ask? The first answer is, as always, keep riding. The caveat is make sure to check your bike more regularly and to get it looked at as soon as you hear/see/feel something that is a little off. Some of the biggest offenders in the winter wear category are brake pads, bearings/bushings and suspension. Yes, all three of those are huge parts of your bike and can potentially be the most expensive to get fixed, but with more maintenance and less emergency repair the price tag remains low and the ride remains better.
Riding in the wet is like constantly pulling a high grit sandpaper through your brake pads. Pads will wear out faster during the winter than they did in all but the driest of the dry summer months. When your pads wear past an acceptable point all sorts of things start going wrong. First of all stopping power is directly affected through the loss of the primary braking surface. Power is drained through the overextension of the brake pistons and heat management becomes a major issue. Rotors become warped and calliper pistons and seals can be damaged. Rather than spend 80.00-100.00 on rebuilding a brake why not spend the 20-30 bucks on new pads and keep that ride fun and safe?
The next big one to pay attention to is your pivot system. Whether your bike runs bearings or bushings, it is important to maintain these pivots through the winter months. No sealed bearing is truly sealed, water and dirt will get in. When this happens it causes corrosion and physical damage to the bearings and/or bushings. When these systems begin to seize, not only is your quality of ride seriously affected, but it can also contribute to frame damage. If a bearing seat within a frame receives enough wear ( when the bearing itself spins in the frame due to being seized) thats it. Game over. New bike time…. And while this may be a great strategy if your are trying to convince your significant other about the necessity for a new bike, it can drastically reduce the amount of time you will get out on your bike.
If you don’t feel comfortable pulling your bike apart on your own there is a ton of support out there. BicycleHub is fully equipped to deal with all makes and models and can replace any bearings, bushings or hardware that is needed before any frame damage occurs. If you want to learn to do it yourself then check out the BikeRoom. All sorts of classes going on, all based around building your knowledge of your bike.
Suspension is another area that takes a major hit during the winter months. With all of the moisture and crud building up around seals it is not uncommon to have to do some suspension service to keep everything running smoothly. The first thing to remember is that cleaning your seals is not a bad thing. I am not suggesting you pressure wash the seals and force dirt into them but giving your seals a light spray down and a clean with a rag or Q-Tip after each ride will go a long way in maintaining the integrity of your suspension. If you have already passed the point of no return and you see/feel oil leaking form your fork or shock it is imperative to have it looked at asap. If oil is getting out, water is getting in. And water in those internals is never a good thing. Not only does it create corrosion on your stanchions but it will also decrease damping performance and generally have a negative impact on your ride experience. BicycleHub is proud to offer both in house suspension services as well as amazing partnerships with Suspension Werx and Fluid Function to make sure that your fork/shock get dealt with properly. Remember that on top of wet weather wear most suspension products suggest service every 100 hours or so of ride time. Most riders will hit this yearly goal sometime in early winter so that is an added incentive to have your suspension looked at.
So with all of that in mind, get out there and ride your bike. All winter long! Give it the love it deserves and it will keep you smiling through the wet and dark months. Let other folks worry about snow pack and avi conditions, our bikes are all we need.
Till next time