Winter riding needs a winter position

Bike Science Derby’s expert bike fitter and Cyctech qualified mechanic Andy Brooke gives us his top tips for setting up your bike for the long winter ahead.


For most of us the end of the season means a well earned rest before we instantly start planning ready for next season. A big part of your training over the off-season is likely to be long, slower rides to build the base miles before doing more intense stuff towards the spring. Many of us will be riding a different bike over the winter so it’s important to remember a few key points…

  1. If you’re swapping from your best bike to your training/winter bike then make sure the position is as close as possible. Dramatic changes in riding position will take you a while to get used to so we don’t want you doing it twice every year – adjusting to coming off the best bike and then adjusting again when going back onto it – measure your saddle height and fore/aft position then replicate it as closely as possible.
  2. Check your saddle. Training bikes are often neglected a little during and always end up with the old saddle off your best bike when that one gets replaced. If the padding is worn out then it won’t be a comfortable experience. It’s also worth remembering that if you have different saddles on each of your bikes then you’ll sit in a different place on each of them. Generally we find a place on each saddle that’s most comfortable for us, which is usually based on where the width fits perfectly with our anatomy. Different saddle means different sitting position and might throw off your fore-aft measurement by as much as a couple of centimetres.
  3. Winter miles are spent mostly on the hoods so make sure they’re in reach and don’t be afraid to raise the bars a little – long rides in the rain are bad enough without suffering a bad back from being too bent over. We’re aiming for a back angle of around 45 degrees when on the hoods and aren’t likely to spend too much time on the drops.
  4. Back pain is not part of cycling! With longer rides coming up you might be expecting to experience a few aches and pains but with a good fit and some simple core stability exercises you’ll be able to spend hours in the saddle without a single twinge (apart from the obvious pain in your legs!).

Keeping your bike clean

When the weather gets really bad and the gritters are sent out most of us leave the bike in the garage, but the days and weeks after gritting can still cause a lot of damage to your pride and joy. Salt, water and bikes really don’t mix so it’s important to clean off all the muck picked up whilst riding. Below are a few quick tips on limiting the damage…

  1. Cut down an old inner tube and stretch it over your seatpost clamp to protect your bolts andstop any water getting down your seat tube and into your bottom bracket. Simply undo your clamp, lift your seatpost out, stretch the piece of inner tube over the seatpost and slide it up to the top. When you re-insert your seatpost just slide the inner tube back down and over the clamp, ensuring that at least 1-2cms still remains on your seatpost to create a good seal. This should help keep the bolts in your clamp clean but you can also give them a little extra protection by following point two.
  2. With the remaining inner tube left over from point 1, the more mechanically able of you will be able to do something similar for your headsets. I got this tip from a Downhill Mountain biker and it works best for external headsets. You do have to remove your forks and stem but it does protect your headset from all the grime found on our winter roads.
  3. Fill the allen key holes in your bolts with either grease or silica sealant (just make sure you do it in such a way that you can get it back out afterwards!). This will stop all the gunk getting down in the bolts and doing any damage.
  4. Use the right lubricants. If you know it’s going to be wet then use a wet lube that better protects your bike against the water. Dry lubes will wash off and leave your bike unprotected.
  5. Clean your bike well after every ride using a good quality cleaning product and re-apply lubricants to all the moving parts (chain, front and rear mech hinges etc).

The final point that’s worth mentioning is tyres. Run your tyres at a slightly lower pressure during the winter, especially in the rain. The lower pressure will give you better grip in the wet but don’t drop them too low because you’ll risk pinch punctures. Around 80-90psi should be fine, with lighter riders at the lower end of the range and heavier riders sticking up around 90psi.

Enjoy your riding!

Andy Brooke – Bike Science Derby

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