Three Ways to Improve Your Road Bike for Winter

Three Ways to Improve Your Road Bike for Winter

The snow is finally here. The roads are deserted for all but the hardiest of riders, with everyone else related to either the couch or their wind trainer. You know what though? It doesn't take all that much to get your bike winter-ready and get you out there after it! In this article, I will talk about some relatively minor changes you can make that will transform your bike into a capable winter machine - with these changes and some updates to your wardrobe and maintenance techniques, you can enjoy riding all year round!

Winter ridingThese guys are truly ready for winter with warm clothing and full-coverage fenders.


Your tires are an important part of the bike, arguably one of the most important - they are the only thing connecting you and your bike to the trail or road. As conditions change, the way your tires work on the trail/road surface also changes, and having fresh rubber that is appropriate to the conditions makes a huge difference to the way your bike rides and reacts to changes in surface.

Road tire You're going to want some tires with some siping to help remove water...

If we're looking at road bikes, you're likely going to want to go for something with a little more tread than in the summer. A summer tire might be completely slick, but for winter you're going to want something with a little more siping, to help it shed water and prevent aquaplaning. For example, you might run a Continental Grand Prix 5000 through the summer, but switch to a Grand Prix All Condition for winter.

Gravel tire ...or even something a little more knobby, and take the bike on some slower gravel adventures

In terms of road bikes, not many manufacturers vary their tread compounds for conditions, however maxxis produce a 3C Triple Compound road compound to maximise both grip and rolling resistance, perfect for a winter tire.

Slick tire Compare these to a more summer-oriented tire with a slick centre section

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You might think fenders are uncool, but how cool is having your eyes full of road grit? Not very! On your road bike, you're dealing with a different enemy - road spray. It doesn't take long to get absolutely soaked through from road spray, even if it's not actually raining. Full-coverage fenders are the best option here, and you don't have to spend a fortune. SKS are the brand that we tend to recommend and use the most and they don't cost a fortune (around $100). Get a good install on these and they're worth their weight in gold. Not only will you stay dry, but so will your riding buddies! Just make sure that your bike is compatible with fenders before you spend the money.

Fenders A quality fender installation will keep you dry and warm

When it's wet the game changes a lot. Think about how long you will be riding. There is nothing worse than wet feet, butt and hands on a long ride. Lets start with the most important part of riding in a group. FENDERS!!!!!!!!! Don't be that rider who turns up for a group ride with insufficient fenders. All the other people in the group have gone to the trouble to cover up the attack from over spray. Think fender extensions front and rear. Remember the spray that will come off the front wheel and soak the person in front of you in the group. Nothing worse than a wet chamois. We will just leave this diagram below for reference...... [

Fenders Handy pocket guide to fenders... keep your riding buddies happy!

We have a good stock of fenders for most bikes and tire sizes, feel free to come and talk to us in store, we're happy to supply and install them for you, leaving you to just worry about when your next ride is!

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Winter bikes

It's not for everyone, but maybe you really prize your bike and don't want to subject it to the harsh winter conditions with salted roads and slush. Or maybe your summer bike just doesn't have fender mounts. Maybe consider a second bike or putting an older bike back into service. Riding through winter can really accelerate wear on all bike components, so using a cheaper/older bike really isn't a bad idea, especially when you're not going to be putting down your best times anyway.

Giant Revolt

 The Giant Revolt 0 would make an excellent winter bike with disc brakes, knobby tires and loads of room for fenders.

Modern bikes with disc brakes are ideal for winter riding and don't have to break the bank. Disc brakes have made massive changes to the way we can ride through winter, as they provide far superior stopping power in bad weather and leave clearance for both large tires and fenders, winter riding can be much for pleasant. For example the Giant Contend AR or Giant Revolt (technically a gravel bike) would both make great winter bikes. At between $1300 and $2200 for their aluminum models, all with massive clearance for tyres up to around 40c, disc brakes and loads of room and mounting options for fenders, they're a very appealing option.

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Other things

While the amount of things that you might change on your road bike for the winter conditions is relatively small, they can make a big difference to the enjoyment of your ride. Arguably just as important is clothing, as without the right clothing, it doesn't matter how good your fenders are, you're still going to be cold and/or wet! Check out our blog post on winter road cycling clothing here. Your maintenance habits will change too, check out our blog post on winter bike maintenance here.

Winter clothingQuality clothing will make a world of difference to your winter cycling experience.