Commuting by bike in cold weather is a rare activity for many people. However, recent studies show that biking can be more efficient and healthier than taking the bus or driving. So whether you’re looking to save money or increase your fitness level, this guide will show you how to commute by bike in the winter.
What Is A Commuter Bicycle?
The term commuter bike refers to a bike used for transportation from home to a place of work or study, as opposed to touring, exercising, or enjoying sports. There is no technical definition of a commuter bike since the key characteristic is how you use it.
- If you use it regularly as a means of transportation, you have a commuter bike.
Certain bicycles perform this function better than others, although almost any bike can be used. Although commuter bicycles come in many forms, the classic commuter bike that people think of is a Dutch-style commuter bike.
What Is The Main Difference Between A Normal And A Winter Commuter Bike?
There are some basic differences between normal and winter commuter bikes. Some of the main differences between these bikes include weight, frame size, and geometry. Now we are going to see the usages and compatibility, thy we eventually know the key differences between them.
Normal Commuter Bike
- A normal commuter bike is designed for use by people who commute to work each day.
- They are usually less expensive and have smaller wheels, making them easier to ride on city streets and sidewalks.
- It is more common for commuter bikes to be built for speed than durability. They’re not meant for long rides in difficult weather conditions.
- Because of this, they do not typically have suspension systems or flip flops and tend to be lighter to make riding easier.
Winter Commuter Bike
- Winter commuters need a different bike type because they often travel through snowy conditions.
- Winter commuter bikes typically have more significant, heavier tires that provide better traction in snow and ice.
- They also tend to be more expensive than regular commuting bikes due to the added expense of buying winter tires and accessories.
- Winter commuter bikes typically feature thicker frames and bigger wheels for traction on icy roads.
- Additionally, many are equipped with suspension systems or flip-flops, so riders don’t have to worry about slipping and falling.
Pro Tips: How To Commute By Bike In The Winter?
Commuting by bicycle in the winter can be a great way to stay healthy and active during the cold months. Not only will cycling help you burn calories, but it also reduces your risk of injury while commuting. And if you’re worried about getting lost or going too fast on snowy roads, don’t worry. Several tips for biking in the winter will make the ride more accessible and safer.
Ensure That The Extremities Are Warm
Hands and feet are responsible for maintaining your body’s internal temperature.
- You can also lose heat through these parts of your body. It would help if you kept these areas well-covered and warm when cycling in cold weather.
- Moreover, controlling your body temperature will make your biking routine more enjoyable.
Put On The Appropriate Gear
The gear you bring determines the quality of your ride.
- Cycling shoes designed for summer are inadequate for harsh winter climates.
- Cycling boots, balaclava, and thermal layers are the best clothing items to pack.
- And, fall is the ideal time to shop for cold-weather cycling gear.
Care About Fenders
You and other riders behind you will get wet and grimy spray from your tires without fenders. As Fenders close to the tire curve are excellent for rainy climates but can get clogged up with slush in snowy climates. So the best fenders to use in heavy snow are clip-on fenders.
Ensure Bicycle Lights
Both a front and rear light are essential in low visibility or limited daylight conditions.
- When you are in dimly lit areas, it is necessary to have Havensight that allows you to see what is ahead (instead of just getting noticed).
- It is best to choose a light that has at least 150 lumens.
- A front light with 60 to 150 lumens can be delicate if you commute only in well-lighted areas.
- When it’s cold outside, it’s a good idea to carry a spare rear light.
Curved winter-specific pads improve braking performance and mud-shedding when you use a cantilever or disc brake.
But Sintered brake pads perform better in wet weather and are more durable than organic ones. However, in winter, grit, and sand will increase the wear on your brakes. Most importantly, don’t forget to replace the pads whenever you notice they are worn out.
Maintain a Clean Bicycle
The grit, snow, and ice produced by a winter bicycle ride can be a lot. It is best to store the bicycle indoors, but if that is not feasible, wipe it down with a brush and cloth before leaving it. Next time, if it freezes, riding on slush can be tricky.
- Ensure that the wheels are rotated, and the train is driven to prevent parts from wearing down.
- Before parking your bicycle, wipe it down.
- Always lubricate it at night.
- Wet lubricant should be used to control the chain from freezing.
- Also, lubricate your lock and contact points to avoid getting your safety stuck in the cold.
How Many Types of Winter Commuter Bikes Are Available Right now?
Several types of winter commuter bikes are available on the market these days. Here is an overview of some popular options:
A hybrid is best viewed as a hardy road bicycle with some mountain bicycle influence, borrowing flat handlebars from its off-road cousin and adopting a more upright and comfortable position.
- Hybrid bicycles usually have 700c wheels, just like road bicycles. However, its wider tires give you better traction on snowy and icy surfaces.
- Some hybrids come with cheaper suspension forks, while most come with rigid forks. Unfortunately, while the suspension may seem appealing, most bicycles come with heavy, low-end forks that offer little comfort.
- Disc brakes are typically found on the best hybrid bicycles, while rim brakes are standard on cheaper hybrids. It is a good idea to look out for disc brakes since they offer more efficient, predictable, and reliable braking regardless of weather conditions.
- Almost every accessory can be mounted on a hybrid bicycle, making them highly versatile. In addition, their versatility makes them ideal for other tasks, such as touring.
Hybrids that include accessories are also worth considering. A package with mudguards, racks, and lights is often the best. In this kind of scenario, the flat-bar hybrid bicycle is the perfect choice for beginners or commuters who prefer an upright posture in traffic.
A road bicycle is an excellent commuter if you travel long distances. It is a bicycle designed to go long distances quickly when riding on paved roads. Despite this, a road bicycle subjected to constant abuse from potholes, cold weather, and rough terrain will degrade faster than a more durable bicycle. However, it will last longer if properly maintained and cared for.
- Carbon frames of road bicycles are lighter and stiffer, but value for money which a cheaper alloy or steel frames of road bicycles might provide, and longevity should be your primary considerations.
- The tyres on most road bicycles are lightweight and fast-rolling. However, you may want to replace your road bicycle tires with winter tires since the best road bicycle tyres tend to be puncture-prone.
Gravel, Adventure, And Cyclocross Bikes
Despite their differences, there are many similarities between gravel, adventure, and cyclocross bikes. The geometry of these bicycles is similar to that of road bicycles, but they have been adjusted for comfort.
- Wider tyres make them more comfortable on long commutes and improve performance on gravel and challenging snowy and icy terrain. In addition, commuting is made more accessible by travel, adventure, and cyclocross bikes’ versatility and durability.
- Gravel and CX bikes also often have longer wheelbases and slacker head angles than road bicycles to handle rougher terrain more easily. And disc brakes are used on most gravel bicycles, with cantilever or V brakes becoming more common.
- Most gravel and CX bikes have mounts for mudguards, racks, and multiple bottle cages, making them versatile. They make excellent commuter bicycles with a road-like fit for people who have to deal with poor roads or light off-road detours.
Commuters have long preferred mountain bikes because of their upright riding position and sturdy construction.
- Knobby tires on a mountain bike are great for riding on icy surfaces, but they will add considerable drag when riding in town.
- Therefore, I recommend that you fit slick tyres to your mountain bike if you use them solely for commutes.
But it is not necessary to get a mountain bike unless you plan to ride over rough, rocky paths. Nevertheless, its fatter tyres and padded saddle give you a smooth ride on uneven winter surfaces because commuters rarely encounter terrain requiring extra shock absorption.
Which Type Of Winter Commuter Bicycle Is The Best For Winter Commuting?
The best bicycle for you will depend on your needs and budget. But MTBs are great when snow falls on roads, while some prefer road bicycles for short commutes.
- Thus a mountain bike will be a good choice if you love cycling in the mountains.
- On the contrary, those who don’t cycle often but want to start this year and practice safe cycling habits should buy an entry-level road bicycle.
You can also purchase accessories such as heated grips or reflectors for a more comfortable ride.
Bottom Lines About Bicycle Commuting In Winter Or Snow
It’s time to warm up the topic. If you ride a bicycle in the winter, take precautions and prepare for a safe commute. Take breaks if you ride for long periods, wear protective gear, and clean your bicycle regularly to prevent rust. As long as you follow some safety precautions, you don’t need to worry about cycling in the winter as long as you love cycling more than others.