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Keep your ride on the road using these pro-tested bike maintenance tips.
Set 7,000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs, Colo., dishes out some pretty serious winter riding conditions. Long-time resident, pro triathlete and mechanic for the USA Triathlon Olympic Training Center Branden Rakita shares some hard-earned advice for maintaining your bike through winter rides.
Keep your cables. If you replaced your cables and housing during the season, leave them on through the winter. “As you go into the off-season, you will progressively destroy your set. Change them at the beginning of next season,” advises Rakita.
Flat-Proof Your Tires. Changing a flat in the cold sucks, so pick a tire that will keep you inflated and last through the winter. The Specialized All Condition Armadillo ($45, Specialized.com) is one of Rakita’s winter tires of choice.
Protect your Housing. Wipe down your bike after a wet ride, focusing on the ends of your housing. “Keep the dirt from moving into the cables to help keep shifting crisp,” Rakita recommends. If muddy water trickles into the housing, it gums up the cable and prevents clean gear changes. If you live in really harsh conditions, he recommends Gore’s Professional System sealed cables.
Use wax-based lube. Oil-based lubes are great for dry weather, but wet roads and rain can wash these thin lubes off the chain. Rakita recommends using a wax-based option “that can hold up to the conditions so the chain doesn’t get dry and rust.” Squirt is his preference ($11 for 4oz bottle, Squirtlube.com).
Shield your toes. In addition to maintaining your ride, you’ll need to protect your feet in extreme temperatures. “Sidi’s insulated Hydro GTX Gore-Tex shoes ($330, Sidiamerica.com) are worth every dime,” Rakita says. “With a decent pair of wool cycling socks and those shoes, I’ve been able to ride in every sort of weather without my feet getting cold.”
Fend off mud. Fenders are the most effective way to keep your back semi-dry when riding on wet roads. And your group ride buddies will thank you for not spraying water in their faces.