Gallery: How To Prepare Your Bicycle For Safe Riding in Cold Weather

Autumn's cooler temperatures and changing colors make it a fantastic bike riding season, but as the days get shorter, darker and wetter, cyclists should take care to outfit their rigs, and themselves, for better comfort and visibility. Read on for some tips on how to stay safe and warm while freewheeling through the worst weather fall and winter have to offer!

1. Visibility

Front and rear lights are crucial year round, but even more so in winter. The sun is setting earlier in the northern hemisphere, so even if you only use your bike for the commute to work, by the time you head home you’ll be riding in the dark. Foggy, rainy and otherwise hazy conditions will also reduce visibility for drivers and cyclists. Switching on the brights is never a bad idea when you’re on a bike.

Bike light technology and design has come a long way in the past decade, and there are many choices on the market today. Halogen, LED, HID (High Intensity Discharge), and glowing tube lights are all good options. HIDs provide the most light by far, but they are also fragile and expensive. Halogen used to be the industry standard, but its inefficiency left the market wide open for LEDs, which are becoming increasingly affordable.

If you’re the kind of person who forgets to replace the batteries, consider USB rechargeable lights. And if you’re hesitant to buy, you can always build your own. One commons setup: white light in the front, red lights in the back and reflectors on the side. Attire can make all the difference as well. “Bright is always helpful,” says Pedal Revolution employee Cole Sanchez.

2. Stopping Power

You may love the minimalist aesthetic of fixies, but wet roads mean less traction and more potential for disaster — if fixed gear is your preferred riding style, consider attaching a brake this season. One is better than none and you don’t have to use it, but it will be there for the “Oh S*%t!” moment when you do.

Brake pads are the next item to consider. New brake pads have grooves to channel water away from the rim and improve wet-weather braking. Inspect these grooves to gauge how much brake power you’ll have on your next venture. Don’t put off replacing this cheap rubber any longer. It’s a quick fix and makes a world of difference.



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  1. Allison Leahy January 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    @Buildingwell, Great idea. It’s important to keep your bike dry and rust-free. Businesses and building owners who accommodate cyclists are putting themselves in good standing with the community and are likely to earn higher customer satisfaction ratings and better reviews on Yelp!

  2. Buildingwell October 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    This is a helpful list. In addition to prepping yourself for riding in the cold, there are some things that building owners can do for residents in their building who may bike during the cold weather. Namely providing cleaning/drying materials in the bike storage area so residents can wipe off any slush, sand, and salt they may have picked up during the ride. Of course this would be best to be done prior to taking the bike through the building, but at the very least it would be helpful to be able to clean it down before storing it.

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