OWN IT 2018

WINTER RIDING

Black Arrow Cycles  |  50 Queen St S  |  blackarrowcycles.ca

Jesse handling some winter-ready bike tires

 

"Since I moved here, I've cycled through every winter. So that's 18 years of winter cycling." 

Having said that, Jesse Robertson, owner of Black Arrow Cycles, dismisses any macho attitudes around cycling in the worst weather or even every day. "Winter cycling can be very different for different people. It's about riding when it's comfortable and safe for you to do so."

 

Taking the shop into its fourth season, he notes the growth in cycle-servicing needs. The increase in cycling downtown is driving the demand, evident on the morning we chatted. 

 

Customers started to gather in front of the shop even before it was open. Some are lining up for repairs, others are hoping to stock up on accessories. And fairly regularly, customers visit the shop to have their tires properly inflated, a service Black Arrow offers for free.

 

Basic bike maintenance applies in winter, too. While there are a lot of specialized tools, gear, cleaners and accessories to make winter riding and maintenance easier, Jesse says they aren't critical, and that the associated cost isn't either. Assuming that your bicycle is already in good working order, he offers suggestions for winter riding:

 

STEP 1: LUBE YOUR CHAIN

STEP 1: LUBE YOUR CHAIN 

 

Keep your chain and derailleur pivot points lubed. Each chain roller should get at least one drop of lube while you rotate the drive train and shift gears. Remember to wipe off the excess. Generally, wet lubes will do a better job of lubricating in adverse conditions, but can attract dirt and gum up. Dry lubes don't gum up, but wash out quicker. Everyone you talk to will swear by what works best for them, so find what works for you and use it!

 

STEP 2: CLEAN YOUR BIKE

STEP 2: CLEAN YOUR BIKE

 

Road salt is hard on bikes. Keep your bike wiped down, paying extra attention to brake surfaces like rims or rotors (use caution: rotors can have very sharp edges!) Use isopropyl alcohol to clean muck/salt/grit from your brake surfaces. You might want to consider protecting your bike finish with a wax or silicone polish. This protects the frame from the elements, making it easier to clean, but keep away from brake surfaces.

STEP 3: TUNE TIRE PRESSURE

Step 3: TUNE TIRE PRESSURE

 

Tire pressure is one of the biggest factors in how a bike feels and handles. Different tire combinations and pressures can help you fine tune the ride quality, traction and handling that is right for your riding conditions. In the winter, that can change hour by hour. In general, lower inflation pressures equal better traction. Stay within the listed minimum/maximum printed on your tire, and experiment to find what works best for you.

STEP 4: LIGHT FOR SAFETY

STEP 4: LIGHT FOR SAFETY

 

There are a lot of lights in your local bike shop to help make you more visible as you ride during the shorter days of winter. Some are rechargeable and others use replaceable batteries. Most lights offer various modes of steady or flashing light. There are more powerful lights available for riding in unlit areas.

 

Darin White  |  makebright.com  |  @DarintheGreat

Photography: Darin White  |  @darinwhitewaterloo

 

 

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Jesse Robertson, owner of Black Arrow Cycles

 

 

 

 

close-up photo of bike gear

 

 

close up of bike parts

 

 

bikes lined up inside Black Arrow Cycles

 

 

More tips for winter riding:  Fenders will keep you drier on wet and snowy streets  Winter-specific bikes are available, but certainly not necessary  Winter-specific tires, some featuring studs or special treads can aid traction  Comfort is best achieved by layering clothing