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Don’t use your best bike
Firstly there’s the bike. As cyclists we are always looking for an excuse to own another bike and bad weather is great excuse. In the UK many riders will use a second less expensive bike for winter and bad weather use. Unless you are taking part in an event or race, it makes sense to save your best bike.
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Typically this is a bike of lower spec than your best day bike that you feel more comfortable subjecting to dirty, wet lanes. However if you only have one bike there are lots of modifications you can make to optimise it for bad weather.
For riding in bad weather, we would recommend a tyre choice with greater puncture protection and also a bigger contact patch.
We’d opt for tyres that offer a degree of puncture protection and are harder wearing. Continental Gatorskins are a perennial favourite for winter riding, but many other tyre manufacturers offer similar models. More expensive options will tend to offer decent puncture protection, while offering lower rolling resistance and better grip.
However, for the ultimate bad weather setup, we would go for tubeless. Tubeless setups not only massively reduce your chances of suffering a puncture but have other advantages too. You can run lower pressures for more grip and comfort without the risk of pinch flats and tubeless setups also offer low rolling resistance making you faster!
As a rule of thumb the best dry lubes offer lower friction than wet lubes – typically around 2-5 watts. However when riding on wet roads or in the rain, dry lubes can quickly wash off making your drive train sound like a WW2 tank tracks. A wet lube is the way to go, as it will stay stuck to your drive train.
Everyone loves sitting behind someone with good guard coverage on sewage strewn roads. Some bikes have specific mount points, but if your bike doesn’t then don’t worry, as plenty of guards are on the market that will just clip on.
However if you are riding a race or event in bad weather, don’t worry about the etiquette of guards. It’s accepted that for your event performance is a priority and therefore it is OK to remove the guards to make your bike more aero.
Traditionally lights have been associated with riding in the dark. But during bad weather lights can make you significantly more visible to other road users and shouldn’t be under estimated.
So there you have it, our essential kit. This list is not exhaustive however, so if there are other items you would recommend to others, then why not suggest them in the comments section.