Use Winter Tyres to Keep Riding in the Cold Months
Although the cold months are upon us, there is no reason for you to stop your cycling. Providing you have the right equipment and a sensible attitude, you can still get the miles under your belt despite the frost. The secret is having a good set of winter tyres, and being prepared should you get a puncture. In this post we look at what you should look for in a good winter tyre.
Many companies now provide winter tyres which are more resistant to punctures and the rigours of winter than standard racing tyres. Although they have thicker carcasses than conventional tyres, most will not slow you down too much to be effective. Tyre manufactures are getting better at striking the balance between protection and speed.
Tread and Traction
Tread and traction will help your tyre grip the road. Rubber compound quality gives better traction and as such provides better grip. Tread, enables water to run off the contact surface of the tyre. The better cycling tyres will have a good rubber compound and tread. Rubber compound however, is the most important aspect, so always favour tyres that have good compounds and less prominent treads, than poor compounds and deep tread.
The bead is the part of the tyre that sits in the wheel rim. On winter tyres it is important that you are able to push the bead over the rim with cold hands. You can be sure that when you do have to fix a puncture on the road, it will be cold, wet, dark, and your hands will be freezing.
You may want to consider having a wider tyre for the winter. Tyres up to 25c should fit your bike and the bigger contact patch the better the grip. You should bear in mind that the heavier tyre may slow you down slightly.
Nonetheless, reducing the risk of punctures for a slight trade-off in speed is worth it.
Tyres and Punctures
Tyres are more prone to punctures in the winter as wet weather conditions allow thorns, glass shards, flint, gravel, and other tyre unfriendly materials to stick to our wheels. Inevitably, even with winter tyres, the amount of punctures you receive will increase. Clearly a problem when you're ten plus miles from home.
With the risks of punctures increasing, it is a good idea to carry the following:
- Two tyre leavers
- Two spare inner tubes
- A working pump, checked that it works before you ride
- You may want to take CO2 cartridges to inflate a tube, but be warned that these can stop working in low temperatures as the canister head tends to freeze. They also run out after one or two inflations so if you have already used it once, you may want to replace it. Ensure that you carry a pump as it is a lot more reliable.
- A charged phone for emergencies and spare cash
If you are riding as part of a group, ensure that between the group you have enough pumps and tubes between you before you ride. Do not assume or rely on one person to provide all the gear you need to cope with a puncture. Mudguards are also a good idea for winter cycling, as well as an investment in good lights and clothing.
Make sure to have fun cycling but watch the roads!