The weather is down, the trails are muddy and it’s dark by tea time. Welcome to winter! And we’d better get used to it – this is all we’ve got to look forward to until, oh, at least April!
But you’re not made of sugar, and your coveted bike is a lot tougher than you sometimes give it credit for. With the right gear and a bit of know-how you can keep pedalling through the winter months – and ensure your steed rides like it’s still high summer.
Follow our top tips for winter-proofing your mountain bike, and keep it out of the workshop and on the trails. Mention the blog when you come into the shop and we’ll knock 10% off the RRP on the all the products below.
Treat pivots and bearings – including your headset and bottom bracket – to a dab of decent, water-repellent grease. We’d recommend Park Tool’s Polylube (£5.99 a tube).
Give the chain and drive train a good clean after muddy rides and leave them to dry before applying a quality wet lube such as Muc Off – £3.99 – What MTB magazine’s Gold Winner, or Green Oil – £5.99.
Disperse water from fiddly moving parts like shifters and mechs with a quick blast of light lubricant spray. MO94 – Muc Off’s cheeky riposte to GT85 – is on offer at the moment at £8 for two cans. Spraying it on the frame will help discourage mud from sticking, but keep it away from your brake pads and rotors.
2. Full-length gear and brake cable outers
Dirty gear cables can result in poor shifting, and the last thing you want on a muddy ride in the dark is a stuck derailleur.
If your frame allows, consider running full-length cable outers to help minimise trail crud build-up, and think about going the extra mile with a fully-sealed system like Fibrax’s Pro-formance cable set. (£29.99)
It’s not a fashion show on the hill, and any thoughts of preserving your trail cred and your bike’s clean lines will be long forgotten the first time you find yourself blinded by trail muck and careening towards a high-speed impact with the nearest oak tree!
Muckynutz’s super-light front Bender Fender mudguards are a cost-effective (£8.99) way to keep the muck off your mush, and Crud’s Racepac set (£19.99), which bagged an MBUK ‘Most Wanted’ accolade – includes the legendary, downtube-mounted Crudcatcher paired with a similarly styled rear guard.
4. Ground control
A bit of slip and slide makes winter riding fun – but you want some predictability in your drifts and a set of mud tyres will help you stay on the straight and narrow.
Panaracer’s Trailraker has been designed in Britain, with the worst UK weather in mind. ‘The nearest you’ll get for football boots for your bike’, say Bikeradar.
The Maxxis Beaver is another great go-to winter tyre that has been a favourite of MBUK staff writers for years, and it’s also one of the lightest 29-er mud tyres on the market.
5. Light it up!
Advances in LED technology mean these days you can carry the light of a thousand suns in your pocket or – preferably – mounted on your lid or handlebars.
Light and Motion’s Seca 2000 isn’t a cheap option at £399, but the build quality is outstanding, and you’ll get a set up that will last for years. Singletrack mag recently gave the Seca their ‘recommended’ accolade in a grouptest, branding it the ‘stand-out superlight’.
Moon’s X1300 is a cheaper option at £239.99, and even includes an SOS Morse code setting in case you get really stuck.
At £179.99 Luu’s Extreme Torch offers entry-level lighting for trail riding – or a very effective road light.
6. Finally – winterise yourself!
There’s no point kitting out your bike if your togs leave you too cold and wet to enjoy it – you need to weatherproof your body, too.
Altura’s Attack 360 jacket (£149.99) and shorts (£59.99) tread the very fine line between breathability and waterproofing with finesse. The styling looks good, and the jacket has just won Outdoor Fitness mag’s ‘Best on Test’.
Sticking with Altura, we also stock their Mayhem jacket at £99.99.
Shimano MW81 waterproof winter SPD boots (£159.99) keep the wet out at the heat in, thanks to a breathable Gore-tex lining. and you can maintain your cockpit command by keeping the chills out of your fingers with Altura’s Mayhem windproof gloves (£29.99).
Muddy bike photo by: Jason Rogers