As any follower of The Rules knows, the correct number of bikes to own is n+1, with n being the number of bikes currently owned. True cycling devotees – or should we say ‘addicts’ – will always be on the lookout for another bike, and with December upon us that means one thing – the hunt for a winter steed.
What is a winter bike and why do I need one?
A winter bike should be capable of making those cold, bleak rides in freezing temperatures enjoyable. If you’re spending the entire route worrying about the effects of road salt on the perfect paintwork of your £2,000+ frame, you’re not enjoying the ride. If you’re not enjoying the ride, you’re probably forcing yourself to get out of bed and into the saddle to ‘get the miles in’ and stay cycle fit – either that or you’re far too concerned about keeping up appearances on Strava.
A winter bike should be able to handle both the British seasonal weather and the British road surfaces with ease, and have enough clearance to house mud guards to protect both you and fellow riders from any surface spray. Many opt to fit wider tires to their winter steed, to afford better grip on the road surface. Disc brakes are now considered a winter bike essential, and the geometry of the winter frame tends to be more relaxed to reflect the type of activity the bike is geared up for – long rides at low intensity, rather than PB-busting smashfests. Speaking of gears, winter bikes tend to be most effective when allowing the rider access to the smaller options, which comes in useful when you consider that the average winter bike will be carrying more weight than something suited to the long-distant summer evenings.
When is a winter bike not a winter bike?
When it’s a gravel bike perhaps? Although sharing many of the same characteristics, look closely and you’ll start to see where a winter road bike differs from a gravel bike. To allow for lumps, bumps, stones, grit – and indeed, gravel – the bottom bracket may be fitted in a higher position on a gravel bike. A winter road bike will likely have a more aerodynamic silhouette as its heart lies with the road rather than the rough stuff. All that said, the typical state of Britain’s roads in the winter months could make a gravel bike your preferred option!
Recommended winter rides
New for 2018, the Trek Domane ALR 4 2018 with disc brakes has a few nifty features which take the tried-and-tested Domane model into perfect winter riding territory with wide 32mm tires to help navigate slick and slippery surfaces, and enough clearance to fit mud guards and protect the rider from taking a mud bath. Hidden mud guard mounts prove that this bike means business.
Every bike in the Roubaix series by Specialized is designed for uncomfortable riding in less than optimal conditions – the name of the model being a bit of a giveaway. The Elite Disc 2018 allows mud guards to be mounted and has enough space on the frame to fit an all-important winter accessory – lights. The gel padding on the bar tape is a welcome comfort when navigating road surfaces broken up by icy weather.
The Ruby is the sister to the Roubaix, in that it packs all the same punch, but is designed for women. The impressive component spec and new FutureShock suspension system in the headset make this a great winter choice for female riders.
Now you’ve complied with Rule 12 on the correct number of bikes – albeit temporarily – you can also give yourself a pat on the back for being fully compliant with Rule 9, a must for any would-be winter warrior – “If you are out riding in bad weather you are a badass. Period.”