Riding a bike most of the year can be extremely pleasurable. However, once Winter rolls along it quickly becomes one of the most painful experiences of your life - especially if you're unprepared. You may not want to do all of these things, but here are some healthy tips to making riding a bicycle during Winter possible.
What to Wear
Generally wearing warm clothes is an obvious. Here are some other things you may overlook:
Gloves - If you ride your bike without gloves, your hands may decide to strangle you. They make a huge difference in pain levels
Poncho (or other full body rain protection) - Don't just protect your upper body from the rain. If you don't have something to protect your legs, they will be destroyed with wetness. It sucks to sit through lecture drenched.
Head Gear - It's hard to look up when you don't have something protecting your eyes from the rain. The wind in the face is another downer.
Rain Pants - Simple water-resistant nylon pants are handy for those who bike to work frequently. It stows away compactly and keeps your work clothes dry (if you're wearing them underneath).
Wool Socks - Water splashes up, your socks will get wet, and it is not comfy. With wool socks, however, it will be a warm-wet and not the cold-wet you'd get with cotton.
How to Prepare Your Bike
In winter time it gets dark earlier- really it does. Get a light. LED lamps are a bargin because of battery conservation.
This is generally for rain protection:
Fender - You don't want to get the Freshman Stripe. It sucks.
Plastic Bag - Bike seats get soaked up with water, especially those "comfy" ones. By covering the seat with a plastic bag, it becomes really easy to just slap off the water, instead of having to wipe it off or let it get soaked. Make sure you take the bag off once the bike is in a dry location, otherwise the bag will end up keeping the cold water in and soaking your seat.
Store it inside or under some cover. Rain will cause rust on all exposed metallic parts which is the quickest way to destroy a bike.
Keep the chain oiled - a good chain lube such as Tri-Flow will help fight rust.
Tighten the brakes - When it's wet, you need to account for less braking power. Adding some tension in the cable can help minimize the difference. Most bikes provide an easy brake adjustment right on the brake lever, usually built into the collar around the break cable. Just twist the collar with your fingers to tighten or loosen the breaks. No need for tools. Do it today!
Swap your Tires for some wider ones. If you're riding a mountain bike, don't worry about it, but for your road bike, switching from a 700x21-23 to a 700x25-27 will improve your traction considerably.