Winter Mountain Biking
Mountain biking through the winter months presents new, unique challenges while also claiming some of the best riding to be had. The wet weather can take its toll, however, and making some minor changes to your bike and yourself can make all of the difference on the muddy and messy trails. From a set of wet-conditions-specific tires to some warm wool socks, preparing for riding this winter will pay off and even enables you to ride year-round. Prepare yourself – Winter riding is coming.
If riding while the trails are wet, you’re going to want chain lube specific to the conditions you are riding. If using dry lube in the wet, the lube will more or less wash away and nobody wants a dry chainl Conversely, if you are using wet lube in dry and dusty conditions, the lube is only going to attract more abrasive grits and makes for a dirty drivetrain Just use the right lube. If you aren’t sure, just use an all-around lube. This, of course, comes with the trade-off of sub-ideal performance in any one condition, but that’s just the price of convenience!
- And an all-weather lube that gets the job done.
- Here’s a nice smelling, biodegradable personal favorite wet lube.
If you live in the North (Bozeman, Montana for myself), or the South for those of you below the equator, then you know that at some point in the season you are going to have to hang up the bike for a couple of months to ski for the winter. However, if you live in a place that just gets muddy and wet or even a manageable amount of snow, you know that tires play a huge role in the ride-ability of the trail. Even snowy places get muddy at the edge of the season!
The Maxxis Shorty is a wet-conditions tire that also performs superbly in dry or loose conditions.
Continental Mud King Apex
A tire for deep and muddy conditions including a casing that accounts for frame clearance for when you’re in deep.
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Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro
Spiked tires aren’t for everyone and if you need a ice-specific tire, well… you know who you are Also consider lowering the pressure of your tires to increase the area of the contact patch on the ground which increases grip. We don’t all need fat or even plus-sized tires for these conditions!
Different brake pad compositions can make a difference not only in the stopping ability of your bike on an already slippery surface but sintered brake pads improve the braking performance in the wet and provide a higher fading-temperature while lasting longer than resin brake pads.
Wool is a beautiful material that, unlike cotton and most synthetics, will keep you (mostly) warm while wet. On your next snowy ride consider wearing woolen socks, a wool shirt, or even some wool (leggings or tights) on your lower half. Getting wet doesn’t have to be synonymous with being cold.
Sock Guy has socks that are versatile, durable, and come in some funky patterns, made for mountain biking. The wool should keep your toes from going numb.
If 6 inches of snow hasn’t stopped you from biking, then just be aware of the conditions and risks that you are subjecting yourself to. Don’t hang it all out there while the conditions make riding fast dangerous- getting hurt during the off-season is only delaying the start of the next season.
For the seasoned biking and wet-weather-rider, this next tip will seem obvious. Riding in mud and snow can be messy and dirty work. Keep mud and water out of your face with goggles. A pair of clear goggles will only set you back roughly $25 and riding won’t be the same without.
- The Giro Tempo mtb goggles are an affordable and comfortable pair of goggles, the Grio Tempo goggles get it done.
Also worth noting- clear glasses can be had for those not chasing the “enduro-bro” look. Often times safety glasses from your local hardware store can be had for less than $5!
Be mindful of the trails that you are riding
Some trails just shouldn’t be ridden wet. Riding on tacky, muddy trails can ruin the craftsmanship that has been instilled in the trail. If the trails in your area are subject to getting destroyed while muddy, reconsider the ride. I have asked around in my area and now I know which trails get muddy and fall apart while I also know which trails have good drainage or don’t mind being ridden in the wet. Ask around and, when in doubt, don’t ride a trail if it seems super sloppy.