Winter can be a harsh time for any bike. Salt, grime, water, ice, snow, etc. can all take life out of your components. Here are a few tips on keeping things rolling smoothly during the winter months.
1.) Store your bike indoors or a garage during the night. I recommend this year round.
2.)Keep your chain lubed and drivetrain rolling smooth. Periodic cleaning of the chain every other or few weeks(depending on how much you ride). I like to use OneStep by Finish Line for cleaning a chain, it cleans and lubes. After drying or later that day i will use a seasonal lube, during the winter and cold nasty months i like WetLube by Finish Line. It is thicker and will stick to the chain better and not get washed off so easily. Handy when snow, slush, etc. is getting all over your drive train. In the warmer weather i will use Dry Teflon Lube by Finish Line, it is a wax base lube good for warmer weather.
3.) Make sure water is not getting into your brake and shifter cables. If you get water into the housings for these cables they may end up freezing together and be unable to move. You can obviously bring your bike inside and it will melt this water in the cable housings but yet it will still be in there. Resulting in it to refreeze again when your bike gets cold. To help reduce the likeliness of this happening is to put a little lube in your cable housing and or a white lithium grease on the cables near where they exit the housing. Some nicer cables will have teflon coatings on the cables and housings and this may be of no help. But for the large majority of bikes ridden a little bit of lube in the cable housings is never a bad thing.
4.) Pressure love. If you are storing your bike in a warm room this time of year the air pressure in your tires are going to be different when you get it out side and cold. Just like how a hot air balloon works a bike tire will act similarly. When the air is warm it will expand and when cold contract. So imagine you pump you tires up to 100psi when they are inside your warm house, take that tire outside and the air will cool down and contract, resulting in lower pressure in your tire. IF you go and fill it up to a 100psi when outside or in a garage, and then later bring that bike inside. The in the tires will warm up and expanded, the pressure will be above 100psi. This can result in tubes exploding while inside. Mind you the specific pressure of 100psi is relative to what pressure your tubes can handle.
5.) Tires. Switching tires can be helpful. Studded tires can be very handy in icy conditions. There is plenty written on them on the web, i’ve never have used one so I will leave that info to people that have. Other tire options consist of larger diameter tires such as cyclocross tires, or mtb tires depending on what type of bike you have. If you can only acquire one extra tire for winter weather use it on the front and not the rear. In the event of slippery conditions you want to have more control over the front to prevent the front washing out on you. If the rear does this you are more likely to just fish tail or be able to catch yourself. There’s nothing wrong with running the same slicks or tires you do all year round.
6. Keeping the bike stable. Exposing your bike to warm then cold then warm then cold again and again can wreck havoc if it is going on multiple times a day. Some times a lil prep can go a long way. For instance some times I will put my bike in the garage and get it to the same temp as outside. This will help stop condensation building up and snow instantly melting when it hits your bike and less likely to have it ice up. Warm metal getting hit with cold snow means instant melt. If i come back home before i head somewhere else i will leave it outside or in the garage and keep it cold to minimize the snow melting off and causing a watery havoc. This is of course completely relative to the weather. When bringing the bike in for the day i will try and knock off and wipe off the majority of snow from the bike to minimize the amount of water dripping off/on the bike or floor. Same as above warming the tires up back and forth will mess with the pressure also.
7.) Giving your bike a gentle bath once and a while is nice also. Use low pressure water to help ensure that you don’t shoot water into your cable housings. Dish soap and a wash rag are handy. Wipe it dry and let it sit for a bit for the rest of the moisture to evaporate off before taking outside.
Now to different types of drive-trains that work well in winter weather.
In my opinion fixed gear drivetrains work best. Simple and cheap. The chain is the only moving part. Easy to control when it starts to slip. Easy to keep clean.
Internally geared drivetrains are also popular since there is no external moving parts. These are more expensive and seals have been known to be temperamental. Easy to clean the drivetrain since there is no derailer.
Derailer style drive trans(most common on geared bikes road or mtb) can work just fine. These can be temperamental to snow and ice build up and or lubing issues. Properly maintained they will work just fine.
If you have any questions hit me up!