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Winter advice?


Wintermute
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So, I'm entering my first winter as a bike commuter and wonder what kind of tips more experienced riders would offer?


I'm mostly thinking about how to care for your bike during the cold weather.


I'll be digging out my thermal layers soon!


Cheers!

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the two big enemies of 125 bikes (or any bike) in winter are salt and the cold. salt will quickly destroy the finish of your bike. you can prevent this by coating it an ACF50.


the cold.. will exacerbate the drain on your battery particularly if your commute is fairly short. in effect you'll be taking more power out than the bikes charging system an put back in. The cold just makes matters worse. the answer is.. either ride the bike further and more often. or buy a charger and give the battery a top-up. some chargers can be left connected over night. but if thats not possible.. then a couple of hours here and there should be enough. the last thing you want in winter is to end up stranded due to a flat battery.


keep an eye on tyre pressures.. and when the salt is really bad. give your brakes a clean. with spray brake cleaner.. to flush out any salt and so prevent the brakes from seizing.. or rather the parts inside, which if they seize can cause all sorts of problems when you come to change pads.


learn how to change the headlight bulb.. and other lights. maybe get some spare bulbs - just in case.


and be sure your phone is always charged so if you do have a break down you can get the AA or whoever your assistance is to you quickly.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Keep all lights clean, they get covered in crap, also remember car drivers don't always de mist the inside of all their windows when they start out so carry on treating them (as you should all year round) as idiots who won't see you even though their faces are pointing your way. Also remember a flashing indicator just means the bulb is working.

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Clean the chain regularly. It quickly picks up crud from the road in the winter. Learn how to take off the front sprocket cover so you can clean in there as well. It traps the crud into an oil mush which the chain runs through. I spray the chain with WD40 to loosen the crud, rub it with a dish brush, wipe with a rag and then lube it.


My YBR was a battle with rust and I had a tin of Kurust and Hammerite to touch up any that appeared. If the bike has been treated with ACF50 it is best to wash it with just a little car shampoo and cold water or else it will soon wash off.

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As for riding advice, Keep it simple. No hard acceleration or hard braking (unless you HAVE to) and take turns a bit slower. Look ahead for potential hazards and leave additional space to stop, don't forget that black ice is hard to spot and dangerous.


I also recomend a pinlock visor for your helmet to reduce the fogging up factor =) Nothing worse than being unable to see or having to ride visor up in the bitter cold. Check out racevisors.

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for chrome , a mix of 50-50 parafin wax and vaseline melted down and smeared on with a paint brush will form a very good barrier which the road crud will not penetrate. it will look like shit for the winter months and pick up all sorts of filth - however a hair dryer and rag come summer will clear it all off and your chrome will be spotless. ensure your bike is clean and dry before doing this. you don't want to trap moisture in there. A dose of acf50 once per clean with a rag on exposed metal will keep the rust at bay. do not use it on paintwork. finally, think about investing in a scottoiler or other similar automated oiling products. it will extend the life of your chain. you should still give it a good clean once a week. use a nylon brush on your chain, not a wire brush. the chain has small rubber o-rings which will be damaged by the harsh brush.


once a month, take your brake pads out the calipers and give the whole lot a good clean down with a toothbrush and hot soapy water. don't be tempted to use acf50 in the caliper as it will exacerbate the collection of brake dust and road crud. clean the pad of any built up crud. definately don't use products here as they will affect the quality of the friction material. push the pistons out a little and give them a healthy clean with hot soapy water and a nylon tooth brush. you should be able to rotate the piston round in the caliper to get to all sides. don't push the piston back in unless it's spotless. you're likely to ruin the rubber seal.


Another tip for riding, the sun is low this time of year, pay attention to what position the sun is in. if it's to your back, drivers will not be able to see you - ride like they can't.


also pay attention to frosts, rain, and road gunk.


leaves + frost = lethal!


a heavy rain after a period of frost can be good, as the roads get a good wash. however a heavy rain followed by a frost, then a light rain is a recipe for carnage!


pick your line in corners carfully and try to be able to stop if you need to. you probably should slow down and ride carefully, however riding in these conditions depends on how smooth you are. no sudden movements, anticipation is key.


finally, wrap up warm and make sure your digits are protected. you prob don't have enough juice in the little ybr battery to power heated grips, so invest in a decent pair of gloves.


if you can't afford a pinlock visor, a small smear of shaving foam (wiped off) on the inside keeps your visor from fogging. you will need to apply before each ride - which isn't so bad as it encourages best practice of keeping your equipment as clean as you can.


Good luck and have fun. I enjoyed riding through winter.

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