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What makes a good winter bike?

apprent1ceapprent1ce Posts: 86
edited January 2015 in Road beginners
I bought a secondhand supersix (2011) ultegra and rode through most of last year. I am trying to get out now but I haven’t modified the bike in anyway, same tyres, no mudguards etc - but I have bought winter clothing. The country lanes where I cycle are pretty crappy, lots of potholes and get covered in surface rubbish and gravel after storms, rain etc. I try to be rigorous with cleaning but inevitably there is a lot of grit and muck about and I wondered if it would be worth investing in a cheap bike for these winter conditions?

And, if so, what should I look for?

Many thanks for any advice.


  • keezxkeezx Posts: 1,311
    Anything cheap that fits you will do the job.
    Possibility for mudguards is a plus, but not mandatory, just gives you more work cleaning e.t.c.
    I use an old alloy frame with Campa 9 speed parts, FSA Vero crankset and Shimano 105/Mavic 32 H wheels, mainly leftovers and it serves me wel, exept that mudguards are not possible.
  • Sufficient clearance for spiked tyres - if you can't go out because it's icy, it's not much of a winter bike - and eyelets for proper mudguards. Having bigger clearance also allows you to fit wider tyres (28mm+), which are a tremendous asset in bad conditions; you also don't want to be shivering by the roadside fixing punctures.

    Other than that, sturdy wheels with well-sealed bearings (this obviously goes for all other bearings on the bikes as well), and (probably) alloy rims. Fixed gear and single speed - whilst a traditional fixture of winter cycling - need less maintenance, if you're really not up for cleaning the thing; I also find friction shifting useful in this regard.
  • w00dsterw00dster Posts: 879
    What Simon says.
    I use my Cyclocross bike for offroad and road riding during the winter months. Plenty of clearance for what ever tyres the weather dictates.
    A lot of guys think disc brakes are also really useful for winter. My winter bike has disc brakes, there is a performance improvement especially in the wet.
    I always see my winter bike as something that has to meet your riding requirements, I love mixing my riding up at this time of year, so riding out 20 miles on the road, then doing a 10 mile forest trail then 20 miles back on road. For me it has to be something that I know will be given some abuse so the replacement parts are cheap. The weight of the bike I see as a non issue, my bike in full winter guise is probably about 11kg (guards, cheap wheels, big tyres, lights) along with my additional winter clothing, the weather and the wind also mean that I'm not worried about getting any PBs so I accept my bike weighs what it does and I see this as a training tactic - if I can ride my heavy bike come the warmer drier weather I will notice the benefits (even if thats a placebo affect - it works for me)
    I use my Cyclocross bike for club rides at weekends and whilst its harder work I still prefer the thought of the nice big tyres and the disc brakes - even if its purely a confidence thing.
  • 1. mounts for full mudguards
    2. ability to take wider tyres (28mm min)
    3. disc brakes - soooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better in the wet

    They're my 3, though the discs may push the price up a bit though I haven't checked the second hand prices of anything...probably a CX bike would fit the bill best. If you wanna ride on ice then you'll need clearance for 35mm+ tyres for the ice spikes I think
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Good hubs, preferably on hand built wheels
  • mpattsmpatts Posts: 1,002
    You simply would not believe the difference a good set of guards make to comfort. You stay A LOT drier.

    My winter steel is a genesis equilibrium, with fairly boggo stuff on it. What really helps me is that I really like the bike - I find it makes it much easier to ride. I have even stuck to 23mm conti 4 seasons, because that's what it came with and I found them bullet proof.

    Sometimes I pretend I am a postman.
    Insert bike here:
  • NeXXusNeXXus Posts: 854
    Frame geometry close(if not identical to) any bikes used in summer

    Wheels: Robust(in theory) 28/24 spoke wheels

    Mounts for proper mudguards - I don't do clip-on/quick release BS, as good as some are - fixed guards are superior

    Cheap to build/buy/maintain (ie: I built my Ribble from a donor bike using 9spd Tiagra) Cables/chains/cassettes/brakes are very cheap to replace.
    And the people bowed and prayed, to the neon god they made.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Something you're happy to ride for 2 or 3 hours when the roads are wet and censored -strewn. At the bare minimum: Proper mudguards. 25mm or preferably 28mm tyres. Decent lights and reflectives.

    I have an 8 year old Racelight Tk which was originally designed as a winter trainer so is perfect. For 6 years it was my one and only year round bike, now I have a carbon bike for summer and the Tk in full winter kit for the other 11 months of the year

    If money isn't an issue I'd also say disk brakes would be a practical choice for a winter roadie. If I was buying from scratch now I'd be considering something like the Planet X London Road in the very loud green paint job.
  • Thanks for all the replies, really appreciated.

    I probably wont be riding in the ice and also not off-road on the routes that are convenient for me, although will ride in evenings as I have decent lights.

    So I’m looking for something that:
    Takes mudguards
    Sturdy Wheels (any recommendations, I’m 68kg)
    Winter Tyres (appreciate recommendations)

    Easy/cheap maintained components (any minimum level?)
    Not worried about weight

    Not averse to a X bike but not sure how similar geometry will be to the Supersix?

    Budget of about £500 and second hand is fine. (I’m 5’10 and have a 56cm frame)
  • ben@31[email protected] Posts: 2,322
    edited January 2015
    What makes a good winter bike?

    One that you think has little value and therefore don't mind it corroding with road salt or getting covered in crud. Maybe you could cheaply replace components. The conditions are causing my front derailleur to stick (Edit... Not a fault with the actual derailleur it's caused by crud getting inside the derailleur and causing a jam. The derailleur needs to be well cleaned to remove the crud in-between moving parts).

    I'm surprised the OP is using a Supersix Ultegra as a winter bike. A while back I wanted a Supersix (in Liquigas-Cannondale team colours) as my best bike.
    "The Prince of Wales is now the King of France" - Calton Kirby
  • What makes a good winter bike?

    I'm surprised the OP is using a Supersix Ultegra as a winter bike. A while back I wanted a Supersix (in Liquigas-Cannondale team colours) as my best bike.

    Supersix is my best, but it's also my only bike at the moment so think I definitely need to get something else.
  • sheffsimonsheffsimon Posts: 1,282
    Not sure that clearance for spiked tyres is a requirement, I don't think I've ever seen or known of anyone on any of the gazillions of winter rides I've been on using spiked tyres.

    Proper fixed mudguards, that still give good tyre clearance with 28mm tyres. Otherwise you get mud and stuff jammed between tyre and mudguard. And a proper mudguard flap.....

    As close to your summer bike geometry as possible.

    Apart from that, cheapish componentry, though not so cheap that it's unreliable. Mine's usually stuff that's migrated from the best bike, which means I can buy new stuff for the best bike... :D
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Wide Clearances
    Full Proper Guards
    Lights mounted

    I've never used spiked tyres - not sure I'd bother splashing out for the amount of icy days we get round here.
    I only ride for fun - not to commute so if its dodgy - I'll do something else. Not sure its great to be out on ice - how many cars do you know run ice tyres in the UK ?
  • lostboysaintlostboysaint Posts: 4,252
    Nothing other than a bike that you are happy to ride in the winter!

    Personally that means I ride the same bike as in the summer!
    Trail fun - Transition Bandit
    Road - Wilier Izoard Centaur/Cube Agree C62 Disc
    Allround - Cotic Solaris
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I've always run 25mm GP 4 Seasons on the Tk. Might be able to squeeze 28's in, but the 25's leave good clearance between tyre and the chromoplastic guards. I've found them to be reassuringly grippy in the cold and wet.

    It's also sporting bargain-tastic R501 wheels; cup and cone hubs with reasonable seals, and plenty of plain gauge round spokes. Drivetrain is second hand 9 speed Tiagra with a 46/36 CX chainset. I'm finding that 9 speed chains last a lot longer than 10 speed ones.
  • MoonbikerMoonbiker Posts: 1,706
    My ideal winter bike would be able to fit 32mm tyres & have a modern 135mm rear hub spacing freehub version of 5 speed gearing that doesn't exist.

    Don't really care at all about mudguards.
  • BrandonABrandonA Posts: 553
    A good winter bike is your main bike hooked up to a good turbo trainer.

    If you insist on going outside then it is the best second bike you afford.
  • fudgeyfudgey Posts: 859
    I just fitted a set of mudguards.
    My winter bike is exactly the same as my summer bike,,, but dirty...
  • nibbynibby Posts: 246
    Just bought a cyclocross, disc brakes, 35mm tyres.

    gutted I didnt do this years ago!!

    Ticks all the boxes and more..
  • I use an old Specialised Tricross. £400 quid second hand. Its winter so I want cheap and cheerful and able to cope with the weather. Mudguards are a godsend. Only change I have made is to put a pair of XT V Brakes on. They work fine and are easy to adjust, not even considered disk brakes. gearing is all Shimano 2300. Its basic but it takes a battering well and changes gear. I don't see the point in having expensive gear on a winter bike. I love riding it and am safe in the knowledge that the carbon roadie is tucked away not getting battered...:)

    I'll swap you for the Super Six....:)
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,271
    I far prefer riding my touring bike in the winter. High volume tyres, mudguards, dynamo lighting, vee-brakes and 8-speed MTB running gear. Requires nearly sod-all maintenance and handles rough/wet roads vastly better than my fast road bike.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    On Strava.{/url}
  • tlw1tlw1 Posts: 18,853
    single speed and mud guards for me - which is why I've just bought another one
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