Keep it rolling
The bicycle has become easier to maintain thanks to developments like fit-and-forget cartridge bearing hubs, and external bottom brackets that offer decent longevity and a service routine that involves only disposal and replacement. While winter will place extra demands on your steed in the form of wet and grimy roads, maintaining your bike through winter is now a simple task.
Washing your bike thoroughly after particularly dirty rides is the simplest way to prevent mechanical issues, and the jet wash (handled with care) and airline have placed pro team washing and drying techniques in the hands of the amateur. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the bucket and sponge method (wheels out, wash with warm, soapy water, rinse with cold, clear water, and dry with a towel).
Keep exposed areas of cable lightly coated with a silicone spray, and select one of the many and varied chain lubricants to hold off the worst of the grime thrown up from the road surface. Regardless of the lubricant chosen, and ‘winter’ lubes tend to be thicker and heavier, it should not be regarded as a substitute for regular cleaning. Chain scrubber tools like the Park Cyclone have made cleaning the area of the drivetrain under greatest strain a snap.
Tyre checks, both for pressure and wear, should be part of your pre-ride routine anyway, and are doubly important in winter with the additional demands placed upon them by dirty road surfaces. Reducing your tyre pressure will increase your contact with the road and increase grip levels (it will provide a more comfortable ride, too). Tubeless tyres, where inner tubes are replaced with a latex fluid, are increasingly popular with road cyclists and have the added advantage at this time of year of performing well at lower pressures.
Mudguards might not seem an obvious part of a maintenance routine, but given that many mechanical issues stem from the wear placed on components by road grime, it’s perhaps worth considering their value as a preventative measure. The mudguard’s primary function is to protect the rider, of course, but by doing so, it also protects the machine beneath him.