If you ride your mountain bike during the winter months, you will of course encounter rain, grime, muck and mud on almost every ride. Although the British winter weather may not appeal to some, riding in difficult and muddy conditions can be incredibly enjoyable - with the slippery conditions demanding more technical riding, when the weather improves and tracks and trails return to some sort of normality, you can expect to not only appreciate the better weather more, but also be a much better rider.
If you are planning on riding this winter, there’s a number of small changes you can make to your mountain bike to optimise it for winter performance and use.
Lower Tyre Pressure
Lowering the tyre pressures of your mountain bike is an easy way to cling onto more grip in the mud and wet stuff, with a lower tyre pressure providing a greater surface area between the tyre and ground. Lower tyre pressures do mean slower riding speeds, but that trade off is well worth it, when the benefits of extra grip are considered.
Dropping just a couple of PSI is often enough, and it’s a good idea to carry a mini pump with you on rides to provide on the go adjustments.
Choose Chunkier Tyres
Most Mountain Bikes are supplied from the factory with tyres which are suitable for year round use - allowing the rider to enjoy decent levels of grip without having to purchase a dedicated winter tyre. Riders looking for more grip however, will benefit from choosing a dedicated winter mountain bike tyre.
Although professional mountain bike riders check and adjust their suspension depending upon the stage they are riding on, that’s a little over the top for most riders. There are some easy tweaks and adjustments that can be made by all of us, which allows for greater flexibility and performance during boggy winter conditions.
Stiffening up the front end is one of the best adjustments you can make, preventing the front end of the bike from diving if you hit a boggy section of trail. To compensate for the stiffer front, you can soften the rear suspension if you are riding a full suspension bike.
Front and Rear Mudguards are amongst some of the best accessories you can buy to improve winter riding. These simple additions prevent the infamous line of mucky spray up your back, whilst also keeping mud and grit out of your eyes - allowing you to concentrate on what is ahead.
One of the most important things to remember when mountain biking during the winter months, is the importance of cleaning your mountain bike at the end of a day on the trails - not only keeping it looking its best, but also protecting its components and moving parts.