The snow is coming down over London and many cycle commuters will be having a chilly ride home, beautifully framed by snowflakes.
This morning I cycled in with a friend of mine, to show her the ropes about cycling in London. Her biggest complaint:
“It’s too hot! I’m sweating!”
It’s bitter sweet that on one of the coldest days of the year, the complaint is about sweating. Something that fortunately can be easily solved by having the right layers, and removing them as you pedal to work.
I’d like to bring you some of my top tips for cycling the snow.
Snow tip 1: Staying warm
I generally just accept that my jeans will get wet, but I do tend to a wear a pair of meggins (men’s leggings) beneath to keep me warm (much to the laughter of my girlfriend – jealousy I’m sure!). Alternatively, you may own a pair of waterproof trousers.
Snow tip 2: More tyre tread is preferable for winter
Road bikes generally have slick tyres, which have minimum grip as they are optimised for speed. This should be fine for light snow, but as it gets heavier you’ll ideally want something with more tread.
Most hybrids and mountain bikes will be better equipped for this weather as they tend to have tyres with additional tread.
If the conditions worsen, you may choose to buy a new set of tyres from your local bike shop, that have additional tread. Otherwise, Chain Reaction Cycles have plenty of options.
Snow tip 3: Easy around the corners
When you are cycling in the snow, you’ll quickly realise you have less control than usual, due to slippery roads. You’ll want to be especially careful around corners, as this is when it’s easy to lose grip on the road. Take it slightly slower than usual and make smooth turns.
Snow tip 4: Go easy on the tyre pressure
You can get some additional grip by slightly under inflating your tyres.
Snow tip 5: Brake early
In snowy and slippery cycling conditions, it’s a good idea to brake earlier than usual and to drop your speed slightly. This is because stopping distances will be increased.
Ideally, the front brake should be used only when you are cycling in as straight line.
Snow tip 6: Relax and keep your weight back
When you are cycling in heavy snow and freezing conditions, you’ll find that your wheel will want to head off occasionally in strange directions as it drops in to various tracks laid out by cars. Allow it to do so, don’t tense too much and keep your weight back. This should help keep your central balance on the bike.
Snow tip 7: A good time to put a helmet on
If you don’t normally wear a helmet, this can be a good time of the year to use one. It’s more likely in snowy conditions that you’ll have a fall.
Snow tip 8: Mudguards!
If you don’t do it for yourself, then do it for the cyclist behind you. Add a mudguard to your bike, it takes two seconds!
We recommend the SKS Mudguard.
Snow tip 9: Be aware of drivers reduced visibility
Fogged windows mixed with ice conditions, means that if you are cycling in the snow, you should also be aware of a drivers reduced visibility. Remember to cycle in the primary position (not in the gutter) and give drivers extra space. Also, be aware cars that accelerate too fast in the snow may slide, so you shouldn’t be positioned at the side of one.
Snow tip 10: Clear glasses
When cycling in the snow, a lot of the snowflakes will end up in your eyes. Using either a cap or a pair of clear cycling glasses should solve the issue.
Any more tips? Share them below!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.