When the mercury drops outside and we’re forced to brave the colder months there’s no need to hibernate your bike in the garage. Those crisp temperatures and extra moisture create some of the most magic trail conditions which would be a sin not to get out there and enjoy on a daily basis, right?
Here at the mag we believe there is an artform to riding in winter and we’ve got it pretty dialled after all these years. Here is our list of the essential items which will help to make your winter trail sessions as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
You’ll need a decent bag
Chances are you’re going to get wet and muddy whilst riding during the winter months, and that means you’ll need a change of clothing post-ride and you’ll no doubt be needing to lug around all of those ‘just in case’ clothing items. With that in mind, it’s time to invest in a good quality duffel bag. At the very top of your wish list should be something like the ‘Planing’ Duffle from Patagonia. This duffle is a set of durable, lightweight and super-functional bag with a built-in divider that easily separates wet from dry whilst en route to or from the trails. We’d recommend a 55L capacity bag as it’s the perfect size to stash all of your gear.
A water-resistant phone pouch
With ‘smart phones’ costing upwards of two thousand beans these days, and being just as fragile as ever before, one piece of kit that we rely on during those cold wet rides is a decent quality phone pouch. Probably the best design on the market right now is the ‘Essentials Case’ by Rapha.
Even if you’re not a fan of wearing tinted sunnies for riding, whilst you’re in the saddle and the temps drop outside having a decent shield (set of eyewear) to protect your eyes from the wind will be one the most practical additions you can make to your riding kit. In low light conditions opt for a clear lens, or even better try and find a good set of photochromatic lenses which will automatically adjust to suit the varying light conditions as you ride in and out of shadows along the trail. Brand wise, 100% are making some of our favourite style right now, like these ‘Hypercraft’ models which feature a carbon firbre frame that weigh just 23grams – and every set of 100% riding sunnies come with a bonus clear lens in the box.
A compact lightweight jacket
Weather conditions can change in the blink of an eye and so carrying a riding jacket every time you head to the trails is a must. Lots of brands now make really well designed comfortable lightweight jackets which often fold up into little pouches, or even their own pockets, making them super easy to carry in your pack. Or in the case of this awesome ‘SWAT’ jacket by Specialized it has been designed to fold up into the perfect little sausage shape which fits perfectly into the SWAT storage unit area within lots of their trail frames.
These little plastic fork fenders have become really common and they do a fantastic job at keeping mud and rocks from flinging you in the face. A thousand brands make them so track one down, fit it to your fork using a couple of zip ties and leave it on there for the rest of the year.
A trusty bike light
Trust us, having a powerful little lightweight torch fitted to the front of your bike is a must for winter riding. We’ve been caught out waaaay too many times when trails turn to dark in a flash. Never again we say! Our pick of the bunch when it comes to lights this season would have to be Giant’s Reckon HL range. They come in a heap of different sizes, offer great quality light, and they’re really affordable.
Nothing will ruin the frame and components on your beloved bike more viciously as mother nature’s brown gloop, mud! Keep your bike clean, wash it straight away after every muddy ride (ideally before it dries). Plenty of brands make good bike wash these days. Aussie brand Krush, as well as Peatys and MucOff are all on our recommendations list. Oh, and be sure to buy the biggest bottle you can so that you don’t run out in a hurry.
After a cold or wet ride there is nothing better than sliding into a warm Radox bath. Pick yourself up a bottle of this blue magical potion for like $5 at a supermarket and you’ll become your new favourite person after your next ride. [R]