Winter is upon us again, but for many of us, we want to push the bike frontier and enjoy the fun and challenges of cycling in the winter. I believe I would be letting both my Azor bike and my wife’s bakfiets.nl cargo bike down if we did not ride them through the winter as they were built for year-round use. The frame has two layers of tough powder coat paint with an anti-rust zinc primer, and almost everything else that is not painted is either stainless steel or aluminum, making it as rust proof as you can get. Combine that with fully enclosed chain cases, sealed Shimano nexus hubs and sealed Shimano roller brakes and you could not engineer a better winter bike.
What really amazes people about our Azor Dutch bikes and the bakfiets.nl cargo bikes is when we show customers our personal bikes that have been ridden through the winter and stored outdoors (as you see from photo during last year’s brutal winter). You cannot even tell, and that is in fact the point.
In terms of maintenance, we highly recommend two factory services per year if the bike is ridden through the winter. Once in the spring and once in the fall for a winterizing service. We have been busy the last couple of weeks, performing winterizing services for our customers both in store and using our Mobile service in Toronto & Hamilton. One of the most important parts of the winterizing services is treating the cables to prevent moisture build up and hence freezing cables as they are the lifeline to both shifting and stopping! It is a bit time consuming as you need to fully remove all of the cables and treat them (just spraying lubricant from the ends is not adequate) and reinstall them but it is well worth it.
Since your brakes are only as good as the traction of your tires, winter studded tires for bicycles have been another popular winter add on. If you are able to pick and choose your days that you ride in the winter, you may be able to get away without them, but if you are relying on your bike for your daily commute then they can be worth their weight on gold – especially with all of the freezing rain we have experienced of the recent winters. They are in investment, around $85-$115 for the high quality Schwalbes that we stock, so one way to economize is to add one to the front tire only as it is the most critical for steering and braking.
Photos Courtesy of Schwalbe
We recommend installing the tires before the ice hits as it is best to ride at least 40 km to help the carbides seat nicely in the tires. Also, for maximum efficiency, you can keep the tires at the higher pressure when the roads are clear (not riding on the carbides) and lower range of the pressure when the snow and ice hit.
Remember, as part of your safety check before each ride, test your brakes during the winter to be double sure your brakes will be there when you need them.
Now you are ready to enjoy the winter splendor by bike!