Winter cycling tips

Tips from Sustrans for cycling in the winter weather.

As temperatures are set to drop this weekend leading Cycling Charity and pioneer of the National Cycle Network Sustrans has the following tips for safe winter cycling:

• Most importantly, be visible. Cyclists can be hard for motorists to spot at the best of times let alone on a wet, dark night. A good light on the back and front of your bicycle is essential for safe ridings those grey winter morning and dark winter nights. We like the flashing lights you can attach to your pedals too.

• A good set of tyres will help prevent unnecessary skidding. We suggest extra gripping but also keeping tyres a little less inflated than you would in the summer

• It’s not just the road that gets slippery in the wet; it’s your pedals too. If you’re not comfortable using clip-in pedals it’s a good idea to get some with extra grip. You can fit them yourself pretty easily or your friendly local bike shop will give you a hand.

• A waterproof jacket and trousers are a must for cyclists on a wet winter day.

You want your jacket to be water and wind-proof but it should also be breathable - you warm up surprisingly quickly once the heart starts pumping. Most cycling jackets will come with great zip-up pockets for storage, a high neck to keep the wind and rain out and will also include reflective strips for extra visibility. Try to pick a bright colour so you stand out on those grey mornings.

• Keep your fingers and toes warm as toast with a wind and shower-proof gloves and overshoes. Fleece lined gloves are simply glorious and a padded palm will reduce vibration through the handle bars. Avoid wool if you can – it slips on the handle bars.

No-one wants to arrive at work with soggy feet and spend the day sloshing around the office. Waterproof over-shoes are a quick fix for those really wet days. Made from wetsuit material they slip over the top of your every day shoes.

• Waterproof clothing will go along way but you really don’t want to be riding in the wet without some good mudguards. They’ll stop spray back on yourself and others. Full mudguards with side stays are your best bet.

• Make sure you invest in a saddle cover so your bum stays dry after your bike has spent the day in the rain. A plastic bag is a reliable, cheap alternative but otherwise carry a cloth so you can wipe your bike down before you set off.

• It’s a good idea to book a service at the start of winter to make sure your bike is in tip top shape. Bikes tend to deteriorate more quickly in the winter months with things coming loose easily in the wet. A quick once over check before you jump will also help prevent any nasty surprises during your ride.

• We all know the pain of getting that favourite leather hand bag wet. Nightmare. Luckily, there is a huge range of practical and stylish waterproof panniers, bags and basket covers available.

Remember, winter cycling is not all doom and gloom. The streets are quieter and it’s great way to get a head start on everyone by staying fit in the colder.