bike maintenance real life cycling

The winter bike (or, how to save your relationship)

It’s possible to achieve great results if you lavish a small amount of time and attention in the right areas.

Perhaps you’ve been neglecting your duties and have taken things for granted? Maybe you’ve forgotten what it was that you fell in love with? Frankly, has the spark gone?

A few short weeks ago all of this applied to me, until I had a moment of clarity and decided life was too short to live with regret. I could either moan about the lacklustre relationship between us, or I could damn well get a grip and do something about it!

I did the right thing: I wheeled my winter bike out from its dark corner in the shed and set about making things right.

The Winter Bike (Image:
The Winter Bike

The truth is that the frame on my Pinarello Angliru has always been a bit too big for me, so I did what I should have done years ago and replaced the handlebar stem with a shorter one. I can now ride it without inducing backache, which is nice.

As the fastening bolts on the old stem had (to my shame) gathered a spot of rust over the years this replacement also had the benefit of adding a bit of shine to the front end. It’s the bit you can see when you ride, and does wonders for the mid-ride psychology.

And who doesn’t want a bit of shine on their front end?

The brake levers and gear shifting had long been ready for an overhaul, so I replaced a few parts with fresh Campagnolo spares. The idea that my winter bike might change gears smoothly and slow down when you pull the brake levers was a novel one, but this is now what it does. Admittedly it takes a bit of the excitement out of riding downhill but still, it’s probably for the best.

And the general scruffiness?

The fact is, if you ride a bike which is scruffy and unloved you end up feeling a bit scruffy and unloved. This is particularly true in the autumn when you wrap the good bike in cotton wool for another year and wheel out the workhorse. For motivational reasons this is exactly the time you need to look good on your bike.

Some pristine red bar tape, a bright red drinks cage, and the kind of wash, polish and buff that it’s not seen since that first flush of love back in the early days soon sorted things out. Of course it’s still a bit sluggish out on the road, but only in comparison to the good bike. I won’t be setting and Strava KOM’s on it, but that’s fine by me.

Now, when I see it propped outside the café with its simple angles and its shiny red accessories the old spark has been rekindled. Sometimes a quick once over is all that’s needed to get the fires burning again.

Call me superficial, but that’ll do for me.

21 comments on “The winter bike (or, how to save your relationship)

  1. My winter bike is going in for a full paint job in December, when cycling outdoors on a road bike is all but impossible. I know your pain riding a scruffy lookin’ bike.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good man! I have to say we only get short spells when riding outdoors is technically no do-able. Doesn’t mean i won’t be having a few evenings indoors on the rollers though. I’ve long made the mistake of avoiding spending any money whatsoever on my winter bike, but i’ve learnt my lesson. Much easier to enjoy winter riding on a bike you have at least some affection for!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed. I’m getting it painted to match the Venge too… All three of my main bikes will match (mountain, winter and race).

        I’m jealous of your weather. We get three months, maybe four, with snow, ice and freezing cold temperatures.


  2. Then again, I buy my bikes to ride, not just look at. Having said that, I’ve been thinking about having mine powder-coated on aa pearly white.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tried all white on an old aluminium Trek frame – looked great, still does actually, but a nightmare to keep in pristine condition, and definitely not recommended for a winter bike,

      Liked by 1 person

      • my bikes never look pristine, but my road bike is most definitely looking the worse for wear with all its dings. Of course, it only has 30,000 miles on it. Geez, they just don’t make paint like they used to! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is the problem. Lovely to look at, bugger to keep clean!


    • Pearly white – nice. I often toy with the idea of learning how to apply a new paint job to my winter bike and getting stuck in – never quite found the time or the motivation yet!


      • I had Beast (my BOB) powder coated a couple years ago. My powder coating guy said he’d do my bike for only $50 including sandblasting.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. gerry miller

    Winter here in the Pyrenees is pretty short – just early December to end of February and usually only a week or so of snow/ice and quite a few sunny days, so one can usually ride. Even so I won’t be using my Zero9 but the Cross-Carbon with 28mm conti 4seasons. A winter bike’s always a good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very wise. best to save the good bike; if nothing else just for that little boost in speed you get when you jump back on it n est spring. I’ve often thought the Pyrenees might be a nice place to move to one day – short winters are a definite selling point!


      • gerry miller

        This year the winter’s probably getting even shorter – it’s been our best autumn for 26 years – today I went out for 35 kms, it was 12°C.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Same here – although we’ve had loads of rain I think we’ve only had two frosts so far!


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