real life cycling

50% riding, 30% thinking about riding, 20% unsound financial decision-making

The Winter Bike

The winter bike is a staple steed in any cyclist’s stable.

Once it dawned on me that my destiny was a life dominated by the pull of the push-iron (a moment that came a mere twenty –minutes in to my first ride on a carbon fibre road bike) I knew I needed a winter bike.

It’s what you do.

The good bike was worth more than my car. In fact, it was worth more than the sum total of 90% of my possessions. A winter bike was needed for the schlepp of winter mileage and all its frame battering, component degrading, salt, grit and shit spraying pleasures.

A simple financial decision designed to protect the pride and joy.

The problem is that deep into winter, when the pull of the road requires quite a bit more stick than carrot, the bike waiting for you to swing a leg across its top tube is under-specced, overweight, and past it’s best.

A bit like the rider, some people might say.

Rude people.

People who won’t be invited when my access-all-areas Tour de France press accreditation finally comes through (it’ll be coming this year…I just know it!)

During November I quite enjoy the novelty of the winter bike. From December until March I long for something lighter, faster, and more comfortable. Something without an obsolete group-set, a battered old saddle, and a frame three inches too long for my torso.

And then I realise that some people don’t put up with this.

One of the lads in the local bike shop looks at me, non-plussed, as if to say: “…life’s too short, just ride a better bike.” I’m pretty sure this isn’t a subtle sales technique, but a genuine and zen-like calmness about the effect of road debris on expensive things.

Another cyclist I know – admittedly a retiree with a pension and a few quid in the bank – spends his winter riding a custom-made titanium creation from renowned frame builders Sabbath. It drips with Campagnolo Record group-set and Neutron wheels.

I won’t even tell you what his “good” bike is.

You wouldn’t think it fair.

None of this changes my mind about the fact that a half-arsed winter bike is a sound financial decision. But since when has cycling been about making sound financial decisions?

If anything it’s 50% riding, 30% thinking about riding, and 20% making unsound financial decisions.

Maybe life’s too short to ride crap bikes.

5 comments on “50% riding, 30% thinking about riding, 20% unsound financial decision-making

  1. Until you tinker with the crap bike enough that it’s almost as good as the A bike, just four pounds heavier… I like the idea of the winter bike.


  2. You’ve got to have a winter/rain bike in the UK. My winter bike is set up as close as possible in geometry and measurements to my good bike. It’s a heavy frame (but with di2 for a bit of lushness) shod with heavy tyres and full length guards. Probably 11kg or so. I should ride it more.


  3. I just use my old trekking bike. Like 25 years old. It has road-like geometry, is made of seemingly undestructable chromoly an is joy to ride, especially as we know each other for so long. And in the spring I can change the whole drivetrain for as much as casette for my ultegra equipped “best bike”.
    Not to mention how fast i feel when it’s time to ride my road bike.
    I commute every day, and in Poland my bike is exposed to snow, salt and debris. Temperatures can sometimes fall to -10 or even -20 Celsius on winter mornings. If you ride every day there is now other way – You just have to replace some parts every spring.


  4. I’m using a Cento10NDR with Potenza discs as my winter bike – not too much salt on the roads here in the Pyrenees so a careful wipedown after every ride has so far been OK. the main problem is usually in the hunting season (just finished) what with deer or boar jumping out onto back roads – not to mention deer poo which seems to have glue-like qualities in sticking to frames …


  5. When one lives in an area where the “frame battering, component degrading, salt, grit and shit spraying pleasures” continue for 11 months with just 4 weeks of interruption, one realises that achieving zen-master status is actually routine stuff. Or rather, one starts to think whether getting a summer bike would be a sound financial decision.


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