It’s that time of year again! The winds are starting to pick up, the leaves are turning, and you can feel the seasonal shift towards winter. While there might be a chill in the air, this doesn’t mean you need to put your bike away. The trick is to be prepared and to do a few simple bits of bike maintenance to keep you rolling comfortably and efficiently.
1. As the temperature drops, so will your tire pressure. Check and top up your tires more often.
2. Seat height: be good to your knees and bits – your seat may have shifted so it’s a good time to make sure it’s at the right height and position.
3. Shorter daylight hours and grey, rainy weather means having lights at full strength are essential. Check your batteries to make sure your lights shine bright. Consider installing dynamo lights for added convenience & reliability.
4. Wipe and re-lubricate your chain to help protect it from rain/rust.
5. Consider adding some mud guards if you don’t already have them — and not just the clip-on ones that are easily stolen.
6. Keep a scarf, hat, gloves and an extra top layer in your bag as front-line protection against unexpected chilly fall winds.
7. A rain poncho and waterproof pannier are totally worth the investment. Make sure you bring them along if there’s even a chance of rain.
8. Don’t get cocky: You’ve been riding all summer, but stay sharp and alert.
9. Dusk coming sooner makes you harder for other road users to see during the busy evening rush hour. Also, in early fall the sun ends up in westbound drivers’/riders’ eyes during evening rush hour. Ride predictably, signal your intentions, make eye contact when possible, and use extra caution.
10. Rainy windshields combined with earlier darkness make bicyclists and pedestrians even harder to see. Wearing lighter-coloured clothing, a reflective safety vest, sash or clothing, and always using lights will keep you visible.
11. Piles of leaves are slippery when wet, and you never know what’s underneath them. Avoid them when possible, and use extra care at reduced speed if turning on them.
12. Wet streetcar tracks can bite. Cross them carefully at a right angle when possible and don’t lean into a turn since wheels can slip.
13. If you’re not already in the habit, shift into lower gears when you slow or stop to be kind to colder muscles as you get moving again.
14. Cover your mouth with a scarf to help protect your lungs from the burn of colder air.
— Yvonne Bambrick, author of The Urban Cycling Survival Guide