There are plenty of things to love about fall: crisp air, crunchy leaves, hot cider on a cold day, pumpkin spice in just about everything ...
Taking your bike out in cold weather may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but there’s no reason you shouldn't add that to your list too.
Seasonal upkeep is one of many reasons why we've started Rad Academy -- a themed, monthly ebike class in our Seattle showroom, where, for a $30 charitable contribution, our in-house ebike experts will walk you through basic maintenance and tips to keep you riding Rad all year long.
Not in Seattle? Not into school? Read on. Here are five tips to prepare you for riding in winter that you can *ahem* fall back on.
1. Pick the right clothes.
Fall fashion is all about bundling and layers. You get to wear cool scarves, slip on some boots, and finally rock flannel without feeling like you're at a peak-grunge era Pearl Jam show.
When it comes to fall biking, it’s the same idea: stay dry, stay warm, stay comfortable.
Take care of the basics. Get a pair of decent gloves to keep your fingers from freezing during early morning rides. Add a thermal liner under your helmet. Ear warmers can be a lifesaver.
Preparing for fall also means fending off rain. Try a jacket with Velcro cuffs to keep a watertight seal around your wrists. Rain pants are key too, and a top tip here is to go oversized so that when you pedal, the pants don't lift over the opening in your shoe and dump water down your ankles. Don’t go too baggy, though, as you could risk getting fabric caught in the drivetrain.
2. Install fenders.
Colorful foliage looks gorgeous on trees, but it's less so when it’s caught in your spokes.
Riding through leaves and mud puddles can ruin your ride, especially if any of that gunk splashes up into your wheels.
Take care of your bike (and your shoes, pants, etc.) by installing front and rear fenders before the rainy season picks up. We have instructional videos here, but we’ll also be giving an in-person demo at our workshop.
3. Keep it light.
Misty October mornings are beautiful. They’re perfect for waking up a little early and holding a mug with two hands. (Something stock photos have convinced us is an actual fall craze.)
While the hazy mornings and early dusks can be whimsical, reduced visibility also means that proper lighting is critical. It’s about more than just being able to see on your ride -- it’s about being seen on your ride. Especially by cars.
Use your headlight and rear light, but also make sure you check that they’re clean, functional, visible, and secure before each ride.
Take extra precautions by wearing bright, reflective clothing and making sure you have reflectors on both sides of your bike.
4. Maintain your chain.
The chain is one of the main parts of your bike that can be affected by the season. In the fall, it has a tendency to dry out much faster than in the summer, so make sure you keep it well lubricated.
Luckily, our ebikes don’t require any specific type of lube. You can get away with a standard lubricant, but if you’re in a particularly wet environment, don’t be afraid to go for the heavier stuff.
There are plenty of tools out there to help you maintain your chain, but if you’re new to biking and want to make sure you’re doing it right, this is one of the main lessons we’ll be covering at our workshop.
If you decide to go it alone, try running your chain through a rag or an old t-shirt to soak up any excess after the application. If you leave on too much, you’ll hear it when you pedal. If you apply too little, you’ll also hear it. The less noise, the better.
5. Don’t be afraid to hibernate.
If you decide not to bike until the temperatures creep back up, no worries! We want you to enjoy your ride, and absolutely no one will judge you if you sit this one out. When it's a sloppy mix of rain, wind, and snow out, and it's dark at 4 p.m., we may very well do the same.
Just make sure you take proper steps when you put your bike into hibernation.
Eikes do best when stored in a dry environment that’s as close to room temperature as possible, so ideally not a drafty shed and definitely not outside.
Leave your battery around 50-75 percent charged. Storing it completely depleted or fully charged for long periods of time can cause serious damage. Trust us on this one. Read why here.
When you’re ready to take it out again, don’t forget to give it an inspection before going for a spin. Your tires will lose air as the temperature fluctuates and learning that your breaks need adjusting while going downhill on your first ride of the spring is not a discovery you want to make.