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Riding the winter – 10 tips for survival

Posted on January 13 2015

When the weather turns cold, the streets takes on a new dynamic. We love it and that’s partly because we’re slightly bonkers but mostly because we’ve taken control of the conditions. Here’s our F5 top tips for riding the winter with a smile on your face.

  1. Warm up indoors. It’s always those first couple minutes which are the hardest until your body gets pumping and brings the heat. Do those warm-up minutes inside first and you’ll be primed and ready… and at the same time you’ll have reduced the risk of injury from stressing cold muscles. Our activity of choice? Star jumps of course.
  2. Make it sing. Having a smoothly running ride is never more important when conditions are rough. Make sure your chain is fully lubricated, brakes are properly adjusted and everything is nice and tight. The efficiency will add the edge where your grumbling body might need the help. We offer a full range of services at the Factory Five workshop starting at ¥150, just get in touch to arrange.

  3. Add some grip. Your tyres are what’s sticking your bike onto the floor, different compounds and tread make a huge difference. For winter months we like to go a little larger with a deeper tread to give better overall grip especially on cold or wet roads. Our 28c Fyxation Session tyres have a sturdy profile and kevlar grip for full control.

  4. Get comfy. One of the greatest things about fixed gear and single speed bikes is their modularity. Bars can be easily switched and there’s a wide range of styles to suit your riding style. Our recent infographic declared 2014 as the year of the riser and we’re feeling the same this year. For those winter rides when performance isn’t top of the list, switch those drops for something wide and comfortable like the Nitto B260.

  5. Layer up. Cycling is a cardiovascular sport – it’s doing your body great things and when your muscles are pumping they’re generating heat. In fact cycling uses all of your biggest muscles so a few minutes of hard blasting can have you properly cooking. When you stop that all gets sucked away. Make sure you’ve thin layers and good quality fabrics, like Mission Workshop’s Torre Merino Zip Up so that you can wrap up and peel off at the right moment.

  6. Wool socks. Wool socks, wool socks, wool socks, wooly socks, wool socks, wool socks, wool socks! Cold and numb toes are the leading cause of unhappy winter rides.

  7. Be prepared. Nothing is more frustrating than a puncture without a pump or a downpour without a raincoat. Carry the right tools for the right problems as an instinct so that the worst wintery moments aren’t the nail in the coffin. In Shanghai we’re lucky, people sell capes on every corner and there’s always a bike repair man nearby – but we’ve all got Topeak’s Race Rocket stashed in the bottom of our bags for when their pump adapters don’t fit.

  8. Know where you’re going. The best arguments happen at the worst times. On a bike ride they’re normally either when you’ve got the wrong way just before sundown or on a freezing day. Standing around to retrace the route only makes things colder and darker. Give a few more minutes to work our where you’re going before heading out and leave extra time to get there.

  9. Stay alert. Pedestrians get lazy and cross where they shouldn’t. People hurriedly flag taxis which then cut everyone up. Drivers limit their peripheral vision through fogged up windows. Garbage on the streets freezes and gets slippery. Everybody is focussing less on what is happening around them.

  10. Hydrate. When it’s cold your body uses more energy to get warm and needs more fuel to burn. Keep it nourished with plenty of water. Our F5 water bottle and Restrap holster are a perfect team for a constant on-body supply. Then on arrival, switch on the kettle for a cup of tea… or maybe a post-ride beer!

So. TL;DR – make sure your bike is in good condition, you have the right kit and know your route, that you can regulate heat and keep your body happy… and you’ll be riding winter like it ain’t no thing.

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