With all the rain that signals spring come muddy trails and wet roads, which can mean a muddy face and bike after what feels like every ride. If you’ve not ridden over the winter but have now deemed it safe enough to step off the turbo for the warmer months, then you may not be prepared for these sorts of conditions. So, how can we make the transition that little bit easier?
There is a number of factors when it comes to the enjoyment of your ride through these muddy months. Mostly, it will be a personal preference as to how wet and muddy you mind getting, but there are some pretty valid points for protecting you and your bike from drowning yourself in spray:
– You’ll save yourself from a wet and muddy bum
– Your feet will stay dryer for longer
– You’ll save the person behind you from also being soaked by spray
– It’s better for your bike, reducing the amount of maintenance it will need
So, it’s clear that we’re onto a winner here, so how can you protect yourself, your bike and your friends from a deluge this spring?
This is the number one thing you can do to protect yourself against the elements. Mudguards, also known as fenders, mostly come in two types: fixed mudguards, and those for frames without eyelets, aka clip-on mudguards.
Some may opt for clip-ons just to be able to take them off easily – because let’s be honest, they don’t have the coolest reputation. You can get many lengths from full-length, which offers the most protection, to ‘ass-saver’ types, which simply stop your bum from getting wet. You’ll decide what suits you best.
When you’re choosing mudguards, it’s important to consider the amount of clearance you have on your tyres. You want enough clearance so your mudguards will fit, as well as leaving enough space so that they don’t rub or accumulate mud. Often there will be a maximum tyre clearance and tyre width included with the mudguard you want to buy.
Choosing a mudguard that fits will ensure the best protection for you and your bike, preventing any damage to your frame that could be associated with an ill-fitting mudguard.
Similarly, if you plan on attaching any bags to your bike, then consider how these might be impacted by mudguards. Try everything on at once if it’s possible.
This one is useful both on its own, and complementary to your accessories such as your mudguards and your bike bags. In winter and spring, you’re likely to pick up lots of dirt, grit and debris from the road and the trails. Those little bits of grit can work their way under any straps and your mudguards to rub at your frame until the paint is no more.
Bike-frame protection offers a solution to this problem, providing a barrier between your shiny polished frame and whatever the elements throw at it. Some tapes – the thicker and more absorbent ones – can even prevent structural damage from something like a rock bouncing up off the trail or a minor crash.
You can buy full-frame protection or you can buy strips to put on your frame where there are rubbing points, e.g. where a bag is strapped to your frame.
These can come clear or in various colours and designs, and can even be customised to your bike. Depending on the level of protection you opt for, these will of course add a bit of weight to your bike, so you might want to consider this if you’re a lightweight roadie.
Clean your bike
It’s maybe not the advice you were looking for but if you want to protect your bike against those muddy spring rides, then cleaning it is a surefire way of doing so.
At the end of each muddy ride, at the very least, you should be rinsing your bike off, getting the worst of the mud off it so it doesn’t continue to work its way into all your moving parts and cause unnecessary corrosion.
Further to this, if you want your bike to run smoothly, then keeping your chain, cassette and derailleurs clean and lubricated is really important. After you’ve rinsed the mud off your bike, you’ll want to degrease your chain as well as the parts your chain moves through, and clean these thoroughly using a specialist chain degreaser. After this, apply a fresh layer of wet chain lube to your shiny chain, ready for your next ride.
With these top 3 tips for protecting your bike against mud this spring, you and your bike will be sure to make it through the season and into the sunnier months. Remain hopeful – the mud will eventually dry up!