While thoughts of biting temperatures and blustery mornings might not immediately spark the urge to hop on a bike, winter riding is still a great way to get around campus during the colder months.

“Winter riding isn’t just for the brave. With less crowded roads and the same environmental, health, and cost benefits, cycling is a great way improve endurance and get out of the house during winter months,” said Nick Quint, transportation network manager at Virginia Tech.

Below, the Virginia Tech Sustainable Transportation Department shares 10 easy ways for Hokie cyclists to get winter ready:

Tips for bike care

1. Winter maintenance

Keeping chains, gear cassette, shifters, and cables lubricated is especially important as weather gets colder and wetter. Make sure to keep a close eye on the brakes. Bike cleanliness is also imperative, as road salt can cause bike corrosion. All bike maintenance can be completed at Hokie Bike Hub on the Blacksburg campus.

2. Brighten up

Under Virginia law, cyclists must have at least a front light and back reflector after sunset, but Hokie Bike Hub staff recommends upgrading to a rear light. With shorter days and decreased visibility due to weather, lights will help catch the attention of motorists who may not be looking for cyclists in the colder seasons. Wearing lighter-colored clothing also helps.

3. Tires

Thicker bike tires with deep tread are generally considered better for riding on the ice and snow. For a temporary solution for more traction, wrap zip ties around tires and rims.

4. Fenders

Fenders defend the cyclist and bike from water, mud, road salt, and snow. There are a variety of fenders in the market and there are even ways online to make your own. Hokie Bike Hub staff can also assist with fender installation.

Tips for the rider

5. Layers  

Layer up. Core fabrics that wick away sweat to stay dry are best; cotton has opposite effect. An insulating middle layer covered by a rainproof outer layer will keep riders warm most winter days.

6. Skin coverage

Ears, hands, and faces suffer most from cold riding. Lobster gloves or mittens paired with a scarf or a balaclava provide good skin coverage. Don’t forget a warm hat or headband for under the helmet to retain body heat and protect ears.

7.  Shoe covers

While warm socks are a must, shoe covers, especially when roads are wet, are an additional way to keep feet warm and dry. Shoe covers can be purchased or made at home out of waterproof material.

8. Eyewear

Glasses, sunglasses, ski goggles, and even lab goggles, are all candidates to protect eyes from wind, rain, and snow.

Reminders on the road

9. Black ice

Avoid slips by being careful of black ice. Ride slowly and only use the rear brake if more control is needed on the ice.

10. Take advantage of RIDE Solutions when weather becomes too severe

RIDE Solutions offers a free guaranteed ride home for people who commute via alternative modes. You must be a RIDE Solutions member, and registration is free. More information can be found here.

Please direct any questions to the Sustainable Transportation Department at 540-231-2116, gettingaround@vt.edu, or in person at 1330 Perry Street, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Heads up Hokies winter
Students, faculty, and staff can visit the Bike Hub on campus year-round at 1330 Perry Street.
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