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BikeRadar Bargains: 6 cheap upgrades to get your road bike winter-ready

Take care of your bike and your bike will take care of you through the dark, cold months

Not everyone loves working on their bike – many people just want to get out and ride. But the reality is that the oil-, mud-, salt- and grit-strewn roads will grind away your precious bicycle parts in the winter months.

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And unless you’re a professional, most of us will have to do our own maintenance, and won’t have access to a fleet of new bikes and components every year, so it’s worth keeping on top of the key parts.

You’ll probably even save a bit of money in the long term (if you’ve ever had to replace a whole drivetrain because you left a worn chain on too long, you’ll know what we’re on about) and hopefully prevent any nasty mid-ride failures.

With that in mind, we’ve scoured the internet for a few choice deals on vital replacement parts to help keep your bike performing at its best.

Park Tool Chain Checker CC-3.2 – £8.49

Park Tool Chain Wear Indicator
A chain wear indicator is one of the most important money-saving tools a cyclist can buy.
Park Tool

This humble piece of metal will, if used properly, potentially save you hundreds of pounds going forward. It’s the simplest way of measuring chain wear, and is compatible with all 1/2” pitch chains from single- to twelve-speed.

Replacing your chain before it gets too worn (replace at 0.5 per cent wear for 11 speed chains and 0.75 per cent for 10 speed chains) will mean you get thousands more kilometres out of the rest of your drivetrain, but failing to do so practically guarantees you’ll need to replace chainrings, cassettes and jockey wheels as well, leading to a very hefty bill.

Squirt Chain Lube – £11.99 £10

Squirt Chain Lube
Wax-based lubricants, like Squirt, are great at keeping your drivetrain clean and running smoothly.

Chain lubricants are always a hot topic amongst the many nerds here at BikeRadar towers, but unless you regularly ride in absolutely atrocious conditions wax-based ones are, in this writer’s opinion, the best option.

Squirt and other good wax-based lubricants are applied in advance of a ride, allowing the carrier fluids to dry out, leaving just the wax on the chain. As the wax is then almost completely dry, it attracts much less contamination than a standard dry or wet lube.

You do need to be a little bit more meticulous about preparing a chain to be lubricated (you’ll need to carefully strip off all previous oil and dirt), but with careful cleaning and application, you’ll be rewarded with a drivetrain that’s clean, fast and quiet, even in the winter.

Not sure where to start with getting your road bike ready for winter? Check out our in-depth guide with tips and tricks from across the BikeRadar team

Puncture in the snow

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 grease-filled silicone gear cable set – £44.99 £34.99

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 Gear Cable Set
The cables on your bike are subject to more wear and tear than you might suspect.

Cables might not be the most exciting component on a bike, but if you’re running mechanical gears, they’re incredibly important.

If your shifting feels a bit sluggish, then you probably need new cables, and if you’ve got a high-end drivetrain you’ll want to make sure the cables are suitably high-end too.

This pack comes with everything you need, other than tools, to overhaul your shifting and the outer casings are lubricated with a low-friction silicone grease to reduce cable friction even further.

Shimano SPD SL Cleats – £19.99 £9.99

Shimano SPD SL Cleats Yellow
Your cleats are a key contact point, so should be replaced often.

Cleats can take a bit of a battering in the winter and, if yours are anywhere near as worn as Jack Luke’s, then it’s definitely time to replace them.

Aside from how terrible it looks, it’s also important to remember that a stable, reliable connection between your shoes and pedals has a safety element too – pulling a foot out of the pedal in the middle of a hard effort can be dangerously destabilising, and since they’re pretty cheap, it’s really not worth the risk.

SKS Raceblade Long Roadbike Mudguard Kit – £54.99 £44.99

SKS RaceBlade Long Mudguards
SKS RaceBlade Long mudguards offer similar performance to full length fenders for bikes without dedicated mounting points.

Full-length mudguards are an essential item of kit for any cyclist who intends to ride with or near other people during the winter (so that’s everyone, essentially).

However, it’s a sad fact of life that not all road bikes are set up to accommodate them. If you’re the owner of such a bike, then prepare to have your excuses banished, as SKS’s Raceblade Long mudguards are almost as good as the real thing and will fit practically any rim brake bike with standard quick-release skewers.

Shimano Dura-Ace rim brake cartridges – £9.99 £5.59

Shimano R55C4 brake pads
Looking after your brakes is vital in the winter when stopping distances are inevitably increased.

As rim brake devotees will know, all the grime on the roads means brake pads are subjected to a huge amount of extra wear in the winter months, so a new set of high-quality pads can make a massive difference to your braking performance.

These Dura-Ace level rim brake pads are compatible with a wide variety of Shimano rim brakes, and have a standard black compound that’s formulated for use with alloy rims.

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