winter beater bike

Winter training is generally going to be tough. You’re either going to be riding inside and bored, or you’ll be outside in the cold, harsh conditions. If you will be outside in the cold, along with your warm clothing, you’ll need a beater bike.

A winter “beater” bike is generally heavier, slower, cheaper, and tougher than your road racing bike. That’s good. Here’s why:

1. Slower speeds are safer.

You don’t want to hit a patch of ice at high speeds and go flying.

2. Slower speeds are warmer.

As if the cold air and wind chill aren’t bad enough, you create your own windchill when you ride. But the slower you go, the less windchill you generate.

3. You won’t overshoot your headlight.

With such short days, you’ll be riding in the dark before and after work, so you’ll probably be using a headlight. A headlight will only reach so far, so you want to be riding slow enough that you still have a good stopping distance just in case a road hazard appears out of nowhere.

4. You don’t have to worry about weather damage.

If I was riding my race bike in sloppy conditions, I’d be paranoid about all the salt and gravel getting thrown at it. Then I’d spend hours cleaning it after each ride. With a cheap beater bike, you can put your mind at ease knowing your race bike is tucked in safely at home!

5. Meatier tires for fewer flats.

A mountain bike or at least a cyclocross bike is nice for winter weather. These bikes have wider, tougher tires, so you should experience fewer flats. And changing flats really, really sucks in the winter!

6. You still accomplish a tough workout.

On a heavier bike, you can still put out the same number of watts (power) as your workout calls for, but you’ll go much slower thanks to the extra weight and rolling resistance. And as I mentioned, slower speeds are warmer and safer! It’s a win-win.


Do you have a beater bike for your winter rides? Let me know in the comments!

Photo: tandemracer

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  1. I live in the south (North Carolina). We rarely get snow and no salt, gravel or chemicals on the road so all I do is switch wheels and put on some Gator Skin tires.

  2. i DO have a slow heavy bike for winter

  3. @Jim

    Sounds like you are all set for your winters.


    That is a winter bike if I’ve ever seen one!

  4. Here in SW Florida anything below 55 degrees is cold. No chance for snow. I do have a beater bike that I ride to the pool and the beach. Come and visit us during the winter and bring your nice bike as well.

  5. Good advice. Switching to my Schwinn Moab 2 until Feb. I jumped on the back of a pack of a fast paced group ride on their lite carbons. It was brutal and I got some looks. One guy even said, “You know Frisco has a new MTB trail.” “Yes,” I replied and hung on while humming Kelly Clarkson’s “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….”

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