Summer vs Winter Bikes: What to Look for

Rain, sun or snow, Minneapolis cyclists will ride with pride down the bike lanes in any kind of weather. But for some, a single bike isn’t ideal for year-round use. That’s why many of the most devoted bikers have both summer bikes and winter bikes.

Summer and winter bikes are outfitted differently to maximize your riding experience. Let’s dive into what to look for in summer vs winter bikes.

What to Look for in a Winter Bike

1. Sturdy Tires and Powerful Brakes

Biking in the winter means facing ice-slicked roads. It can be dangerous if your bike isn’t equipped with tires that have proper traction and plenty of grip on ice.

Look for tires with a width of around four inches and an open tread. The more open the tread, the better the tires will shed snow that accumulates from riding.

Since winter means a lot of road debris, you may also want tires that aren’t as susceptible to punctures. It’s always advisable to equip your bike with a patch kit and pump should you ever get a flat tire. 

For brakes, there’s a consensus among winter bikers that hydraulic disc brakes are best due to their stopping power and dependability. Hydraulics are frequently more effective at overcoming any brake sticking caused by frozen water. There are different hydraulic brake fluid types, so use one that works at below-freezing temperatures.

2. A Strong Frame

While carbon fiber frames are common for summer, winter bikes need to be made of more durable material. Metal frames are sturdier and better able to handle the rough riding of winter.

Many bikers swear by titanium and steel frames, although they can be expensive. Aluminum frames are more affordable and lighter, but still durable enough for winter.

3. Protection From Grime

From snow sludge to muddy potholes, you’ll need something to protect your bike from winter muck. Mudguards, also known as bike fenders, help keep your chains and suspension protected from slush and spray. There are many different sizes and varieties to choose from, each offering its own level of protection.

What to Look for in a Summer Bike

Summer bikes require far less care than winter bikes. Some of the ideas from winter biking will still apply, but in a much less crucial way. Here’s how to outfit a summer bike:

  • Lighter tires or smaller wheels: Road biking allows for faster riding due to smoother roads. Tire width doesn’t necessarily impact speed, but wide tires are heavier. You may want to select tires that are lighter or wheels that have a smaller circumference. 28-38mm tires are good for smooth and rough road surfaces while allowing for plenty of speed.
  • Strong brakes: Summer brings more traffic from cars, bikers and pedestrians.  Invest in a pair of breaks with strong stopping power. It may be the thing that prevents you from crashing into something (or someone) in your path.


Bike Safely in Every Season

Safety is your first priority. From summers on the Greenway to winters on Park Avenue, make sure your bike is properly tuned up and outfitted for the season.

While you may have the best equipment and follow all the road rules, crashes happen. If you ever experience a collision while cycling, I’m here to help.

Attorney Daniel J. Brazil of Brazil Law Group is an experienced personal injury attorney with offices located in Uptown. He’s also a member of the Bike Law Network. He has a passion for the outdoors, especially cycling and climbing. Learn more about Dan and his practice by following him on Twitter (@LawDanielBrazil and #MplsBikeAttorney). 



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