Above image: Callum Wood | Rider: Reece Richards

Words | Geoff Wright

Winter is quickly approaching and that means it time to either put your bike away from the season and hibernate or just keep getting at it no matter the weather. For most of us it’s an easy decision – keep riding, so we have put together a list of considerations to help with the transition to the colder months and where we can we’ve suggested gear from NZ companies to make it easier for you to support local. Some of this stuff will seem pretty standard but let it serve as a reminder of things to consider for winter prep.

Photographer : Jay French / Rider : Conor Macfarlane


Whether you’re hustling through the forest or just out for a spin you’ll need a good set of lights to make your ride more enjoyable and a whole lot safer. The kind of riding you’re going to be doing throughout winter will determine what lights you need. The best way to look at it is how fast are you wanted to ride relative to your terrain. 

For example, if you want to ride your local technical downs at the same pace you would in summer then you’ll be wanting as much light as possible, but if you’re just wanting to stay fit on week night rides and not push to hard then you can get away with less lumen. For both options we suggest a head light and bar light for the front and running a red rear light goes a long way when you’re riding with friends or accessing trails via roads. Heres a link to a review we did on the Gloworm X2 lights a while back. Another NZ light company to look out for is Boss lights.

As a general rule for light combinations and brightness, if you are riding fast tight technical trails, run both bar and head lamps, both with 1500 lumens or higher depending on the intensity of your riding. If you’re riding open trail you can get away with one head-mounted light but make it bright, aim for 2000 lumens.



It’s time to ween yourself of the dry lube and embrace the wet. To make a good transition over to a different lubricant you need to thoroughly clean your chain with a degreaser like Peaty’s foaming degreaser, having a bottle of this around is also handy for general maintenance throughout the muddier months. This may also be a good time to check the health of your chain with a chain checker tool. 

Once the degreaser has been cleaned off with fresh water and the chain dried apply your new lubricant to the inside surface of the your chain. This is important part, make sure you remove all excess lube off your chain with a clean rag. We have had great results from Peaty’s products and their new Wet Link Lube is no exception and should be in stock very soon. There are other great wet lubes out there but as a rule we stay away from lubes that are going to be harmful to you or the environment.


Sure its probably best not to wash your bike that much in the summer months but winter is a different story. If you’ve done your winter grease overhaul you can wash your bike worry free after those muddy session or just as a general clean up. We would usually start by hosing the bike down then tuck into the drivetrain using a foaming degreaser like the offerings from Krush or Peaty’s. 

You can get yourself a flash drive train brush or just get by with an old nail brush or tooth brush to scrub the cassette, chain and chain ring. Rinse that off and use a product like Krush’s Rapid Wash to finish the job. It is sometimes handy to take your wheels off at this stage to help get to the hard to reach places. A great option for the garage or as a present for someone is Krush’s detailing kit which has everything you need in one handy plastic box.


The cold, changeable weather adds another complexity to riding during Winter especially in the clothing department – your summer staple of shorts and short-sleeve riding top suddenly don’t cut it. So you’re going to have to gear up…

WindProof Jackets

Wind-proof jackets are likely the most important layering consideration when the temperatures drops. Although while you’re charging the trails your creating a fair bit heat, you really want is to stop that cold air cutting through to your breathable base layers. Most good wind jackets will pack down into its own pocket and then easily slip into yours. Sure if its pissing down outside it’s probably not the best choice but for most wintery conditions it’s the layer I don’t go out the door without. My jacket of choice is the Patagonia Houdini because its ethically made, light and packs down to fit into my shorts pocket. For a NZ born option you cant go past the Mons Royale Redwood Wind Jersey, see our review of it below.

WaterProof Jackets

Water proof layers are an essential for winter but there are a few details you shouldn’t over look when getting a jacket. Firstly, be prepared for waterproof jacket to not be as breathable as they claim to be. They have spent decades refining these materials but when you’re perspiring to the point that you can see it lifting off your body in the cold air it’s safe to say your jacket is not going to keep up with demand, this is the point where most people think water is getting though, no its just sweat. 

Venting is the most effective way to let your body breathe under your jacket. Make sure your jacket has plenty of zips and ports where heat can escape on those long uphills. Another consideration is that MTB jackets are longer at the back than the front to compensate for the bent over position while riding. This extra bit of fabric at the back can keep your arse a lot dryer than if you didn’t have it. Below are two honourable mentions, the Endura MT500 and the Leatt MTB 5.0.


Winter riding pants have come a long way in the last few year and shouldn’t be left off the list of cold weather essentials. Although they were originally for use in the park they have since been seen on the legs of those who pedal. Features to look out for are a tapering legs with articulated cuffs and ample room for pads, venting to stop you getting to clammy and plenty of pocketing. We rate the Endura SIngletrack Trousers II, Specialized trail and Leatt MTB 4.0 pants for function and comfort.


Hands need special treatment as the days get shorter. Winter riding gloves mean your hands stay dryer and warmer which ultimately means you have less hand fatigue and can pull the brake levers, which is pretty crucial. The main thing to consider is finding gloves with wind/water proof material on the back of hand, warm lining fabric and the same faux suede on the front to ensure you stick to your grips.


New Zealand’s conditions are famously fast changing so being prepared for all four season may mean using packs to help you stay prepared. Packs also allow you to give your frame mounted essentials like tools, pump and tube a dryer, cleaner place to reside. Depending on ride length and conditions you can get away with just a hip pack to hold a multi-tool, small pump, a wind jacket and a snack. For longer rides you may find yourself reaching for a backpack to carry that little extra. A great in between is the hip pack and wedge bag combo like that of Stealth Bags featured below. The wedge can be where you keep your spares, tools and front light battery leaving the hip pack for extra layers, a small water bottle and snacks.


Changing tyres is likely the best way to alter your set up to get the most out of winter riding. Everything happens a lot slower in the soft dirt so you may as well focus your energy on staying on the bike rather than speed. Its amazing what you can get away with in dry conditions but the trails really make you pay if you choose to run your summer tyres in winter. Plus after all that summer riding its a safe bet that your tyres are probably not in the best shape, so do yourself a favour and pick up a couple of chunkier tyres for winter.

They’ll help you hook up in corners and their wider spacing will help release the dirt to stop build up and improve traction. You probably don’t need to depart too far from what you’re currently riding but that little extra depth and spacing will give you more confidence and ultimately you have more fun.

Each to their own but I’ve have great results with Vittoria in the past and the Mazza or Mota both make for an epic front tyre in mixed winter riding. In the back you might want to look for something with slightly tighter centre spacing, a centre line of tread to helping with rolling and large side knobs, for example the Martello would be a good combination with the Mazza or for more aggressive riders a Mota front Mazza rear may work better. There are great combinations from all the leading brands it is just a matter of finding what works for you and your local conditions.


Brake Pads

If you’ve been running Organic (Sram) or Resin (Shimano) brake pads in summer it may be time to change those over. Of course Sram and Shimano have different names for things so look out for Sintered (Sram) or Metal (Shimano) pads to help with braking performance in wet conditions. Metal pads are made from harder materials, this results in the pads being more durable and lasting longer in the wet. Be aware they are more noisy but it is worth it for getting better bite from your brakes.


There are some simple ways to keep your bike running smoothly over winter. Obviously there is more water around so one of the main preventative measures you can take is to grease. The easy way is to take your bike to the shop and ask them to grease it up ready for wet conditions or you can do it yourself. Start with pivot bearings, take the rear wheel off to lighten the load and take the bolts out to get to the bearings. Test the bearings aren’t seized by rotating them with your finger, then flick the red or black seals off with a pick or sharp blade and fill those puppies with grease. For this we would use Slickoleum or Shimano Dura Ace grease. Other areas to re-grease are your headset, pedal threads and inside the seat post. Make sure where ever there is carbon use a carbon specific lube like ParkTool Supergrip compound or MucOff Bio Grease.

Re-grease your Shimano XT and SLX derailleur clutches with their specific Shadow RD+ grease. Clutches are fantastic wee features on the Shimano derailleur but the clutch can stiffen up or in some cases seize without regular grease. Add this grease to your collection and start checking your clutch at regular interval or just take it down to your local.


This winter change over is one for the really finicky amongst us. Cold temperatures have an effect on the viscosity of the oil running through our suspension. If you’re running standard oil it will likely feel slow or hard because that oil is designed to be used in a warmer temperature range. To get the most out of your bike consider opting for a lighter weight oil.