Seeing and being seen as well as a defensing riding style are essential
For many, cycling is a seasonal pleasure: Spring and summer are considered classic bicycle time. But you can also be safe on your bike or pedelec in winter – if you follow a few important tips, according to DEKRA experts. “If you want to be safe on the road on a bicycle, you must above all be easy for other road users to see,” says DEKRA bicycle expert Florian von Glasner. That means, for one thing: When it comes to clothing, not only warmth and moisture exchange are important issues. “It should also be in bright, eye-catching colors and equipped with retroreflective elements.”
Also important for visibility is a functioning and efficient lighting system on the bike, including passive devices such as reflectors on the front, rear and pedals, as well as reflectors on spokes or tires. “Especially in winter, many journeys, for example for commuters, take place at dusk or in the dark,” says the DEKRA expert. “That's where seeing and being seen are essential for safety.”
A defensive riding style is recommended on two wheels all year round, but even more so in winter: “Always approach curves with caution – as soon as you suspect it might be slippery – and avoid sharp banking and, if possible, hard braking,” advises von Glasner. “Otherwise, very critical situations can arise abruptly in wet conditions, because of leaves, grit or spots of ice.” The recommendation to wear a helmet also applies all year round.
If there is snow or extreme weather conditions are announced, you should think about switching to public transportation. Hardy cyclists who still want to get on their bikes are better off with a mountain bike and wide tires with large tread bars or even tires with studs than with a road bike and narrow “slicks”.
The wear of rim brakes in particular can increase significantly due to many rainy rides, says the DEKRA expert: “Water absorbs the road dirt, which is then distributed in the spray on the brake flanks – and there during braking, like a kind of sandpaper, causes increased wear. That's why it's important to keep a close eye on the condition of rim brakes." Disc brakes are not as susceptible to this type of increased wear.
Those who travel by pedelec should also consider the influence of cold on the performance of the battery, especially for longer distances. Cold temperatures reduce the available capacity and thus the range. “Cold does not permanently damage the battery. But to minimize the problem with the reduced range, store and charge your battery preferably at room temperature indoors, and only take it outside when you start riding,” the expert recommends.
Anyone who is currently thinking about purchasing a new pedelec and would like to ride in winter should also consider a model with e-bike ABS: “When braking in wet conditions, pedelecs with ABS have a clear advantage. This is what our comparative tests have shown.”