Buying a brand new road bike in the winter — yes, even a Calgary winter — isn't as audacious as it might seem.
In fact, there's a strong case to be made that the winter is actually the perfect time to buy a road bike and — are you sitting down? — put it to use right away.
And no, before you ask, we haven't been spending too much time in our altitude chamber.
In Calgary, road bikes and winter seem like two things at odds. The chilling winds, the icy roads, and the snow-covered landscapes don't exactly scream "ideal cycling conditions." But before you shake your head, put another log on the fire, and continue doing whatever it takes to fend off the cold, let's move past our initial reaction to the idea of winter road riding, and take a more thorough look.
Are Road Bikes Cheaper in the Winter?
The most obvious benefit to a wintertime bike purchase has to do with cost. Road bikes are far less expensive in the winter — especially in Calgary. It's true that in some regions, typically warmer climates, the cost of a new road ride might actually increase over the winter months due to limited availability.
But fortunately — or maybe unfortunately — Calgary doesn't have the climate to cause this problem. Instead, great deals abound at your favourite local bike shop. Why?
- Reduced Demand: During the winter months, a bike shop will experience lower demand as fewer people are actively cycling outdoors in cold weather. To stimulate sales and clear out existing inventory, they may offer significant discounts and promotions on road bikes.
- Making Room: Bicycle manufacturers typically release their new models in the spring and early summer to coincide with the prime cycling season. To make space for these new arrivals, a bike shop will need to make room by selling off the previous year's models during the winter.
These aren't just theoretical benefits we're writing about. Check out the road bikes we have for sale at TCR Sport Lab, and you'll find incredible discounts across the board. One of the best deals we have on offer is for the BMC Teammachine SLR Five.
BMC is one of the most respected bike manufacturers in the world. For the past three years, French WorldTour team AG2R has partnered with BMC, and the Swiss brand has been part of the pro peloton for more than a decade. The Teammachine model is especially well-regarded for combining an aero design with a comfortable ride.
Can You Ride A Road Bike In The Winter In Canada?
Taking advantage of good deals at your local bike shop in the wintertime is one thing, but putting that new bike to immediate use when the temperatures are dropping and snow has built up on roads and paths across the city is quite another.
While outdoor winter cycling can be invigorating, there are going to be days during the colder months where it's simply not a safe or enjoyable option. It's important to remember that there's more to the wintertime riding story than fighting the snow and slush.
Indoor riding has emerged as a compelling alternative to braving the elements, offering a controlled and climate-friendly environment for cyclists.
At TCR, we have a high-tech indoor cycling studio that accommodates as many as 18 riders. The group classes we host there allow cyclists to perform customized workouts in a temperature-controlled environment. Not only does this atmosphere help you maintain and even improve your fitness over the winter months, expert coaches are there to help guide your technique and optimize your efficiency.
But perhaps the greatest advantage of TCR's indoor cycling classes is that everyone is in it together. No other type of training can combine the camaraderie of an outdoor group ride with the focused intensity of indoor intervals.
Despite this safe and friendly option, there are still those among us who insist on outdoor rides — even in Calgary.
If you’re going to fight the conditions on your bike, just remember to do it safely.
5 Steps to a Safer Outdoor Riding Experience
- Gear Up for Cold Weather: Layering is key to staying warm. Wear moisture-wicking base layers, thermal jerseys, windproof jackets and even a ski coat to trap heat. Don't forget thermal tights or bibs to protect your legs from the cold. If leg warmers aren't enough for extra insulation, don't be afraid to pop on some snow pants.
- Quick Tip: Use clear or yellow-tinted glasses to shield your eyes from wind, debris, and cold air while still ensuring maximum visibility.
- Check Your Bike: Ensure your bike is in top condition by performing a thorough pre-ride check. Pay attention to tire pressure, brakes, tire clearance, and drivetrain.
- Quick Tip: Use a winter-specific lubricant on your bike's chain that not only ensures smooth shifting in the snow, but offers protection against bad weather and prevents wear and tear. Be sure to wash your bike as soon as you finish your ride. A new bike is in great condition. Keep it in great condition.
- Plan Your Routes: Select routes that are well-plowed and have less traffic. Avoid roads with heavy snow accumulation or ice. Avoid long rides until you're comfortable with winter riding conditions.
- Quick Tip: Always let someone know your intended route and estimated return time for safety. Strava and most bike computers have incident detection capabilities that will notify an emergency contacts if it suspects you've fallen on your back. Make sure these are on and your contact is up to date.
- Be Cautious: Maintain a slower pace and don't follow vehicles as closely as you might in better weather, as braking distances may be longer on slippery surfaces. Use caution when navigating turns and corners, and avoid sudden movements.
- Quick Tip: Riding in the cold actually burns more calories, so stay hydrated with extra bottles and carry extra food to fuel your body adequately.
- Choose the Right Bike and Tires: Opt for a bike with wider tires (28mm or more) to improve traction and stability on potentially icy or slippery roads. But also be mindful of providing generous tire clearance in case some snow accumulates.
- Quick Tip: Consider using studded tires for added grip if you frequently encounter icy conditions. And remember, disc brakes will stop faster in the snow.
The Perfect Wintertime Ride
Speaking of the right bike, the T-Lab X3 is a titanium-framed gravel bike manufactured in Canada, so you know it's ready for anything winter can throw at it. Not only is titanium anti-corrosive, it also offers an incredibly sturdy ride. It's a testament to T-Lab's engineers that a bike can be this comfortable while still looking amazing.
Is a Gravel Bike Better for Winter Riding?
In North America, the allure of gravel riding has surged over the past decade, offering a taste of adventure and a connection with nature, while allowing cyclists to avoid car traffic. Gravel bikes are versatile, ideal for diverse terrains and fostering a strong cycling community.
But does that make them better for winter?
There’s no doubt, if you’re going to be riding outdoors in the winter, a gravel bike has the features — lateral stiffness, extra tire clearance, etc. — for providing increased comfort and safety.
3 Reasons For A Gravel Bike
- Versatile Terrain Handling: Gravel bikes are designed to handle rugged adventures, including rough gravel roads and uneven surfaces. In winter, when road conditions can be unpredictable with ice patches, gravel, and snow, a gravel bike's robust build and wider tires — one of its key features — provide more stability and control.
- Improved Traction: Gravel bikes often come equipped with wider tires that offer better traction on slippery winter surfaces. This enhanced grip ensures safer rides on icy or wet roads.
- All-Weather Durability: Gravel bikes are built to withstand harsh conditions, making them suitable for winter riding. Their frames and components are designed for durability and resistance to corrosion.
Outdoor Riding Isn't For Everyone, But Indoor Training Can Be
Sure, the thrill of the open road is exhilarating, but as we've already mentioned, outdoor winter riding in Canada — and especially Calgary — isn't for everyone.
For those of us who don't find frigid temperatures and blinding snow all that appealing, there's something to be said for the controlled environment of indoor training during the winter.
While programs like Zwift have recently become popular for indoor training, riding alone in your pain cave is simply not as engaging or motivating as riding with others in person.
TCR Combines The Best of Indoor and Outdoor Riding
TCR’s indoor cycling classes are fun, coached by experts and feature a methodology specifically developed to help you progress every week. There are few things more motivating than seeing a cyclist beside you giving it their all, and that is the exact type of atmosphere you’ll find at a TCR group training session.
Our indoor training sessions are designed to push your limits while keeping the in-person social aspect alive. That means a 90-120 minute focused workout followed by a fun, social session to unwind – all within the welcoming atmosphere of our cycling studio.
A Great All-Around Option
Just as TCR combines the best of indoor and outdoor riding, a good all-rounder can do the same for your winter and summer riding.When someone at a bike shop talks about a great all-rounder, they're typically referring to a bike that's light enough to not weigh you down going uphill, but aero enough to go very fast on the flats. Those same versatile features make the Argon 18 - Sum - Rival AXS an excellent bike for both indoor training in the winter and outdoor riding in the summer.
Embrace A New Winter Ride to Spring Into Success
By buying a road bike at the beginning of the winter, you can begin setting yourself up for a successful next season right now. This way you'll already be in peak form by the time the first event on the calendar rolls around.
Just follow these three steps:
1. Optimize Your Performance With a Bike Fit
When you buy a new bike with TCR, it includes a 90-minute bike fitting session that will set you up to get the most out of your new purchase. The winter is the perfect time to do this because you have the space in your training schedule to fine-tune your bike fit to perfection:
- Ensure maximum comfort with the right riding posture.
- Gain maximum efficiency for power output.
- Reduce the risk of injury to increase your overall cycling experience.
2. Get Your Current Fitness Levels Assessed
With a new bike and a new fit, you have the opportunity to do a total reset to your training. The next step, before you begin your off-season base phase is to get your fitness assessed so that your training can be optimally aligned to your specific needs.
With our comprehensive physiology lab, TCR Sport Lab offers the right testing to get the valuable data that will help you understand your baseline and reach your highest potential.
- VO2 Max Testing: Key markers such as heart rate zones, fat burning zones, and FTP are identified.
- Blood Lactate Testing: We will determine the power where LT1 and LT2 occurs. Knowing these two zones keeps your training on track and helps prevent over-training.
- Resting Metabolic Testing: This type of testing determines your minimum caloric requirement for everyday living (kcals/day).
- Body Composition Testing: We'll help you discover just what you’re made of. Is it fat? Is it lean mass? We’ll let you know, and give you recommendations on what you can do to improve your body composition.
3. Find A Coach To Give You The Training Advice You Need Throughout The Year
You've got your new bike, you've got your fit, you've got your data. Now is the time to put it all together with expert advice.
As you embark on your winter cycling training — indoors or outdoors — having a coach by your side can make all the difference. TCR Sport Lab's expert coaches will tailor a training plan that fits seamlessly into your busy life. The original programming is always rooted in science and customized to your unique physiology and specific goals for the coming season.
The Winter Time is the Right Time for A Road Bike Purchase
Purchasing a new road bike during the winter months might seem unconventional at first, but a little bit of insight reveals it to be a strategic move that optimally prepares you for the upcoming spring and summer cycling season.
TCR Sport Lab is not your typical bike shop. We not only offer top-quality road bikes like the BMC Teammachine SLR Five and T-Lab R3, designed to conquer both winter challenges and summer adventures, but we also provide the support for you to get the most out of that road bike, including:
- Bike fitting sessions to ensure comfort and efficiency.
- A state-of-the-art physiology lab to assess your fitness levels, providing insights for optimized training
- Expert coaches to guide you toward your cycling goals.
Don't let winter's chill hold you back. Embrace the chance to gear up for a successful season by exploring our road bike options and take advantage of all the valuable support that TCR Sport Lab has to offer.
With a new bike and a new plan, you can make next season your best yet.