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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Newport, RI
    Posts
    3,821

    show me your winter bike!

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    I am finally ready to look for a winter bike! This will be used for conditions I won't ride my other bikes in, namely snow and ice, so I'm thinking studded tires, fenders...what else? I already ride year round, so I know how to dress (or do I?). It's just snow and ice that will be new to me.

    I have a wrist problem, so I definitely want drop bars. What about gearing? I doubt I'll be looking for hills in the snow, but I don't know if I want a single speed. Any ideas? I won't be spending a lot on this, since there aren't that many days I'll be using it, and it's not something I want to be too precious to me.

    Any pics of what you're riding would be very helpful, and any advice is appreciated.
    '02 Eddy Merckx Fuga, Selle An Atomica
    '85 Eddy Merckx Professional, Selle An Atomica

    '10 Soma Double Cross DC, Selle An Atomica

    Slacker on wheels.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Looking at all the love there that's sleeping
    Posts
    4,171
    Here's what I ride when the weather is really snotty.
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    2007 Seven ID8 - Bontrager InForm
    2003 Klein Palomino - Terry Firefly (?)
    2010 Seven Cafe Racer - Bontrager InForm
    2008 Cervelo P2C - Adamo Prologue Saddle

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
    Posts
    5,203
    This is from when I lived in Washington, DC. This bike is a Dahon Matrix, a folding mountain bike. I had studded tires on it, which were essential in the ice. In DC, the snow melts and then refreezes to ice very quickly. There's also lots of black ice on the streets in the mornings, and studded tires (and careful riding) took care of the black ice.

    This bike had disk brakes, which I would recommend for snow/ice conditions. I found fenders to be more trouble than they were worth because they constantly became loose. I was not concerned about getting dirty because my workplace had a commuter shower so I could clean up. I never rode in my work clothes because l lived 14 miles away from my office.

    I had lights for the dark mornings.

    The folding bike was useful for me because in the evenings, when it was dark, I took the bike home on the Metro. This particular bike didn't fold up very small, but it was fine for the Metro because it fit their definition of a folding bike, which are allowed on the Metro at all times. Regular bikes are not allowed on the trains during rush hours.

    Cycling in winter--with snow and ice--took longer than cycling in clear conditions. But in DC, cycling in bad conditions was faster than driving (which really ended up being just sitting in traffic) and faster than the Metro. In really cold and bad weather, the Metro has all sorts of problems. I'd much rather be on my bike able to move forward than stuck in traffic or on a train.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,704
    I don't really have a winter bike. The steel roadie usually ends up in the trainer, the carbon roadie gets ridden outside but with SPDs, not Speedplays, and the aluminum commuter gets ridden in all sorts of crap 'cuz it has fat tires and fenders. When it snows, the rigid 29er with fatty-fat tires comes out to play (or the XC skis!).

    I think you're on the right track with fenders, studded tires if it's going to be icy, and fat tires for anything else. Single speed would definitely be simpler and cheaper, once you nail down the right gear ratio. I would want either cantilevers or disc brakes for the extra clearance and stopping power.

    What are you thinking for a frame? A cyclocross or 29er frame set up with dirt drops?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Newport, RI
    Posts
    3,821
    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post

    This bike had disk brakes, which I would recommend for snow/ice conditions. I found fenders to be more trouble than they were worth because they constantly became loose. I was not concerned about getting dirty because my workplace had a commuter shower so I could clean up. I never rode in my work clothes because l lived 14 miles away from my office.

    I had lights for the dark mornings.
    Wonderful bike! It really fit your needs perfectly. I didn't know that about fenders. Maybe I don't want them on this bike. I was just thinking it would keep my jackets clean, but they may be more trouble than they're worth, if they come loose. I don't really know anything about disc brakes. Do they work on all kinds of bikes?

    I'm not sure at this point if I'll love snow riding so much to commute in it. I'm mostly thinking this will be for leisurely rides around town (and to avoid the trainer, since I'm dreading it!). But if I do love it, I will commute on it. Do studded tires get fewer flats than road bike tires? I'm always concerned about flatting in the freezing cold at night, and not being able to change it before my body and fingers start to freeze. One of the reasons I commute less in winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Becky View Post

    What are you thinking for a frame? A cyclocross or 29er frame set up with dirt drops?
    Probably a 'cross bike. Would a touring bike accommodate studded tires? That might be a good option.
    Last edited by redrhodie; 11-01-2010 at 03:21 PM.
    '02 Eddy Merckx Fuga, Selle An Atomica
    '85 Eddy Merckx Professional, Selle An Atomica

    '10 Soma Double Cross DC, Selle An Atomica

    Slacker on wheels.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,057
    My snow machine is my old hybrid. We had switched over to road bikes and stopped using the hybrids. They were collecting dust. I took it to a Park Tool weekend course, overhauled, got it working again, and then bought the studded snow tires for it. DH's hybrid soon followed.

    So, ignoring the cost of the class, I spent about $100 on tires and parts (oh, the poor thing had been abused).

    I don't use fenders on the snow machine because when I used by 3-season bike (Surly pacer with fenders and 700x28 tires) in light snow, the snow would gum up between the tires and fender. So I've intentionally not put fenders on the bike. Besides there is something about kicking up the rooster tail of snow that adds to the fun.

    For me, I can tolerate the straight bars on the snow machine. When we're riding them, we're not going for a long distance and I like the extra control they give me over drops. But, I only have a little bit of wrist issues.

    Gearing-wise, yeah the drive train gets gummy. But, after riding in the snow, I bring it in, shake off the snow and give it a (wrenches, please don't yell at me) a really good spray down with WD-40 and after it dries a quick pass with chain oil (heavy stuff).

    Because my 3-season takes a lot of salt abuse, I had it built up without a front derailleur--one less part that I have to replace every couple of years. I have a big 34-tooth platter in the back and a 39 up-front. That would not be low enough for snow, though.

    Here's the bike to dream about, tho...

    http://surlybikes.com/bikes/pugsley_complete/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
    Posts
    5,203
    I don't know about the flat question. I never got a flat on that bike, but then, I commuted in DC for four years without a flat on my regular commuting bike. I always make sure my tires are properly inflated, which I think helps tremendously in preventing flats.

    Fenders do keep you and the bike cleaner, but you need to check them constantly. At least, I did. I had a situation where the fender got loose while I was riding and it worked it way down so that the tire actually rode over it. Hard to explain, but it stopped the bike in its tracks and knocked me to the ground. After that, I just took the darn things off.

    How far is your commute? Mine was 14 miles each way, and I rode into the 20F temperature range, but if it got into the teens, I'd find another solution. Sometimes that didn't work, though, as one morning when it was 9F I decided to drive rather than wait for the bus in that cold, and one mile into the drive my car stopped working because the radiator was frozen. Or something like that--I'm not a mechanic. That was unpleasant, and I would have been better off riding my bike and moving, or even better just calling in sick!

    Nokian makes studded tires for all size wheels. Cross bike should not be a problem. They are not cheap, but if you plan on riding where there is ice, it might be worth it to you. It's certainly worth it to me to avoid going down on black ice.

    I really like riding in the ice and snow. I have since sold that Dahon, but I do still have the studded tires. I have an old mountain bike that I might put them on for this winter. I no longer commute to work since I work from home, but it would be fun to go out and ride in the snow and ice this winter. We had alot last winter, but it's not consistent here.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Newport, RI
    Posts
    3,821
    My lbs guy just suggested a Specialized tricross. Anyone ride one?

    I get A LOT of flats on my commute (15 miles each way), all on one particular road that I can't avoid. It always has many broken beer bottles, which I believe are thrown out of windows of cars. I also think the garbage men are pretty careless with the glass recycling, as I've noticed broken bottles after they go through. In contrast, I've had one flat ever in my town, where I ride more miles, so I'm pretty sure it's the debris. I'm pretty bad at avoiding it. I usually miss with the front, then hit with the back, so mostly bad tire flats. How is changing a tire with disc brakes?

    ETA: it sounds like I'm riding through slums! It's actually a beach area, where people come to party. Also near the university, but I don't think it's particularly the students.
    Last edited by redrhodie; 11-01-2010 at 09:02 AM.
    '02 Eddy Merckx Fuga, Selle An Atomica
    '85 Eddy Merckx Professional, Selle An Atomica

    '10 Soma Double Cross DC, Selle An Atomica

    Slacker on wheels.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,704
    Quote Originally Posted by redrhodie View Post
    Probably a 'cross bike. Would a touring bike accommodate studded tires? That might be a good option.
    It might, depending on clearance. It's probably one of those things that you'll have to measure.

    Discs will work on any frame and fork with the mounts for them, and a wheelset with disc-specific hubs. Changing a tire with disc brakes is easy- no brake to open with frozen fingers. My next commuter frame will be disc-compatible for sure.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Posts
    5,619
    I won't ride in snow and ice, so I have a roadbike with smooth tires, fenders, lots of lights and racks for panniers...
    Lucky for me, in Seattle snow and ice are not a guarantee in the winter, in fact, several winters might go by without it ever happening. Snow is such a rare event that I like to stay home and play in it.
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

    Davidson Custom Bike - Cavaletta
    Dahon 2009 Sport - Luna
    Old Raleigh Mixte - Mitzi

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,066
    Funny you should ask, since I'm on a winter biking photo spree at the moment

    here's mine, posing in front of the Town Hall. This is not a bike I've chosen for a winter bike, just one I've inherited that is the most appropriate to winter biking.
    - studded tires: Nokian Extreme in front, something a bit skinnier in back,
    - lights: Light and Motion Stella 180 in front (brighter than I need on the highest setting) and an insanely blinking Superflash in back, a Spokelit in the front wheel (thanks!) and I have one more at home for the rear, a spare white blinky in front and red in back
    - fenders: ones that followed the wheel would be better, but these will do - tacked on half of a plastic bottle on the front to catch spray that would otherwise go into the bottom bracket
    - a couple of reflective bands to make it easier to see from the side
    - note handbuilt wheel in rear - not because it's necessary for winter biking but because I'm proud of it

    I know the saddle looks weird, but after trying it level and just barely tilted forwards for weeks I gave it a hefty thump forward and it felt perfect.

    My dh just tinkered together a winter bike for himself from a used mtb, with a internal hub gear in the rear and single speed in front. Too early to tell how it goes, but the idea is a good one.
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    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Newport, RI
    Posts
    3,821
    Wow, lph, that's a serious winter machine! No wonder you can ride every day year round. I'm glad those spokelites worked for you. You set a great example of what to do for visibility and safety. I can't see how that front fender is a plastic bottle, even at 200% zoom. Very nice wheel!

    I'm getting very excited, so of course we'll probably get no snow this year!
    '02 Eddy Merckx Fuga, Selle An Atomica
    '85 Eddy Merckx Professional, Selle An Atomica

    '10 Soma Double Cross DC, Selle An Atomica

    Slacker on wheels.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,066
    Thanks.

    The front fender is a standard cheapo black plastic fender ziptied on (except I think it's an old rear fender, no matter), but the end behind the front wheel was a bit short to protect the bottom bracket. So I cut a large plastic soda bottle roughly in half lengthwise and cut off the bottom and the top, so I had a curved piece of plastic maybe 15 cm long. Punched a couple of holes near the corners in one end, a couple of holes in the end of the fender, over lapped and ziptied together. I know, I should go out and take a picture instead but it's dark and I'm lazy
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Newport, RI
    Posts
    3,821
    Quote Originally Posted by lph View Post
    I know, I should go out and take a picture instead but it's dark and I'm lazy
    No, you don't need to. I get it from the description.

    You're like MacGyver. You could probably save the world with duct tape and a match.
    '02 Eddy Merckx Fuga, Selle An Atomica
    '85 Eddy Merckx Professional, Selle An Atomica

    '10 Soma Double Cross DC, Selle An Atomica

    Slacker on wheels.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
    Posts
    5,203
    Red, you might want to get a used beater bike instead of a new bike. Riding in the winter gets cruddy and salty and dirty. I like lph's fender solution alot. I had duct tape on mine, too, but it didn't hold well. Zipties are better.

 

 

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