Singlespeed & Fixed Gear - what makes fixed gear suitable for snow?
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05-08-05, 04:44 PM
I'm moving to Milwaukee for school and contemplating what bike to bring. It's between my Kona Unit or Surly Steamroller. I've heard a few people mention that they prefer fixed gear in the snow and I was wondering why that is. Would my freewheel and v-brakes on the Kona freeze up rendering it useless?
05-08-05, 05:06 PM
Snow, and especially salted snowy roads, will kill a freewheel pretty fast, unless you've got a sealed White Industries unit. I ridde fixie (all year round). I have a freewheel on the flop side of my hub, and it's completely dead from just tagging along all winter. You can keep a freewheel going through the winter, but it'll take a bit of work (i.e. regular maintenance). If you really want to ride one through the winter, you'd be well advised to get the White Industries Eno freewheel.
You're v-brakes won't be completelyuseless, but they will be clogged up with snow, rendering them much less useful. A lot of people in snowy climes run dic brakes to avoid this.
If your unit has a freehub, you'll probably be okay, but you'd want to service it fairly regularly.
I love riding fixed in the snow and ice and muck. I think many people will echo this, but it feels much more controlled. It seems like you have a better sense of the traction conditions as you bike. And skidding rules. Backpedalling also performs a lot more reliably than brakes in winter conditions, because you're less likely to accidentally lock up (especially the front), and you don't have to worry about frozen wet brake pads - just frozen, wet legs.
05-08-05, 08:19 PM
SSSasky hit the nail on the head. If you want to ride NON fixie, I would definitely invest in the white industries SEALED freewheel and some disc brakes.
i ride fixie through the winter as well and would highly reccomend.
Ira in Chi
05-08-05, 08:46 PM
Aside from the practical aspects mentioned above, riding fixed in the snow is unbelievably fun. You ride as fast a possible, lock 'em up, and skid for blocks. It's like being a tractor.
05-09-05, 12:18 AM
...and keep the skinny tires on!
I rode a singlespeed freewheel mountain bike with slicks on it for most of the winter and floated all through the snow. Bad. I actually ended up walking my bike (seatpost across my shoulders) for three miles because the tires were to wide to get any real traction in the snow.
Skinny tires will cut through that stuff down to the pavement.
Oh yeah, v-brakes freeze. Headed downhill towards a redlight is a terrible place to realize your brakes are frozen open. A green light is a bad place to have them frozen closed.
05-09-05, 05:19 AM
Frozen freewheel, ablity to backpedal, skinny tires... I'm sold. Seamroller it is. Now comes the issue of finding a decent set of fenders and panniers that I can clip on.
05-09-05, 09:29 AM
Personally I dig a fixed mtb in the snow. I run some gnarly 2.1" knobbies and I float but I also get traction. Skinnies work for sure, but sometimes you're on some hard packed snow or snow on top of ice and then I'll take the knobbies any day.
On the other hand, the Steamroller has tons of clearance so you could throw on some CX tires and get your tread on.
05-09-05, 09:57 AM
I run little 23c skinnies, and generally they worked well. However, where I am, it rained a couple times through the winter. When that happened, the skinnies were uselesss - no traction at all. Of course, walking was also a nightmare. The only thing that would have worked in that sitation would have been some heavily studded tires.
But most of the time, they worked great.
05-09-05, 10:39 AM
plus, a fixie in the snow seems to have more constant torque aplied to the wheels... if that is the proper term. it's like the difference between driving an automatic or a standard transmission car in the snow. a standard has way more control.
"Snow, and especially salted snowy roads, will kill a freewheel pretty fast, unless you've got a sealed White Industries unit. I ridde fixie (all year round). I have a freewheel on the flop side of my hub, and it's completely dead from just tagging along all winter. You can keep a freewheel going through the winter, but it'll take a bit of work (i.e. regular maintenance). If you really want to ride one through the winter, you'd be well advised to get the White Industries Eno freewheel."
And Milwaukee uses a LOT of salt. The good news about that is any main street is pretty clear of snow pretty quickly.
05-09-05, 12:37 PM
i would say it takes no brakes and a heart of gold to ride in the snow. skidding in parking lots totally rocks when it's icy! just don't fall on your ass, that hurts ninjas everywhere.
05-09-05, 12:38 PM
Yeah, a steamroller or an old converted cross bike with semi sloping dropouts, thats the ticket. Throw on cross tires, you're set.
05-09-05, 01:04 PM
Fixies work great in the snow but I find studded tires really help when the roads get bad. Regular are just too slick in the salted slush and packed snow that seems to be common here in the winter.
05-09-05, 03:56 PM
05-09-05, 08:30 PM
I live in Milwaukee and commute year 'round on my Steamroller. For fenders, MKS Race Blades fit on there( quick on/off), but you have to run 23's, anything larger won't fit .It worked well for me all winter. I tried the nokian studded tires ( 700x35) for awhile, and I also used cyclocross tires for a few weeks, but found them mostly unnecessary.Nice for an early morning commute w/ ice, but overkill for the slush ride home.
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