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Old 10-23-08, 05:35 PM   #1
pueblonative
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winter and bikes

I took out my bike for my commute today, and other than the near frostburn I got on my hands (I'm looking for biking gloves) I noticed my bike tires felt a little more sluggish. I almost felt like my pedals weighed about a hundred pounds. Is this normal?
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Old 10-23-08, 05:47 PM   #2
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ahh yes... a fellow commuter for the winter to come. do you store your bike inside or out overnight... in the dark... in the cold? this may make greased bearings a bit sluggish, but friction should warm em up. air presure in the tires at the correct psi?

hate to say it, but if your not used to riding in the winter (and in yreka, it's been mid 20's and lower 30's lately), riding anything in the hard cold will seem like a 50's full dress beach cruiser with two flat ballon tires. get gloves for the hands, beanie for the head and dress in layers. people will see you riding in sub freezing temps and call you crazy as they hop out of their suvs with heated seats. remember you lose most heat thru your head, and cold winter riding will give you the brain freeze that'll leave you "dee-dee-dee" for a quick minute.
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Old 10-23-08, 05:56 PM   #3
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ahh yes... a fellow commuter for the winter to come. do you store your bike inside or out overnight... in the dark... in the cold? this may make greased bearings a bit sluggish, but friction should warm em up. air presure in the tires at the correct psi?

hate to say it, but if your not used to riding in the winter (and in yreka, it's been mid 20's and lower 30's lately), riding anything in the hard cold will seem like a 50's full dress beach cruiser with two flat ballon tires. get gloves for the hands, beanie for the head and dress in layers. people will see you riding in sub freezing temps and call you crazy as they hop out of their suvs with heated seats. remember you lose most heat thru your head, and cold winter riding will give you the brain freeze that'll leave you "dee-dee-dee" for a quick minute.
It goes into the garage (unheated) at night. At work I have to store it outside.
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Old 10-23-08, 06:36 PM   #4
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I expect the bearings are a bit sluggish due to the cold lube but the major difference is probably you, Dressing in tights or long wind pants, heavier jerseys, gloves, helmet liners, etc. etc. makes moving more of a chore and the cold wind is a mental inhibitor too.
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Old 10-23-08, 06:41 PM   #5
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Yup, also tires can get quite a bit more rolling resistance as it gets colder.
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Old 10-23-08, 07:16 PM   #6
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Correct air pressure in warm weather becomes under-inflation if the temperature drops.
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Old 10-25-08, 06:36 AM   #7
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Okay. One little quick note: my tubes are the self-sealing type. Would that impact matters?
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Old 10-25-08, 08:02 AM   #8
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There's lots of info / encouragement / sympathy re: riding in winter on the Winter Cycling forum, too.
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Old 10-25-08, 08:16 AM   #9
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In the cold:

-grease gets thicker
-tire rubber gets harder
-The air pressure in your tires goes down
-Your muscles are stiff

Of these, I suspect that only the last two are at all significant. And, mainly the last one.

Biking in the winter is a noble art, keep fighting.

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Old 10-25-08, 08:38 AM   #10
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also colder air is denser, meaning more air resistance than a warmer season.
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Old 10-25-08, 10:02 AM   #11
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also colder air is denser, meaning more air resistance than a warmer season.
You can't be actually seriously considering this as a cause?
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Old 10-25-08, 10:32 AM   #12
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Okay. One little quick note: my tubes are the self-sealing type. Would that impact matters?
I think you may have a good reason there. The goo inside the tubes is the big unknown.

I've never really found any of the other issues other than the effect of the cold on myself and the need for more clothing to be a big issue. Yes they are there but at most they are minor.

You're obviously a little parnoid about flats since you went to the trouble of finding self sealing tubes. A better alternative may well be flat resistant tires along with regular tubes. Also in my experience it's best from an efficiency standpoint to opt for tires of thinner construction. Thin pliable sidewalls along with relatively thin tread areas provide less rolling resistance than heavy thick sections. For efficient speed you want to rely on the air pressure to hold you up moreso than the air supporting the rubber.

The folks that are really serious about this don't even like the slight slowdown of the flat resistance belt in their tires. But while there is a slight additional resistance with the flat resistant types it's minimal and from what you're saying in this thread it sounds like it may well be a far better option.

Occasionally you may still get a flat. But with a little practice and using the more supple carcase tires you'll find that you can get from "Oh darn, I've got a flat" to clipping back in and riding away in around 10 to 15 minutes at most. For myself that occurs maybe once every couple of months with regular tires and maybe once every couple of years with the flat resistant tires. YMMV depending on the amount of junk on the paths in your area of course.
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Old 10-25-08, 05:25 PM   #13
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I think you may have a good reason there. The goo inside the tubes is the big unknown.

I've never really found any of the other issues other than the effect of the cold on myself and the need for more clothing to be a big issue. Yes they are there but at most they are minor.

You're obviously a little parnoid about flats since you went to the trouble of finding self sealing tubes. A better alternative may well be flat resistant tires along with regular tubes. Also in my experience it's best from an efficiency standpoint to opt for tires of thinner construction. Thin pliable sidewalls along with relatively thin tread areas provide less rolling resistance than heavy thick sections. For efficient speed you want to rely on the air pressure to hold you up moreso than the air supporting the rubber.
I don't know if it's paranoia or the fact that I went through six tubes in two months. I don't know where you hail from, but Pueblo Colorado has a plethora of goathead stickers around.
BTW, gave my tires a couple of pumps of air each and the ride was dramatically easier. To be fair it was less cold as well in the morning. In the evening it was about the same temperature as it was and I was dressed more or less the same.
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Old 10-25-08, 07:01 PM   #14
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Well I certainly do NOT need to deal with goatheads or anything even remotely close to them. The only really common tire shredder around my area is the multitudes of broken glass and the wires from really badly worn tires that show up. The flats I get are about 48-48% due to those two and the other 4% due to all the rest of the hazards.

Maybe play with your pressures a bit more to at least minimize the goo drag? Sounds like you're on the way already from the last post.

Oh, and some folks that deal with trash strewn road shoulders would call themselves exceptionally lucky to only have 6 flats in 2 months. I'm just glad I'm not one of them.
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Old 10-25-08, 08:57 PM   #15
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You can't be actually seriously considering this as a cause?
i just checked cold air versus warm air drag using this online calculator
http://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm

using default values for riding a mountainbike at 100F with 160 watts, i get a speed of 16.4mph the same effort at 0F results in speed of 15.5mph. thats a 1mph change in speed just due to air density change. i suppose it can be considered a factor.
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Old 10-25-08, 09:34 PM   #16
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That's about six percent, or about 37 seconds difference on a ten mile ride, assuming a constant speed. That can make or break a race, but it's not going to change how someone feels about you arriving on time.
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Old 10-26-08, 02:06 AM   #17
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it all adds up, but there's no single cause to feeling slow on cold days.
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Old 10-26-08, 02:22 AM   #18
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I don't know if it's paranoia or the fact that I went through six tubes in two months. I don't know where you hail from, but Pueblo Colorado has a plethora of goathead stickers around.
BTW, gave my tires a couple of pumps of air each and the ride was dramatically easier. To be fair it was less cold as well in the morning. In the evening it was about the same temperature as it was and I was dressed more or less the same.
After a few flats, I went to thorn resistant tubes, tire liner between tube and tire, then added Slime-no flats. The tire liner seems to reduce rolling resistance a lot more than the Slime inside the tubes. It is a stiff ride, but on a commuter, you want reliability.

Last winter, I went with studded tires-wasn't cold enough in Arlington to benefit from the studs from a traction standpoint-but was amusing to see the peoples reactions when they hear those studded tires approaching -rarely a head remains unturned. roflmao2:
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Old 10-27-08, 11:22 AM   #19
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it all adds up, but there's no single cause to feeling slow on cold days.
Yup. The crazy Icebiker folks have compiled a great list at http://www.icebike.org/Articles/SlowerWinter.htm.

Here's their list. I'd add a number 0 for newbies, which was already mentioned earlier in the thread - if you haven't inflated your tires since weather was warmer, they're way too low now.

Regarding the air drag argument - note their #5 - it's not just that the air is denser, but you have a greater cross-sectional area with all the winter gear.

Their list:
1. Cold Bearings and grease are stiffer and harder to turn
2. You need your energy to keep warm
3. Your tires are colder and therefore have greater rolling resistance
4. You tend to ride softer tires for better control on ice
5. Your clothing is bulkier, making it more difficult to push your shape though the air.
6. You are dressed in heavier clothing, making that much more weight to carry
7. You are dressed in heavier clothing which resists your movement making pedaling harder
8. People simply don't like generating the steam-bath like atmosphere inside of winter clothing, and therefore psychologically resist working as hard as in summer
9. Air Density is greater and impedes your progress through the air

I'd also add that for some people, there's the fact that the cold air (with little moisture) irritates their bronchial pathways with physical exertion, causing pain and reduced breathing capacity. For others, the denser air with more oxygen per volume is actually an advantage. So that's hard to call, but can also come into play.

For those without studded tires, I'd also add the fear of going ker-SPLAT makes one a bit tentative.
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