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  1. #1
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    Filling a void: What to use for a Winter Commuter

    I commute year round in the wind, rain, sleet, and snow. The ride is only 4 miles one way, so it's very manageable in most weather. Last year i used my 1997 GT Timberline throughout the year. The parts just didn't hold up through the winter muck. Everything junked up on me. I ended up stripping it of everything and converting it to single speed with a nice easy gearing for snow riding.

    When Spring came around, I wanted something a little more fun than this franken-bike so I bought an IRO Fixed gear that I've been commuting with everyday except when it rains. The franken-bike has fenders, so I ride that in the rain. The problem is that the Franken-Bike has no other purpose currently than being a bad weather bike. I feel very upright on it compared to my IRO fixie and my road bike. I'm sure I could change that if I wanted too, though (the stem has a lot of rise). It still has my rack and lighting on it, but it's just not much fun to ride except when I absolutely must. I'd like to do something with it to make it more usable year round and a more fun bike to ride. If I can't do that, i suppose I'll replace it.

    Option 1 is to build the bike around a Nexus 8 internally geared hub. I'd pick up new wheels front and back for this at a cost of about $300. The bike needs new brake assemblies too, so I'd have to add on that cost. The existing tires are Schwalbe Marathons. Bombproof, but VERY heavy. I may change those out. The end result would be a bike set up for grocery getting and bad weather commuting that would still be fun to ride. End cost would probably be somewhere around $350-$400.

    Option 2 is to purchase a new bike. I was thinking something like the Red Line 925. The downside is that it doesn't offer the versatility of gears, but the upshot is that I have really been liking Fixed riding and this keeps me doing that. Part of me can't help but think it's not differentiated enough from my IRO Fixie though (just that it has a rack and I'd add fenders). Cost here would be about $550 after I'm done upgrading various things.

    What should I do? Option 1? Option 2? Other? I have some emotional attachment to the GT since it was the bike that got me back into riding and ultimately led to 50 pounds of weight loss and a much healthier lifestyle. It was also a gift from my (now) wife. I guess I'm leaning towards option 1, but I just want to know what you guys think.

  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I vote option 1...you can't buy a new bike like that for under about $700. Then save your pennies and buy the 9.2.5 if your really want one. FWIW I have a 9.2.5 but it is my fair weather bike I don't have a dedicated foul weather bike, but if I did it would either be my 1972 Raleigh Sports Standard which is a real shaggy dog, or my Giant Iguana which is being reconfigured as an expedition tour bike, but can still do service as a bad weather rider.

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  3. #3
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    considering setting up your franken bike as a 1x9 with winter tires,
    put kool stop salmon pads on your brake shoes, mount new handlebars
    like the on one midge or WBT mountain drops (probably will have to change your stem),
    get a couple of lights and some flat or BMX pedals to accomodate your winter shoes.
    you are set to commute in a blizzard or nice weather.
    ps. you will probably need some safety glasses to keep the road slop and sanding grit
    out of your eyes.

  4. #4
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    early 90's Trel 830's and such are great snow bikes
    bullet proof and plentiful and cheap on C-list

    I just converted a Peugeot Mountain bike to an internal 3-speed for winter biking
    Last edited by Sigurdd50; 10-09-07 at 06:21 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member rankin116's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martianone View Post
    considering setting up your franken bike as a 1x9 with winter tires,
    put kool stop salmon pads on your brake shoes, mount new handlebars
    like the on one midge or WBT mountain drops (probably will have to change your stem),
    get a couple of lights and some flat or BMX pedals to accomodate your winter shoes.
    you are set to commute in a blizzard or nice weather.
    ps. you will probably need some safety glasses to keep the road slop and sanding grit
    out of your eyes.
    I have a GT timberline as well that i have been working on making a winter bike. It has a triple crank, but I took off the FD and i am using it on the middle ring. I saw a chain ring on some one else's bike that was like a groove that the chain sat in while contacting the ring, so the ring was inset on the grooved part. Anyone know what this is, and where to find it?

  6. #6
    M_S
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    If you have the time, I vote putting some money into the frankenbike. Buying new is fun, but I wouldn't want to ride a brand new bike in really bad weather, even if I had picked it out for that purpose. 1x9 would be a little less durable than an internal hub, but you could keep your old wheels and use the change to make the bike more fun by messing around with your cockpit configuration, or geting a rigid fork if yours is a suspension one. Kona Project twos can be had for around 80 bucks I think. You might also want to try one-one midge drops or similar (shallow, wide dirt drops) which would be more areo but offer lots of leverage in crapy conditions. For the gearing in back you can get brand new Deore rear derailleurs for around 20 bucks. It'll work great but it won't matte rmuch if it gets trashed. As a shifter I'd buy a new or used bar end shifter. New can be pricey if you go ultegra/durace, but used ones aren't hard to find on ebay.

    Anyways, those are just my thoughts, take e'm or leave 'em.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rankin116's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M_S View Post
    If you have the time, I vote putting some money into the frankenbike. Buying new is fun, but I wouldn't want to ride a brand new bike in really bad weather, even if I had picked it out for that purpose. 1x9 would be a little less durable than an internal hub, but you could keep your old wheels and use the change to make the bike more fun by messing around with your cockpit configuration, or geting a rigid fork if yours is a suspension one. Kona Project twos can be had for around 80 bucks I think. You might also want to try one-one midge drops or similar (shallow, wide dirt drops) which would be more areo but offer lots of leverage in crapy conditions. For the gearing in back you can get brand new Deore rear derailleurs for around 20 bucks. It'll work great but it won't matte rmuch if it gets trashed. As a shifter I'd buy a new or used bar end shifter. New can be pricey if you go ultegra/durace, but used ones aren't hard to find on ebay.

    Anyways, those are just my thoughts, take e'm or leave 'em.
    can you use road shifters with mountain derailleurs? according to a few posts i've read in the mechanics forum, they're not compatible.

  8. #8
    M_S
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    Quote Originally Posted by rankin116 View Post
    can you use road shifters with mountain derailleurs? according to a few posts i've read in the mechanics forum, they're not compatible.
    That's completely false. There's a lot of confusion ove this, apparently, but all the shimano stuff is made to play well together (a big advantage over Sram). You'll notice that many touring and cyclocross bikes have mountain bike rear mechs. The only limiting factor is that you can't run 10 speed, though you can still use a 10 speed shifter with a 9 speed drivetrain (I use 10 speed barcon shifters, a Tiagra front derailleur, and a Deore rear, quite the hodgepodge, but there are no compatability isues whatsoever).

  9. #9
    Senior Member rankin116's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M_S View Post
    That's completely false. There's a lot of confusion ove this, apparently, but all the shimano stuff is made to play well together (a big advantage over Sram). You'll notice that many touring and cyclocross bikes have mountain bike rear mechs. The only limiting factor is that you can't run 10 speed, though you can still use a 10 speed shifter with a 9 speed drivetrain (I use 10 speed barcon shifters, a Tiagra front derailleur, and a Deore rear, quite the hodgepodge, but there are no compatability isues whatsoever).
    good to know, thanks.

  10. #10
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I like option 1 as well... you have a good bike that could be made better and you might even find that you want to ride it when the weather doesn't suck.

    I now have two 1987 Kuwahara Cascades... one is a fixed gear conversion I built for winter riding and the other is a 3 speed conversion that I planned to use for sloppy weather.

    The thing is they're both too nice for just riding in crappy weather.

  11. #11
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    I have an IRO and a snow bike [which is also my summer mtn SS] as well. I'm in the process of building up a Trek mtn bike as a 700C all-season commuter. I could have just got a Bianchi Roger [SS cyclocross with disc brakes] and be done with it, but I'll save a bit of money this way, and I enjoy building my own bikes.

    So, I vote for Option 1a - frankenbike, but ditch the Nexus hub in favour of SS/FG.
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  12. #12
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    Originally Posted by martianone
    considering setting up your franken bike as a 1x9 with winter tires,
    put kool stop salmon pads on your brake shoes, mount new handlebars
    like the on one midge or WBT mountain drops (probably will have to change your stem),
    get a couple of lights and some flat or BMX pedals to accomodate your winter shoes.
    you are set to commute in a blizzard or nice weather.
    ps. you will probably need some safety glasses to keep the road slop and sanding grit
    out of your eyes.
    I have a GT timberline as well that i have been working on making a winter bike. It has a triple crank, but I took off the FD and i am using it on the middle ring. I saw a chain ring on some one else's bike that was like a groove that the chain sat in while contacting the ring, so the ring was inset on the grooved part. Anyone know what this is, and where to find it?

    I use a chain guard disk on the outside and a dog fang on the inside;
    chain stays in place and my pant leg does stays off the chain.

  13. #13
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    My Kuwaharas...built for the crappy stuff but nice enough to ride all day in any weather.




  14. #14
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    I'd vote for Option 1 except I'd use a SA-3 speed internal hub instead which is around $100 cheaper than a Shimano 8 speed hub.
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  15. #15
    bac
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    Fixed or ss.

    ... Brad

  16. #16
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    Hmmm - Maybe I will keep it a single speed and put the money I was going to drop on a new internal hub towards an ENO hub so I can ditch the ugly tensioner I'm currently running... That's certainly an option.

    I currently have a tripple up front with the front derailer removed, running the chain over the middle ring. If I want to replace this with a single, do I need an entirely new crankset? I think this would be a good start to the project, regardless of how I intend to gear it in the back... I don't want or need multiple rings up front.

  17. #17
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    Oh, I forgot I had pictures of this bike available online. Just so we can see what I'm talking about, here's the current bike (only it's MUCH, MUCH dirtier, and no longer has a rear brake):


  18. #18
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    Tires for commuting

    I would not ditch the Marathon Plus tires. I use Armadillo's on my commuter and have gotten about 3 flats in 2 years-all of them large nails or staples. Before these tires, I was getting 1 flat a month, give or take. There is little worse than changing a flat on a slushy street in freezing weather.

  19. #19
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerekU2 View Post
    Hmmm - Maybe I will keep it a single speed and put the money I was going to drop on a new internal hub towards an ENO hub so I can ditch the ugly tensioner I'm currently running... That's certainly an option.

    I currently have a tripple up front with the front derailer removed, running the chain over the middle ring. If I want to replace this with a single, do I need an entirely new crankset? I think this would be a good start to the project, regardless of how I intend to gear it in the back... I don't want or need multiple rings up front.
    You will not need a new crankset, just take off the rings you don't need and replace the chainring bolts with shorter ones [available wherever SS bike parts are sold].
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  20. #20
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    I'm torn now between building it up around a nexus 8 rear hub or an ENO Eccentric Rear hub and going Fix/Free. The Nexus would make it more of an all-around commute/hauler type bike, I think. That said, there aren't all that many large hills in the area so the fix wouln't be much of an issue unless I fully loaded it. Ugh...

    Decisions, decisions

    Thanks for the info though people... keep the suggestions coming!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by madavis25 View Post
    I would not ditch the Marathon Plus tires. I use Armadillo's on my commuter and have gotten about 3 flats in 2 years-all of them large nails or staples. Before these tires, I was getting 1 flat a month, give or take. There is little worse than changing a flat on a slushy street in freezing weather.
    They're not Marathon Plus, just Marathon. Indeed, they have been great tires. Two years and not a single flat. I've even SOUGHT OUT patches of glass to see what would happen!

    If I go fix/free though, they might have to go if I ever plan on actually switching the wheel to the free side. They really are only designed to run in 1 direction.

  22. #22
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    My decision may have been made for me. The bike has vertical dropouts (notice the tensioner I'm currently running) so unless I could get the Chainring/Cog/Chain Length combo just right, I'd have to continue to run the tensioner with the Nexus. Bleh...

    Anyone run a nexus on vertical dropouts without a tensioner?

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