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  1. #1
    Senior Member powitte's Avatar
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    Folders and winter

    I'm thinking of picking up a folder for a few reasons. While weighing my options, I'm considering winter performance.

    Not talking about carrying it to the subway sort of winter performance, but, riding through Chicago slop 5-7 days/week. [Reason I will need to to fold is to toss it into the trunk of a car a few times a week.]

    How do 20" wheels manage it? Are there any models particularly well suited for this sort of punishment?

    What are your experiences?

  2. #2
    My legs hurt
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    My Swift fitted with Marathon Winter's handled last years particularly nasty Glasgow winter just fine. Everything else stopped, (cars, trains, airplanes) but my little bike just went.

    To be honest, I suspect it had less to do with the frame and more to do with the tyres and the weatherproof drum brakes.

  3. #3
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I have seen a couple of Raleigh Twenties with studded tires on them rolling along in Iowa City in some pretty nasty weather, traffic was at a slow crawl and the one person was making better time. As long as you clean the bike regularly to keep the salt and crud down it should do just fine. In many cases I think a folder is better because you can get your feet down in a hurry. Don't forget to wear some type of cleated shoe for the ice. First time I rode on studs I forgot about that and put my foot down and went over because I didn't have any traction on my feet, the bike had plenty.

    Aaron
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  4. #4
    lowlife bottom feeder BassNotBass's Avatar
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    I prefer riding my KHS Mocha through snow and sleet over my MTB. The Mocha just feels more predictable, controllable and sure-footed... I'd suspect that the lower center of gravity has something to do with that. The smaller wheels and full coverage mudguards also reduce the amount of road slop that gets kicked around so I stay cleaner and dryer.
    I plan on living forever... so far so good.

  5. #5
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    This past winter I commuted with a 700C hybrid, with Nokian W106 studded tyres. On a couple of occasions we had so much snowfall, it reached up to hub level in snowbanks that accumulated on MUP. I had to walk the bike every now and then until I got to a spot with less snow and was able to gain some momentum again. Observations:

    - the plows were busy for several days before the MUP was cleared
    - I would have walked the bike a lot more if it had smaller wheels (and walking it would've required more effort)
    - OTOH, carrying the bike and multimodal commute would have been an option with a folder, not so with a 700C wheeled bike
    - we only have a few days like that per year

    In deep snow smaller wheels are a drawback. Depending on your climate (and how quickly your streets get plowed) that may or may not be an issue.

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  6. #6
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    I ride my Brompton (16 inch wheels) through Toronto's winter on city streets - like everyone else, the lower the bike the more stable I feel. Being able to get your foot down quickly is important.

  7. #7
    My legs hurt
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    I was thinking about this...

    Can you really get your foot down any faster on a small wheeled bike? For me, the saddle height from the ground is about he same on all my bikes. Surely that's the only real factor in how fast you can get your foot down...

    That's also why when I'm riding in particularly icy conditions I tend to lower my saddle a couple of cm.

  8. #8
    lowlife bottom feeder BassNotBass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post
    ... Can you really get your foot down any faster on a small wheeled bike? ...
    I think it depends on the bike and the rider's position. My MTB has a high bottom bracket so my body and feet are further from the ground than when on my folder or road bikes. My body is more horizontal on my MTB and road bikes than when I'm riding my Mocha so I think the more upright seating position (of the Mocha) allows for a quicker transition from a riding to standing position as when preventing a fall on slippery roads.
    I plan on living forever... so far so good.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    rode my Bike Friday throughout the winter last year,
    Bike A pocket Llama , with disc brakes ,
    Rohloff and Schmidt dynohub (s)

    Disc brakes Schwalbe marathon plus, tires .. getting ready to do it another year .. one thing I don't do.. is put a Brooks saddle
    on a bike I leave outside in the rain, Often.




    I understand Schwalbe makes Studded 406 tires.

    does't ice up every year here , My Nokian Studded tires are still serviceable 20 years on.
    ... but they are on 26" not 20" wheels ..

    Studded tires have provided safe road traction,
    when the black ice on the sidewalks, made walking precarious.

    previous winter I used my Brompton a lot.
    Kool Stop continental brake shoes.. were a good substitution .
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-11-12 at 11:16 AM.

  10. #10
    My legs hurt
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    Quote Originally Posted by BassNotBass View Post
    I think it depends on the bike and the rider's position. My MTB has a high bottom bracket so my body and feet are further from the ground than when on my folder or road bikes. My body is more horizontal on my MTB and road bikes than when I'm riding my Mocha so I think the more upright seating position (of the Mocha) allows for a quicker transition from a riding to standing position as when preventing a fall on slippery roads.
    That's what I was thinking. Nothing about small wheels, just bottom bracket height.
    Last edited by bendembroski; 06-15-11 at 09:14 AM. Reason: 's

  11. #11
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    I think folding bikes are better for winter because wider tires have more traction and wider tires are much lighter when the wheel diameter is small. Not a big deal if you're already switching to studded tires, but I like to use the same tires year round.

    If the snow is higher than your hubs then I'd be more worried that it's also higher than your pedals.

    Quote Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post
    I was thinking about this...

    Can you really get your foot down any faster on a small wheeled bike? For me, the saddle height from the ground is about he same on all my bikes. Surely that's the only real factor in how fast you can get your foot down...

    That's also why when I'm riding in particularly icy conditions I tend to lower my saddle a couple of cm.
    IMO the lack of a top tube makes it safer to put a foot down or both feet down without hurting yourself.

    The bottom bracket on my folder is high like a MTB.
    A sure sign of a successful experiment is when failure is prolonged until the experimenter forgets that he's even conducting an experiment.

  12. #12
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Rode my 20 through some nasty winter weather and what is a stable bike in nice weather becomes a very nice bike in craptastic weather... friend here rode her 20 inch (non folder) through what was one of the worst winters we had and said it was one of the best winter bikes she has ever used.

    Do prefer an mtb wheel in the winter as they do roll over and through deep ruts better and also allow for a wider and plusher tyre.

  13. #13
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I believe that the lower center of gravity of the bike itself may come in to play in this situation. I am also of the opinion that if the snow is deep enough to hinder 20" wheels you probably are going to have problems with pedal strike, even on a regular MTB. I have never had the opportunity to ride in snow over 6"-8" deep...fringe benefit of living in the Deep South

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  14. #14
    My legs hurt
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    I'm not trying to be a pest about this.

    Really.

    Just trying to understand cycling dynamics a bit better.

    Regarding the center of gravity thing: Surely, once you factor in the weight of the rider the slight difference in the where the weight of the bike is has got to be pretty insignificant ?

    As to riding in deep snow, the OP will be riding in Chicago, so deep snow isn't really going to be an issue. Salty slushy gunk & hard compacted snow and ice will be the biggest issues. Fortunately, studded tyres do rather well in those conditions

  15. #15
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    I agree with Ben. The depth of the snow shouldn't be an issue in Chicago, unless one really likes to ride into snow banks. The streets are plowed and salted pretty well in Chicago... which means salty slush. When the streets aren't plowed quickly enough cars drive through them which means compacted snow and ice.

    Any bike, including a folder, with studded tires should do the trick. Due to the salty slush, be sure to clean the bike more regularly in winter... or get a beater bike that you don't expect to last for more than a few seasons.

  16. #16
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    The lower COG on folders / small wheelers is significant... my 20 serves as a touring bike and with the same full loads as my standard touring bike it has a much more stable feel and it will perform maneuvers and recover from bad ones better than most bicycles.

  17. #17
    My legs hurt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    The lower COG on folders / small wheelers is significant... my 20 serves as a touring bike and with the same full loads as my standard touring bike it has a much more stable feel and it will perform maneuvers and recover from bad ones better than most bicycles.
    I can see that with a touring load lower that would easily be the case. A higher proportion of the total load would be lower to the ground. With just rider and bike, not so much. Do you find the smaller wheeled bikes more stable unloaded?

    I can't say I've felt any significant difference aside from the handling characteristics normally attributed to small wheels and trail, blah blah blah...

    That's not saying it's so. Just what I've felt.

  18. #18
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post
    Regarding the center of gravity thing: Surely, once you factor in the weight of the rider the slight difference in the where the weight of the bike is has got to be pretty insignificant ?
    IMO it's significant enough to feel it, but not significant enough to matter without cargo. Not all folders have the same COG because, aside from the height of the hub and rim/tire, smaller wheels are also typically accompanied by lower head tubes, which usually implies lower frames. So the effect is more pronounced as you go smaller (although I believe you ride a swift whose main tube is relatively high for a folder).

    I'm also a big believer in the notion that rider weight is very different from bike weight, because the inertia of the rider is what you use to control the inertia of the bike (not the other way around). Quantities on different sides of the same equation have opposite influence.
    A sure sign of a successful experiment is when failure is prolonged until the experimenter forgets that he's even conducting an experiment.

  19. #19
    Senior Member law4jba's Avatar
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    do you have pictures/information about installing drum brakes on the front of a swift.

    I have a 8 sp nexus with drum on the back which is excellent. I haven't figured out how to mount the reaction arm on the front end.

    Thanks

  20. #20
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    I rode my 622 winterbike today and felt unstable. For some reason I kept thinking I wanted my folder for the ride instead but I did not put studded tyres on the folder yet. Two years ago i rode the folder the whole winter. I mowed house just before that winter started and putting studded tyres on more than one bike for myself when I also had my sons did not tempt me.

    If there is not much snow or they plow fast for sure a 20" can work well but remember 24" is also an option.

    About slush and snow. NOBODY rides trough 6-8" of snow, you have to walk the bike trough. If it is just a short distance it is impossible to just speed up and "plow" troug becouse your frontwheel is going to loose directions and go off to one side (maybe a pugsly can ride on top).

    Slush is your enemy. If there often is ice you need studded tyres, and the smallest ones made is 20".

    Riders weight and center of gravity for sure is important but there is more. Approx six yrs ago when we started riding in the winter I realised my son had much more problems than I had. The reason is he was a young child, riding a 24" bike. Since I was much heavyer than him at that time my weight would force the studs into the ground but that did not happen for him so he would slide more than once. That has since changed.

    I rode today on a country road that is not given priority for plowing. Therefor the cars pack the snow when driving and it is hard uneven and nasty, just like cobblestone. Also you have the "tracks" where the cars drive and you better stay in them or else you slide towards them. All this with the dog pulling the bike out of its direction . This is where my instinkts told me the folder would have been the best. When I arrived at the MUP that was nicely plowed and only used by bikes and dogwalkers I was fine with the 622. Still, the 20" would also have been great on the mup so therefor I keep thinking to put studs on it.

    A lo of things play a role so you need to just keep reading and compare to what you have to deal with on your ride.
    Last edited by badmother; 01-06-12 at 01:12 PM. Reason: zPelliNg
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    do you have pictures/information about installing drum brakes on the front of a swift.

    I have a 8 sp nexus with drum on the back which is excellent. I haven't figured out how to mount the reaction arm on the front end.
    SA makes a band clip to go around the fork blade, it has a slot to insert the reaction strut,
    Into, as you put the wheel in the dropout.

    the band clamp piece comes in a variety of diameters , so measure and specify.

    other than that it is just another hub standard width, large flange, now with optional Dynamo.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    My primary bike has 700 wheels. When it snows, which it rarely does, I ride, or, rather, rode, my 20" wheel Tote/Cycle.

    I feel like the Tote/Cycle is more steady. Whether this is a matter of center of gravity or just the longer wheelbase, I do not know. I do know that while my body may be the largest factor in overall center of gravity, I can also shift my own weight to my advantage unlike the weight of the bike, so I still feel like a bike with a lower center of gravity can have a positive affect on stability. The counter to this feature is when I'm carrying a load. The Tote/Cycle's carrying capacity is mostly above the wheels, whereas by using panniers on my full-size bike, I can more easily keep the bike from getting top heavy. I've sent my Tote/Cycle on it's side by turning too sharply while carrying too much weight, something I wouldn't expect to happen on my full sized bike. So if I have to carry a lot, I still might prefer to be on the 700c bike.
    Other factors include fatter tires on my small-wheeled bike, a low, sloped top tube that makes it easier to hop off the seat and get a foot down, and a more upright position that encourages me to look farther ahead for obstacles and again makes it easier to slip off the seat and get a foot down.

    Some of these factors are not small-wheel-specific, but in my case they are what make the folder my preferred snow bike. So I'm sure that something out there should meet your requirements of both folding and being winter-friendly.

  23. #23
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    I rode my Dahon Speed D7 (stock tires) through slush and some ice recently here in Brampton when the roads hadn't been cleaned yet....it required my full attention as I had to go as slow as possible and my rear was sliding all over the place. I had to walk it on the sidewalk uphill for a few minutes at one point. What I realized that day was one big advantage of a folder. I can easily raise the handlebars and lower the seat post so that I'm sitting very upright and my feet easily touch the ground. Folders have a wider range of adjustments then non folders.

    I also realized another thing. That slush STICKS to the bike all over the place. I had bounced my bike on the pavement to get rid of most of the slush. Brought it into Starbucks and within 10 minutes there was a huge puddle. Not sure how many nooks and crannies the slush was in. Next morning the chain had started to have some surface rust....not going to be riding in slush ever again unless I can help it.

    Roads here are generally good so it's not worth getting winter tires for me especially this years short winter. I just choose cleaner paths and pay more attention. Plus it's not like I commute to a real job where I will be penalized for staying home a few days out of the month.

    Either way, +1 on folders for winter. Just bring some water along to rinse off the bike before throwing it in the car or wherever you put it. Maybe even an old towel or something.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Hmmm... I've been thinking about this for a while... how to commute in the winter? My only complaint about my Brompton is that I wish I could get studded or more aggressive tires on it. A 20" tire for other conditions (gravel, etc.) would be nice too. I've often wondering if Brompton would ever make an "extra-large" version of its folder with 20" tires. As long as I don't have to pack for a plane, I wouldn't mind!

    So, I've kind of decided to seriously consider:
    1. A fat bike. (Hey, not a folder, but might was well go to the extreme!)
    2. A 20" folder like a Tern Link that can accept studded tires.

    Any thoughts? Anybody with two folders for different purposes?
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  25. #25
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    The typical folder step-through frame does make dismounts more easy, and by dismounts I mean falling off. I've fallen off my Dahon 4 times and somehow I've always ended up neatly clear of the bike.
    Last winter was mild and I didn't have a problem riding a brompton with slick tyres. . . not the wisest move, I know.

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