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Thread: Winter Riding

  1. #1
    Senior Member trustnoone's Avatar
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    Winter Riding

    Anyone here ride in the winter? Not winter in Vancouver, but winter in a cold city like Edmonton or Winterpeg?

    Anyone here really crazy and ride a road frame in winter?

  2. #2
    Year-round cyclist
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    It can be done, but I prefer a touring frame. Basically, it's like a road frame, but with a slightly straigther position. But I find the most important advantages of the touring frames over the road (racing) frame are:
    – enough room around the tires to put fenders and mudflaps;
    – enough room under the fork, stays and brakes (i.e. cantis or v-brakes are a must) for 700x37 knobby or studded tires.

    Montréal is not as cold as Winnipeg, but we get more snow and more salt, which means sloppy slush all around.


    P.s. Riding in Winter is a wonderful experience. Visit the Winter forum!
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  3. #3
    Senior Member trustnoone's Avatar
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    I happen to own a touring bike too. An old Nishiki International. Do you recommend an undersized frame our will standard sizing rules apply?

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    Year-round cyclist
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    I have a standard frame, and I think standard sizing principles apply for on-street riding. If you are thinking of off-road riding on snowmobile trails, frozen lakes and the like, then I think MTB principles would be better.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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    I use an old rigid mtb converted to single speed for when I lived in Edmonton in University, and now Calgary.

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    the bike made me do it oneredstar's Avatar
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    I have been riding in the winter for the last 5 years in Saskatoon. Had been on a geared mountain bike, but I have converted it to a singlespeed this year. I don't really find it all that bad. Dress in layers, and a lot lighter then you would think.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Winter76's Avatar
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    What about when it's -30c?
    3 years commuting while there's no snow on the ground. 20km round trip.
    Quote Originally Posted by madfiNch
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!

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    the bike made me do it oneredstar's Avatar
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    I have biked in -40c. Your bike starts to have trouble in those temps though. Grease starts to thicken and not role as smooth, and if there is moisture in your cable housing they will freeze completely. You end up burning a lot of energy because of the resistance of the snow, so you heat up quickly.

  9. #9
    Commited Suicide WannaGetGood's Avatar
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    I have dirt jumped in the snow before. That was a challenge.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    I've done winter cycling in Winnipeg, Toronto, Saskatchewan and the Okanagan. In each of those places, people have questioned my sanity but motorists have given me a lot of room on the roads.

    In Winnipeg, I used a cheap road bike. I used that bike and a mountain bike in Toronto. Since then I've used mountain bikes for all my winter riding.

    The coldest I've ridden in is -35 C in Winnipeg. Yeah, it's cold, but it's not too bad. Below -20 C, it tends to get quite dry. The ice isn't too slippery and the pavement isn't messy for riding. When it's close to the freezing point, winter cycling becomes a challenge. At those temperatures, it's wet, slushy and slippery. And in Toronto, the salt on the roads is mean to steel bike frames and to chains and other components.

  11. #11
    Your scars reveal you tallard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trustnoone View Post
    Anyone here ride in the winter? Not winter in Vancouver, but winter in a cold city like Edmonton or Winterpeg?
    At age 41, I can say I've cycled pretty much 365 days a year. Although the last couple of years have been in the tropics, until age 35, the southernmost Canadian city I'd WINTER cycled (late 20s) was Guelph, with little precipitation and warm daylight, the main challenge was black ice. This is the location I found most dangerous for winter cycling as the black ice is incredibly treacherous.

    Growing up in Gaspésie, the major challenge is snow, there it snows and snows and snows, but temperatures rarely goes below -20C. Cycling in fresh snow on solid under with good tires is like windsurfing, the snow flies like a bow wake at your feet! Beautiful, fun and easy. If the underlayer is not hard, then things become downright impossible!

    In Montreal and Sherbrooke, the major challenge is big white ice (rarely reaches -30C). Precipitation in Montreal/Sherbrooke is nearly as much as in Gaspésie, but the plow/truck huge loads of it away (largest snow removal infrastructure on the planet) and the amounts of salt used on the streets turns everything into slush by midday, by nightfall, everything starts freezing over again, so late nights and early morning commutes can very very slippery, but not the same kind of slippery as black ice. The old listserv ICEBIKERS was very enjoyable for this purpose. Myself I never used studs, kept my seat lower and my average knobby tires slightly underinflated, I only rarely fell, and mostly main arteries were safer than side streets as they were less icy. Clothing was insulated lycra pants, a mid climate yellow cycle vest with a extra layer underneath and good gloves and earband (I've never been able to wear anything on my head, I just get hot and dizzy) and a scarf on the coldest days. The one additional pitfall of all this salt is that it's really hard on the cycle. The rule of thumb here is NOT to bring the bike indoors as the warming will increase rusting potential.

    In Whitehorse, the main challenge is COLD!!!!!!!! My personal coldest day on record is -56C. However, I did not cycle that day. I have found that with no specialty gear, the temperature limit for cycling is -41C. At that temperature, the plastic cables are stiff enough that turning ability is reduced and grease stiffens to the point where everything responds slower. Especially difficult is shifting. I find cycling below -35C is only feasible if your commute is on flat terrain with not many intersections or turns. Safety is however good at these low temperatures as vehicles are mostly going very slow as their stopping capacity is practically nil.
    Below -30C, salts aren't efficient to clear the roads of ice so colder climes use gravel, this gravel bites into the ice and offers SOME level of traction. However, come spring, all this loose gravel can be dangerous to cyclists FACES AND EXPOSED BODY PARTS as they tend to fly, which is the reason there is no windshield insurance for motorists in the Yukon. EVERYONE's windhield is busted up!!!!!! Another factor not be forgotten in northern cycling is most commuting is done in the dark, as in Whithorse for a couple of months, there are only a few hours of daylight.
    The beauty of cycling winters in Whitehorse is the crips crackling sound of the sparkling hard hard snow under your wheels, as well as listening to the morning chit chat of the ravens sitting on the street lights warming their toes and tushes.

  12. #12
    Your scars reveal you tallard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trustnoone View Post
    Anyone here ride in the winter? Not winter in Vancouver, but winter in a cold city like Edmonton or Winterpeg?
    One more health item when it comes to winter riding. Unfortunately for reality, cycling in cities in winter is actually quite bad for your lungs and indirectly your whole body. As the cold winter air creates in inversion with the exhaust fumes and traps them at ground level. When cycling with traffic in cities, your lungs work harder and the pollutants from the exhaust do enter your lungs at a greater rate. There is very little research done on this, however I am supposing from logic that the lesser the traffic, the lesser the inversion, hence the lesser the pollutant risk to your lungs.

    But I do it anyway, maybe one day the government will come up with something like this: "must use gas masks to cycle in winter"

  13. #13
    In the wind mercator's Avatar
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    Well, Calgary hardly qualifies as a cold city, but I ride all winter. The hardest thing for me is getting the right number and type of clothing layers since the temperature can range from -30 to +15 over fairly short time spans. I normally find myself wearing too much and overheating.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Winter76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tallard View Post
    One more health item when it comes to winter riding. Unfortunately for reality, cycling in cities in winter is actually quite bad for your lungs and indirectly your whole body. As the cold winter air creates in inversion with the exhaust fumes and traps them at ground level. When cycling with traffic in cities, your lungs work harder and the pollutants from the exhaust do enter your lungs at a greater rate. There is very little research done on this, however I am supposing from logic that the lesser the traffic, the lesser the inversion, hence the lesser the pollutant risk to your lungs.

    But I do it anyway, maybe one day the government will come up with something like this: "must use gas masks to cycle in winter"
    Masks like these:
    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1187888428842
    3 years commuting while there's no snow on the ground. 20km round trip.
    Quote Originally Posted by madfiNch
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!

  15. #15
    Your scars reveal you tallard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winter76 View Post
    Ha! Now in the next 5 years they may become popular, then some child will suffer a rare and debilitating lung infection. then 5 years after that "Moms for cycling masks" will come about, 5 years later, masks will become so common that people will say "I wear cuz it's good for me, but I don't think it should be a law", then another 5 years will go by and the laws will start appearing, for children. Then another 5 years will go by and the laws will start addressing adults, and it starts all over again
    Oh my!

  16. #16
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I live in Edmonton and ride nearly 365 days of the year regardless of the weather... the coldest weather I have seen over the past few winters has been around -30 C and the key to riding is wearing multiple layers and protecting any exposed flesh as the windchill factor is always high when you are riding in sub zero temps.

    Polarized ski goggles are a must as they offer protection from cold, wind, and snow blindness.

    Last year my primary winter bike was my 87 Kuwahara Cascade that had been converted to an SS and this year it will see winter as a fixed gear as that will offer more control and less maintainence...if the weather is dry and the roads are clear I will probably ride my cross bike a fair bit too.



    The Cascade's geometry is set up for touring and it is a very solid and comfortable bike...the frame gets a few good wash and wax jobs over the winter and this has kept her looking great.

    The extra crud you get inthe winter means that maintainence intervals need to be shorter to ensure the hubs and bb stay clean and free of contaminants and your chain will take a beating.

    Synthetic grease is not as affected by severe cold as standard grease so using it can make your bike run much smoother... a little silicone lube in the cable housings also displaces moisture and prevents your brakes from freezing.

    All in all...my biggest issue when riding in the winter has always been staying cool.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Cowtown Cumuter's Avatar
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    Tallard, you sound like you have lived in many cities in Canada. Are you in the Military or RCMP? I heard cycling in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal where they use much salt on the road eats bikes. Some people just use old second hand beaters with good tires because in one season they rust. Is this true?

  18. #18
    Senior Member Cowtown Cumuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercator View Post
    Well, Calgary hardly qualifies as a cold city, but I ride all winter. The hardest thing for me is getting the right number and type of clothing layers since the temperature can range from -30 to +15 over fairly short time spans. I normally find myself wearing too much and overheating.
    I agree, some days I am budled in the morning, riding home in a sweater and no gloves in the afternoon. I also have seen it go from -20 celcius to 10 celcius in one short day.

  19. #19
    Senior Member trustnoone's Avatar
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    Well, I'm still riding my road bike in Edmonton as we've been lucky and have not had snow for longer than a morning. Coldest morning was today at minus five (ish.)

    Any 700cc tire recommendations for commuting over decent shouldered roads once the snow hits? My touring bike should be here soon.

  20. #20
    the bike made me do it oneredstar's Avatar
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    Nokian makes the best winter studded tires I know of, and I know they have at least one 700c model. They may be a little pricey but you will be very happy with them.

  21. #21
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    If you are going to go as fast as possible you will perhaps need the 700c Nokians with the most studs. I am quite satisfied with mine with 106 studs. (I have an MTB with more studs when needed) I have used an old roadbike from the seventies, they had room enough even for studded tires. My feet are often really cold so this year I am trying to ride with Keo classics to avoid the cleat as source of heatloss. I am putting some huge homeknitted socks over my shoes and raincovers over the socks. Seems to work really well although the coldest so far has been minus 5 celsius.

  22. #22
    Senior Member ijgrant's Avatar
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    I ride a fixed bike based on an old touring frame, with both brakes.

    The redundant braking is awesome, since I have both my legs and the handbrake to slow down, and you get alot of feedback from the chain to tell you what you're riding on.

    The only problem I have is angry motorists, especially ones who trap me, get out of their cars, and swear at me.

  23. #23
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=trustnoone;5664067]Well, I'm still riding my road bike in Edmonton as we've been lucky and have not had snow for longer than a morning. Coldest morning was today at minus five (ish.)

    I wonder if we pass each other on Edmonton's icy streets ?

    The -17 weather and snow has been fun hasn't it ?

  24. #24
    Senior Member trustnoone's Avatar
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    I ride in the north from St Albert. I would have noticed you!

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