Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Results 1 to 19 of 19
  1. #1
    Senior Member Shiloh253's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Riverton, WY
    My Bikes
    2015 Motobecane Mirage S
    Posts
    98
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Cycling in extreme cold

    I'm moving to Laramie, WY in two days, starting on my 4-year degree at the end of august. Long story short: Driving is out of the realm of possibility for me due to vision problems. Public transportation is available in Laramie, but it's limited at best. During the winter it easily drops to -30F, with some wicked wind.

    So, how would I go about cycling in that kind of weather? I'm applying to a few jobs that are close to my apartment, and school is less than a mile away. Here's what I'm thinking so far:

    -Get a cheap, used MTB to beat up during the winter.
    -Thick but flexible gloves
    -Some form of parka/light snow jacket just to keep me from freezing to death
    -Balaclava or shemagh for the face.

    What should I be looking for exactly? I've ridden in the winter before, but never really had a chance to get used to it (had a friend who'd gladly drive me around this past winter when I needed it).

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    35
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I use a
    1.wick / base lalyer
    2.Warm layer
    3.Water resistance layer if required
    4.High visibility clothes
    u get the point !
    i would pick multiple layers over 1 thick layer !

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    North of Boston
    My Bikes
    Kona Dawg, Surly 1x1, Karate Monkey, Rockhopper, Crosscheck , Burley Runabout,
    Posts
    2,728
    Mentioned
    6 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Need studded tires? Keep that option open. Racks/fenders/bags needed? For me here in MA, I work on my hands, feet and head to try to stay warmest. Go with some insulated winter boots and flat pedals, start there. And layers too.

  4. #4
    The Fat Guy In The Back Tundra_Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Sioux Falls, SD
    My Bikes
    '81 Panasonic Sport, '02 Giant Boulder SE, '08 Felt S32, '10 Diamondback Insight RS, '10 Windsor Clockwork, '15 Kestrel Evoke 3.0
    Posts
    1,083
    Mentioned
    7 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    When talking distances of less than a mile, your winter riding clothing choices change dramatically.

    I generally dress so that I'm cold the first couple miles. That way once I get warmed up from the ride I don't sweat too much. Overdressing can be just as bad as underdressing because of sweat.

    But if you're traveling less than a mile then you're not going to get warmed up enough for sweat to be a factor. Therefore I'm going to go against the grain and say wear the exact same thing you would wear if you were walking that mile. Dress warm and minimize exposed skin. You're probably talking about less than five minutes for a commute of that distance.

    If you land a job that's much farther away, then nripin hit the nail on the head: layers are the key for longer distances. I don't use any fancy clothing, just cheap stuff. But I layer up. Below 0 F and my layers look like this:
    • Spandex shorts/bike shorts
    • Thermal underwear.
    • Sweat pants and t-shirt.
    • Windbreaker jacket.
    • Gloves, boots, balaclava and glasses.



    Above 10 degrees and I remove the thermal underwear layer. Note that this is much less clothing than what a person new to winter riding would expect. When I roll out the door in the morning I am shivering, but by the time I make it to work (8 miles) I'm not cold at all, except for my fingers and toes (which I've yet to find a decent solution for, so I just live with it.)

    Also, not to be a jerk but if your vision is too bad to drive should you be cycling? Generally I rely heavily on being able to see traffic, and I wouldn't want that impaired.
    Visit me at the Tundra Man Workshop

  5. #5
    Senior Member bruised's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    WI
    My Bikes
    Salsa Beargrease Carbon, Salsa Warbird, Vintage Trek 7000
    Posts
    348
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Same as above ^

    Just dress as if you'd planned on walking the mile as you're not going to get too uncomfortable on that short duration ride. Just focus on protecting your face (with a thin balaclava) and hands - they can become uncomfortable quickly, particularly if you're pedaling at speed.

    Be wary where you ride and how you ride, if it's a new experience for you. Most winter commuters use studded tires to help minimize the risk of washouts on ice patches and fresh snow. You can survive without studs but you'll need to be really careful. Having poor vision won't help you spot ice, or rutted snow or any partially obscured objects such as pavements or pot-holes.

    Be careful!
    More about Fat Biking, Touring and general madness at 'Fat Man Biking' Blog.

    I love 'soccer' - America’s Sport of the Future Since 1972.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Shiloh253's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Riverton, WY
    My Bikes
    2015 Motobecane Mirage S
    Posts
    98
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Sorry for not replying folks, was without internet for a few days.

    I've ridden in snow before, and after a few hairy experiences I think I've got the hang of it. There's a lot of dirt-cheap bikes around here too. Hardly cream of the crop (yayyy huffy and mongoose!) but they'll work as a beater bike during the winter. And after talking to a guy at our local LBS he said that studded tires were almost a must, so I'll probably take that route.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Blue Belly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Vermont
    My Bikes
    Pinarello Montello, Merckx MX Leader, Merckx Corsa Extra, Pinarello Prologo, Tredici Magia Nera, Tredici Cross
    Posts
    1,163
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I've seen people do it, here. I don't/won't. Too many risks.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Wisconsin
    My Bikes
    Salsa Fargo, One-One Inbred 29er, Blue Norcross
    Posts
    351
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Layers, and make sure that you have a way to cover skin that is susceptible to frostbite. My dad froze the tip of his nose at -20F last winter because it wasn't covered and he descended a hill (effectively creating his own windchill). Also, always carry an extra layer when riding in those temps. I run warm, so I dress cool, but I always carry a down jacket and extra windproof stocking cap.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    England
    Posts
    12,714
    Mentioned
    5 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Do you need a waterproof in -30F. A windproof insulated jacket should be OK. An outer, removable insulating layer is good for heat regulation and if you need to stop. Sleeveless body-warmers/gillets work well.
    For 1 mile riding, you will spend more time getting prepped, dressed up and down at each end, than riding. Check if it is worth the effort compared to walking for 20 mins.
    In flat areas, singlespeeds keep things simple and reliable, but you need horizontal dropouts or similar, not spring-loaded chain tensioner.

  10. #10
    Senior Member MNBikeCommuter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    My Bikes
    Cannondale '92 T600 '95 H600 '01 RT1000
    Posts
    574
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    Do you need a waterproof in -30F. A windproof insulated jacket should be OK. An outer, removable insulating layer is good for heat regulation and if you need to stop. Sleeveless body-warmers/gillets work well.
    For 1 mile riding, you will spend more time getting prepped, dressed up and down at each end, than riding. Check if it is worth the effort compared to walking for 20 mins.
    In flat areas, singlespeeds keep things simple and reliable, but you need horizontal dropouts or similar, not spring-loaded chain tensioner.
    Waterproof in such conditions isn't needed, but a breathable windproof shell is. Even the "breathable" aspect is iffy as I've arrived at my location and frost has built up on the inside of the wind jacket and pants.

    I'd agree that it's worth considering just walking if it's under a mile. Logistics get to be a big time-sink and headache--clothing, securing and retrieving a bike and its accessories (lights, computer, whatever else could get stolen) in the cold, etc.

    But if you do decide to walk, I'd still get the studded tires and get the bike out for longer rides just for the fun of it. :-)

  11. #11
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Alpharetta, GA
    My Bikes
    Nashbar Road
    Posts
    7,880
    Mentioned
    36 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Extreme cold for me is 5°F so I won't opine on clothes for colder than that. But I will say something about the bike.

    Based on my one ride during a serious cold storm, riding through ice and snow where it was wet enough that ice built up on the bike and goggles and other parts, I have no inclination to do that again with a geared road bike. When you're stopped in less than two miles, chipping ice to get the chain moving, it's kind of late to be thinking about better choices.

    Next time it will be a single speed with big tires, preferably studded, or else I'm staying home.

  12. #12
    meh Hypno Toad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Minnesota
    My Bikes
    15 Surly Pugsley; 09 Kona Dew Drop, 13 Felt Z85; 03 Marin Nail Trail; 11 Globe Daily: 96 Mondonico
    Posts
    1,277
    Mentioned
    7 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Shiloh253 View Post
    I'm moving to Laramie, WY in two days, starting on my 4-year degree at the end of august. Long story short: Driving is out of the realm of possibility for me due to vision problems. Public transportation is available in Laramie, but it's limited at best. During the winter it easily drops to -30F, with some wicked wind.

    So, how would I go about cycling in that kind of weather? I'm applying to a few jobs that are close to my apartment, and school is less than a mile away. Here's what I'm thinking so far:

    -Get a cheap, used MTB to beat up during the winter.
    -Thick but flexible gloves
    -Some form of parka/light snow jacket just to keep me from freezing to death
    -Balaclava or shemagh for the face.

    What should I be looking for exactly? I've ridden in the winter before, but never really had a chance to get used to it (had a friend who'd gladly drive me around this past winter when I needed it).

    Thanks!
    I have a lot of experience are riding sub-zero temps, I bike-commute year-round in Minneapolis. Coldest ride is -20F for 11 miles, all smiles. Here are some pointers:

    Old MTB is good, disc brakes are a plus, and SS conversion is also good.
    Flush and regrease the free hub, otherwise it can freeze at sub-zero temps... then you're walking (been there, done that).
    Studded tires are a big help in the winter! I run Nokian Mount and Ground on the front and Continental Top Contact (non-studded) on the rear. The front tire is the most important for traction, steering, braking. The non-studded rear tire gives lower rolling resistance, making the ride 'faster'.
    A good snowboard/ski jacket shell, it doesn't need to be heavily insulated, you create a lot of heat. Be sure it has vents, you'll want to open them to get steamy/hot air out of the jacket.
    Pogies are GREAT! (Gupgum is a friend's business) & the bottle rack coozie works wonderfully.
    Many people like snowboard/ski goggles, I can't wear them, they fog and freeze. I typically go with nothing over my face (see below), but I'm a freakish.

    I hope this is helpful. Feel free to ask any follow up questions, I'm a huge fan of winter riding and would like to help other enjoy it too.

    Here is my winter bike - 2005 Marin Nail Trail (I replace the fork this spring with a rigid fork, no value in suspended forks in the snow/ice):


    Here are my layers for commuting 11 miles at -13F - many layers and lots of wool:



    This is a selfie on a -15F day, I stopped to open vents to cool off. I get very hot riding in the winter.

    Last edited by Hypno Toad; 08-21-15 at 07:56 AM.
    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I'm blaming you. There's a difference.

  13. #13
    Senior Member auldgeunquers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada
    My Bikes
    various strays, mongrels, and old junk.
    Posts
    421
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I commute year round in Sault Ste. Marie, ON and I am good to -30 celcius (-22 for all you non-conformists) and there is a lot of good advice here - moisture wicking base layers, wool and vents are all good.

    For feet I use flat pedals and running shoes with rubber overshoes over that. I find this to be plenty warm enough down to -30 and I have indoor shoes to wear when I get where I am going.

    I like mittens rather than gloves when it gets cold - much warmer - and I am using inexpensive ski mitts - nothing too fancy.

    Head - I ride with a helmet and I uses a moisture wicking beanie under the helmet, then a breathable rain cover over the helmet to block wind and slow the escape of warm air, and I found a stretchy fleece hat at a charity shop that goes right over the whole shebang. Very warm.

    I also grow a full beard for winter (something I don't think hypno toad does ) which helps to create some warm dead air around the face under the scarf or balaclava.

    I LOVE my studded tire! I amused some people last winter by riding laps on a local skating rink last year. That said - I would really like to try a fat-bike some winter - but I get more snow here than Laramie WY - and I do know the climate there fairly well - that's where my wife is from. Great city! Enjoy it.
    More bicycles will make you more happy. Soon you will have a garage-full of bicycles and your spouse will wonder why you're so happy when the garage is such a mess. -Jeff Wills

  14. #14
    meh Hypno Toad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Minnesota
    My Bikes
    15 Surly Pugsley; 09 Kona Dew Drop, 13 Felt Z85; 03 Marin Nail Trail; 11 Globe Daily: 96 Mondonico
    Posts
    1,277
    Mentioned
    7 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by auldgeunquers View Post
    I also grow a full beard for winter (something I don't think hypno toad does ) which helps to create some warm dead air around the face under the scarf or balaclava.
    My wife vetos the beard anytime I get one started, she's not a fan.... But many of my MPLS friends do put on a beard for the winter riding. Not the women though, the women around here just can't grow a good beard. Well most can't - Bearded Lady Motorcycle Show
    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I'm blaming you. There's a difference.

  15. #15
    Senior Member auldgeunquers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada
    My Bikes
    various strays, mongrels, and old junk.
    Posts
    421
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
    My wife vetos the beard anytime I get one started, she's not a fan.... But many of my MPLS friends do put on a beard for the winter riding. Not the women though, the women around here just can't grow a good beard. Well most can't - Bearded Lady Motorcycle Show
    Ah yes, Bearded Lady. Been there once a couple of years back. Interesting bikes show up for that. And INTERESTING peoples too ...
    More bicycles will make you more happy. Soon you will have a garage-full of bicycles and your spouse will wonder why you're so happy when the garage is such a mess. -Jeff Wills

  16. #16
    Senior Member GravelMN's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Rural Minnesota
    Posts
    1,026
    Mentioned
    4 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Bar Mitts

  17. #17
    Senior Member Cyclosaurus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Chicago Western 'burbs
    My Bikes
    1993 Mt Shasta Tempest, 2011 Motobecane Fantom Cross CX, 2012ish Dahon Speed D7
    Posts
    978
    Mentioned
    4 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I've ridden in -20 F weather here in Chicago out of necessity, fortunately not too often. I had a hard time keeping my hands warm. If I were doing it again I would definitely go for bar mitts. The other problem I had was that my eyes were watering like crazy and the tears freezing instantly on my eyelashes. You could try ski goggles but they might fog up and then freeze which pretty much makes them useless and it's virtually impossible to do anything about in those temps. I think I would probably wear a pair of safety glasses or wraparounds because they would keep most of the wind out of my eyes but aren't fully enclosed. I'd use heavy socks and well insulated boots. I didn't like wearing a lot of layers because I'd just sweat with the exertion. Thermals and pants, and thermals, a military field jacket liner, and a jacket were enough. I could feel the cold but the warmth of exertion kept me OK. Frostbite is no joke and can happen really fast so keep your ears and nose covered.
    Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve. -Popper

  18. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    695
    Mentioned
    4 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by GravelMN View Post
    Bar Mitts
    This! Alternatively bike pogies. I have very bad circulation in my hands so these are a must for me. I often wear medium thick gloves AND use the bike pogies and my hands are OK, not great, but OK. The main thing the pogies do is keep the wind off of your hands.

    Also, you may want to think about ski goggles. Eyelashes tend to freeze together at those temperatures. I've had my eyes freeze shut multiple times. That's not fun to deal with.

    I've ridden in -40. It's not fun. Disk brakes aren't required when things get that cold/snowy. You won't be going fast enough to need them. (Going fast hurts cause of the wind.) Get an old mountain bike, get studded tires, I recommend nokian. (You can get $45 ones from REI, which will last you many, many seasons.) Don't bother trying to make your own, they don't work nearly as well. Commercially made tires give you at least 90% of the grip on glare (black) ice that you'd have with normal tires on dry asphalt. Get TWO, not one, TWO!!!! You may think "oh I can get away with one." NO, NO YOU CAN'T. I thought the same thing when I first started winter riding. Then I WATCHED my girlfriend wipe out hard, then I wiped out hard. (And I'm a freaking good rider.) Do yourself a favor and prevent an injury. Spend another 45 bucks and buy TWO tires.

    If possible, when getting your old mountain bike, try to find one that can support WIDE tires. This isn't a necessity, my bike can only fit 1.95s. But, the wider the tire the better for going over small amounts of snow. (Alternatively, go skinny. Skinny tires cut straight through the snow and find the ice underneath.) Go to one extreme or the other, don't sit in the middle.

    If you plan on riding on the road, then ride ON the road. Ride in the right tire track. Don't bother trying to ride in the gutter. It's even more dangerous. (Voice of experience.)

    Think about LIGHTs. Days are very short in the winter and you'll often be riding in the dark. I recommend at least a 350 lumen front light (more is better) and a pretty decent rear light. One that you get behind and say "Damn, that's bright" and you have to avoid looking at it. The brighter the better. Also, buy a backup rear light. You don't want to lose a rear light due to you forgetting to charge it.

    Is your bike being stored inside? It'd better be or plan to come out to a frozen bike every morning. Even if it's covered, it's likely that the derailleur will freeze in place and the cogs will become filled with snow/ice. Since you have vision problems, I'd think that they university would make an exception for allowing you to store your bike somewhere inside. Ask!

    I enjoy riding in the winter. It certainly wakes you up. (And people give you crazy looks. AND you get the entire bike rack to yourself.) But you definitely need to be prepared. I actually ride longer than I have to in the winter. If I ride straight to work I never warm up and arrive freezing. If I take the longer way I'm nice and toasty by the time I get there.
    Last edited by corrado33; 08-28-15 at 01:38 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member john4789's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    My Bikes
    2012 Kilo WT, ??yr Trek Mountain Track, ??yr Omega Tandem Sport
    Posts
    369
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Keep reading this forum, all the old threads and you'll get an idea.

    My best tips:

    Latex gloves as the base layer on the hands. Add to it to make it work (for me in -20degg = latex + wool gloves + mechanics gloves).
    Bread bags as the base layer on the feet. Add to it to make it work (for me in -20deg = bread bag over toes and balls of feet + long wool socks + long johns over socks to balls of feet + long wool socks over the long johns + bread bag over the entire foot).
    Ski goggles over balaclava, under helmet, under popped jacket collar. The only thing with one layer is your mouth and nose which due to breathing will be OK.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •