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  1. #1
    APM
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    Can you ride a normal 'summer road bike' in winter conditions

    And doi you need specialised clothing?
    "Perhaps the single most important element in mastering the techniques and tactics of racing is experience. But once you have the fundamentals, acquiring the experience is a matter of time."

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    You can ride a std race bike in winter but...
    In UK winters, the roads are usually wet and rarely icy. Mudguards/fenders are really useful. You may be able to squeeze some SKS raceblades into your frame.
    Ideally you need clearance for 28mm tyres (min) + some proper full-length mudguards (SKS Chromoplastic).
    For clothing, you need some tights over your shorts, a long-sleeved jersey, a windproof and some insulation (eg thin wooly jumper). You need thicker socks than for summer, full length gloves and a neck-warmer.
    Some people use neoprene booties with clipless pedal systems.

  3. #3
    I'm fine. Cromulent's Avatar
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    Can you? Sure. Depends on how cold it gets and whether you have snow and slush on the roads. There's a lot of cleaning involved. And you may want to get some different tires with a little more tread... or at least something that will handle the wet and the snow/slush a little better.

    The problem here in Milwaukee is salt. Once it snows, the city throws tons and tons of salt down on the roads. You could make margaritas in the street with all the salt they throw down. That's great for cars, sort of, but it's lousy for bike components.

    The other problem is the cold. I've biked to work (and many others here have had the same experience) on days where the bike won't shift anymore because it's too cold. Everything just sort of freezes up.

    So come the first snowfall, I will put my road bike away (I've only had it since May) and drag out my beater mountain bike. *Heavy sigh* I'm thinking about turning it into a single speed for reduced clean-up.

    Clothes... layers are good. Depending on how cold it is, I start with a base layer like Under Armor, throw another polyester shirt over that, throw a long-sleeve, cold-weather jersey over that, and then a cycling jacket. Basically you want synthetic wicking layers to get the sweat away from you so it doesn't chill you. I say synthetic, though I hear wool is very good for this. I use cycling leg warmers and cycling shorts.

    One of the oddest tips I've found, and I may have found it here, is to use a piece of duct tape on the inside of the crotch area your bike shorts. Keeps the wind out of there. It's a good thing.

    When it's really cold I use a balaclava. Otherwise I'll stick a knit cycling hat under my helmet.

    I don't know how cold it gets where you are, but I've biked to work in -2 F weather. Cycling gloves don't work at that temperature. They're too thin. Snowboarding gloves work really well... or as well as can be expected.

    There's probably a much easier way to do this. And after typing this all out, I'm not sure why I bike to work in the winter. Seems much cheaper and easier to buy a second car. And I have no idea if I've answered your question. lol.

  4. #4
    I'm fine. Cromulent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    You can ride a std race bike in winter but...
    In UK winters, the roads are usually wet and rarely icy. Mudguards/fenders are really useful. You may be able to squeeze some SKS raceblades into your frame.
    Ideally you need clearance for 28mm tyres (min) + some proper full-length mudguards (SKS Chromoplastic).
    For clothing, you need some tights over your shorts, a long-sleeved jersey, a windproof and some insulation (eg thin wooly jumper). You need thicker socks than for summer, full length gloves and a neck-warmer.
    Some people use neoprene booties with clipless pedal systems.
    Okay... what he said. It obviously gets colder here than in the UK.

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    yeah, and you can ride 'em on trails and through the mud, to grandmothers house we go, down the bluffs and through the woods. I know a better idea. Trade your bike in for a really nice Mountain Bike, and you'll never have to wonder if your bike can go anywhere.

  6. #6
    8speed DinoSORAs Ed Holland's Avatar
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    I commute 12 months of the year on road bikes in the UK. Both bikes have 23mm tires and all is well and good untill there is snow on the road. However, this is so rare, even on the country lanes around Oxford that there is rarely a problem getting to work. I will admit to using my wife's folding ATB when there is snow on the road - the road bike wouldn't stay upright for long in those conditions . Last winter I used the ATB for 2 days.

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    Corsair Satyr's Avatar
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    What about a road or cross bike for more sever winter conditions? Anyone here do this?

  8. #8
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Holland
    I will admit to using my wife's folding ATB when there is snow on the road - the road bike wouldn't stay upright for long in those conditions
    I'm not sure if you speak from experience, but my experience disagrees with your statement. For 6 to 8 winters, I was a year-round cyclist in Alaska and in Montreal, Quebec. I never had a road bike until the last winter I was in montreal, but on snowy days in montreal the road bike was my bike of choice.

    They never fail to salt the roads in center city Montreal. What that means for a bike with narrow (25mm or so in my case) tires is that the tires sink through the snow and the rubber rides on wet pavement. By contrast, on snowy days the mountain bike forced me to use lots of effort while the tires pushed snow out to the sides. The tires were less able to consistently sink through the snow, which meant the bike and i were bumping up and down over snow. Traction was fine for both bikes, though I think in a pinch the road bike would have come out better, because it was able to get more rubber down to the pavement.
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    I'm planning on commuting on a road bike this winter, hope I don't bite it in front of a lot of people.

  10. #10
    ǝıd ǝʌol ʎllɐǝɹ I JeanCoutu's Avatar
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    Tried an old Peugeot road bike in '02-ish, bald 27" tires. Let's see I couldn't get started again after stopping in 5-10cm's of snow over hardpack/ice because the rear wheel would just spin in place. The front brake was almost completely useless due to fear of using up what little traction it had. On the upside, I learned how to crash with drop bars... It wasn't long before I came to the conclusion that maybe a normal summer road bike is not all that much of a great match given the enviromental conditions...


    I've also tried studded 700's on a Miyata touring bike last year I think it was. Rather a harsh ride, hard on the wrists. Braking and cornering still sucked. Well they were better then the above 27"s, but they always seemed to find ruts, cracks & such stuff hidden in the hardpack under surface snow. Poor at climbing out of ruts, terrible at hopping snowbanks and don't even think of riding a ski-doo trail. As soon as I'd go sorta fast-ish on hardpack, say 25km/h or so, they felt like they could send me down in a split second. On the upside, when I'd manage to get some pavement they were faster then fat studded tires.

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    Can you? Sure. Do I? Nope. My roadbike hangs in the garage all winter. I want the most stable bike I can find and the road bike is not that bike. I ride my mountain bikes all winter long. As far as clothing, you need moisture wicking clothing for a base layer and you can use cheaper stuff on the outside.

    Read the "What I wore" thread at the top of this forum to see what people wear at various temperatures. It's not rocket science but it ain't paint by numbers either.

  12. #12
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    APM,

    Can't say about bike choice as I probably ride in different conditions.

    Considering you can get studded road tires (Schwalbe) and the the whole sport of cyclecross revolves around road bikes and winter I believe you're good to go on a road bike.

    Do get a wicking base layer though and do not wear cotton. Polyester wicking layer (very cheap now, $10/shirt $10/undies) and some poly or wool layers on top. I never wear anything thick just a windbreaker external layer. I believe what you wear will make or break your winter riding, not your bike. There is a ton of layers you can get for other sports (skiing?) that will work on the bike.

  13. #13
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    The definition of "winter" varies from place to place. Where I live, winter means lots of snow, often bitter cold weather, and the city purposely leaves a layer of hardpacked snow/ice on the roads when plowing. We can get warm spells too, and then things can refreeze again.

    Last winter, I rode a mountain bike with Nokian brand, Hakka 300, studded tires. They hooked up very well in the hardpack on the streets, and I was very pleased with how well things went.

    Hidden ruts and such can be a problem, and especially so after a thaw and refreeze.

    I generally took it easy on turns, not wanting to test the limits of lateral forces on my tires. Breaking hard in a turn could lead to skidding, but even on glare ice I could recover from a slide if I was ready for it. It's not like the bike ever just flew out from under me. There was always predictability.

    Straight-line stopping was phenomenal. The studs and lugs just dig right in. No slippage. Not even on glare ice. When the hardpark was in good shape on the streets, I would actually haul downhill pretty doggone fast from my house. I just took care to break before any turns.

    I also ran with my seat low enough for my feet to set flat on the ground. That lowered my center of gravity, and sometimes it was necessary for me to dab. Though dabbing would not have been so necessary had I not been in a hurry so often.

    Riding in snow before it had been plowed was sometimes a problem. Hard to steer in that stuff, especially when a whole bunch of cars have been buy to churn it all up. But on plowed streets, all was well.

    I only went out on trails once, early in the season when the snowcover was patchy, and maybe less than an inch. The rest of the winter I just used the bike to run errands around town. Kept me in shape. I had fun with it.

    For clothing, all I generally did was to wear a base layer bottom, and a windproof jacket up top. I also wore some six-inch hiking boots to keep my feet warm and dry. Nothing fancy there, but bear in mind that most of my rides were under two miles round-trip.

    I plan to ride again this winter. I really enjoy it, and it keeps me in shape. I was amazed at how well I could hill-climb after a winter of peddling on snow-covered streets.

    The one thing I'll do different next winter is to clean the bike. I ran all last winter without cleaning the drivetrain once. That proved to be an expensive lapse on my part -- had to replace chainrings, chain, and cassette this spring. Definitely I'll take better care of the bike this coming winter.

  14. #14
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    Let me add one other thing. I'm mostly a roadie and mostly a summer commuter. One winter when I still lived in upstate New York I commuted through the winter on my cross bike. The salt on the roads did a pretty good number on every bit of steel on the bike.

    Today my road bike is a Trek Madone. My mountain bike/commuter is a Cannondale F500 set up for commuting (rack, slicks, etc). The Cannondale is the sacrifice to the sodium chloride gods. The Trek stays cozy in the garage through the winter.

    At any rate, mother nature is going to take an extra toll on your bike during the winter. Plan accordingly no matter what bike you ride.

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  15. #15
    live free or die trying humancongereel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by APM View Post
    And doi you need specialised clothing?
    i know a messenger who just put zipties around the tires and rims of his track bike when it snowed. he said he used it in a couple cities when it got really bad. i dunno...he was also kind of special (no, not "special"), so it may have helped.

    this'll be my first full winter riding in a place where it snows, so i may ride the track bike a little and maybe even do that. i did in the snow before, and you just have to ride carefully. however, this year i'll have a mountain bike--i think the wider tires will help with balance a bit.

    clothes...last year i moved mid-winter from the mildness of portland, oregon, to the biggest snowstorm in a couple years in this part of ohio. i didn't have much choice but to ride in what i had, just more layers of it. then again, i also already happened to have underarmor and wool socks and stuff like that, so...under armor, wool, waterproof outer, and between the under and outer armors, just whatever layer(s) seemed necessary..that worked for me.
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  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Can you ride a normal 'summer road bike' in winter conditions?

    Yes.

    And do you need specialised clothing?

    No.

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