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  1. #1
    These go to 11. DavidLee's Avatar
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    What makes a good Winter bike?

    Yeah, I know it's July & all but I wanna get a good jump on Winter this year. Currently I have but 1 bike, a Trek 7.5 FX & I'm looking at getting a second bike for foul weather/winter commuting. From what I've gathered from the "good 'ol inter-web" is that studs, disc brakes & fenders are a must. I've also read that one should use automobile motor oil to lube the chain in winter, correct or no?

    I plan on purchasing a low end hard-tail & equipping that for Winter riding sometime in the early fall. I've been to Ice Bike & other sites but want some feedback from you good people.
    Last edited by DavidLee; 07-20-06 at 06:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    David,
    My winter commuter was the same as my warm weather just changed out the tires for something a bit more aggressive. I used a Giant Iquana MTB with slicks or inverted tread tires in the warm months, when the occasional snow hit I would slap on the knobbies. Didn't really need studs in my part of the country (Sandhills of NC) The bike was fully loaded with front and rear racks, lowriders, fenders and lights. I usually used battery powered lights, but they can be an issue in cold weather as far as brightness and battery life.

    Aaron

  3. #3
    Dog is my copilot. GGDub's Avatar
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    A good winter bike is one which you don't mind getting rusty/dirty, everything else just makes life a little easier. But here's my list, in a loose order of decreasing importance:

    Lights - this one's obivious
    Wrap fenders - nothing more uncomfortable than a wet butt
    Knobbie tires - slicks don't work so well in snow
    Studded tires - good for stability, but terrible for speed. Its up to you to deicide which is more important for you
    Disc brakes - Hydraulics no, mechanicals sure, but you really don't need them. People will tell you that rims wear down with rim brakes, and they eventually will, but after 5 years of winter commuting, my rim's are still going strong, the hubs on the other hand.....
    Rubber Side Down

  4. #4
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    Mike
    Quote Originally Posted by cedricbosch View Post
    It looks silly when you have quotes from other forum members in your signature. Nobody on this forum is that funny.
    Quote Originally Posted by cedricbosch View Post
    Why am I in your signature.

  5. #5
    Geosynchronous Falconeer recursive's Avatar
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    Lack of derailleurs
    Bring the pain.

  6. #6
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    What would be better-- internally geared hub or cassette and derailleur? Would it depend on riding conditions, i.e., snow vs. rain?

  7. #7
    These go to 11. DavidLee's Avatar
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    Thanks all.

  8. #8
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    I think the best bet is a European city bike, or something similar. My bike (a modified German Kettler) has a hub dynamo, drum brakes, Nexus-7 hub gears, partial chaincase, fenders, rack, Lumotec headlight/B&M tail light, and platform pedals. It is also my year round bike, but it becomes a winter bike with the addition of Nokian Hakkapilita W-106 studded tires. The Haks are going strong after four years. They would not be good for plowing through heavy snow, but they are a good compromize between rolling resistance and traction for typical winter riding on plowed streets, black ice, and no more than a few inches of unplowed snow.

    Winter conditions vary a lot from place to place. Here in DC, they dump monumental amounts of sand and salt on what is basically wet snow. Everything thaws by day and freezes at night. Because of the high grit levels, rims last one winter on bikes with rim brakes. Further north, where snow is dry and roads are not as extensively treated, rims can last for years.

    Derailleurs and rim brakes can work well here if you clean and lubricate after each ride. As far as I am concerned, having to do all that work negates the convenience benefits of riding a bike in the winter. You may or may not agree. I spent three winters commuting on a Specialized Crossroads hybrid without studs. From a bike handling standpoint, the icy bits it felt like tightrope walking. From a maintenance standpoint, it was like using a violin to drive nails.. However it did work, and was better than having to drive my car in the corrosive salt brine.

    Paul

  9. #9
    meep! legot73's Avatar
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    Haven't found the time to tape the bars yet, but this is my winter bike:



    I need to shorten the cables quite a bit due to the new lever positions on the trekking bars.
    Nothing says "in good times and in bad" like a good pair of fenders

  10. #10
    Riding behind enemy lines iluvfreebeer's Avatar
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    Quien es, "winter"?
    ------------------------------------

    Armstrong never got caught cheating.
    That probably makes him as good a cheater as a cyclist.

    -- Some guy at the Dallas Crits

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by legot73
    Haven't found the time to tape the bars yet, but this is my winter bike:



    I need to shorten the cables quite a bit due to the new lever positions on the trekking bars.
    Very nice bike! I must say, though, that it seems a bit surreal to be discussing this when the temperature outside is pushing 100 F. I have to say I much prefer winter commuting to summer commuting.

    Paul

  12. #12
    meep! legot73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH
    Very nice bike! I must say, though, that it seems a bit surreal to be discussing this when the temperature outside is pushing 100 F. I have to say I much prefer winter commuting to summer commuting.

    Paul
    Nicer than I would normally consider for winter, but I got it for $450 + $10 for the handlebars for everything you see. There's another at my LBS if anybody wants it. There's also an L300 for $499 that I'd love the front wheel and light from.

    Planning for winter now is like picking over last year's skis, DISCOUNT CITY!!!
    Nothing says "in good times and in bad" like a good pair of fenders

  13. #13
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    David,

    You live in Maryland, not Minnesota. Studs and motor oil on the chain are going to be overkill 99+% of the time.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro
    David,

    You live in Maryland, not Minnesota. Studs and motor oil on the chain are going to be overkill 99+% of the time.
    The freeze and thaw conditions of Maryland really call out for studs. There are always ice patches on the roads. Further north, you get mostly dry snow and studs may actually be less useful.

    I put my Nokians on in December, take them off in March.

    Paul

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    I use a Gary Fisher Marlin, 10 years old. The front suspension seized after about a month, what with all the sand getting in there. I changed that up with a rigid front fork. My simple advice is, do it on
    the cheap. Winter really does beat up a bike unless you can put maintenance into it every night. Cleaning, lubing, tightening the cables. Lights are a must. Best investement I ever made was buying handlebar mounted halogen lights. You look like a motorcycle coming down the road. In the long dark winters it is just as important to be seen as it is to see.

    Stay Upright

    Winnipeg, Canada

  16. #16
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    Pefect Winter Bike

    I have an old hybrid Univega with 700C wheels, allowing me to install fenders and studded snow tires. I don't worry about rust: I merely replace rusted fasteners with stainless as needed. The soft angles of the hybrid absorb ice bumps on the roads of Iowa and the bike is both stable and reliable. I do have some Suntour shifters on my straight bar that work fine: they came with the bike and are large enough to use with gloves in the winter. I put a front fender extension to keep salt off the bottom bracket. Otherwise, the bike is stock. Cheap and effective; if it rusts into nothing, so be it.

  17. #17
    this one's optimistic... feethanddooth's Avatar
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    im in the position that i have to get my bike ready for winter as well. i have the kona smoke. if anyone could offer me somethings i should need it would be helpfull.
    2002 cannondale r400, 2006 kona smoke, 2005 scott speedster s30

  18. #18
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    I DIY my own fenders from Corplast and have been better than anything I could buy. Even in Canada, I've never needed studs, just good knobbies, though I have on occasion mounted the tyre reversing the tread pattern to one more aggressive in the rear. It wears a bit faster but scoops nicely in the snow. In the snow I've let out a bit of air pressure to surf the snow. Last year I just kept my thin slicks as they plopped right to the road, not much snow in Toronto. How much snow and ice you will need to traverse is the determinative factor. I end up doing more slush riding here in the city so booties(good ones) are my bestest friend EVER, they keep my feet warm AND dry. (the key to riding more than once a week in the snow)

    I drive into the coin car wash every couple days, hose the sucker down with warm high pressure water and lube. I keep a can of wd/40 in my bag, just in case. How you dress is more important than anything you can do for your ride. Dress wrong and it won't matter how the ride is, it will suck and you will hate it. Good gloves are a blessing, not too hot not too cold, breathable water proof....snowboard gloves are pretty good depending on the temps you will out in. I'll ride all winter from 0 degrees to -30, so plan your clothing well. Cover your eyes. Cold weather riding can be a blast but you have to prepare. Hydrate more than you would now in the summer believe it or not. Are you city riding or farther out?

  19. #19
    Not fluent in English Runaway Cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer
    I DIY my own fenders from Corplast and have been better than anything I could buy.
    Like Kent Peterson? Can you post a picture of them, please?
    You can correct my English mistakes.

  20. #20
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    Odd increase in activity on the winter forums for early August.

    My winter set-up is studs and disks and suspension… because a fair chunk of my winter commute is on a bike path that usually is slush footprints frozen to glare ice. I've had no problems with salt or sand or temperature to about –20C with either the suspension or the hydraulic disks, although I hose it off with hot water daily. I don’t use a beater…same bikes as the rest of the year.

  21. #21
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    I've been a daily winter commuter in Edmonton, Alberta, for several years. The conditions range from +10 to -40 C, with slush/harpack snow/6 inches of powder. Some things I've found to work well on my winter bike:

    -Lose the derailleurs, the don't work very well for very long - it's free and easy to convert a casette hub to a single speed. However, the pawls in freewheels/freehubs tend to quit working after a while in the cold weather.

    -Best option is to convert to a fixed gear, this allows you to lose all the troublesome cables from your ride.

    -Never use a liquid lube in the cable housings, it thickens up in the cold and nothing will move.

    -I run narrow knobbies, no studs. They keep me upright most of the time...

    -Use a bike that's not too dear to your heart - it's going to get beat up and rust away.

    -I find motor oil to be a long-lasting chain lube, but sand and stuff really sticks to it and grinds away at the chain. I end up going through 1-2 chains per season.

    -I store the bike out in the cold and never wash it. Keeping the bike in the cold prevents all the headaches associated with freeze/thaw cycles and condensation, which can cause a lot of problems with the internal parts.

    -Be seen! Lots of reflectors on you and the bike. I also use flashing LEDs front and rear, they really stand out. I get the LEDs from Mountain Equipment Co-op (www.mec.ca) for about 3 bucks, and carry spares. They work well, right down to 40 below.

    Dress warm and have fun!

  22. #22
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Runaway Cyclist
    Like Kent Peterson? Can you post a picture of them, please?
    I didn't make a rear one last winter, just used a clip on (not much snow) I'll see if I have an old on in the basement. I can photograph the front one though. Mine are much more simply designed and more flexible to account for all manner of winter nastiness. Like jumping/riding over plowed snow berms on the side of the road.

    Anyone ridden the double wide sand/snow double wide rims? I know this is for the sand racers and Iditabike racing but I'd LOVE to get one of those for bouncing around in the winter snow or the beach in the summer.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH
    The freeze and thaw conditions of Maryland really call out for studs. There are always ice patches on the roads. Further north, you get mostly dry snow and studs may actually be less useful.
    I put my Nokians on in December, take them off in March.
    Paul
    I take it they don't use salt in the DC area. Here in the snow belt we get plenty of freeze thaw cycles and very few days with dry snow but salt on the roads means there is very seldom ice on the roads. The roads are usually only slick due to snow. I find studs very useful in those conditions but very slow otherwise. I perfer having two bikes for winter but both bikes would become covered in salt and road grime so I make due with one. I tend to put on my studded tires when they predict several snows in a week and take them off when clear conditions or lights snows are predicted. I find studs are only necessary when the snow accumlates more than an inch or two on the roads. I use a 700x35C tire with minimal tread. Given the efficiency of our road crews this only happens when the snow fall totals 6 or more inches in a short time. Obviously your conditions may vary but it is quite possible you will not need studded tires in the winter.
    Craig

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer
    I didn't make a rear one last winter, just used a clip on (not much snow) I'll see if I have an old on in the basement. I can photograph the front one though. Mine are much more simply designed and more flexible to account for all manner of winter nastiness. Like jumping/riding over plowed snow berms on the side of the road.

    Anyone ridden the double wide sand/snow double wide rims? I know this is for the sand racers and Iditabike racing but I'd LOVE to get one of those for bouncing around in the winter snow or the beach in the summer.
    I have a Pugsley I bought last winter but didn't get any chance to ride it on snow covered roads. I was considering using it as a commuter for snowy days but it is such a nice bike I can't see exposing it to the ravages of road salt. Thats what my $100 fixie is for. I have ridden it off road in 4-6" snows and it is amazing what it can do. Ofcourse "double wide" is under selling the Pugsley some (65mm rims and 4" tires).
    Craig

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBBaron
    I take it they don't use salt in the DC area. Here in the snow belt we get plenty of freeze thaw cycles and very few days with dry snow but salt on the roads means there is very seldom ice on the roads. The roads are usually only slick due to snow. I find studs very useful in those conditions but very slow otherwise. I perfer having two bikes for winter but both bikes would become covered in salt and road grime so I make due with one. I tend to put on my studded tires when they predict several snows in a week and take them off when clear conditions or lights snows are predicted. I find studs are only necessary when the snow accumlates more than an inch or two on the roads. I use a 700x35C tire with minimal tread. Given the efficiency of our road crews this only happens when the snow fall totals 6 or more inches in a short time. Obviously your conditions may vary but it is quite possible you will not need studded tires in the winter.
    Craig
    Unfortunately, they do salt the roads here in the winter. The salt does a lot of damage to cars, but fails to prevent ice. That's the reason why I try to use my cars as little as possible in the winter. The secondary roads don't get salted at all, probably because they are busy dumping every available salt crystal on the Beltway. Similarly, they are not well plowed. Furthermore, I can shorten my trip by about a mile if I use a bike path for part of my route, and bike paths here are never plowed or treated. I've commuted four winters without studs and three with them. It is certainly possible to do without them, but much more pleasant with. Having the tires switched off an on would be an intolearble hassle. Much easier to just leave them on and have each commute be a few minutes slower.

    Paul

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