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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 09-15-06, 12:37 PM   #1
maximusvt
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steep hills

Hi, I am on the fence about whether or not I should get a winter commuter bike. I have a 1.5 mile commute, which is pretty much all uphill in the morning and all downhill in the evening. The very start/end of my commute is the steepest part (although I could only guess what grade it is) that gets a lot of traffic at the end of the day, which is the best part of the day for bike commuting back down the hill (slipping past all the stopped cars), but I'm wondering how hard it is to climb or to slow down and turn off a steep downhill in the snow?
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Old 09-15-06, 12:57 PM   #2
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To climb in the snow you have to keep back over the tire. It works best if you can use a low gear and spin while seated at a constant force. If you have snow often a pair of studded tires can make a world of difference but they do slow you down alot.
As for decending you have to keep your speed undercontrol so you can make the turn. Turns require alot more care as the pavement will no longer provide much friction for sidewise accelerations (turns). You can't really lean. Again studded tires make slippery conditions react like wet pavement and icy conditions rideable.
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Old 09-15-06, 02:28 PM   #3
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For a commute of this short a distance with steep roads that are snow covered, I would be tempted to go with VERY aggressive winter tires, especially if there are heavy traffic issues on the descent.

Consider Nokian 294s (now called Gazza tires I believe) or home-made version of same.
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Old 09-15-06, 02:38 PM   #4
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My commute has one hill that's about 1/2 mile long and ~10% grade. With studs and disc brakes it's never worried me.
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Old 09-15-06, 08:48 PM   #5
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If it were me I would want a seperate winter bike set up for days when the weather is really bad. The warmer season commuter bike is good in the cold as long as it is not snowing or freezing rain or the roads covered with ice and slush or snow.

I would get an inexpensive used mountain bike with rigid front fork or a cheap dual suspension WAL Mart bike and put aggressive studded snow tires on it . The widest it can fit. And also put big off road fenders front and back. The off road fenders for mountain bikes sit further away from the tire and won't clog up as easy with slush. If you can find a cheap frame on e-bay that can accept disc brakes that would be even better as they work somewhat better when wet than rim brakes.

This way you don't have to worry about if your prepared when the weather is bad. Places to look for really cheap used bikes are garage and yard sales and on Craig's list.
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Old 09-19-06, 11:28 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the advice guys. The roads here get pretty snowy but when they aren't, there's still a lot of salt left over on them. That's why I pretty much planned on not using my main bike at all, I don't want it to get rusted up and nasty. Although 'inexpensive used mountain bike with rigid front fork' discribes my steed to a tee... Maybe I'll just have to go for 2!
I always keep an eye on the CL postings and it seems as the weather's getting colder there are more bikes going up there, some cheap mtb's in the $50-100 range. How much of a process is it to install disc brakes and how much should I expect to pay for them?
Also, is winter riding/commuting the same as 'icebiking'? There's a big basketball court and a huge field behind my house that will probably get all frozen over in winter. I was thinking it would be cool to rip across that for fun once the season comes...
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Old 09-19-06, 12:31 PM   #7
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i would walk for such a distance (if the weather goes bad...)
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Old 09-19-06, 03:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maximusvt
T How much of a process is it to install disc brakes and how much should I expect to pay for them?
Also, is winter riding/commuting the same as 'icebiking'? There's a big basketball court and a huge field behind my house that will probably get all frozen over in winter. I was thinking it would be cool to rip across that for fun once the season comes...
Disc brakes are really only pratical to install on bikes designed for them. They require a mount on the frame and a disc compatible hub. Most MTBs with rim brakes will not have either of these. Assuming you do have the necessary mounts installing a mechanical disc brake is not much more complicated than a rim brake. Good units run about $100 per wheel.
icebiking is usually refering to riding off-road or on frozen lakes. For most people this is not the same as winter commuting but your area maybe different. Here in Cleveland the road crews are fairly efficient and use salt heavily so riding on ice or snow is only occasional. Running Nokian Extremes is way overkill for this type of ride while they are excellent off-road tires for the winter.
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