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  1. #1
    Sneetch Glottus's Avatar
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    winterIZE v. winter BIKE?

    So I had plans this AM of pulling out my old Peugeot for the winter, having neglected it after buying my current favorite commuter, the Bianchi Castro Valley (steel frame, relevancy to come), this summer.

    Actually, I DID pull it out, pumped the tires, adjusted the brakes (including the new Kool Stops that I hadn't yet gotten a chance to test), and lubed the chain. I headed out for work on it... and HATED it (drop bars too narrow & far away from the stem shifters, frame too small, cranks too short, toe clips too shallow, brakes too squishy, heel-strike on my panniers...).

    I turned around after a few blocks to go get my beloved Bianchi.

    That leaves me with a dilemma. I've got an older Trek Antelope 830 MTB (chromoly) that I plan to put some Nokians on for the really nasty days here in Mpls, Minnesota, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm gonna prefer the ride (700c tires) and position on the Bianchi. Plus it has a nice generator hub that I now consider to be essential for riding in the dusk/dark (even plan to get a 26in wheel built up on a generator for the MTB, assuming some needed fixes to that bike are possible).

    My question is this: How many would go out and buy/upgrade an older bike/beater to ride as a winter commuter vs. waxing & greasing up a newer guaranteed-to-be-nice ride, and then just spending that cash on repairs in the spring? I haven't commuted all winter before, and neither have I spent so much on a new bike since I got that Trek in the early/mid 90's.

    Do the winters (Texans need not reply ) really damage a bike so much that I should hang up my Bianchi and find a different road bike for the faster feel during the less-icy days? I DID also get a set of 700c Nokians as well... What say you all?
    If we outlaw evolution, only outlaws will evolve.
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  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    In the fall of 1999, I bought an inexpensive Walmart Mongoose Mtn bike to use for commuting year round. It was to replace a very old road bike I had (still have) which was falling apart and was no longer reliable.

    I used that Walmart Mongoose Mtn bike just about every day of the year from the fall of 1999 to the fall of 2004. During that time, I rode on nice days, on rainy days, right through everything Winnipeg winters could throw at me. I commuted, I trained, I rode centuries (including some in winter), and I even rode my first 200K brevet on that bicycle!! I logged a lot of miles!!

    During that time, I kept it as clean as I could, but did very little other maintenance. I replaced a couple tires, replaced the chain, and I believe I had some cables replaced too. That's it.

    I haven't used that bicycle much since the fall of 2004 ... I spent some time in Australia during that winter (it was summer there) with one of my other bicycles, and after that I moved to another part of the country, and into a situation, where commuting has been rather awkward. When I have been able to commute by bicycle, the commute was a fairly long distance (70 kms round trip), so I used one of my road bicycles.

    Nevertheless, I have still used that Mongoose on occasion to ride around, and on a few centuries, during the end of the 2004/2005 winter, and last winter. It's still in reasonable shape!

    If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably do something very similar ... except that I'd go for a bicycle that looked more subdued, plain, and ordinary. I figure there's no point forking out a lot of cash for a bicycle that is going to be used for utility work ... or using a really nice bicycle in gritty and horrible conditions (although I've done that on occasion too.)

    Also, if yours are road bicycles and you are in Minnesota, you might want to consider a mtn bike ... I've never used studded tires ... I just flatten my knobby tires and ride like that. It seems to work all right.

  3. #3
    Sneetch Glottus's Avatar
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    Yeah, the Trek is a hardtail mountain bike (MTB) which would make it ideal for days when the roads are the worst or the weather the most unpredictable. I bought the studded tires (26 inch) for them, and I like the fact that it has the 21 speeds for hills & wind.

    The "nicer" Bianchi is really just a $750 bike recently (June 2006) purchased, but bought specifically to be my commuter, and I love the handling/fit/feel of it, so I want to maximize the use I can get out of it. The cost isn't all THAT high, but its the most I've ever spent on a bike. I just have to make a decision about whether that best use is to be had by using it as often as I can, despite the consequences of any likely winter-related damage, or by keeping it nicer to pull back out of storage in March/April again and buying myself a beater road/cross bike to use during the nastier/saltier conditions (thereby saving some costly springtime repairs to the nicer bike).

    I got a second set (700c) of studded tires because of the school of thought I'm learning from that says the narrower tires cut through slush and stuff better. I like the handling and speed I feel on the narrower tires, so I'm hoping to maybe have two bikes to choose from as I head out the door each morning. An MTB or a road bike. I've never commuted all winter before, so I'm not certain which I'd end up using more often, but assuming that I still choose the road bike a lot, I didn't want to be writing it an early death sentence.
    If we outlaw evolution, only outlaws will evolve.
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  4. #4
    I'm fine. Cromulent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glottus
    My question is this: How many would go out and buy/upgrade an older bike/beater to ride as a winter commuter vs. waxing & greasing up a newer guaranteed-to-be-nice ride, and then just spending that cash on repairs in the spring? I haven't commuted all winter before, and neither have I spent so much on a new bike since I got that Trek in the early/mid 90's.

    Do the winters (Texans need not reply ) really damage a bike so much that I should hang up my Bianchi and find a different road bike for the faster feel during the less-icy days? I DID also get a set of 700c Nokians as well... What say you all?
    Last year I had a road bike (my 'good' bike) and my beater MTB. I rode the beater in salt, slush, and all the assorted wintery crap that a Milwaukee winter can toss at you. There were a few nice days last winter, so I rode my road bike a bit.

    The MTB died after two winters - cheaper bike, so it wasn't worth it to me to fix it. I could have replaced it with a commuter/mtb-style bike. But it would have suffered the same fate, and I didn't really enjoy riding an upright bike all that much.

    I needed a quality bike that I wouldn't be afraid to run through the rain and ice and salt and snow and slush and filth of winter. After considering lots of bikes, I bought an IRO Rob Roy - a fixed-gear cyclocross bike. Simple, easy to take care of, lots of clearance for wider tires, and very much worth it to me to repair/replace parts when it will need it. I like it so much, I refuse to stop yapping about it.

    I would get a good, road-style (because that's what you seem to want), dedicated, winter bike. Make it as tough as you can, take the best care of it that you can, and it should last you a long time.

    Use the Trek only on the worst of bad days.

  5. #5
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    There is no reason that your old mountain bike would not be as comfortable as your Bianchi unless it is sized too wrong. The seat height and handlebars can be set up right with the correct stem as long as the frame is close to the right size.

    Unfortunately for some, the old mountain bike was sometimes purchased at a department store sale and often was not correctly sized. If your was sized correctly it should prove to be a better bike for foul weather riding than your road commuter. But one thing that might prove to be a problem is that the rear chainstays might not be long enough for your heels to keep from hitting the panniers if they are large panniers. The only solution for this is to get a smaller pair for the mountain bike.

    The feel of the handling with the narrower tires is fine so long as you are not on ice or the snow and slush is not too deep. In icy and deeper snow conditions the wider mountain bike tires are more stable if you have a suitable tire.

    In any regard if you are using a bike to commute to work it is wise to have two bikes ready for the purpose in case one fails, breaks or has a flat tire in the morning which you don't have time to fix.
    Last edited by Hezz; 10-27-06 at 10:04 PM.

  6. #6
    Year-round cyclist
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    I'm not in Minnesota, but I am in Montréal. If you install full fenders and a long mudflap on the front one, you'll go a long way to keep the crappy stuff off your drivetrain. See mudflaps here.

    I would also like to have room for studded tires, which means 700x37 tires in practice. If you can accomodate these with about 8-10 mm to spare under fenders, then great.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  7. #7
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    My experience has been that winter commuting is very hard on bicycles. Winter riding will do to a bicycle what drinking, smoking, and sun will do to a woman’s complexion. It will make your bike old way before its time and no cleansers or sprays will be able to reverse the process.

    Thus, I suggest getting a disposable bike for winter riding and keep your precious wheels for fair weather riding.

    Cheers.
    Mike

  8. #8
    Banned.
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    Winter riding is no harder on bicycles than any other season. Snow, slush and ice, however can be pretty hard on a bike. In fact it isn't even winter yet, so i think winter should have little to do with your experience.

    Also, it is important to point out that a $10,000 Madone will likely be uncomfortable the first time you ride it, if you haven't ridden it for a long while. So give any "new" bike a chance before you give up on it.

    EXAMPLE: I had a rigid fork put on one of my mountain bikes over the summer. It is a bike that i use the most in the winter. I really "hated" the rigid fork, in particular i hated the geometry of the bike after the fork install. I was convinced that i was going to ditch the fork before winter.

    Thing is, I really hadn't ridden the bike much. So I decided a month or so ago to give it a fair shake. Since then I've ridden it 5 or 6 hundred miles and am completely comfortable on the bike. In fact, i love it and have a hard time riding my other front suspended bike.

  9. #9
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    Winter riding is no harder on bicycles than any other season. Snow, slush and ice, however can be pretty hard on a bike. In fact it isn't even winter yet, so i think winter should have little to do with your experience.
    Whoa, Dude. Glottus is from Minneapolis. You are from Kansas. Winters in Kansas might be tough on Toto, but they are nothing like the winters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The temperature ranges in Minnesota can go from 105 F in the summer to -30 F in the winter.

    I can assure you from living at the same northern latitude as Glottus, winters ARE harder on bicycles than are the other seasons. The most destructive factor is salt and sand that is used on the icy roads and the extreme temperatures that affect the lubrications.

    By the way, Portis, is your avitar supposed to be Tom Cruise when he was jumping up and down on Oprah's couch? Because if it is, it is the coolest and funniest avitar yet.
    Mike

  10. #10
    Sneetch Glottus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    Also, it is important to point out that a $10,000 Madone will likely be uncomfortable the first time you ride it, if you haven't ridden it for a long while. So give any "new" bike a chance before you give up on it.
    True enough. Thing is, though, that this was a used bike I bought in college, on a student's budget (under $100), and being a French major, loved the idea of a French bike. It was the first road-oriented bike I was buying, and the price was right, but I can't swear that I was ever proprerly fitted on it.

    I rode it for what it was worth, but with a job change this past spring (8+ years later), I treated myself to my new Bianchi.

    Going back to the Peugeot is more than just a different geometry or components. The brakes are the older small rectangular pads on single-pivot calipers, with little chance of upgrading them easily, and themselves one of the reasons I started getting bike lust in the spring. Having to plan for a stop half a block away in DRY weather is one thing , but quadruple that in wet weather? No thanks. I bought the Kool Stop Salmons for the front to give that a try, and I THINK I have them pretty well adjusted, but they didn't make much difference in this case. The cranks are also 165mm in length, whereas my current ride has 175mm cranks, so going back felt like pedalling a clown bike. The handlebars would need swapping out to give me something I could feel more in control with, but with other unique factors that are problems in themselves (rack not giving enough heel clearance, chainrings not easily swapped, mysteriously not-so-smooth shifting), I start finding fewer and fewer reasons to put up with that bike or try to upgrade anything about it.

    On the other hand, simply for the fact that it has the droupouts needed for singlespeed/fixed gear, I might keep it around as a "project bike" for some day when I want to try that side of things.

    I might take it back out for a spin over a weekend soon, and try to dial in some details to see if I can't improve things a bit and reconsider, but it DEFINITELY wasn't going to be allowed to take me to work and back that day I tried it.

    On the other hand, my wife (gotta love her) seems rather supportive of the idea of getting yet another bike as a dedicated winter bike, and even pushed me to buy new when I was out shopping for used (), but not having researched any of the newer models, I wasn't ready to make an immediate decision.
    If we outlaw evolution, only outlaws will evolve.
    Cars don't kill people, drivers with cellphones do!

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