I'm currently a 3 season commuter-- really a one season commuter, since Chicago only has two seasons, winter and summer.
In the nice season, I ride a 30 mile round trip commute, all but the last 3/4 mile on the Lakefront MUP.
This year, I'm hoping to push as far as I can into winter, but I've never ridden in snow and ice. I'm a bit less concerned about clothes, which I'm sure I'll figure out through trial and error, than about my bike. I know that winter riding is hard on a bike, but I really don't want to trash my one and only.
I know I could ride a beater, but here's the thing-- some days (if I'm beat, or late, or it is pouring rain, or, I'm imagining, if it is REALLY FREAKING COLD, I cut some miles of the ride by going multi-modal-- bus, el train, or metra commuter rail depending. Thus, I ride a folder-- a Xootr Swift (really nice bike, btw, and fast). (Also fits nicely in a small condo.)
So-- I'm guessing I'm going to need folding capabilities MORE in winter, so my bike is my bike. But I don't want it to be eaten by salt or turn to crap! Any predictions or advice?
Lastly, anyone experienced with Chicago winter commuting, and the Lakefront in particular-- how well cleared is it in Winter? Am I going to need to buy studded tires?
Thanks so much for any advice