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  1. #1
    pj7
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    The theory behind the "winter beater"

    I have made a few comments as of late, as well in the past, about not understanding the point of having a bike dedicated to winter riding only, the "winter beater".
    Now I can fully understand the idea behind having a beater bike for riding to the pub or when you are traveling somewhere that requires you to leave your bike locked to something or locked somewhere that is "undesireable", but is a bike devoted to nothing but the wintery season necessary? I'll give you my point of view.

    I do not belive, at least for me, and likely for a large group of commuters that a winter-only bike is necessary, practical, or the "best" route to go. I use my only mountain bike. The same bike that I use March thru November to rip up the local dirt trails and pound the double/single track. Now I'm not very "skilled" when compared to most other mountain bikers but I am more skilled on this bike than any other I own. I am quite comfortable taking it down long, steep decents of terrain ranging from gravel over hardpack to mud, roots, rocks, ruts, and sand. So riding this bike during what is probably the most dangerous time of year for commuting only makes sense to me, after all, I'm more comfortable and skilled on it. So if I had a different "winter only bike" that I only rode when it was snowing or icy out then I would be depriving myself of alot of comfort and skill that is required to ride in that terrain and conditions safely.
    Now if I had a second "identical" bike to my mountain bike then I guess I could see using "it" as my winter bike. But then again, I'd be depriving myself of alot of joy on that second bike. as far as the extra damage done to a bike in winter I have just not noticed it to be all that bad. A few corroded bolts here and there is all that I had from last years winter.

    so maybe I am missing something, or maybe I just take way too much care of my mountain bike in the winter. would anyone care to comment on what they do and why? I'm not being cynical here, I'm seriously wanting to know why people have a bike devoted to winter only riding and if they do, do they feel that they are depriving themselves of some necessary comforts and skills that might aid them better.
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  2. #2
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    You are absolutely right in that it is not necessary to have an old beater for a winter bike. Your favorite all season bike will perform well enough in winter with the right tires and fenders.

    However, fast road bikes do not perform well in winter conditions unless it is dry. And in winter you are more likely to crash and break something. This is not a desireable thing if you have an expensive road or mountain bike. But in the end it depends on your priorities. Some would rather just fix or maintain one bike for all seasons. Nothing technically wrong with this. Yet many bikes cannot fit the right kind of tires needed for winter. Or the right fenders and many feel better taking an old cheap beater out. In some places the salt, sand and slush raises terror with the bike drive train and many do not want thier high end drivetrain subjected to this stuff. If a mountain bike is your primary bike it can function as a winter bike better than most others. And if it's all you need or want consider yourself lucky. Some of us bike weenies need five or six bikes for different conditions to be happy.
    Last edited by Hezz; 09-09-07 at 06:19 PM.

  3. #3
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    I take my nicest bike and beat it all winter.

    In the spring I may replace a few parts as required.

    That is all.




    Full disclosure: It is a mountain bike. Although it is commuted on, theft is not a significant risk.

  4. #4
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    The term "winter" really doesn't mean much. "Winter" is a season with all sorts of weather. Cold isn't really hard on a bike, so I would ride ANY bike in the winter that I would ride in the Summer. Now, when you start talking about snow/slush/salt, then we have a different matter.

    Even then I don't get all that excited. I wouldn't ride a $1000 bike in the snow/slush but that is just me. Then again, i don't own a $1000 bike so that solves that. So what bike should you ride in the winter? I would ride one that you like to ride. That is the same thing I do in the summer.

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    You've made many excellent points and I agree with most of them. someone mentioned the road bike issue. But then again, if your just plain "all season beater" was a MTB then that would solve the problem. for some people it's the idea of "the right tool for the job" Personally, I have many bikes, but mostly ride one or one of the tandems. But I ride what I guess would be considered a low end hybrid. (2007 Marin Kentfield) I bought it in January and have ridden it every day since. I bought it because I wanted it and wanted to ride it. If something breaks or wears out, I'll replace it just like I would any other bike. I live in south east michigan so we actually do see decent "winter conditions" often enough. I just don't see spending the money I did on that bike (I know, not a lot for a new bike, but it was my first new bike since I was 15 and that was a POS I bought and that was the only other new bike I've ever had) and letting it sit in the garage on bad days. I bought it to ride it. I take care of it, maintain it and will upgrade parts as needed. that's how it goes.
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  6. #6
    pj7
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    Quote Originally Posted by StokerPoker View Post
    You've made many excellent points and I agree with most of them. someone mentioned the road bike issue. But then again, if your just plain "all season beater" was a MTB then that would solve the problem. for some people it's the idea of "the right tool for the job" Personally, I have many bikes, but mostly ride one or one of the tandems. But I ride what I guess would be considered a low end hybrid. (2007 Marin Kentfield) I bought it in January and have ridden it every day since. I bought it because I wanted it and wanted to ride it. If something breaks or wears out, I'll replace it just like I would any other bike. I live in south east michigan so we actually do see decent "winter conditions" often enough. I just don't see spending the money I did on that bike (I know, not a lot for a new bike, but it was my first new bike since I was 15 and that was a POS I bought and that was the only other new bike I've ever had) and letting it sit in the garage on bad days. I bought it to ride it. I take care of it, maintain it and will upgrade parts as needed. that's how it goes.
    That's exactly how I feel too about having extra bikes. I actually do own a few, but can't see riding on of them *only* during a certain type of weather condition. For the last few weeks I've been commuting on my mountain bike, before that I commuted for several months on my fully-equipped commuter, and then before that it was "just whatever bike I felt like pulling out of the shed that day".
    And yea, we here in SE Michigan do have a pretty decent "winter conditions". I live in Clinton Township and commute all year.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member DDYTDY's Avatar
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    Oh no! I hope my wife never sees this thread! I have 10 bikes with two are "winter" bikes.

    Only one bike? Never!

  8. #8
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    I plan on taking a 2007 Tricross through Quebec winter (read: harsh, harsh, harsh). Should be able to fit winter tires easily. Sounds whacko? I'll at least try ;-)

    Note: I don't have winter riding experience but I'm used to winter :-P
    Last edited by DunderXIII; 09-11-07 at 03:04 PM.

  9. #9
    In the wind mercator's Avatar
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    I would suggest that we all have a different notion of what winter is. Where I live it involves a lot of temperature swings across the freezing point so I see quite a bit of ice and wet, salty roads. That means fenders, studded tires, and a bike that I won't worry too much about crashing occasionally. Not quite a beater bike (who wants to ride that?) but also not the nice bike.

  10. #10
    custom user title jaysea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DunderXIII View Post
    I plan on taking a 2007 Tricross through Quebec winter (read: harsh, harsh, harsh). Should be able to fit winter tires easily. Sounds whacko? I'll at least try ;-)

    Note: I don't have winter riding experience but I'm used to winter :-P
    no. doesnt sound 'whacko' to me, but sure means you have more money than i do (or found a very good backyard "sale" ) i totally agree with previous posts, the "winter beater" idea is more a question of available dollars... i do buy used bikes (www.lespacs.com) in winter... which would qualify as "beaters".

    some tires with "aggressive" patterns will fit but studded tires AND fenders on such a bike will easily get jammed by snow, but then again, i've never used anything close to such a bike in winter... sigh...

    as a side note: (regarding the 'harsh, harsh, harsh' Quebec weather) Quebec territory sure includes "kangiqsujuaq" (which is further north than anchorage) but if you live in montreal, you will find bikers on this forum that have way "harsher" conditions than what we experience here... (like in anchorage, for example). anyway, just wanted to say "hello" to people who bike where i'm not so sure i would....

    cheers!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaysea View Post
    no. doesnt sound 'whacko' to me, but sure means you have more money than i do (or found a very good backyard "sale" ) i totally agree with previous posts, the "winter beater" idea is more a question of available dollars... i do buy used bikes (www.lespacs.com) in winter... which would qualify as "beaters".

    some tires with "aggressive" patterns will fit but studded tires AND fenders on such a bike will easily get jammed by snow, but then again, i've never used anything close to such a bike in winter... sigh...
    Well I'm not in a situation to throw money away but have enough to equip well for winter. The thing is that I still don't know how to winter bike my 35km r/t commute (I live in Laval actually ). I'm a bit afraid to be honest and am very confident on the tricross. I've been told by my girlfriend to hold-off on winter tires before I really plan on doing it so I'm still debating how/if This thread is interesting to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by jaysea View Post
    as a side note: (regarding the 'harsh, harsh, harsh' Quebec weather) Quebec territory sure includes "kangiqsujuaq" (which is further north than anchorage) but if you live in montreal, you will find bikers on this forum that have way "harsher" conditions than what we experience here... (like in anchorage, for example). anyway, just wanted to say "hello" to people who bike where i'm not so sure i would....
    hehe

  12. #12
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    I have a snow bike, my 'beater' bike gets used year-round. The snow bike is the only flat-bar bike I have, the only disc-braked bike I have, the only aluminum bike I have and sports studded tires. It is only used on snowy-icy winter commutes or errands. I have one because I can.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
    I have a snow bike, my 'beater' bike gets used year-round. The snow bike is the only flat-bar bike I have, the only disc-braked bike I have, the only aluminum bike I have and sports studded tires. It is only used on snowy-icy winter commutes or errands. I have one because I can.
    you have a lot of things because you can . In this case, I compare it to the coil spring compressor I have in my tool box. I don't use it all the time, but it is the right tool for the job, designed to do exactly what I need it for. And, no one will make me feel bad for having it.
    In my case, I put the studded tires on after the first or second freeze (last year was my first winter with studs) and take them off in the spring. otherwise, my bike is my bike no matter the season. I actually miss the simpler time when I was younger though. My mother didn't have a car so we brought home groceries with her bike. She had an old Schwinn Suburban 5 speed with the FFS and Wald folding grocery baskets. The tires were bald and the rear brake cable was rusted to the housing so it only had front brakes. At 11 you don't know/think you "need" all that winter gear or a fancy bike to ride in the snow/salt/ice. no harm came to us or the bike and I do believe that I was the only one to fall and it only happened once.

    then there was the day my brother and I took the Schwinn Twinn out in the snow... there's absolutly nothing like having your captain fall off the bike after starting to spin.
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    I enjoy cycling in as many ways as possible (winter,rain, summer, track, road, mountain, etc.) so specializing a certain bike for a certain type of riding is absolutely necessary for me. you can have one bike that does many things at a mediocre level. or you can have multiple bikes that excel in their particular field

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    The features that I need for winter cycling (hub gears, partially enclosed chain, drum brakes, generator hub, riding position that does not require special clothing), are also features that make year-round riding more convenient for me. Consequently, all I do is put the Nokian studded tires on in December and take them off in March. A proper commuting bike is much more salt-resistant than a car.

    Paul

  16. #16
    custom user title jaysea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DunderXIII View Post
    Well I'm not in a situation to throw money away but have enough to equip well for winter. The thing is that I still don't know how to winter bike my 35km r/t commute (I live in Laval actually ). I'm a bit afraid to be honest and am very confident on the tricross.
    i should specify that i strongly believe in using quality bikes in winter because this is precisely when: light weight, rust resistance, "'aerodynamic' position", easy maintenance (v-brakes) and _reliability_ is worth the most to me... (never thought i would qualify v-brakes as easy maintenance one day... )

    i just buy them used... so my current all-aluminum Marin San Anselmo 2001 (i think, i once posted a picture of it). must originally have been worth something like 500-600$(?) but i got it for 200... (ok, ok. then i added 200$ of tires, changed the headset and seat, added lights, fenders, rack)... so... it's probably back to its original value.... but it is now a very efficient winter bike... therefore its more a "beaten" than a "beater"

    but THE most important factor to me is that they fit Nokian Hakkappelitta (or however its spelled)106 tires AND real fenders... (on which i add some homemade mud-flaps because there is always slush on the road (that's another topic))

    my commute is very similar to yours in distance, but i live and commute in montreal, no bridge involved...i strongly suggest you trade "waiting in traffic" FOR "daily exercise" and "fresh air" this winter... on your specialized or not!
    Last edited by jaysea; 09-14-07 at 09:43 AM.

  17. #17
    pj7
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    Quote Originally Posted by adripped View Post
    I enjoy cycling in as many ways as possible (winter,rain, summer, track, road, mountain, etc.) so specializing a certain bike for a certain type of riding is absolutely necessary for me. you can have one bike that does many things at a mediocre level. or you can have multiple bikes that excel in their particular field
    So how do you "specialize" your bike for the winter that you would not do for any other time of year?
    I just toss on the studs and I'm all set, I don't call that "specializing" though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercator View Post
    I would suggest that we all have a different notion of what winter is. Where I live it involves a lot of temperature swings across the freezing point so I see quite a bit of ice and wet, salty roads. That means fenders, studded tires, and a bike that I won't worry too much about crashing occasionally. Not quite a beater bike (who wants to ride that?) but also not the nice bike.
    +1 That bit about the temperature swings is why I want to have 2 bikes this winter, first will have studded tires for snow and ice days, the second will have Continental Top Contact winter tires because I don't like studs on wet or bare tarmac. My current bike cost me $75 second hand, plus $100 for fenders, rack etc. The next bike may end up costing me $500+ because I can't find anything secondhand that suits. i wouldn't call either a "beater" but both will be modded for the season.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pj7 View Post
    So how do you "specialize" your bike for the winter that you would not do for any other time of year?
    I just toss on the studs and I'm all set, I don't call that "specializing" though.
    Summer/nice weather bike: road bike with 23mm tires, road brifters, caliper brakes, road crankset with 12/25 cassette, simple LED headlight, single sided clipless pedals
    bad weather bike: MTB with rigid fork, 1.5" slicks, trigger shifters, v-brakes, hybrid crankset with 11/28 cassette, HID headlight, SPD clipless pedals, full fenders
    Snow bike: Same MTB as above but with 1.95" studded tires and different wheelset with 11/32 cassette, Powergrips

    During the summer for longer rides with lots of daylight, I don't feel like lugging around a bunch of extra weight from a high power headlight, fenders, and more rugged frame when I have all the light I need from the sun, don't plan on encountering rain, and don't plan on wiping out every mile (not that I do in the snow but I often come close). I love shifting with road brifters but during the winter, trigger shifters are much easier to use with bulky mittens. Sure, I could get by with one bike but I enjoy cycling more with two so that's how I roll

  20. #20
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    I use my "beater" and my MTB all year round ... when I want a break from my favorite road bike.

    My "snow/ice" bike is a Vision Fitness-HRC3600, cause I don't want to ride outside in the snow and ice. I don't mind the cold, but forget snow and ice. Yet, I must admit that snow looks nice outside my window, when I'm riding the 3600 ...
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  21. #21
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    I bought an old rigid Arashi 21 Speed MTB at a garage sale for $20 to use as a winter beater this year instead of my Enduro. I intend to leave it mounted with fenders, bmx flat pedals and the Nokians year round.

    Last year, I rode my Bianchi CX/Beater when the roads were wet/slushy and my Enduro Expert w/ Nokian Extreme 294's when roads were icy. It saved a ton of unecessary wear on the Nokians. Also, since I commute 58km round trip, the less rolling resistance of the Bianchi was welcomed. The snow/salt/road grit was hard on the Enduro's pivot bushings/bearings and the cold was hard on the shock seals. My air shock started to leak in temps below -5C.

    To me, it makes sense to have a dedicated winter/ice bike. I commute about 600km / month in the winter and I'd rather wear out my beater's Shimano SIS instead of my Enduro's XTR.

    Last Year's Winter Beater


    This years winter eater (Work in progress)

    Last edited by Tequila Joe; 09-18-07 at 01:32 PM.

  22. #22
    Newbie dave.cyco's Avatar
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    That Enduro looks like a beast!

    I rode a Rival last winter and the poor thing is toast now. One winter destroyed it, but we got slush, salt, deep snow...and it lasted into late April!

    I am still trying to decide between using my Rockhopper 29er, or buy a beater. I am jaded from last winter, but I probably could have taken better care of the bike. Still a winter beater sounds sooo much easier!
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  23. #23
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    How about "winter beaters". I have two winter only bikes. The 15 year old GT timberline with a bulletproof 21 speed drive train and heavy duty 26" studded tires and a GT comfort bike of the same vintage with 700 x 37 studded tires for easier rolling. Why? I overhauled the GT last spring after two winters and you would not want that kind of salt and sand abuse on a more expensive bike or components. I paid $20 for each of these bikes and with garage sale racks, fenders and Nashbar closeout tires I have less than $100 in either bikes. That is why I ride winter beaters.
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  24. #24
    50000 Guatts of power 127.0.0.1's Avatar
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    op thinks too hard

    I have 12 bikes.
    my brompton, fantom cross, litespeed, pugsley, karate monkey are my winter beaters
    and I ride them in summer

    my TT bike, Trek postal, chopper, surly 1x1, Del Norte, Colson Silver Ring never see the snow,
    though this year the Del norte is getting ridden into winter, so it may move to winter beater status

    my other bike I lend out to those less fortunate so I don't know what it's up to

  25. #25
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pj7 View Post
    So how do you "specialize" your bike for the winter that you would not do for any other time of year?
    I just toss on the studs and I'm all set, I don't call that "specializing" though.
    This is basically what I do. I have two sets of wheels that I swap back and forth depending on the conditions. One set has studs @ 35 psi, the other slicks at 120 psi. Oddly enough, when it is cold and dry here in Calgary, I can go a week or two on the slicks, which have a surprising amount of grip at -25C.

    That said, I have special bikes for other purposes, like road rides, mtn bike rides and easy mtn bike rides.
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