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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 09-28-03, 02:20 PM   #1
claire
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clipless, toe clips or nothing?

Hi,
I have a question that might be a bit stupid: this year I'm really decided to not give up my commuting unless there is at least 20 cm of snow on the ground (I live in Toronto). I hate having to walk to school instead of riding because of too much snow. So I was wondering what I should put on my pedals. I've used toe clips for years and I just switched to clipless this summer on my touring bike. What do you guys think is the safest, or more appropriate, for riding on snow? clipless, toe clips, or none?
Thanks,
Claire
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Old 09-28-03, 02:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally posted by claire
What do you guys think is the safest, or more appropriate, for riding on snow? clipless, toe clips, or none?
I grew up in the midwest and have used clipless in snow without problems but for commuting, I prefer to wear boots when it snows. You never know when you'll have to hike it. And while there are some good clipless compatible cycling shoes that are boot-style, I prefer traditional boots for when things get really deep and nasty. In that sence, I'd opt for platforms or toe clips. My suggestion would be to get either the Winwood Decksters or Winwood InSteps for those times you want/need to ride with traditional footwear. They're made of plastic and won't be the epitome of efficiency but they will permit you to use big clunky boots.

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Old 09-28-03, 03:03 PM   #3
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I'd say none, with the addition of good grippy shoes BUT...

a), I've never ridden in snowy/icy conditions,

b), I'm one of those troglodytes who still resists the expense and potential humiliation of trying clipless, and

c), I possess an ever-shifting center of gravity (translation: klutz)

I doubt this helps.

-Rob
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Old 09-29-03, 06:46 AM   #4
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Last year I used toe clips and straps with Big Ugly Green Boots. This combination worked well. I had warm feet and was able to hoof it if I needed to.

This year I will be using pedals with small plastic clips on the front of the pedal with the same BUG Boots. These promise to be easier to get in and out of, but I'll be less able to apply power throughout the pedal stroke.

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Old 09-29-03, 01:45 PM   #5
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I am part of the old guard, cycling with platform pedals and metal toeclips. It works fine all year round, except maybe if it were so cold I had to wear a pair of Sorel boots.

I cycle with city shoes that have a hard sole plus rubber overshoes (the civilian kind, not the cycling kind). I have a pair of wool socks with cut-off toes that I use as gaiters when it's below -20 C. I tend to have cold feet after 50-60 km only.


One potential problem I have heard with SPD is that the bracket may be a heatsink.


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Old 09-29-03, 02:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by mgagnonlv
One potential problem I have heard with SPD is that the bracket may be a heatsink.
Yes and that poses another problem other than getting "cold feet". The mechanism may get packed with snow and the heat flowing through the cleat causes it to melt. The water drips partway through the mechanism and freezes as it reaches the underside. The upshots of this is that half the pedal becomes iced over and the other half may not work properly because the mechanism on the other side to which it is coupled is frozen. In short, you may not be able to clip in on the frozen side... and worse, you may not be able to unclip if you're already clipped in. I had this happen a couple of times when I tried riding my MTB through really deep snow with my old SPD (M737) pedals in the winters of Grand Forks, ND.

There are several ways I've found to mitigate the risks. One is to use some antifreeze and dab some on your pedals. Another is to use some heavy lube such as Phil Woods Tenacious and coat the pedals. Also periodically working the mechanism and banging the pedals to clear the ice and snow helps too.
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Old 09-30-03, 12:40 AM   #7
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I prefer the KISS method in the winter: platform pedals and boots. It depends on how bad (or good) your winters are, all methods suggested have their pros and cons. Especially in winter you could use all the help in spinning you can get (clipless / toe clips). But mechanical problems are to be expected, and I personally dislike the idea of being strapped to my bike in slippery conditions.

Rob, nice advice there!

--J
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Old 10-13-03, 06:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by claire
Hi,
I have a question that might be a bit stupid: this year I'm really decided to not give up my commuting unless there is at least 20 cm of snow on the ground (I live in Toronto). I hate having to walk to school instead of riding because of too much snow. So I was wondering what I should put on my pedals. I've used toe clips for years and I just switched to clipless this summer on my touring bike. What do you guys think is the safest, or more appropriate, for riding on snow? clipless, toe clips, or none?
Thanks,
Claire
I have no experience what so ever riding in the snow. Don't even ride in the rain. But I would imagine riding in the snow you would stop quite a few times for some reason or other due to the heavy snow. Not sure what it would be. But I sometimes find even riding in nice whether, getting the cleat out of my pedal is pretty hard and sometimes have gone over on my side embarrisingly because of the clipless system. I would go with having nothing, just your winter shoes & the pedal to push on. Also, I would imagine your ride to school isn't a long journey, so the point of going clipless seems pretty pointless unless your journey is over 30KM...
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Old 10-13-03, 05:09 PM   #9
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I compromise, just call me indecisive and wimpy. Most of the time I wear some old style Shimano winter boots (all leather uppers with a lace keeper strap. Every fall I coat them with more water "proofing". They are a size larger than I usually wear so there is room for heavier wool socks or thin socks & seal skinz as the weather suggests. They have SPD cleats, that take a fair amount of maintenence in winter salt conditions. I seal the unsused holes in the sole with silicon caulk. I pulled the original insoles, which were the same thickness as my summer shoes, and replaced them with thick felt ones. For pedals I use Shimano 323/324's. That lets me clip in on good days, clip only 1 foot, or turn the pedal and use the platform side. That system is good down to about 5F/-15C. Below that I just wear my Sorels. While they are warmer, they are heavy, clumsy and prone to sliding off the pedal at critical moments. I find it very hard to pedal smoothly in them. My personal cut-off point for snow depth is 6inches/14 cm. My route is too dark and too full of SUV's with drivers that don't understand that the best way to drive in snow is to slow down and go at a constant speed. They prefer to fishtail across the road.
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Old 10-14-03, 10:46 AM   #10
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Deep snow is much harder to ride in than most people think, about 5 - 6" makes for much greater effort and very squirrely handling (studded tires help handling, but don't make pedalling any easier).
I am a platform person - I can wear different footwear depending on temperature and can walk if the bike freezes up (didn't happen last winter). The 3 or 4 times I hit black ice and fell, I don't think clipless or platforms would have made any difference, but on rough, slushy ice/snow covered pavement, I occasionally get a brief feeling of security by lifting a foot off the pedal of the side I think I'm going to fall on.
Snow depth is probably less of a worry than most people think. The urban roads around here are usually well plowed and salted, preventing much snow accumulation on the travelled portion of the road. One consideration during winter is that "the travelled portion" of the road gets much narrower due to snow banks and unplowed areas.
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Old 10-19-03, 03:32 PM   #11
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In winter, I take the clips off and just use platform(?) pedals. I have gone down on ice several times and was glad that I was able to be free of the bike.

Also, winter in the north (Toronto) gets cold, so you may want to wear nice warm felt lined boots like pac boots (like Sorel swampers). No toe clip is going to fit those Frankengalloshes.
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Old 10-19-03, 07:23 PM   #12
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I'm going to disagree with most people here and give the thumbs up to clipless. As far as I'm concerned, winter riding can be as technical as most mountain bike riding. If you feel comfortable riding off road with clipless, the snow should be about the same. Now, Shimano SPDs really don't work well for anything except dry streets, and I'm not sure why people still use them. I've been riding Time ATACs in the ice and snow for several years, and really haven't had any particular trouble with buildup. They perform about the same as they do in the mud. Recently I've switched to Egg Beaters, and expect they will work well also. As far as the cleat acting as a heatsink, I haven't found this to be a problem. The only disadvantage to going clipless is that most clipless bike shoes are not well insulated. This fact led me to buy a pair of winter biking boots, which are wonderful, but somewhat pricey. Now get out there and ride. Good luck whatever you decide.
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Old 12-25-03, 05:41 PM   #13
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I stick with clipless because I'm so much more comfortable in them, until it gets so cold I have to switch to winter boots.

The one small problem with clipless is that you can get snow caught in them when you have to stand or walk and it makes it difficult to clip in again - it's just a bit time consuming to clear them out.
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Old 12-27-03, 10:08 AM   #14
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You could try the Shimano 536 a mtb pedal designed for mud , set it loose and it´s easy to get out of , nice and firm when engaged . You can buy platforms that click into spd pedals for riding in traffic if you want to use street shoes at times .
Safety ? I´ve fallen and broken bones using toeclips and platforms and if I can get out of spd´s without trouble ( and I have no lateral movement in my left ankle due to polio ) then it should be a dodle for you .
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Old 01-12-04, 08:03 PM   #15
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Clipless spring, summer, fall, clips and straps for winter. Allows you to wear a winter boot. Simple, effective and fairly efficient.
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Old 01-18-04, 09:46 AM   #16
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Amazing variety of takes on pedals for winter riding!

I commute every winter day on Nashbar Big Mashers.
http://www.nashbar.com/

Pedal cage is 4 inches wide and 3- 1/2 inches front to back with center supports. 530 grams. $15. These beasts have 26 sharp teeth on each side of the platform. They nicely dig into the Vibram of my Sketcher Sports Trail shoes.

Upside: they are the ultimate stable platform. They can also help save your life- as happened to me when a car jumped the curb last winter and tried to hit me in Boston's Fenway. I instinctively did an endo and was catapulted off a Marin San Anselmo down a ravine. Damaged the San Anselmo but the Big Mashers may have punctured the assassin's tires ;-)

Downside: if you do a lot of portage, the sharp points of the Big Mashers will tatoo your legs. I solved this problem by fitting No.1 (driver) golf club covers over the Big Mashers on my favorite bike, Jamis Exile. Tradeoff- temporarily lost the sharp teeth but don't have to always carry a tube of Bacitracin ;-)


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Old 01-19-04, 03:42 PM   #17
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hey i live in maine and i use clipless all year round

i used shimanos yast winter and they suck so this winter i got some times and they are great for winter they dont bind up or anything and you are able to get in and out easly

If you are riding clipless in the winter it better be times
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Old 01-21-04, 04:53 PM   #18
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Well up here in snowy Canada... no wait, I live in Victoria where Canadian winter dare not tread. When we have had lots of snow here I've just kept using my Ritchey clipless pedals, no problems but I do give my shoes a quick tap if I do any walking or put a foot down. Just had some snow here as a matter of fact, foot and a half a couple of weeks ago and I sliding all over the place
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