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  1. #1
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    Yep, new to winter cycling.

    So, I'm back after a few years off of cycling (built a house, moved to a different country, etc.) but now I need to commute to work. Right now car takes 1.5 hrs and costs too much, public transit takes 1.5 hrs when it works, and there is the other option of biking. Besides, if it takes me 2 hours each way, I save 1 hour by not going to the gym. There are back up ways of getting home in case the weather becomes a health hazard.

    My bike is a Look carbon with dura ace components for nice dry SFBay California riding. No lights, reflectors, studded/treaded tires, etc.

    Here's the commute:Map from approximate start to approximate finish

    Total length for me will be about 55km over mostly asphalted roads in the middle of nowhere, finally getting into highly maintained, seperated, lighted bike paths in bike friendly traffic. Work a day, then turn around and go home.

    It's pitch black in the winter time where the commute will be done in 100% darkness since the sun is up between 9am and 3pm.

    Any suggestions/insights? Anyone familiar with the route?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by NutzCrazy View Post
    So, I'm back after a few years off of cycling (built a house, moved to a different country, etc.) but now I need to commute to work. Right now car takes 1.5 hrs and costs too much, public transit takes 1.5 hrs when it works, and there is the other option of biking. Besides, if it takes me 2 hours each way, I save 1 hour by not going to the gym. There are back up ways of getting home in case the weather becomes a health hazard.

    My bike is a Look carbon with dura ace components for nice dry SFBay California riding. No lights, reflectors, studded/treaded tires, etc.
    <SNIP>

    Total length for me will be about 55km over mostly asphalted roads in the middle of nowhere, finally getting into highly maintained, seperated, lighted bike paths in bike friendly traffic. Work a day, then turn around and go home.

    It's pitch black in the winter time where the commute will be done in 100% darkness since the sun is up between 9am and 3pm.

    Any suggestions/insights? Anyone familiar with the route?

    I have no idea how often it rains in your part of the country so I quickly looked at the averages for you area on weather.com.

    It looks like your wettest month is nearly equivalent to my dryest month. For protecting your nice bike during the winter months get some light weight fenders. It will definitely give your drivetrane some much needed protection from road grit that will come off your front wheel. SKS makes some very nice "blade" fenders that attach with some tie-wraps (light weight, btu very functional).

    Since you clearly are not in a Winter area, all you need are some tires that can handle a little bad weather. You may just be able to use what ever tires you already have on your bike. Otherwise you could look at something like the Continental Gator Skin for a tough commuter tire (people on the forums keep raving about how good they are), or their GrandPrix 4 Season (as the name implies it is designed for year round use).

    For the few days you may get some nasty sloppy or freezing weather, just take a car or some other alternative transporation. You should be able to ride most days. I have my hybrid outfitted with lighting, reflective materials, and Nokia W106 studded snow tires, but if the roads are coverd with more than an 1" of fresh snow I'll take the car. Luckily most of our snow falls between 1:00 am and 6:00 am so the plows get around before I have to ride and therefore the roads are plenty passable by 7:50 am. Any kind of deeper snow leave causes deep tracks to for in the snow and that is just no fun to ride in when you are also dealing with traffic. Last Winter I only had to take the car about a dozen times due to weather, and a few of those days were due to high winds (40 MPH steady with gusts up to 85 MPH... definitely not good when you are on 2 wheels).

    It looks like your average low is around 41F. With those temps some tights will work fine. I like my Illuminite Tights as they have refelctive material that helps with visability. You can easily wear them over a set a riding shorts or bibs. For clothing at temps as low as 20F, all I need are a T-shirt (anything that claims to move sweat away from my body) and an EVap coat from foxwear.net. By 50F this combo is already too warm for me. For your temperatures, a light EVap coat will probably will work better as you will generator plenty of heat and you won't get much in the way of realy cold weather.

    For rear illumination you can's beat the Planet Bike Super Flash they list for $29, but can be found regularly on sale for $19. The only think I have heard that can beat the Super Flash is the Dinotte, but it costs $150 and only has a few hours run time. In the Winter I can get a month out of my rechargeable AAA's I use.

    For front illumination there is a bewildering array of options. I went with a Shimano DH-3N70 series generator hub and B&W DLumotec light. The DLumotec has now been eclipsed by the IQ Fly, and there is supposed to be a lighter version of the generator hub. The up side is that I NEVER had to worry about batteries. The down side is that you definitely add some weight to your bike. For battery operated light do check out the following link with some good reviews: http://www.gearreview.com/LEDs08_intro.php
    With today's battery and lighting technology LED lights are the way to go. LEDs are bright, give good battery life, and pretty much the "bulbs" will last a lifetime. The Dinotte lights get constant praise from members of the forum. Once nice thing is that you can get one that takes AA batteries. Therefore you can carry 4 spares and then you can always swap batteries if the current set starts to run out on you.

    Happy riding,
    André

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrelam View Post
    I have no idea how often it rains in your part of the country so I quickly looked at the averages for you area on weather.com.

    It looks like your wettest month is nearly equivalent to my dryest month. For protecting your nice bike during the winter months get some light weight fenders. It will definitely give your drivetrane some much needed protection from road grit that will come off your front wheel. SKS makes some very nice "blade" fenders that attach with some tie-wraps (light weight, btu very functional). <SNIP>
    OK call me stupid - I didn't click on the link for your commute until after I wrote my note. I noticed you were in San Jose so that is what my response was based on... then I saw that you will be commuting in SWEDEN! I guess I should have looked more closely.

    DON'T use your road bike in the Winter! That would be a crime. Salt and road grit are very abusive to your drivetrain. You would not want to replace those beautiful Dura Ace components after one winter. Get a good beater bike. If you had to replace the front and rear derailers, chain, and rear sprocke, you could drop a grand. Your best bet will be to get the bike in Sweden. The Europeans are very picky about what is required on a bike, reflective tires, large reflector in rear, lighting, etc. The internal hubs are nice, but I found the gear to be way to tall for my taste. I had a 7 speed on my Batavus this Summer and found that I had the use 1st gear to go up any sort of incline, but even with a tail wind and going down a slight hill I had a hard time using 7th gear. I guess the European still like to realy mash the pedals. That might work nicely for a short ride, but it will kill you on a long ride. Snow tires should be easy to get in Sweden. There are a bunch of different types available. I have never been to Sweden on the Winter so I have no idea what the roads will be like for you. Getting a bike with a generator hub is easy in Europe as these have become very popular in the last few years.

    Happy riding,
    André

  4. #4
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    Excellent. Thanks for all the good info. Time for some new tires, tights, fenders, maybe a BR C2 or Dinotte dual light set up, shoe covers, and full gloves. Test ride planned this weekend to check the forest part of the route.

    BTW, don't tell a swede that Stockholm isn't really a winter area. They have polar bears in the streets here.

  5. #5
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    I guess I should refresh before posting, too. Ok, the beater bike is a '96 Specialized Allez with a mishmash of Shimano 600, 105 and some other stuff. It's heavy as crap (25lbs?), but I did ride it 300 km straight once (well, 280 and I slept for a bit, then 20 more).

    Looks like I have a winter and a summer bike. Internal hub? Man, I don't want to try riding that for 110km a day. I'd rather get a single speed with cable disks if I am going that far. There are no hills in this part of sweden. None. It's like Florida, or even Denmark (also a no-no to mention).

    So, I'll try it this winter with a good light that I can swap onto my mtb. If I love it, then I'll get myself a good winter bike. Studded tires, however, just sound like punishment.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by NutzCrazy View Post
    Studded tires, however, just sound like punishment.
    Falling on ice and breaking something, then spending quality time in the hospital, because you didn't use studded tires, is the punishment.

    Yes, they're heavy, harder to pedal and don't corner well, but that extra workout through the winter comes in handy in the spring.

    That said, I have a second wheelset for those rare dry pavement days. Boy do those feel fast.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  7. #7
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    +1 on having the secondary wheelset for the dry days. I have a disc-equipped SS "road" bike. It kicks ass, even on the hills we have around here. If it's as flat as Florida, you could run fixed gear for extra steez.
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  8. #8
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    Wow, there really seems to be a lot of different things about winter riding than I expected. The more I look, the more it looks like I need to build a different bike. Regardless, I'll stick with my beater for this season and just go with getting the clothes, tires, and lighting right.

    The only bummer is that I see that a generator hub is probably the best way to go, considering, so that limits this season's lights to something that'll do both battery and generator if I buy now. And then discs, and then some sort of sealed hub or SS. Maybe I can use my Allez frame and weld on some good disc brake bosses. Or maybe just start from scratch....

    What do you guys think of those Nokian A10s for rolling resistance?

  9. #9
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by NutzCrazy View Post
    I'll stick with my beater for this season and just go with getting the clothes, tires, and lighting right.
    Sounds like the right plan. I worked the kinks out in my first season, then put all I learned into another bike for the second season. Worked a charm. Heading into my third now, and I don't have to do anything. I'll probably add to my wardrobe just to cut down on hand-washing things between laundry days.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NutzCrazy View Post
    Wow, there really seems to be a lot of different things about winter riding than I expected. The more I look, the more it looks like I need to build a different bike. Regardless, I'll stick with my beater for this season and just go with getting the clothes, tires, and lighting right.

    The only bummer is that I see that a generator hub is probably the best way to go, considering, so that limits this season's lights to something that'll do both battery and generator if I buy now. And then discs, and then some sort of sealed hub or SS. Maybe I can use my Allez frame and weld on some good disc brake bosses. Or maybe just start from scratch....

    What do you guys think of those Nokian A10s for rolling resistance?
    Having the beater bike is perfect. Now you won't feel bad when you get a bunch of Winter "gunk" all over the drivetrain. As far a Generator hubs go, they are nice, but good battery lights can work fine as well. Since you will have a long ride, I'd look at a light that takes standard batteries. That way you can leave a set to charge at work over night and then use those to get home. At home you can then have a charger that charges the light when you get back from work. Carrying an extra set of AAA lights weights next to nothing, compared to the inconvenience of not having lights.

    As far as disk brakes go. I have standard V-brakes and they work fine. Just get a good set of pads and you'll be all set. I found a set of BBB brake pads that various groves in them. They worked much better than the OEM pads to wipe way the wetness and crud off the rim.

    As far as clothing, but be sure it can BREATH. You won't believe how much seat can build up on the inside of a shell (even one that claims to breath) with just my short 5 mile ride. That is why I now use the coat from foxwear as it is made of wind blocking fleece. It breaths great yet keeps me warm. It even kept me dry during a major ice storm last year. I was covered in about a 1/8" layer of ice when I got home... that was NOT a fun commute. A beanie cap under the helmet should be plenty to keep your head warm. I it nice to have a face mask for some nasty days. I find rain a just above freezing to be the most painfull... it just stings when it hits your face. Snow is not nearly as bad as rain.

    I have not tried the Nokia A10's as I live in the Buffalo Snow belt and we get snow a few times a week during the winter. I need the more open design of the W106 tread. The A10's however look like a very good tire for areas where you are more worried about frozen precipitation, but less worried about dealing with deep snow. Lower resistance would be very nice on a longer commute.

    Happy riding,
    André

  11. #11
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    I just went for a spin. Holy moly am I out of shape. This is going to take some working up to! But, as they say, it's just like riding a bike. My clothes, however are pretty good. Just need some long underwear for the legs, something for the head, and some gloves.

    The worst part is the beginning of my ride is a gravel road for about 500 or 1500 meters (depends on which way you go). Took my Look out. That was the slowest 500m in my life. Now I just need to get my GPS hooked up to my computer so I can load the map so I don't get lost in the middle of nowhere in -40 weather in the dark.

  12. #12
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    More cold than snow, right?

    Hi,

    I don't know the Stockholm area very well. I've spent some time in Goteborg during the winter months. Weather is completely different in Goteborg from what you have in Stockholm. As I understand it, it can get down right cold in Stockholm. Goteborg is more like New England (with less daylight).

    So, I would have thought that the cold would be a larger problem than snow. Is that right? Have you spent a winter in Stockholm yet? All of your precipitation will be frozen for most of the winter months. Can get a bit windy there, being so flat and close to the water.

    So, in addition to not wanting to trash the dura ace, I'd want some industrial strength clothing for those 3 - 4 hours that you will spend pedaling. I've just invested in a bottle cage that can hold a 16 oz. insulated coffee mug. You might want to take some of that nice, strong, wonderful Swedish coffee on your ride as well. Have a look at http://www.bicyclecoffeesystems.com/.

    Good luck.

    Hej Da!

    Mark

  13. #13
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    Not much snow here in general, mostly black ice. Roads are generally clear. This'll be my third winter here, and I'm looking forward to it. I just hope it snows and stays snowy! Clothing should be the same as the stuff you wear for xcountry skiing. In other words, not too much, just keep moving.

    There won't be too much wind where I will be biking since it will mostly be in the forested areas. I'll be taking Nynäsleden from Ösmo to Centralen, then up to Karolinska. Should prove to be interesting.

    First complete test ride with GPS and clothing will be this weekend. I can still do it on regular tires, but the light is starting to get a bit scarce. It's dark at 6am now, but it should be dark at 7 am next monday.

    I ordered my bike light: an Olight M20 tactical with orange peel reflector. It's a 18650 setup and allows a 3.5 hr run time with 250 lumens, 250 meter throw, and spill that makes "LEOs" fear for their lives in close quarter combat since it illuminates the Johnny Law Enforcement Occifer. The perfect thing for a cyclist. And it has multimode with memory all at <50% the cost of a bike centric light. This should be good for when I take my hunting license exam and strap it to my shotgun so I can git me some moose. But holy crap, does it get dark dark dark here... You should see all the lights on my car! And all the sensor lights around the house!

  14. #14
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    Just my 0,02e: black ice + roads call for Nokian W106 studded tyres. They are narrow (as far as studded tyres go) so not the best choice for off-road. But for road use they're perfect.

    --J
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  15. #15
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    I'm actually on the fence between A10s (72 studs more near the outer edge) and W106s (106 studs near the center).

    Some pics of the tires in question

    Maybe mix and match? 106 up front, a10 in back? Fit is looking close on my Allez, but it'll be worth the shot, eh?
    Last edited by NutzCrazy; 09-23-08 at 02:50 PM.

  16. #16
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Given your black ice comment I thought the W106s would be better. You'll get more braking grip than you would with A10s. Then again, if you have no need to slow down... You're better off keeping the bike upright when turning on black ice anyway, so studs near the center are more useful in my opinion.

    I've never run mixed studded tyres, so I have no idea how that would work out. If you plan doing it, 106 in front and A10 in rear sounds definitely better than the other way 'round.

    --J
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    My little sig site article is mostly about winter bicycling in Calgary, over quite a lot
    of years, but it is done with a pretty simple low tech approach, no spiked or knobby
    tires. I guess the main lesson is a person can get used to almost anything, including
    bicycling in winter.
    mainlytext.com/bike.html Bicycling in winter, the entertainment version

  18. #18
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    I'd prefer having studded tires, really. I just want the to fit the bike I already have. I currently have 23-622 on it with a bit more than 12mm clearnace all around. If I go a10, they are ~30-622. And then fenders.... This should prove to be an exciting winter.

    While the weather is nice, it'll be the Look out for a ride.

  19. #19
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    That was fun. Biked in today just to check out the route. Totally manageable, but I will have to make some modifications. Im also very glad that I had a gps with me since the "bike path" isn't very obvious at times. Some of it goes through horribly slow residential areas, around parks and playgrounds, between apartment buildings, etc...

    All in all <2.5hrs 62.5km. avg ~27 kph
    Last edited by NutzCrazy; 09-27-08 at 09:59 AM.

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    Sheesh. I just looked at my route on google maps. What a friggin' mess. There are so many things I can redo so it goes faster and shorter. I don't know who it was that planned this "route" but they really weren't interested in getting anywhere quick. It is a start, though! Just an extra 10k each way....

  21. #21
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    if you use Tom Tom GPS, you can select bike route, and there are plenty of options to choose from, about what to avoid, and what not.

    if i don't tale the train, and go 100% bike, it'll take me just under 2 hours to work, and from work.
    39 km each way. at an average speed of 25 km/h

    but since my actual average is on the mid 30 km/h, and downhills up to 60 km/h, i should be able to do it in less than that.

    however, in winter and snowy conditions, it's better to keep it slow, so the 2 hours is a pretty realistic time, for winter biking.

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    I've been using a Geko 201. I google map it, then convert it to a gpx file, then trip the trackpoints and upload it to my 201. Works pretty good.

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    Okay, just mounted my nokian a10s (30-622, not easy to find for some reason). They fit, but there ain't a whole lot of clearance. How little is too little? If it rolls without rubbing, is that good enough? I had 23-622s on before. As far as fenders, they are going to have to be custom fabrication.

  24. #24
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    Here's an update for all those disinterested enough to read this.

    I've biked in a total of 5 times, then took a train or car back. So far, the distance is looking to be 57km each way and I have been able increase the moving average to ~28.5 kph on the way in. Time has been cut down from forever and a day including getting lost and confused to about 2 hrs. The longest time for me in a car was 1:45. And I'm out of shape! I think it's absurd that I can potentially bike 57 km in the same amount of time a car takes to drive 49 km.

    Tires: A10 Nokians. So far, no ice, but whatever. It seems to be getting colder and I'm really not in the mood to swap tires. They ride smooth, and the studs are always *barely* in contact, then really grip when you make the most minor of turns. Top speed of 62 kph so far (not many hills here, unfortunately). They fit with some minor adjustments, no rub, about 5 mm clearance all around. No fenders yet, but I'll be cutting them up this weekend to fit.

    Lights: Olight M20 tactical, blinkie red back. My batteries haven't come yet and I cant find any 18650s here locally. I've been running with disposable CR123As x2. Seems bright, good throw, and I've been flashed once. I also had one biker wave at me (not a real bicyclist, just one of those regular shmoes). I ride with full power when dark, then switch to flash mode when it's light out. People (ie, cars, trucks, mindless pedestrians, mindless cyclists) really notice me -- huge difference when I turn it off.

    Clothes: still don't need full finger gloves yet, but very soon. New pants are on the list, but I'll try out my xcountry skiing pants first. Booties are a must, my toes are starting to get cold. Wearing a longsleeve jersey and a polyester longsleeve first layer.

    Backpack: small/midsized cameback equivalent with room for tools, water, and a change of clothes.

    Breakfast: buttermilk and musli, some apricots and almonds to boot. Also vitamin D supplements for the lack of sunlight.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by NutzCrazy View Post
    So, I'm back after a few years off of cycling (built a house, moved to a different country, etc.) but now I need to commute to work. Right now car takes 1.5 hrs and costs too much, public transit takes 1.5 hrs when it works, and there is the other option of biking. Besides, if it takes me 2 hours each way, I save 1 hour by not going to the gym. There are back up ways of getting home in case the weather becomes a health hazard.

    My bike is a Look carbon with dura ace components for nice dry SFBay California riding. No lights, reflectors, studded/treaded tires, etc.

    Here's the commute:Map from approximate start to approximate finish

    Total length for me will be about 55km over mostly asphalted roads in the middle of nowhere, finally getting into highly maintained, seperated, lighted bike paths in bike friendly traffic. Work a day, then turn around and go home.

    It's pitch black in the winter time where the commute will be done in 100% darkness since the sun is up between 9am and 3pm.

    Any suggestions/insights? Anyone familiar with the route?
    If you are serious about doing this commute during most of the year I would do a few things to get ready. First, don't ride your good road bike on this commute. Save it for spring, summer and fall riding when you want to have a light bike.

    Buy an inexpensive cyclocross bike or hybrid 700c frame bike and an inexpensive mountain bike. Preferably used. If the route is primarily flat put a road bike crank gearing on the cyclocross bike. The mountain bike is for bad weather conditions and should have fenders, wide knobby tires, and possibly studded tires. The cross/hybrid bike is for when the weather and roads are generally good. But put some fast rolling hybrid tires on it so if you get caught in a snow storm you have some traction to get home.

    Then invest in a good lighting system and and a cheaper back up lighting system and get a high visability cycling jacket and some winter cycling boots as you mentioned. Then read many pages back in this "winter" forum until you have some idea what you should wear. Best wishes.
    Last edited by Hezz; 10-24-08 at 08:34 PM.

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