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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 01-18-09, 07:11 PM   #1
IceNine
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How long do your winter bikes last?

I decided to take my 1984 Schwinn Voyageur out for a winter ride recently, which is the first time I had done that in snow and ice. I have 1 1/4" Gatorskin tires on it and SKS fenders with front homebrew rubber mudflap. Not an ideal setup for winter riding but not horrible. I had a blast riding but after 10 miles or so I had so much sand and grit under the fenders and all over the brake pads that I can't imagine that the wheels or drivetrain would hold up very long riding regularly like that. So I'm thinking about getting a more appropriate dedicated snow and ice bike--one that I consider expendable. Something like an old gaspipe Schwinn Varsity or something along those lines. I've got several other vintage bikes, but nothing that I'd really like to trash. Am I approaching this the wrong way? Is there a way to ride on snow and ice with sand and salt in such a way that bikes last a long time?
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Old 01-18-09, 07:27 PM   #2
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Mine lasted 6 years. It needs new cables and a new chain now.

If you want your bicycle to last, get fenders, and clean your bicycle after your rides.
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Old 01-18-09, 08:02 PM   #3
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This also depends on where you live.
Slushy wet snow with sand will grind up your parts in short order if not cleaned as mentioned above.
But if you live where the snow does not melt until the end of March then you need very little cleaning and your bike will last a very long time.
I've only seen three days since November that had slushy conditions. And of course I rode on those days.
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Old 01-18-09, 08:03 PM   #4
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just make sure i lube it at least once a week and wipe all the grime away from moving parts.
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Old 01-18-09, 09:47 PM   #5
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Longer than a bike being used off-road.

But not as long as a bike being used on-road.
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Old 01-18-09, 10:06 PM   #6
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.

I just replaced my neighbors Bridge stone mountain bike, he said hes used it for 15 years and it was unsafe so insted of repairing I sold him a Yokota, we live in canada so it's ass cold here and lots of snow, his bike had huge build of of rust and all parts stuck on it lol
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Old 01-19-09, 03:47 PM   #7
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I bought a used MTB as my winter commuter 4 years ago. I've had to replace a number of parts (cables, brakes, brake pads). So far so good. The frame seems to be in good shape, but the seat post is fused to the frame - I had to find a taller seat so that I could be more comfortable riding it.
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Old 01-19-09, 04:13 PM   #8
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it helps to prepare the frame before using it in winter.
use plenty of frame saver inside the frame, pack the bearings with some quality marine grade or white lithium grease and wax the outside as much as possible.

minor maintenance, like lubing the chain and cleaning off the dirt/salt buildup after each ride goes a long way.
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Old 01-20-09, 04:12 AM   #9
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Slushy snow with sand will be hard on rim brakes and chains. Chains are cheap and I use disc brakes. Other parts last years.
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Old 01-20-09, 01:30 PM   #10
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Last spring I had to replace pretty much the entire drive train.

I'm not sure how much cleaning the bike helps. By the time I get to the end of the driveway, it's dirty again!
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Old 01-20-09, 06:54 PM   #11
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I clean off my bike with a couple of buckets of hot water. And I use a chain cleaning tool to keep the grit off of my chain. I clean the chain about twice a month. Keep the bike clean and it will last all winter.
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Old 01-20-09, 10:54 PM   #12
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I clean off my bike with a couple of buckets of hot water. And I use a chain cleaning tool to keep the grit off of my chain. I clean the chain about twice a month. Keep the bike clean and it will last all winter.
The chain will last all winter. The bike will last many winters.
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Old 01-25-09, 11:09 PM   #13
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Ride a single speed, keep it lubed, clean it every so often. replace the chain, cables, and pads every spring. It'll last a hell of a long time.
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Old 01-26-09, 08:59 PM   #14
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Ride a single speed, keep it lubed, clean it every so often. replace the chain, cables, and pads every spring. It'll last a hell of a long time.
Yup. That sounds about right to me.
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Old 02-01-09, 08:55 AM   #15
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2 or 3 winters in the slop we have for 6 months in Northern mich. I always start with a dumpster bike though.
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Old 02-09-09, 08:46 PM   #16
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2-3 years before something major starts acting up, it's less trouble to just buy/find a new used bike.
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Old 02-09-09, 09:08 PM   #17
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If a bike is ridden in either:

Fresh snow, with no salt or sand applied
and/or
dry roads, possibly with salt or sand on them

will this cause nearly as much wear as riding in slushy salty roads? or is the road salt/snow by itself a major cause of drivetrain wear?
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Old 02-13-09, 10:56 AM   #18
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For me the frame is Titanium, so that will last for ever. The drive train is Campy Centaur and this is Canadian winter no. 4 and will be ready for replacement this summer due to chain stretch and normal wear as much as anything. Wheels are open pro's on Chorus hubs and they have had 6 years of commuter use and will need replacing when the sidewalls wear out from city braking.
Most frequent changes are tires and handle bar tape, so no real difference between winter wear and any other wear form use.

Best tip is to visit the local car wash and spend a buck to give the bike a quick hose down when it gets covered in grime. Cost $5-$10 a year.

If your frame is steel, disassemble and spray the inside with a protective agent (WD40 or linseed oil at a push). I lost a Reynolds 753 to rusting from the inside out after 10 plus years nearly daily use in sodden British weather.
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Old 02-14-09, 02:38 PM   #19
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With out mud guards the chain wont last a single winter.
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Old 03-06-09, 09:13 AM   #20
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Ride a single speed, keep it lubed, clean it every so often. replace the chain, cables, and pads every spring. It'll last a hell of a long time.
Yep.

I got a freebie bike, stripped and sanded it, painted it inside and out, built it up as a single speed. I do 75 - 100 miles a week on it all winter long, and I don't want to kill myself keeping it cleanm so I just replace the entire drivetrain once a year because of the sand and salt. I wipe it down with Pledge every week or two and spray on some paint if I see a nick or rub mark wearing through to the metal. I figure the bike will last longer than I do.

I don't recommend starting out with a garbage scow, though, as a winter bike. it will always ride like a department store bike, which takes some of the fun out of it. A decent quality Japanese touring bike from the 80's is a good bet. They're cheap, fairly easy to find, ride nicely, and are sturdy as hell. Go for one with fender bosses on it and maybe cantilever brake braze-ons.

Anyhow, it worked for me.

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