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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 09-10-09, 01:49 PM   #1
Noonievut
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When does the cold impact the bike

Is there a a temp when grease/lube and parts stop functioning correctly, or could parts be damaged in any way?

I'll be getting a new custom bike soon (columbus spirit frame), though I'll likely only be getting it as the weather starts to get cold here in Toronto. I'm keeping my old bike and will have it on the trainer, so I thought it would be great if on not-too-cold days I take the new bike out for a spin (maybe an hour). I've ridden in 0 celcius and I can handle it, but I don't want the new bike to suffer in any way

In the past I've put the bike on the trainer once the forecast looks dim, and my trainer is a pain to set up so I've never really rode on cold days (meaning long time on the trainer and some nicer mid-winter days missed riding). Looking forward to it though.
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Old 09-10-09, 07:05 PM   #2
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It's been a while, but back in the 1970s I rode Schwinn World Traveler year round in Minnesota. Often -20F (about -30C?). The biggest problem was in the spring when everything started melting the road crud did a job on the cables and chain.
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Old 09-10-09, 07:48 PM   #3
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I have found that around -15C to -20C, some freehubs can start hanging up. The grease gets too thick and the pawls stick.

You can flush out the grease and replace with lighter oil. Morningstar tools have device which makes this easier.
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Old 09-10-09, 08:36 PM   #4
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My bicycles have usually been good down to about -30C ... and then things start stiffening up. I've ridden down to -40C, but have had one brake and my shifting freeze up in those temps. Basically, you pick the gear you want to ride in early on, and stick with it for the rest of the ride. And plan ahead when you want to stop.
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Old 09-10-09, 10:02 PM   #5
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Here is a site that has good info on winter riding . I haven't encountered any problems with off the shelf builds here in Anchorage, it rarely spends much time below zero.. Farther north I might do a freehub maintenance.

http://www.icebike.org/
http://www.icebike.org/Equipment/freehub.htm
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Old 09-11-09, 05:20 AM   #6
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What Machka said. Good thing is, when it gets that cold, there's no salt or that kind of crud to wear your components or drivetrain out. Some shifting mechanisms are more prone to freezing than others, and it's often the mechanism in shifter itself that freezes first. Friction levers work best.

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Old 09-11-09, 06:01 AM   #7
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cold

Thanks for the replies.

I'm really just hoping to do some outside riding in the winter months as oppose no outside riding at all. I don't think I'll ride after it starts snowing (after they start salting), but if the temps are close to 0C and the winds are not too bad, I'll ride so long as the roads are dry and clean. I have the gear, which I've used in 0C riding and at times I was too warm...so it's not the body I'm worried about, but the bike.
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Old 09-19-09, 06:13 AM   #8
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Some plastic parts used in bikes become brittle at around -30 to -35 C. If you bump them on something then, they might break. This is the highest temperature at which anything permanent can happen to your bike because of the cold. Freehubs can act up when it's at all below freezing, but that's not permanent damage: they'll be ok immediately when they heat up. And you can combat that with proper grease.

As for metal parts, I have no clue. I suspect that the level of cold which will permanently damage metal is not something in which a human will survive.
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Old 09-21-09, 04:20 PM   #9
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What Machka said... just above -40 seems to be a critical temperature point for grease; on my bike, it was the steering that was most noticeably impaired. I'll be changing out my bearing grease this year for something more suited to low temps.
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Old 09-21-09, 05:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
Thanks for the replies.

I'm really just hoping to do some outside riding in the winter months as oppose no outside riding at all. I don't think I'll ride after it starts snowing (after they start salting), but if the temps are close to 0C and the winds are not too bad, I'll ride so long as the roads are dry and clean. I have the gear, which I've used in 0C riding and at times I was too warm...so it's not the body I'm worried about, but the bike.
0C is still quite warm as far as the bicycle and you are concerned. As I said, you could drop another 30 degrees and still be OK.

In Winnipeg, they weren't too bad with clearing the roads, so on days when it was -20C, or -30C, or even -40C the roads would be bare and dry a lot of the time ... and so I'd go for a ride.
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