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  1. #1
    Indecisive rookie
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    should a winter commuter be same size as normal bike? or smaller?

    Hey everyone, looking to get/build a bike for winter commuting. Im not sure if i want a road bike, or a mountain type (rigid all the way, no shocks).

    My one question was, in winter riding, should i be looking for a bike the same size that I ride in the winter? or a little smaller/lower for a lower centre of gravity? The main thing im worried about is there is always a lot of black ice on the roads which cause a lot of slipping.


    TIA

    -Aaron

  2. #2
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    I feel more comfortable on a mountain bike when it is slick but I don't see much advantage in going to a smaller frame than fits you. The feeling of security is mostly a psychological thing and the friction that the tires have to the ground is the real issue. Many ride just fine on a road bike. However, I think that a mountain bike frame is more likely to survive a crash and get you home since it has a somewhat stronger frame. Also, the wider tires can be run at lower pressures which is helpful on slick surfaces. In fresh snow a narrower tire often is better and easier to pedal. But what it comes down to is what you feel the best on. Also there is a larger selection of old used mountain bikes which makes them easier to find.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Mine was actually probably a bit big for me.

  4. #4
    tsl
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    Although I've never tried it, I can't see where riding a bike that's too small for me would be beneficial. Especially not in winter when the extra layers make moving difficult to begin with. Then being cramped on a too-small bike? Not even gonna try.

    Besides, studded tires take care of black ice (and other shades of it) just fine. I can ride across ice I can't walk on.

    As for the road bike/mountain bike argument, go with your personal preference. A recent winter bike thread up in the Commuting Forum showed nearly as many drop-bar road bikes as mountain bikes. And since none of us seem to commute on actual mountains, I figure it's purely personal preference rather than some superiority of either type of bike.

    But here on the other side of the lake, I prefer a road-style bike.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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  5. #5
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    tsl - Your Portland (beautiful bike btw) looks pretty compact and bet you could ride a frame size that was larger as there's lots of seat post there and you look pretty tall next to it.

    Guessing you have pretty long legs for your height and a frame size larger might make for some uncomfortable reach.

    My frame range is 50-55cm depending on geometry...

    I ride a very similar Trek 7500 with a 50cm frame and have a 33 inch inseam... the bike fits me like a glove.



    My other winter bike is a 55cm with traditional touring geometry...I just swapped in a shorter stem to bring myself up and back a little and will see how I like that (so far so good).


  6. #6
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    You don't want a bike that is too small or large and hence un-comfortable but, that doesn't mean you don't have options... As i figure it, you want a bicycle with a slackish seat-angle(good rear-ward balance) and a mid-ranged head angle(less flop at low speed)... If you look at the geometry of "snow bikes" like surley's pugsley and other frames out there you can get a good idea of what they're trying to go for. Often this type of frame turns out to be a mountain bike.

    If you're worried about ice, get some studded tires... no matter the type of bicycle there is a good chance ice will catch you off-guard so get some studs!

    Bottom bracket height is something you can look at, too low and your feet drag on snow, too high and your feet point up to the sky
    Last edited by electrik; 10-15-09 at 10:35 PM.

  7. #7
    Indecisive rookie
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    thanks everyone for the quick responses!


    I have 2 possible candidates for a winter bike, both are "road bikes"

    first up is a nishiki(my old summer riding bike) that just got replaced by another bike for my summer riding bike...



    option 2:

    an old steel bianchi frame (high ten stuff,nothing fancy) i have both rims, no tires, no deraillers or anything like that (good fixie candidate) i have a stem and bars for, just missing brakes etc.
    no pics of that
    If i wanted to build a winter commuter from one of these bikes, and have rear saddlebags with a rack, are braze-ons a must? or is there a rack that will clamp on somehow.


    heres a quick list i thought either one of these bikes would need,consisting of(that would be needed for a conversion, if im wrong correct me

    -cantilever brakes
    -fenders
    -studded/knobby tires (what rims would i look at? currently 27x1 1/4")
    -platform pedals that have an aggressive stud pattern? the tops of the current pedals are pretty smooth (i wont be u sing clipless in the winter)
    Last edited by Simko; 10-16-09 at 06:56 AM.

  8. #8
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Simko - I just built this up for a friend...it's a 1988 Bauer Chinook road bike that has been turned into a very capable winter / cross bike... we have already had enough snow and ioce to give it a good road test and it is running a studded front tyre.

    The fenders will go on later today.



    Your Nishiki could be converted in a very similar manner and seems to have the clearance to run cross tyres and has mounts for fenders.

  9. #9
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    This has been my typical winter setup for quite some years. Looking to replace fork and HS...it needs it.
    I'll swap over to rigid, and I'm going to add a dirt drop bar and long travel road levers for V brakes. Thinner 26' Cross style tires for less rolling resistance and I think it'll be a fun ride.


    A LOT of my friends swear by their fixed gear track style bikes on 23-25's in the snow. I may give that a try with my Paké (not pictured) this year to see how it goes with steering/braking in the various cruds we'll experience over the winter..
    Last edited by TRaffic Jammer; 10-16-09 at 07:30 AM.

  10. #10
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Gotta like the Canadian content here...

    I always tell folks that there is no perfect winter set up and it comes to individual preferences... some like mtbs with fat tyres while a lot prefer a cross like set up and some folks still run skinny little slicks all winter.

    I do like the cross conversions I have done and seen more and more of... these older sport class road bikes make excellent platforms on which to build.

    My friend has been riding a mid 80's Nishiki for decades and sadly, it will see no more winters as it was destroyed in an accident while he was on tour this year... in Iran !

    He should frame what is left of the bike.

  11. #11
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    ah winter riding is so much fun... Ice Races to make tires for.... toboggan hills to bomb... I'm trying to find a ski hill that'll let me have a go on a boarder/ski cross track. I'd loooove to try one of those dbl wide rim winter/sand bikes like the Surly Pugsley.. not for commuting, but for the bouncy bouncy surf the snow fun factor.

  12. #12
    Indecisive rookie
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    thanks for the input everyone, i could definately convert the nishiki, however i do have pics of the other frame, im posting them incase its a better candidate for a conversion.
    and a thread regarding the bike: ID this bianchi?




    those pics are a bit dated, the rear derailler and front are gone, the old straight bars and old levers are gone (replaced with stem and new drop bars and brake levers), cranks are the same, as are the brakes.

    my commuting will be short, under 8km either way, no large hills or anything liek that. Would you suggest a fixie? or get a drivetrain of some sort and have a multi speed bike.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simko View Post
    thanks everyone for the quick responses!


    I have 2 possible candidates for a winter bike, both are "road bikes"

    first up is a nishiki(my old summer riding bike) that just got replaced by another bike for my summer riding bike...



    option 2:

    an old steel bianchi frame (high ten stuff,nothing fancy) i have both rims, no tires, no deraillers or anything like that (good fixie candidate) i have a stem and bars for, just missing brakes etc.
    no pics of that
    If i wanted to build a winter commuter from one of these bikes, and have rear saddlebags with a rack, are braze-ons a must? or is there a rack that will clamp on somehow.


    heres a quick list i thought either one of these bikes would need,consisting of(that would be needed for a conversion, if im wrong correct me

    -cantilever brakes
    -fenders
    -studded/knobby tires (what rims would i look at? currently 27x1 1/4")
    -platform pedals that have an aggressive stud pattern? the tops of the current pedals are pretty smooth (i wont be u sing clipless in the winter)
    I think both options could be made to work. In fact, if it was me I would set them both up for winter. You could put some fenders and studded tires on the mountain bike for worse conditions. You could put some 32c or 35c hybrid tires on the old road bike for riding on days when the weather is cold but good and the roads are clear. The old road bikes can usually take up to 35c tires. The road bike would be a faster, easier and more comfortable bike to ride on days when the roads are clear and studded tires are not needed. You really wouldn't even need to change the tires on the road bike. But sometimes in winter you can run into a patch of snow covered road even when most of the roads are clear. The hybrid tires offer a little more traction but still have low rolling resistance.

  14. #14
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Just finished installed the fenders on my friend's bike and with 700:35 cross tyres and some studs the clearance on the front was zero... but that can be fixed.

    The bike...



    And how do you get a full fender to fit when there is no clearance ?

    You cut in in half and mount it behind and in front of the fork.






  15. #15
    Indecisive rookie
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    cool, im going to the garage now to snap some photos of the 2 bikes so i can see what clearance i might be able to get , and if some wider tires will fit.

    for 700x35, will i need new rims? or do they fit on the older style

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simko View Post
    cool, im going to the garage now to snap some photos of the 2 bikes so i can see what clearance i might be able to get , and if some wider tires will fit.

    for 700x35, will i need new rims? or do they fit on the older style
    As long as the wheels are 700c and not 27 inch they will work. You could even get tires in 27 inch size but have fewer options. Most of the older 700c rims are a little wider. Like around 23-25mm wide. These work really well with 32-35c tires. Generally expensive racing bikes use narrower rims in the 18-20mm wide range but garden variety road bikes usually used 23-25mm wide rims.

  17. #17
    Indecisive rookie
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    ok, the rims i have now ARE 27", are there decent, yet not too pricey rims that i should get when doing the conversion?

    some clearance shots of my bike






    sorry somepics are upside down, and the lighting isnt the best.

  18. #18
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Converting your Nishiki to 700c wheels would be a great idea as it opens up your choices when it comes to tyres and will also give you more frame clearance because the 700c is 8 mm smaller in diameter at the rim.

    A decent set of 700c wheels would not be overly expensive... my friend bought an off the peg set of wheels for under $100.00 Cdn and I tuned them up for him to make sure they were good to be ridden around the world.

    I think I mentioned that his Nishiki made it to Iran before it was pulverized by a car... the wheels were fine up until then.

    If your 27 inch wheels are okay the Tioga Bloodhound is a decent cross tyre that comes in a 27 by 1 3/8 inch size and sells for 15.00 at MEC. I have been quite happy with these for winter riding without studding them and $30.00 beats paying $100.00.

    Fender clearance may be an issue with the Tiogas though...

    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...45524442281239

  19. #19
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    tsl - Your Portland (beautiful bike btw) looks pretty compact and bet you could ride a frame size that was larger as there's lots of seat post there and you look pretty tall next to it.
    Sloping top tube always reveals more seatpost.

    What you can't really tell from that pic is that I'm all legs, with short torso. A longer top tube stretches me out too much. Even on that frame I'm running a 90cm stem.
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  20. #20
    Tossed some weight Redrom's Avatar
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    I don't know that a smaller frame is necessary, but I do prefer lowering the seat when riding on ice & snow. If your frame doesn't allow for enough lowering of the seat then you might prefer a smaller frame.

    The reason for the lower seat is to catch yourself when slippage occurs. Getting your foot to the ground before the bike slips out from under you is beneficial. Even though such a slip occurs only a couple/few times a winter, I find this to be beneficial.

    Separately, shocks of any sort are a waste and unnecessary. The studded tires should have a low PSI, which should provide you with all the shock absorption you would need.

    Personally, I prefer MTB style in the winter, and road/track style the rest of the year. I like to be a little more upright in the winter because of all the layers I have on - it's a comfort thing...

  21. #21
    Indecisive rookie
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    sweet find on the tires!

    ill probably order a set later next week, ive got a set of kool stop salmon's from my V braked mountainbike (now in parts), ill see if those will work on the front!
    im off to go see how i can make some fenders from old tires, and see if i have an old rack for the rear kicking around!

  22. #22
    Indecisive rookie
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    Redrom, i can always put the seat all the way down, or just down a bit, those pics are when i first got the bike, i normally rode it with the seat another 3/4" higher

  23. #23
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Sloping top tube always reveals more seatpost.

    What you can't really tell from that pic is that I'm all legs, with short torso. A longer top tube stretches me out too much. Even on that frame I'm running a 90cm stem.
    I fit a lot of people to a lot of bikes... I figured you had some really long legs relative to your height and needed a more compact setup up top... the height of the saddle is a good indicator of that.

    It makes your bike look small (compared to you) but in actuality it's a good setup for your build... I would bet that on traditional road frames you find that anything that fits you for height does not fit for reach without some modification for reach.

    My friend is built the same way...he is shorter than me by an inch but has legs that are at least 2 inches longer and I don't have stumpy little legs.

    It makes for some interesting fit requirements.

  24. #24
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    Simko,

    If you decide to switch to 700c wheel you will gain four advantages. Increased tire clearance. Better tire choice, and significant weight reduction. Since most of the 27 inch wheels were made from steel they are much heavier than even modern entry level aluminum wheels. Also, the aluminum wheels don't rust out in the same way that the steel wheels do.

  25. #25
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Sloping top tube always reveals more seatpost.

    What you can't really tell from that pic is that I'm all legs, with short torso. A longer top tube stretches me out too much. Even on that frame I'm running a 90cm stem.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    I fit a lot of people to a lot of bikes... I figured you had some really long legs relative to your height and needed a more compact setup up top... the height of the saddle is a good indicator of that.

    It makes your bike look small (compared to you) but in actuality it's a good setup for your build... I would bet that on traditional road frames you find that anything that fits you for height does not fit for reach without some modification for reach.

    My friend is built the same way...he is shorter than me by an inch but has legs that are at least 2 inches longer and I don't have stumpy little legs.

    It makes for some interesting fit requirements.
    First, thanks for not commenting that I wrote I had a stem nearly a meter long! 90cm should have been 90mm, but you knew that. It hit me on the way to work. I need to remember to let the coffee kick in before posting.

    Yes, compact frames fit me best. Yet, I prefer the look of a largish traditional frame with one fist of seatpost showing. Sadly, I just don't fit those frames. Someday, maybe I'll be able to afford something custom, and I can get a traditional look with a short top tube.

    In any event, I remain absolutely delighted with the Portland.
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