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  1. #1
    fixE
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    So... a mountain bike?

    I've been browsing through these winter bike threads and basically if I want to bike in Ohio during the snowy/icy days a mountain bike is what I should be after? I doubt my fixed gear with thin tires will make it in those January snow days.

    I'm trying to get ready for winter now while it isn't a necessity or time crunch.

    Any brands I should try to go with?

    I also liked the idea of using it as a "trailer/hauler" bike when it's not being used for ice riding.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My Winter Bike has 26 1.9" Nokian mount and ground W studded tires available to put on the wheels.
    the Wheels have Sturmey Archer Drum Brake Hubs, I found them a great combination,
    smooth progressive braking, no grab, and weather shielded braking surfaces. Now Id get one of their drum dynamo combination front hubs..

    I retrieved an Old early generation stumpjumper sport frame ,replaced a broken dropout, and found a Tange replacement fork,
    used too , from that era .. 80's non suspension..

    If you are happy using a fixie most of the time, a internal geared 3 speed , drum brake may be OK for the winter, the external drive ratio fairly low, 2:1, Normal 3 speed cogs are 1/8" but from Bromptom dealers Ive gotten a 15T 3/32,

    Perhaps you can find larger sizes in thinner chain accepting type , then a hybrid 2 chainring set can be put together , chain tensioner need not shift , but spring type will allow you to say have a lower Heavy snow/slush and trailer hauling range , and a higher one when the roads are ploughed and you can get down the road quicker ..


    Oh and I may as well mention a Surly Pugsley is it appears a great winter bike ,
    3 + inch wide rims and quite wide tires can float on hard crust snow.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-12-10 at 07:00 PM.

  3. #3
    fixE
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    How do I figure out what size mountain bike to get? I ride a 60cm track frame.

  4. #4
    Yup pyze-guy's Avatar
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    I ride my fixed gear with skinny slicks in the winter. I also have a fixed with studded tires for the days I think there might be ice. But for winters in Toronto, lots of sluch and slop, skinny, no treads is the best.
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    Yup pyze-guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Hive X View Post
    How do I figure out what size mountain bike to get? I ride a 60cm track frame.
    Go to a store and take some for test rides and see what fits.
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  6. #6
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Hive X View Post
    How do I figure out what size mountain bike to get? I ride a 60cm track frame.
    Convert your track frame to inches, subtract 3 and look for a bike in that range. Likely you'll ride a 19" mountain bike. I'd suggest a hardtail with suspension fork and fork lockout if you can afford it. The suspension does a lot for your control on uneven, i.e. snow packed, terrain. The front wheel will usually climb up and out of a rut using a suspension fork where a rigid fork would not. A lockout lets you pedal a little more efficiently if you don't need the suspension.
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  7. #7
    fixE
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyze-guy View Post
    I ride my fixed gear with skinny slicks in the winter. I also have a fixed with studded tires for the days I think there might be ice. But for winters in Toronto, lots of sluch and slop, skinny, no treads is the best.
    Really? I figured skinny tires would have way more chances of sliding and tipping a bike...

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Convert your track frame to inches, subtract 3 and look for a bike in that range. Likely you'll ride a 19" mountain bike. I'd suggest a hardtail with suspension fork and fork lockout if you can afford it. The suspension does a lot for your control on uneven, i.e. snow packed, terrain. The front wheel will usually climb up and out of a rut using a suspension fork where a rigid fork would not. A lockout lets you pedal a little more efficiently if you don't need the suspension.
    Awesome man! Thank you for your advice! Yeah, it would be about 20".

  8. #8
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    +1 for the nokian mount and ground 1.95. I highly recommend mechanical disk brakes.

  9. #9
    No fashion sense cyclist IR Baboon's Avatar
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    I've ridden both skinny and fat tires, hybrid and mtn in the snow and ice. Both have their advantages. The hybrid with 700x35 studded tires cuts through the deep stuff, but loses some of the stability that I get with the fat tire on the ice. The mtn bike on the other hand can occasionally get up on top of some semi-packed snow and ride, and it just feels more stable at speed on transitioning pavement (ice to road to slush to ice and so on). Of course the trade out on the fat tires is- speed. Those things are heavy and have a tremendous amount of drag.

    I would guess- that if you're really comfy riding your fixed gear you would do just fine throwing some skinny studded on if you've got the clearance to spare. Ride what you know, modify as you learn. Enjoy it! I look forward to Northern Michigan winters without fail.

    Oh, and I'll second the bike hauler/trailer thing. It makes perfect off season duty for a faithful companion.

  10. #10
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Make sure the MTB frame and fork has plenty of tire clearance and eyelets for fenders and a rack. Try to get something aluminum. You may want a slightly smaller frame, this helps you sit more upright once the stem is adjusted but still keeps the stable geometry of a mtb. Disc brakes are nice, but you can get away with v-brakes.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Hive X View Post
    How do I figure out what size mountain bike to get? I ride a 60cm track frame.
    I ride a 60 cm and a 23 in frame mountain bike is right for me but now days with sloping top tubes and such it would be hard to say, try taking measurements on your 60 cm such as handlebar height and distance from seat, seat height and try and duplicate them on a mountain bike.

    Allen

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    Well - there are a certain number of people who have no problem falling over a couple of times a year on their bike. And if you ride regularly without studs in the winter, you WILL fall on your ass a couple of times when you front tire hits some ice and goes down like a piano onto Wille Coyote.

    I am not one of those people though, and for me (and the advice I give out) I would say the #1 thing you need for winter biking is a good pair of studded tires. Schwalbe and Nokian both make good stuff. Studded tires don't come in sizes below 35c (technically one set does, but it's a little lacking in the "number of studs" department and I haven't heard the best things about those ones on ice, so let's say 35c).

    So I'd say tire clearance would be my #1 criteria. There are other, bigger studded tires as well for worse winter conditions so the more clearance the better.

    In my opinion, I don't agree that front suspension is needed. Most people who winter bike (most, not all) do so without any extra suspension.

    Single speeds are actually fairly popular though, as if you grit up the chain and drivetrain with road sand and salt all winter, you can replace the whole chain and cog pretty cheap. It's a matter of opinion though - winter riding can make you wish you had gears even more as additional snow can change your pedalling speed kinda dramatically, even though you're on the exact same route.

    I would say a "hybrid" (basically a mountain bike style bike, but with no suspension) is probably the most common bike for winter biking, followed by cyclocross bikes (because of their bigger tire clearance).

  13. #13
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    Well - there are a certain number of people who have no problem falling over a couple of times a year on their bike. And if you ride regularly without studs in the winter, you WILL fall on your ass a couple of times when you front tire hits some ice and goes down like a piano onto Wille Coyote.

    I am not one of those people though, and for me (and the advice I give out) I would say the #1 thing you need for winter biking is a good pair of studded tires. Schwalbe and Nokian both make good stuff. Studded tires don't come in sizes below 35c (technically one set does, but it's a little lacking in the "number of studs" department and I haven't heard the best things about those ones on ice, so let's say 35c).

    So I'd say tire clearance would be my #1 criteria. There are other, bigger studded tires as well for worse winter conditions so the more clearance the better.

    In my opinion, I don't agree that front suspension is needed. Most people who winter bike (most, not all) do so without any extra suspension.

    Single speeds are actually fairly popular though, as if you grit up the chain and drivetrain with road sand and salt all winter, you can replace the whole chain and cog pretty cheap. It's a matter of opinion though - winter riding can make you wish you had gears even more as additional snow can change your pedalling speed kinda dramatically, even though you're on the exact same route.

    I would say a "hybrid" (basically a mountain bike style bike, but with no suspension) is probably the most common bike for winter biking, followed by cyclocross bikes (because of their bigger tire clearance).
    Yeah, whatever you buy save some room in your budget for studded tires(and li-ion lights) if you're gonna be serious about commuting or rec-riding(sunset at 5pm!). I don't think you need a suspension fork, it might be nice... but not needed, particularly if it is a cheap one since they usually offer poor small-bump response. If you have to pick a single-speed your legs will be spinning out a lot because the ratio you need to power through snow-banks and car ruts is small, if you pick something to tall you won't be able to grind it out in the slippery stuff.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    ...(and li-ion lights)...
    ...or dynamo lighting. In many ways it's perfect for winter riding -
    1. Batteries (whether lith-ion or nimh) which have lower runtimes in the cold. Dynamo power doesn't - it's the same output.
    2. I'm on the fence about whether I can tell whether the dynamo hub has drag, on long trips, in the summer, with smooth rolling summer tires. But with the rolling resistance of studded tires and the ground being covered with snow, any theoretical or slight extra amount of resistance is a non-issue.
    3. You're not bombing down hill at 35mph like you are in the summer, so you need less light.
    4. It's a lot brighter in the city at night when there's snow on the ground, so you need less light.
    5. Modern LED dynamo lights put out enough light for me to bike around in the summer without additional light (albeit, not racing down twisty hills at 30mph or anything).

    I don't think I ever use any extra light in addition to my dynamo light in the winter. Add them all together, that's probably why (all I know is that I never do, lol).
    Last edited by PaulRivers; 07-22-10 at 10:00 PM.

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    i don't think studded tires are needed in winter. i have driven some of my bikes all year round for years and have never had and problems with my bike sliding out from under me and landing on my @$$. now i do recommend that you disconnect your rear brakes.
    if you are looking for a bike you should keep your eyes open on trash day for something that someone is throwing out. i have found some pretty nice frames in the trash
    Last edited by crazzywolfie; 07-22-10 at 10:23 PM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Yellowbeard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazzywolfie View Post
    i don't think studded tires are needed in winter.
    I agree with this,

    Quote Originally Posted by crazzywolfie View Post
    now i do recommend that you disconnect your rear brakes.
    though not with this.

    I've done two Ottawa winters, tried a mountain bike with 1.75" Marathon Winters and a fixed gear with slick 25s. Last year (second winter) there was literally no ice to deal with, and I used the 5 speed with slick 32s I ride year-round, except I added SPDs.

    The slick, skinny road tires were way better in the snow than 1.75" studs. Maybe it's different when you go fatter than that, but unless it's icy out my MWs just slide all over the place if it's snowy or make noise on bare pavement. IMHO, the #1 thing you need for winter riding is a pair of good fenders, unless you'd describe it as an icy winter.

    (Should clarify that I'm one of those people who are okay with falling a few times, but it didn't happen any more on narrow slicks than it did with studs.)
    I'll eat it first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellowbeard View Post
    I agree with this,



    though not with this.

    I've done two Ottawa winters, tried a mountain bike with 1.75" Marathon Winters and a fixed gear with slick 25s. Last year (second winter) there was literally no ice to deal with, and I used the 5 speed with slick 32s I ride year-round, except I added SPDs.

    The slick, skinny road tires were way better in the snow than 1.75" studs. Maybe it's different when you go fatter than that, but unless it's icy out my MWs just slide all over the place if it's snowy or make noise on bare pavement. IMHO, the #1 thing you need for winter riding is a pair of good fenders, unless you'd describe it as an icy winter.

    (Should clarify that I'm one of those people who are okay with falling a few times, but it didn't happen any more on narrow slicks than it did with studs.)
    This is an extremely important point to the rest of your post - yes you rode all winter without studs without a problem - In a winter with nearly no ice.

    Every time someone says one thing about winter riding, someone else says the opposite. When I say "you need studs", someone will chime in to say "I rode without studs and I was fine". But I guarantee you that if I someone else started off with "you don't need studs", several people will chime in to talk about bad falls without studs. In fact, if you claim that you only need the front tire to be studded, people will start talking about bad experiences where they tried that and had the rear tire slide out and fell over.

    I don't feel like writing an entire essay describing the various pros and cons right now, but I will say that no amount of rubber will keep you upright if your tire ends up on a patch of sheer ice. If it's your back tire, you may have time to put a put down. If it's your front tire, you won't have time to react, one minute you'll be up the next minute you'll be down. I speak from experience there (though in the rain, not in the winter ironically, as I've always used studded tires in the winter).

    If you put a rubber tire on sheer ice, it doesn't matter what kind of rubber it is or how awesome your bike handling skills are - your bike is going down. The counterpoint is that whether on roads, paths, etc, you rarely see sheer ice. Ice is usually accompanied by some amount of snow which provides some traction for the tire.

    There are many people who bike who are more willing to take risks. Professional road bike racers seem to inevitably face a serious crash and a broken bone at some point in their career. Serious mountain bikers I've met seem to have an attitude that they're "going to break a bone or two, but it will be worth it". Less serious mountain bikers like myself inevitably face getting scratched up a couple times when I crash. And for many of these people, they feel it's worth the risk of going down.

    But I've read thread after thread from people saying "I rode all winter without crashing on regular tires, then hit a patch of black ice I didn't see and *bam* I went down hard". They don't always break something (in fact, many times they don't) - but occasionally they do. To be fair, there's no shortage of people who have collisions with cars either during the summer.

    But a good studded tire like a Nokian w106 costs $44/tire ($88/pair). Compare that with the cheapest flat-resistant summer tires I'll buy at $30/tire ($60/pair) - they're not that expensive. Or compare that to a single visit to the doctor where he doesn't do anything other than take a look at something at around $100.

    I certainly have no moral issue with someone choosing not to use studs. If they get hurt, they almost certainly only hurt themselves and that is *totally* their call to make.

    But I strongly disagree with the sentiment that "Oh, I don't *need* studs, they're not a big deal." I wouldn't ride without them in the winter even if they cost $300/tire. Since they cost only 50% more than a non-studded tire, I think it's a no-brainer. If they didn't exist I simply would not ride in the winter. I have talked to to many people in person (I live in Minnesota) who have done so and ended up breaking a major bone (often a collarbone, sometimes an arm).

    Other people are always welcome to express their own opinions as well, I'm just saying that in general I think you are significantly increasing your risk of injury if you ride in icy conditions without studs. You are certainly welcome to decide that is a risk you are willing to take, just be aware that it is an increase in risk.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Yellowbeard's Avatar
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    Yep. Best to have more than one bike. My first winter was very icy, and I wouldn't have been happy with the slicks on a lot of days. However, riding my mountain bike with studs was almost as dangerous on a lot of snowy days as slicks on ice.
    I'll eat it first.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellowbeard View Post
    Yep. Best to have more than one bike. My first winter was very icy, and I wouldn't have been happy with the slicks on a lot of days. However, riding my mountain bike with studs was almost as dangerous on a lot of snowy days as slicks on ice.
    Yeah, trying to decide which tire to use in winter is truly bizzare.

    Without studs, sheer or black ice is your worst enemy. You can go down without warning, and without a chance to put a foot down or anything. Generally streets don't have much of this kind of ice, but if you run into it it's really really nasty.

    With studs, ice practically becomes your friend! It's almost like riding on pavement. Instead, it's snow that's annoying to dangerous. With irregular snow I'd rather be one ice with studs. With really sloppy snow and a skinnier studded tire you can also go down (I speak from experience) - your tire just doesn't have any grip at all, it's sliding all over the place, studs don't help with snow. The good thing is that if you go down on sloppy snow, it will likely cushion your fall - it's not like falling down on hard and icy pavement. And even if you can't keep yourself from falling, you usually have some sort of warning that things are getting dicey, whether it's being able to see the snow in front of you or the feeling from the bike - unlike with black ice which can seemingly come out of nowhere. But if you're on the road and falling means falling into heavy traffic - soft snow probably won't help much.

    If there's no ice on the ground and a couple of inches of snow (and ice isn't forming) then a skinny tire can cut through the snow to the pavement and apparently works very well. Personally I don't like to guess about whether ice will form so I stick with 35c studded tires which cut through the snow pretty well. Also - from what I've been told the situation suddenly becomes hazardous with skinny non-studded tires when the snow gets packed down enough, or there's enough snowfall, that your tire can't cut through the snow to the pavement any more.

    Bigger studded tires sometimes are better in snow, and sometimes they make it worse because rather than cutting through it they float on top of it, with no traction. (Or so I've been told, finally bought wider tires for next winter to try them out). Like trying to pedal through sand.

    It's a total mixed bag. Slushy or deep snow can definitely be hazardous, with or without studs for sure. But there are several reasons that come to mind why I think ice is worse -
    1. You can nearly always see if there's snow on the road. Black ice is notorious, whether in a car or on a bike, for seemingly showing up out of nowhere.
    2. Roads are usually plowed for snow. No matter how well plowed, they never get 100% of the ice off (without warmer weather melting it at least, and that's it's own whole thing as melting snow can form ice...)
    3. Snow usually has some sort of warning you can feel that lets you stop peddling and walk if you're super cautious. If you don't see the ice there's often no warning.

    If you want to be safe on those really super snowy days, I highly recommend a pair of snowshoes.

  20. #20
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    The worst is glare-ice warmed by slightly the sun, not even studded tires will help you(unless you have giant studs). This last winter i could have easily ridden w/o studs. The worst conditions i find is immediately after a heavy storm w/ warming and much precip and then an immediate cold-snap. I don't like that because it leaves rock-hard ice ruts and snow chunks frozen into the roadway everywhere. Those will take you down and at the least increase your posterior soreness. This is why MTB geometry is great, you for sure you crash on a road-bike if you hit one of those.

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    Senior Member Yellowbeard's Avatar
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    A thought: none of us mentioned choice of routes yet. Definitely makes a difference. They use so much salt here that a plowed (main) road is usually ice free. Even during my icy winter I probably could've gone without studs if I'd avoided side streets and shortcuts. Shortcuts in particular were often solid ice, usually full of boot holes, while the main roads were gritty, salty, slushy but ultimately free of ice.

    Slushy stuff never seems to cause me much trouble, my worst enemy around here is churned-up snowstorm snow.
    I'll eat it first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    The worst is glare-ice warmed by slightly the sun, not even studded tires will help you(unless you have giant studs).
    I actually haven't found this to be a problem. Hmm.

    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    This last winter i could have easily ridden w/o studs. The worst conditions i find is immediately after a heavy storm w/ warming and much precip and then an immediate cold-snap. I don't like that because it leaves rock-hard ice ruts and snow chunks frozen into the roadway everywhere. Those will take you down and at the least increase your posterior soreness. This is why MTB geometry is great, you for sure you crash on a road-bike if you hit one of those.
    THIS I've DEFINITELY found to be a problem. I don't know about "for sure" crashing on a road bike, I can say it's no cakewalk on my (no suspension) straight-bar bike though!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellowbeard View Post
    A thought: none of us mentioned choice of routes yet. Definitely makes a difference. They use so much salt here that a plowed (main) road is usually ice free. Even during my icy winter I probably could've gone without studs if I'd avoided side streets and shortcuts. Shortcuts in particular were often solid ice, usually full of boot holes, while the main roads were gritty, salty, slushy but ultimately free of ice.

    Slushy stuff never seems to cause me much trouble, my worst enemy around here is churned-up snowstorm snow.
    Since I always ride with studs in the winter I cannot say from personal experience, but from threads on this topic in the past a number of people would usually chime in to comment that they thought this same thing - "I'm riding well plowed roads, there won't be any ice." Their stories then always ended with "So one day I hit this patch of black ice that they somehow missed, or formed after they plowed and salted or something and completely wipe out...".

    That's kind of what I was alluding to with snow - a pile enough snow deep enough to cause you traction problems is dang visible. Ice...not as much, especially "black ice".

    Funny story - after doing a bunch of research on studded tires, I finally bought a pair. I went riding, did the cringe expression coming up on some ice, but rode through it - traction was great. Rode through some more ice - also great. My dad got interested in winter riding, bought him some studded tires. Went riding. Even rode around a hockey rink for a bit just to try them out - awesome! Still had traction (not as good as a dry tire on dry pavement, but enough). That night I drove over to a friends house, walked around the back of my car, and bam! - almost fell flat on my ass on some ice. I saw the ice, but had totally forgotten that my shoes didn't have studs on them.

  24. #24
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    I actually haven't found this to be a problem. Hmm.
    Well, what i am speaking about is thick glare ice which has a thin layer of slush/ice slurry on-top from sitting in the sun. When you find it, you'll know! The average tire stud doesn't find hard-ice, instead a sun-melted slush layer which acts like a little magic-carpet slide ontop of the cold glare ice underneath. The worst part is you'll be getting a bit wet if you fall over!

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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    Well, what i am speaking about is thick glare ice which has a thin layer of slush/ice slurry on-top from sitting in the sun. When you find it, you'll know! The average tire stud doesn't find hard-ice, instead a sun-melted slush layer which acts like a little magic-carpet slide ontop of the cold glare ice underneath. The worst part is you'll be getting a bit wet if you fall over!
    Oh, yeah, right - same thing when there's ice under a thin layer of packed down snow. The snow gets sloppy, the ice stays ice, it's...unstable.

    Lol, how did this thread go from "it's safe to bike without studs" to "even studs won't save you from the horrors of winter traction?" hehe. I didn't think winter was *that* bad!

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