After dealing with Southwestern Ontario's "Snowpocalypse" (more snow in 10 days than normally falls all winter), and missing out on 7 or 8 days of winter commuting, I have been seriously considering a second winter bike; something with fatter tires that would float over deeper snow. My original thought was a SS 29er MTB converted to an Alfine IGH. After reading this thread I'm not so convinced that this would work. The thread contains comments from Pugsley owners who also had trouble riding through deeper snow. This shattered my preconceived notion that the venerable Surly offering was nigh unstoppable as a winter commuter.
I'm not naive enough to think that a bicycle can't be stopped by inclement weather - this December's snowfall pretty much stopped me cold (no pun intended). IMHO I have an awesome winter commuter; a 2010 Norco Ceres. It has an Alfine IGH and belt drive, which has so far proven its worth in reduction of winter maintenance. It's great not to have to clean my drivetrain after every ride; it seems to be the ideal setup for winter commuting in these parts. To winterize the bike I simply added some full-coverage fenders, studded tires (Schwalbe Marathon Winter), and platform pedals.
I used the same tires last winter on my "comfort" Schwinn hybrid, and it actually seemed to handle better in the snow. I attribute it to the fact that the Schwinn has a more upright riding position. My Norco is more of a "performance" hybrid and therefore has a more aggressive riding position. Unfortunately this seems to put more of my weight over the front wheel, and in deeper snow this leads to plowing. I learned last year to shift my weight rearward when this happens and that seems to help me to power out of the skid. So... while the Norco has the ideal winter drivetrain, its geometry isn't so great for riding in the snow. That being said, it's fine for the majority of my winter commuting needs, but I'd like something for "those other days". Hence my decision to start this thread.
This past weekend a friend of mine was admiring my bike during a get-together that we were both attending. He is a 3-season rider, and he leaves the winter cycling to "You young guys". At 43 years of age I'm not sure to whom he was referring, but I accepted the compliment nonetheless. He rides a "pedal-forward" bike; I believe it is an older version of this offering from KHS. As we admired my setup we began musing on the idea that his bike might make an good winter commuter with it's lower center of gravity, geometry that positions the rider with his/her weight rearward, and ease of putting a foot down should the bike tip over.
Since that conversation I have been pondering the viability of such a setup. Based on my own experience I would want a bike with an IGH, disc or drum brakes, and room for fat tires & fenders. Ideally I'd like belt-drive but I could live with a chain; it was more the maintenance of the cassette, front sprockets, and dérailleurs that left me wanting an IGH for winter commuting. There are a few such bikes out there, Like this one for instance, or I could build one up from a used pedal-forward bike (my LBS just happens to have a couple in their inventory). In either case, it's an expensive proposition for a bike that would only see duty for a few days per year, especially considering that I don't even know if it would work for the duties I intend to impose upon it. That being said it looks like a fun bike for leisurely rides down the MUP with my family.
So... my long-winded thread leads me to ask this question: Are there any riders out there who use a pedal-forward bike for winter cycling? If so, please share your experience before I spend dime one and thereby suffer the wrath of my significant other.