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  1. #1
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    Help Me Turn My Trek 6700 MTB into a Dedicated Winter Bike

    I have a 10 year stock Trek 6700 Mountain bike with standard derailleurs and rim brakes. I would appreciate your ideas for turning it into a dedicated winter commuter. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Senior Member JAG410's Avatar
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    Fenders: Planet Bike Hardcore with Cascadia mudflaps $35
    Tires: Studded of your choice. Don't cheap out here. Let Mr. White persuade you. http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp
    Lights/Reflective tape: Go nuts. Seriously. Be as visible as possible, especially in winter when daylight is limited.

    Going into winter, make sure your bike is in perfect shape. You want to avoid mechanical problems as much as possible, especially when repair jobs roadside in the winter aren't fun.

    Leave money in the budget, then try for a couple days and see what works for you, then make changes as necessary. You'll find you'll need to spend more time/money on riding gear than the bike itself.

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    Jag410,
    Thanks for the informative tire link!

    For anyone,
    Someone in another thread recommended disc brakes and internal gears for winter. Our Pa. Winters are not too bad, so do you think I can get away with rim brakes and regular derailleurs?

  4. #4
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy Peasy View Post
    Jag410,
    Thanks for the informative tire link!

    For anyone,
    Someone in another thread recommended disc brakes and internal gears for winter. Our Pa. Winters are not too bad, so do you think I can get away with rim brakes and regular derailleurs?
    You probably won't be doing your regular speed on snow and ice,
    so at the slower pace your brakes should be ok. Your derailleurs
    might be ok too, depending on how much deep snow you encounter.
    My suggestion is to try your bike 1st before getting a whole new bike.
    Jag410 gave plenty of good advice, I would like to echo the statement
    in regards to the equipment/stuff you will be wearing. That can also
    make a difference if you can commute in winter time or not.


    Snowmountains by 1nterceptor, on Flickr

    Tektro dual pivot brakes with Shimano 105 9 speed derailleurs.
    Last edited by 1nterceptor; 08-21-11 at 10:48 PM. Reason: added equipment info

  5. #5
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy Peasy View Post
    Jag410,
    Thanks for the informative tire link!

    For anyone,
    Someone in another thread recommended disc brakes and internal gears for winter. Our Pa. Winters are not too bad, so do you think I can get away with rim brakes and regular derailleurs?
    Discs and IGH are ideal (IMHO), but rim brakes and derailleurs will work on a winter bike. I live just on the other side of the lake from Erie, PA, so I imagine that our winters are similar.

    Buy some decent brake pads. The Kool-Stop Mountain Salmon pads are widely considered to be the best available. Keep in mind that road grit tends to stick to brake pads, and that can lead to premature wear of your soft aluminum rims. This is one of the reasons why I prefer disc brakes for winter commuting.

    Your drivetrain will require more care and attention than it does in fair weather to keep things running smoothly. Greasing up your shifter and brake cables helps, as does a drop of chain oil in the cable housings. Be prepared to clean your chain regularly, and make sure to keep your drivetrain's pivot points lubed up. Here's a very detailed website for cleaning your bike, or you could follow tsl's method:

    "...Anyway, my bike gets hung on a hook in the shower, and rinsed off with the shower massage set to the gentle spray setting. I leave it there to dry, before hanging it on its hook in the living room.

    Once or twice a week the chain gets cleaned and lubed. Wet lubes don't wash off. No matter if I clean and lube the chain once a day or once a week, I still get 2,000 miles on them. Come the end of March, I dip them once in the trash can and install a new one.

    Once a month the whole bike gets washed with blue Dawn, maybe some diluted Simple Green as required on the drivetrain, and rubbed down with Bike Lust, before relubing the drivetrain."

    hanging-in-bath-1.jpghanging-in-bath-2.jpg
    Gettin' my Fred on.

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    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Also consider some pogies (hand covers that mount on your handlebar). I have these in black: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000OF91IS



    You might also consider switching to a rigid fork, and that also opens up the option to use a lowrider front rack. If I'm in rutted snow, having weight down by the front axle seems to help the front tire bite and stabilize it a bit.



    Have some chain lube, rags, and good strong hand cleaner at work so you can re-lube the chain if it needs it.

    Put your main headlight on your bars, or mount it even lower if there's a good spot for it. A light source below your eye level casts shadows on stuff that's got height or depth, making it possible to see surface contours on ice and snow. The lower the height, the bigger the shadows. By contrast, a helmet light shows nothing, because the shadows are hidden behind what's casting them.

  7. #7
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAG410 View Post
    Going into winter, make sure your bike is in perfect shape. You want to avoid mechanical problems as much as possible, especially when repair jobs roadside in the winter aren't fun.
    +1 I agree. Great piece of advice. A lot of people out there don't realize this.

  8. #8
    tsl
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    Jag nails it. The bike doesn't need much, just keep it in perfect condition to avoid roadside repair.

    Fenders are your friend, and keep spare brake pads on hand. You'll go through them. Kool-Stop salmon are the best in the wet.

    The other point--about clothing--is well taken. My first winter I ignored advice on clothing, arrogantly thinking my 49 years of experience with Upstate NY winters would cover it. Boy was I wrong.

    I had to re-learn everything I knew about dressing for winter. Ordinarily you dress with the intent to keep all the heat in. But cycling generates heat--lots of it. I needed to learn how to ventilate to keep from sweating, because sweating soaks all your insulation and can lead to hypothermia. I learned how to keep just enough heat to stay warm, dumping the rest. In the coldest of winter I wear surprisingly little.

    It's a balancing act that works differently for every rider. Whether your choice is "normal" clothing or cycling-specific, in general I found that windproof is key, water-resistant is a close second, ventilating is third, and insulated is a distant fourth. A couple of lighter layers is better than one heavy one, and knees are a real problem. You need to keep them warm without fabric bunching up or binding them.

    One thing I think is absolutely essential is skipped over quite frequently: Acclimation.

    If I want to be warm in January and February, I start in September and October by underdressing slightly. I don't want to be cold, just a little too cool for comfort. Over time my body adjusts and by December, I'm usually all set. If I start the autumn keeping all the chill at bay, it's hopeless by winter. I'll be cold all the time, no matter how many layers I add.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


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  9. #9
    The Fat Guy In The Back Tundra_Man's Avatar
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    I agree. Jag pretty much sums it up. I run a 2002 Giant Boulder mountain bike that has been converted over to dedicated winter riding, so I'm in a similar position as the OP. I added the fenders and studded tires. I also added a rack with panniers because I haul a lot more clothing with me than during my summer commute.

    As far as disc brakes, they may be the ultimate but I don't think they're mandatory. I'll put my South Dakota winters up with anyone's and I run rim brakes without any issues. As someone else mentioned, winter speeds are substantially slower so it doesn't take as much stopping power. Add that to the reduced traction on snow and ice, and I've never wished I had more powerful brakes than I currently do.

    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    One thing I think is absolutely essential is skipped over quite frequently: Acclimation.
    There's a lot of truth in this. People ask me how I can ride in sub-zero weather. The answer is, I spent the previous month riding in 0-20 degree weather, the month before that riding in 15-35 degree weather and the month before that riding in 25-45 degree weather. When you ease into it, the cold temps really aren't that big of a deal. But if I were to jump from summer commuting directly into sub-zero weather, I would probably die within a mile.

    Balaclavas are your best friend. Mine's too warm above 20 degrees, but below that it's what keeps me going.

    Dress so you're chilly when you leave. That way when you're 2 miles down the road you've warmed up to being comfortable. Even in the coldest temps, I never wear more than a long sleeved t-shirt under a windbreaker on top, and a pair of long underwear (sub 10 degrees only) and a pair of sweat pants on the bottom. If I wear anything more than this, by the time I get to work 8 miles down the road I'll have generated too much sweat. The only drawback to dressing light is one day it was -6 F and I got stopped for a train for about 20 minutes. I got pretty cold just standing there with very little clothing. Thankfully that has only happened once.
    '81 Panasonic Sport, '02 Giant Boulder SE, '08 Felt S32, '10 Diamondback Insight RS, '10 Windsor Clockwork

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  10. #10
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Pegs... shocks... lucky.

    Buy yourself some fenders, studded tires, lights and a lot of chain lube - now you've got 90% of it.

  11. #11
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    Any recommendations for panniers?
    I guess waterproof are ideal?
    Thanks again.

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    I just saw a recommendation for Ortlieb waterproof panniers in another thread. I think I'll get those if they're compatible with a Bontrager back rack.

  13. #13
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    You might also want to check out Arkel panniers. They're not subject to trapping condensation like fully waterproof panniers sometimes are.

    http://www.arkel-od.com/us/?noredirect=1
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  14. #14
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by irclean View Post
    You might also want to check out Arkel panniers. They're not subject to trapping condensation like fully waterproof panniers sometimes are.

    http://www.arkel-od.com/us/?noredirect=1
    Quote Originally Posted by Easy Peasy View Post
    I just saw a recommendation for Ortlieb waterproof panniers in another thread. I think I'll get those if they're compatible with a Bontrager back rack.
    I own panniers from both companies and can recommend either one. They're both top notch.

    That said, the big reflective patches on the Ortliebs seem to get me more space. On bad weather nights I'll even mount an empty one the left side, just for that reflective patch. And yes, this happens even though I run both a B&M taillight with twin reflectors off the dynamo hub, and a DiNotte 300R. Hang an Ortlieb on the left and I get even more space, probably because I look wider then..
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  15. #15
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    Well, my fork lacks the "eyelets" for the Planet Bike full front fender. The back can just fit a full fender, but my LBS proprietor felt there wouldn't be enough clearance with snow building up between the tire and fender. I decided to go with a MTB type partial front fender and a back rack that can block some of the stuff. I figure I'll be wearing a waterproof shell and pants anyway that will shield my clothes from the stuff that gets through. By the way, I chose the same back rack as my wife's so I can borrow her trunk with fold down panniers. I also bought a rain cover that specifically fits this trunk/pannier bag.

    Does anybody keep a pair of rims fitted with studded tires and a pair of rims with regular tires, so you can choose depending on the road conditions?
    Last edited by Easy Peasy; 08-25-11 at 10:32 PM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    I have several pairs of wheelsets. In winter I like to keep one with studded tires and others with regular tires. My experience is that I don't need to ride studs every single day all winter. There are times when roads will be clear for days or even weeks. So I just ride regular tires. Every winter seems to have a big long thaw out , where for few days there is no need to run studs.

  17. #17
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy Peasy View Post
    my LBS proprietor felt there wouldn't be enough clearance with snow building up between the tire and fender.
    In my experience, this is a non-issue. It just doesn't happen in the same way as cars build up snow in the wheelwells.

    I'm not saying it can't happen, only that in the conditions I ride in, it's never been a problem.

    Then again, I run my fenders pretty close. So there's little to no room for snow to accumulate in.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  18. #18
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    I love my Arkel bags, particularly because of the way it zips open. They don't fit very well on the Bontrager Back Rack Classic that came with my touring bike, and the j-hooks don't work very well with the current version of the Bontrager Back Rack I/II. Supposedly Bontrager has a much nicer double rail rack coming for 2012 that allows the use of both an interchange trunk + 2 panniers.

    Rear bags really help the studs dig in. During all of last winter I almost never had the rear wheel spin when starting from a stop. I'll probably experiment with adding some weight to the front this winter.

    The Arkels work great with the generic rack on my mountain bike. These are the T-42 model that I used on a dirt road overnight bike tour a few days ago.



    Last year I used my touring bike with 700x35 Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires. They are a fast tire and are great on smooth packed snow, and when inflated to the max punch through the squishy brown stuff quite well. But they don't handle loose snow of much depth very well. I also had some issues during the spring melt, as the narrow tire with extra weight at the back kept sinking deep into the melting snow. If the MUP had been plowed right to the pavement it wouldn't have been a problem, but they mostly just smooth out the packed snow when they do the winter plowing. For the few weeks this was happening, the wider non-studded tires on my mountain bike gave me the extra floatation required.

    This year I'm going to get a set of Nokian W240s for the mountain bike and use it more on the fresh snow days. I'll probably end up using the touring bike 2/3 and mountain bike 1/3 of the time. The touring bike knocks 10-15 minutes off the commute which is nice on cold days.

    Every shop I've seen selling W240s here is charging is $150 each. So I'll be getting mine from Peter White where they are only $72.

  19. #19
    Member shizzy's Avatar
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    I added a big fat mud flap to my front fender made from an empty plastic jug. it helps keep the junk off your feet and your bottom bracket and your front derailleur (if you have one). make it as long and as wide as you like.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    In my experience, this is a non-issue. It just doesn't happen in the same way as cars build up snow in the wheelwells.

    I'm not saying it can't happen, only that in the conditions I ride in, it's never been a problem.

    Then again, I run my fenders pretty close. So there's little to no room for snow to accumulate in.
    Not to be too contrary, but... I have had this issue. As I remember, it is generally in the 20's when it happens (ie warm enough for salt to partially melt snow, cold enough to freeze without salt). I do have fairly large clearance on the tire-maybe that is the difference between me and tsl. Because I don't run a conventional fender on the rear (insufficient clearance), it only happens on the front for me. So, I just occasionally do a couple of semi-violent wheelies to knock it out. That usually works for a couple miles, then I repeat. Honestly, it happens rarely enough (half dozen times a year, and I ride almost daily) that it isn't a show-stopper.

  21. #21
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotooutdoors View Post
    Not to be too contrary, but... I have had this issue. As I remember, it is generally in the 20's when it happens (ie warm enough for salt to partially melt snow, cold enough to freeze without salt). I do have fairly large clearance on the tire-maybe that is the difference between me and tsl.
    Not contrary at all. I fully understand that my experience isn't universal.

    There is the possibility that it's a clearance issue. With no room for snow to build up, no snow builds up. Sort of like clutter catchers at home or work. If you want to get rid of the clutter, get rid of the places where it lives.

    It could also be a difference in snow conditions. Ours here is wet, heavy, juicy, gloppy, lake-effect snow. It may just weigh too much to stick to curved vertical surfaces.

    Finally, it could be a difference in tires. Mine tend to squish the snow out the sides, rather than pick it up.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


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  22. #22
    Senior Member yep202's Avatar
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    Hey I used to have a trek 3700 mountain bike. I rode it thought the spring, fall and winter last year. I upgraded sence then. But What I had on it was as follows.

    Front trek light-35 dollars never had to change bats.

    Rear superflash- 20 dollars

    Front studded tire- 60 dollars on sale 95 without sale.

    Thats all I had and I also rode in wisconsin winter.

    The route was almost 6 miles or less up hill down hill and with traffic.

    Had no problems not haveing a rear studded tire. I would say you could get a way with it to. Had tried useing a fender but it would brake in the cold if I bumped it. Plastic ones that look more sporty will brake if you hit them with your leg while getting off your bike. hope that helps
    Trek 3700- MIA
    Giant-Revel 1- now has rack and panniers
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    Living car free for 22 years (my whole life)

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by gecho View Post
    I love my Arkel bags, particularly because of the way it zips open. They don't fit very well on the Bontrager Back Rack Classic that came with my touring bike, and the j-hooks don't work very well with the current version of the Bontrager Back Rack I/II. Supposedly Bontrager has a much nicer double rail rack coming for 2012 that allows the use of both an interchange trunk + 2 panniers.

    Rear bags really help the studs dig in. During all of last winter I almost never had the rear wheel spin when starting from a stop. I'll probably experiment with adding some weight to the front this winter.

    The Arkels work great with the generic rack on my mountain bike. These are the T-42 model that I used on a dirt road overnight bike tour a few days ago.



    Last year I used my touring bike with 700x35 Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires. They are a fast tire and are great on smooth packed snow, and when inflated to the max punch through the squishy brown stuff quite well. But they don't handle loose snow of much depth very well. I also had some issues during the spring melt, as the narrow tire with extra weight at the back kept sinking deep into the melting snow. If the MUP had been plowed right to the pavement it wouldn't have been a problem, but they mostly just smooth out the packed snow when they do the winter plowing. For the few weeks this was happening, the wider non-studded tires on my mountain bike gave me the extra floatation required.

    This year I'm going to get a set of Nokian W240s for the mountain bike and use it more on the fresh snow days. I'll probably end up using the touring bike 2/3 and mountain bike 1/3 of the time. The touring bike knocks 10-15 minutes off the commute which is nice on cold days.

    Every shop I've seen selling W240s here is charging is $150 each. So I'll be getting mine from Peter White where they are only $72.
    Thanks for the info and nice set up.
    What kind of fenders are those?
    And do you recall where you bought the panniers?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy Peasy View Post
    Thanks for the info and nice set up.
    What kind of fenders are those?
    And do you recall where you bought the panniers?
    I got the panniers from a local shop.

    The fenders are Axiom Clipper LX MTB: http://www.axiomgear.com/products/ge...lipper-lx-mtb/ . They're not the best fenders as the back ends tend to flap around a lot, probably because they are designed for quick removal.

    The rear one is constantly bouncing off the rear tire going over bumps, I'll probably use a plastic tie to fix that. The rear one gets a lot narrower forward of the attachment point. While riding slowly on a gravel road, my 26 x 1.9 knobby tires were picking up rocks and throwing them at the back of my legs. Had it been wet I would have gotten sprayed pretty good. They worked ok with the 26 x 1.5 slicks I used to use for commuting.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy Peasy View Post
    Well, my fork lacks the "eyelets" for the Planet Bike full front fender. The back can just fit a full fender, but my LBS proprietor felt there wouldn't be enough clearance with snow building up between the tire and fender. I decided to go with a MTB type partial front fender and a back rack that can block some of the stuff. I figure I'll be wearing a waterproof shell and pants anyway that will shield my clothes from the stuff that gets through. By the way, I chose the same back rack as my wife's so I can borrow her trunk with fold down panniers. I also bought a rain cover that specifically fits this trunk/pannier bag.

    Does anybody keep a pair of rims fitted with studded tires and a pair of rims with regular tires, so you can choose depending on the road conditions?
    Update:
    Front light: Cygolite Epsilon 250
    Back light: RAdbot 1000
    Ortlieb classic roller back panniers

    Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I really appreciate it.

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