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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 08-28-11, 01:46 AM   #1
Ratchet
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The Making of a Winter Commuter

This spring, I got a wild hair, and decided to reclaim/relocate my past passion for biking. I began commuting to work daily, and love it more and more all of the time. I am not sure how tough I am, but I'd like to try winter commuting. I decided (after I sold my daughter my 26", since I was riding my new 29er every day) that I would try to find an old 26 inch to put some studded tires on. I ordered a pair of studded tires, and found myself an old steel Trek 800 (incidentally, the bike I sold my daughter was a Trek 820 singletrack Antelope). The frame is a little small for me, but it's comfortable on the ride, and I feel somehow safer on it (closer to the ground, perhaps?).
I picked up the bike for $40, which might not have been a bad deal, but I may as well admit now that this project won't be about the money, but rather about the project itself.
I decided that I want it BRIGHT, for easier visualization by cars, so I picked up some tri-coat auto paint in lime green iridescent from the body shop. I stripped off all of the parts, and my local chain sports store mechanic took out the bottom bracket and took the fork out for me.
Now I have to paint it, and then the fun begins. I truly have very little knowledge of what I am doing, but am excited to learn. I would imagine that a bike repair book is probably a good idea. So far I've just been youtubing everything I need to learn.
Any advice that you have for me is always appreciated... I'm embarassed to say that I never took a pic of it before I started disassembling it. Of course, I have about a hundred pics during the disassembly, but no full bike shots (and I'm NOT putting it back together now for a pic! ). I'll try to post any progress pics along with any updates.
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Old 08-28-11, 09:39 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by mamaschwich View Post
This spring, I got a wild hair, and decided to reclaim/relocate my past passion for biking. I began commuting to work daily, and love it more and more all of the time. I am not sure how tough I am, but I'd like to try winter commuting.
That's exactly how I started. Careful, lest you be assimilated…

I committed to winter commuting only until it wasn't fun any more. I figured that at best, it would extend my season a little on each end. And maybe during January thaw.

With my sixth winter coming up, it hasn't stopped being fun yet, so I haven't missed a single day of commuting.
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Old 08-29-11, 06:46 AM   #3
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Sounds awesome. What are your plans?

I'm slowly making my mtb a commuter, and then as winter approaches seeing if I'm tough enough to do it too! I'll be following along.
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Old 08-29-11, 10:15 AM   #4
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Looking forward to seeing OP's pics, particularly the paint job.

I got the wild hair myself--had a 20+ year-old Performance mtb bike just hanging in the garage, never really used much anymore. Decided that with all the spare parts I have, I would build my ice/snow commuter. Needless to say, I'm hoping for just snow in central NC this upcoming season, but if ice comes, I'll be ready, too . . I think.


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Old 09-15-11, 03:55 AM   #5
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I haven't posted an updates lately, because it's slow going... the frame is hanging in the "bike shop" (read: potting shed) and is now fully primed. I am currently waiting the requisite 48 hours after the last coat of Krylon autometal primer to proceed with the automotive tricoats. Man, for the price of the paint, I hope this works...

Right now I am having a hard time finding new derailleur cable housing. I'd really like a dark magenta or purple to contrast with the lime iridescent frame, but having no luck so far. I have found lots of brake cable in the right colors, my guess is that the BMX world helps widen the choices there, and since they don't need derailleur cable (right?), there aren't as many colors available. Any suggestions?

Last edited by Ratchet; 09-15-11 at 04:03 AM.
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Old 09-15-11, 08:55 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ratchet View Post
........I decided that I want it BRIGHT, for easier visualization by cars, so I picked up some tri-coat auto paint in lime green iridescent from the body shop....
This is a very smart place to start as most driver simply don't expect to see a bike on snow covered roads or when the temperature is down at 30* or below. I would also suggest that you mount and use a headlight and taillight(s) even during daylight hours. (I use three taillights and still sometimes have people tell me that they didn't notice me until they were right on top of me.)
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Old 09-16-11, 10:09 AM   #7
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Thanks, Stealthammer, I am definitely considering some serious lighting!

So, I am thinking of renaming this thread to,"The Making of a Winter Commuter: What NOT to do"...

Today I began the topcoat process. I followed the directions that the salesguy gave me, the glittercoat first, the base color second... I'll bet you know what happened already, don't you? Yeah, I should have followed the directions on the printed label, NOT what the salesguy said. He even scribbled out the directions on the can, stating, "I don't know why it says that, that's wrong." Yeah, perhaps I should have checked with another person, any person, probably even any person on BF.
So the glitter looked beautiful, and the green? Great color, but definitely NO glitter showing through. Turns out the green IS completely opaque, not only requiring another trip to the body shop today before the 24 hours are up to get another can of the glittercoat, but rendering the last two-week-long primer task completely unecessary. Grrrrrr...... I could have been in the final cure stage already, and almost on the rebuild.
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Old 09-20-11, 10:19 PM   #8
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frame painted...check.

Finally got some pics of the frame after the paint is complete. It is iridescent in the sunshine, and inside just looks like glitter. Of course, in the pics it is just plain green...I am starting to feel the time pressure, as I haven't picked out any components yet (much less ordered them), and the snow/ice will be here in just a few months. Lots of time, and so little to do. Wait. Reverse that.
I think I have settled on an internal gear hub in order to lose the derailleur. Obviously, this is shaking out to be not a winter beater, but rather a bike in its own right, destined for the winter ride... Any advice/comments on the IGH? I have never even ridden one, but I am thinking a seven speed?

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File Type: jpg kermittoptube.jpg (96.6 KB, 27 views)

Last edited by Ratchet; 09-20-11 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 09-20-11, 10:34 PM   #9
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I went with a 8-speed Nexus hub with a coaster brake on my Trek, which is going to be my winter bike. The extra resistance is noticeable, especially in 4th, but I love it. Just make sure the hub you get isn't a coaster brake, as they are a real pain to get working with vertical dropouts. (I gave up trying to figure it out, and went and bought the Trek frame with horizontal dropouts) I've used derailleurs, and a 3-speed hub in the winter, and IGH is definitely the way to go. I'd go with a drum/roller brake one, as it isn't affected by the weather, and should fit your bike.
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Old 09-20-11, 10:51 PM   #10
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Wow, thanks for the tips, Arrowana! I was hoping to find a wheelset already finished, do you think that will be a problem? ... and I don't even know what the drum/roller brake one means... yeah, I've got a lot of reading to do!
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Old 09-20-11, 11:18 PM   #11
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You can find them in finished wheelsets. I was lucky, and found my wheelset used for $140. What I meant was you probably want to find a wheel or hub that has a drum brake, or as Shimano calls it, roller brake. This means the brake is inside the hub, and is not exposed to the elements.
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Old 09-20-11, 11:42 PM   #12
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You can find them in finished wheelsets. I was lucky, and found my wheelset used for $140. What I meant was you probably want to find a wheel or hub that has a drum brake, or as Shimano calls it, roller brake. This means the brake is inside the hub, and is not exposed to the elements.
THIS^^^^ is why I love BF, thanks for the advice, Arrowana!
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Old 09-29-11, 07:33 PM   #13
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Time for an update...

The LBS downtown is building a wheel for me with Mavic (at least I thought that's what he was going to use) rims and an IGH hub. Today I took the frame pieces to a different chain bike shop that I bought the frame at, and he put a new bottom bracket in for me and reassembled the fork/frame/headset/head tube. They had a seat of Deore XT rear v-brakes, and gave me a sweet deal. I also ordered a pair for the front, grips, and the brake levers. Tonight I painted the stem and the bars. It is coming together, but my bike allowance limits how fast I can get it all done.
Here's some bike pics for ya...

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File Type: jpg bottom bracket.jpg (3.3 KB, 248 views)
File Type: jpg frame assembled with fork.jpg (3.7 KB, 248 views)
File Type: jpg deore xt v-brakes.jpg (3.9 KB, 247 views)
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Old 09-30-11, 07:15 AM   #14
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What about fenders?

I like the idea of the full wrap-around fenders, but it doesn't seem like there's much clearance there for snow and sludge and crap... or is that what I want, to knock off the junk? Man, there are so many things that I know nothing about!
Advice, please?
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Old 10-13-11, 01:55 AM   #15
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Aaarrrggghhhhhh!

Sooooooo frustrated. Snow could fly next month, and there's still plenty to do...
On another down note, I added up all of the parts left (at least those I know about), and there's still another $700 going into this $40 frame from the 1980's. Dang, this had better be one sweet ride!!!!

Last edited by Ratchet; 11-04-11 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 10-17-11, 11:19 PM   #16
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Having done exactly this, my advice would be to find a place that reliably sells used bike parts. You can more-than-halve the total cost if you use used parts. Trick is finding parts that'll fit the frame, in which case I recommend the (local public) library, since they ought to have books to help you decide what will fit where. Zin and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance was very helpful for me.

I've heard from everyone I've talked to that full fenders with mudflaps (they're a pain in the ass clearance-wise, but they keep you dry-as-dry) is the way to go. Having ridden with them through Iowa's version of the monsoon, they're good at keeping water down, but have no idea about snow/sludge/ice/yeti.
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Old 10-18-11, 02:59 AM   #17
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I went with a 8-speed Nexus hub with a coaster brake on my Trek, which is going to be my winter bike. .
I found that my Alfine hub refused to change gear below -10C. It would work OK in whatever gear it was in and after about 20mins riding, the grease would warm up enough to start shifting again. It wasnt a frozen cable. This year I have given it an oil dip so it shouldn't suffer from freezeup again.
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Old 10-29-11, 01:51 AM   #18
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The hub is finally in, as is the rim, now all we are waiting on are the spokes. He said that I would be close to the top of the list when it's all in.
Good grief, it's hard to be patient!
I'll update with pics soon, it's turning out to be a pretty little froggie.

Last edited by Ratchet; 11-04-11 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 11-04-11, 09:26 PM   #19
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Almost there!

So today I picked up the finished wheel (props to Anybody's Bikeshop in Eau Claire, WI!!!!), and tried out the new winter ride. The owner had installed the entire drivetrain, essentially, so when I say I picked up the wheel, I really mean that I picked up the bike.
It ended up being a Nexus 8-speed IGH laced to a black Velocity Chukker rim, and a 40t chainring. Upon trying it out, I was struck by two things:

1. I LOVE the IGH! It's so quiet, and so smooth...

2. I probably could have gone with a 42t or a 44t ring. I've never pedaled in snow before, so I may decide that it's perfect after all, but for dry pavement, I never even got down to 1st or 2nd. I found the 3rd gear to be crazy low, with my legs flying around at 300 rpm or so


I'll try to get a pic in the daylight tomorrow, but I'm a little nervous about that, as our new white garage door hasn't come in yet, so dingy off-white will have to do...
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Old 11-05-11, 06:28 AM   #20
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ratchet - that's a great frame style for a winter rider.

the low standover height really comes into its own in the winter IMO.
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Old 11-06-11, 09:35 AM   #21
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Everything but the saddle...

...which is on order at the shop. Tried to snag one of my other favs from the stable, but none fit (old seatpost diameter?), and wasn't willing to wrench any off. I figured I might as well pick the one I really want, since I figure I'll be looking at it for a while , so I ordered one in black (of course).

Now, when I can afford it, I'll either add a generator hub wheel in the front to match the rear, or I'll just have a matching wheel built without the generator. Right now I am leaning to the generator. Probably be spring before my depleted bike account is built up enough, though.


Here are some pics, it's just about there. I can't wait to ride!
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File Type: jpg complete bike drivetrain side 75.jpg (101.1 KB, 36 views)
File Type: jpg rear drivetrain complete 75.jpg (101.6 KB, 24 views)
File Type: jpg rear wheel complete 75.jpg (101.4 KB, 25 views)

Last edited by Ratchet; 11-06-11 at 09:45 AM.
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