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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 08-31-11, 05:04 AM   #1
merkong
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What's up with freezing gears? Go SS or what?

Will be new to winter biking and winter commuting this season and wanted to ask about derailer (sp) freeze... I like the idea of leaving the Trek mountain bike I am planning on riding as is (w/ gears) in order that I can do some other winter biking and have full access to shifting but am wondering about freeze up, how to deal with it, avoid it and what others think about single speed.

I am considering a super cheap mtn bike purchase ($1-50; garage sale, Godwill etc) for some SS experimentation and am just wondering what others think/do...
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Old 08-31-11, 08:33 AM   #2
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My first winter commuting my derailleur froze up on me a few times. After the first time I learned to park the bike in 4th gear so that I could at least limp home. I also learned from that experience is that SS wouldn't work for me; I found it incredibly hard to control the bike at slow speeds since I wanted to stand on the pedals an mash to get going. My solution was to buy an IGH-equipped bike.
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Old 08-31-11, 09:49 AM   #3
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Two years ago my derailleur froze up on me after I road through a pretty intense ice storm. When I got home I looked like someone made an ice sculpture of the Michelin man. Thankfully it froze in the gear I use most so it wasn't a huge deal. After a couple of weeks the moisture must've worked out of wherever it was hiding and my derailleur started workinga again. Also, it was just my RD that froze up. My FD still worked, so I effectively had a three speed.

Last year it didn't freeze up on me at all.

My cousin also rides all winter and he swears by his single-speed. I have a single-speed bike too, but it's still too nice to sacrifice to the rigors of winter.
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Old 08-31-11, 05:10 PM   #4
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From my personal experience..SS/FG is the most reliable and troublefree set up... However you do need to be in a very good physical shape to ride one. I have 3 bikes and I run them SS or FG. When I started out few years ago I used a deraileur for my first winter, I had to keep my drivetrain very oily and greasy to prevent it from freezing.
I don't plan on going back to gears, I use SS/FG all year round for all types of riding.
One thing to keep in mind.. I did wear out a 9 speed cassette and a triple chainring set up in just one year, but I have never yet worn out a track cog, or a SS freewheel or a SS chainring, they last so much longer.
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Old 09-02-11, 06:00 PM   #5
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I also ride fixed. Partially so I don't have to worry about freezing freewheels or derailleurs and partially because I feel that I have better control of the bike and can stop more easily.
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Old 09-02-11, 07:17 PM   #6
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With five Great Lakes winters behind me, I've never had an issue with drivetrain freezing.

While most of my riding is half-hour commuting, (and I get to -park indoors at both ends) there are plenty of two-hour and more rides in there.

First, it's not about the cold so much as it is about snow, ice and water being kicked up and freezing to the cassette and RD. No snow, no problem.

Second, in conditions where freeze-up can occur, it seems to be more of a matter of how frequently you shift. I use close-ratio cassettes and shift frequently, especially on my stop-and-go commutes. This keeps build-up on the cassette to a minimum. I've ridden with guys who have had the problem, and although we were riding in the same conditions, they rode as if they were on a single-speed. Soon enough, their cassette iced-over and they had no other choices left.

Cable freezing is a separate matter. Keeping moisture out of the cables is the primary concern. Keeping them lubricated is also important. I've used regular cables and housing with lots of Tri-Flow, and I've used teflon cables and housing both with and without Tri-Flow. They all seem to work just fine. I give the little chunk of housing at the RD special attention throughout the winter.

I ran into a killer deal at the LBS on a set of Gore Ride-On Sealed Low-Friction cables. I wouldn't have tried them at the regular price, but at half-price, why not? So those are on my primary commuter right now. I'll be able to report back in the spring.
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Old 09-03-11, 04:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merkong View Post
I am considering a super cheap mtn bike purchase ($1-50; garage sale, Godwill etc) for some SS experimentation and am just wondering what others think/do...
Be very careful, SS/FG riding can be addictive. Once you get hooked on it, you'll never want to go back to gears. That's what happened to me.
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Old 09-03-11, 11:36 AM   #8
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I ride in the winter and I might've had my RD freeze or get sluggish once. A few times a year, I'll hit the conditions that cause snow to pack up in my cassette and cause annoying chain jump. But it's generally a transitory problem and I have no plans to give up my gearing, it's useful. Point in case, despite looking pretty caked-up, this was functioning fine during The Snowpocalypse:





Anyway, if you want to protect the derailleur, just make a boot for it out of a plastic bag and a couple zip-ties. I have a commercial equivalent, the Grunge Guard (out of production). Oh, and the Gore cable set is one option for cable-freeze, but a budget alternative is full-length housing from shifter to derailleur, preferably lubed with a light oil like Tri-Flow or something.

Last edited by mechBgon; 09-03-11 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 09-03-11, 09:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Be very careful, SS/FG riding can be addictive. Once you get hooked on it, you'll never want to go back to gears. That's what happened to me.
I think it might be happening already... LBS buddy has this SS he wants me to buy...

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Old 09-04-11, 08:36 AM   #10
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I live in Toronto and I was sick of having my rear derailleur freezing so I went single speed and never looked back. On my first bike I used a White Industries ENO eccentric hub and went about 63 gear inches which was a little tall for me. Irclean hits the nail on the head on trying to mash in too high of a gear makes the bike hard to control.

My next bike was/is a Specialized Centrum Globe singe speed. It is geared lower around 58" and was much better. The disk brakes were a nice touch, so much I would never ride a winter bike without them but this is personal preference.

This year I am thinking of a new winter bike and I may go the Irclean route which is an Alfine, disk brake equipped bike. This way I may get the best of both worlds, no derailleur to freeze and the use of actual gears.

Typically I ride single speed everyday for my commute, so I am biased. I ride a geared bike once every two weeks on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if I change gears much this winter.

Last edited by blakcloud; 09-04-11 at 08:39 AM. Reason: Added more information
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