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  1. #1
    ObsessiveCompulsiveMember velowolf's Avatar
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    Malfunctions below 32F

    I went on my first sub-freezing ride tonight. I had some issues:

    When I pulled the bike out for the ride, the headset felt tight, but after the initial turn, it freed up. But when I began to ride, there was a creaking noise that I'm 85% sure was coming from the headset. I noticed it mostly climbing and when I changed hand positions, it went away. I cut my ride short because I was concerned. Should I bring it in to the LBS or is this a normal occurence in sub-freezing temps? Moisture in the headset maybe?

    Also about 2 miles into the ride, my computer went blank. I thought it may be the battery, but when I brought it in after the ride, it began to work again, but was reset to zero (glad I log my miles online). Is this normal?

  2. #2
    . . . rosebud . . . Diggy18's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velowolf
    Also about 2 miles into the ride, my computer went blank. I thought it may be the battery, but when I brought it in after the ride, it began to work again, but was reset to zero (glad I log my miles online). Is this normal?
    My crappy butt computer stops working at 45 F. The piece of junk won't record distance of time travelled.
    "There'll be time for complacency when I'm six feet under. "

  3. #3
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    My chain kind of skips a little in the colder weather. I just ride slower.

    Koffee

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    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Bike computers, especially wireless computers can suffer in cold conditions. The batteries do not generate enough power when cold. Wireless suffer the most since the speed sensor has to transmit to the display unit.

    It's possible that your batteries are old and marginal to begin with. If so, it would be worth putting in fresh ones to see if it helps.

    Chain skipping and stiff headsets might be caused by oil and grease getting thick in sub-freezing temperatures.

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    Thanks. I'll degrease and relube this weekend.

    Koffee

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    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    Just got back from a nice 7F ride myself. Night time and snow, ahhh, nobody else on the road. My wireless computer crapped out after about 2 minutes (not like I could read the screen, it was all lagged out) and my lights (heavy ass lead acid battery) started to dim a lot sooner than usual. My shifters wern't as responsive as they normally are and there wasn't any positive click like there normally is. All and all, my gears seemed to have a certain "tight bias" which I find strange cause I thought it would be the other way around, oh well. My left pedal froze up when I stopped at a red light, but it came back to life once I started moving again, must be some water in there somewhere.

    My first ride in weather THIS cold in a while, very refreshing.

  7. #7
    The 'net ruined cycling ajkloss42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velowolf
    Is this normal?
    No, at least not for high quality parts. I've only had cold-related (and they were also stupidity-related) problems at -10F and below. Something is wrong with your headset, and something is wrong with your computer.

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    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    With my computer, it just got so dim and so long to change the crystal arrangement in the that I considered it crapped out/unusuable but it still kinda worked (if you shone a light on it and could warm it up). Maybe a new battery would help but I don't care much about my averages in icy conditions, the salt has yet to build up on the roads and I don't have studs on.

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    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diggy18
    My crappy butt computer stops working at 45 F. The piece of junk won't record distance of time travelled.
    I've had the same problem with the LCD display on electronic cameras Below 40 degrees or so the display breaks up. Once it warms up a bit it's OK.

    I think LCD just isn't intended to be used in colder temperatures.

    I went out the other night in 30 somethng weather and noticed the trip feature only logged 8 of the 16 or so miles I did, although the odometer function seemed to log the entire trip. I thought I might have accidently reset it but maybe it was the cold.


    Stacy
    Last edited by Stacy; 12-04-04 at 10:14 AM.

  10. #10
    troglodyte ryan_c's Avatar
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    My 3-speed hub hasn't been shifting very well at all... I have to go back and forth a bunch of times to get it to shift, even then that hasn't really been working, so I basically have a singlespeed (not much of a problem). I know I need new/more oil in it though...

  11. #11
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    LCD displays do not take well to extreme low temperatures so if you aren't real concerned about your speed, mileage, etc. under these conditions, best to leave it in the house. Batteries will drain more quickly in extreme conditions as well, so perhaps it's for the best.

    For light batteries, if possible, keep the battery warm inside before the ride and, if possible, wrap it in some insulation to delay it's cooling down. Some neoprene would be good. Even better would be to put in a large saddlebag with clothes or some other insulation packed around it as well. Best would be to slip the battery in a coat pocket or under your clothes so your body heat keeps it warm. For a lead-acid battery, perhaps some kind of holder with a sling over your shoulder to support the weight?

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    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    Well, the effect on my Pb/acid battery's run time isn't so extreme that I need to stick the coke bottle-sized mofo in my jacket. Besides, I'm sure the sulfation process taking place right now will increase the exothermic properties of the cells during discharge as a function of increased resistance, thereby keeping my battery warmer, muhaha, it's a win-win situation! Not really, but I like saying it is.

    All in all, I'd say that of my available choices for power sources (NiCd, NiMH, Pb/acid, Li-ion), taking into consideration the conditions of use (high drain, cold temps, weight being no issue) I'd have to go with either Li-ion or Sealed Pb/acid cells. NiCd are cheap and can handle high drains great but they do horribly in cold temps. NiMH don't suffer the memory effects of NiCd and can hold more charge but they can't handle the high drains. Li-ion has an awesome charge-weight ratio but I'm not sure how long it can sustain a constant current in cold conditions.

    So here's my vote (preferred to least):
    1: (tie) Li-ion, Pb/acid (Li-ion gets vote for LED light or Xenon, Pb/acid for Halogen)
    2: NiMH (awesome if you need a single Christmas light for a couple hours)
    3: NiCd (awesome if you need a batsignal for 2 seconds, bad if you need it for 5)

    Any thoughts?

  13. #13
    Maglia Ciclamino gcasillo's Avatar
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    If you have a HID light, it will likely interfere with your wireless computer. When I ride at night, I have to set my light to its lowest setting, and even then the computer sometimes idles.

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    ObsessiveCompulsiveMember velowolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velowolf
    I went on my first sub-freezing ride tonight. I had some issues:

    When I pulled the bike out for the ride, the headset felt tight, but after the initial turn, it freed up. But when I began to ride, there was a creaking noise that I'm 85% sure was coming from the headset. I noticed it mostly climbing and when I changed hand positions, it went away. I cut my ride short because I was concerned. Should I bring it in to the LBS or is this a normal occurence in sub-freezing temps? Moisture in the headset maybe?

    Also about 2 miles into the ride, my computer went blank. I thought it may be the battery, but when I brought it in after the ride, it began to work again, but was reset to zero (glad I log my miles online). Is this normal?
    UPDATE:

    Brought the bike to the LBS and the wrench there lubed the headset, as well as the joints between the handlebar and the stem. No more creaking

    I had the computer out one more time after the original post in about 32F weather. It lasted about 3.5 miles before it crapped out. Wal-Mart tested the battery and it had a full charge. Turns out the computer was fried. The LBS replaced it with the latest model (this one even has a thermometer ) free of charge.

  15. #15
    RAGBRAI. Need I say more? Steele-Bike's Avatar
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    Last winter my wired computer sporadically stopped registering my speed. The display still worked, it just wasn't getting any signal. Cleaning and wire wiggling didn't help. By this summer the computer shut down and a new battery did nothing to revive it. I'm thinking something other than the cold temps was to blame. I have now gone 6 months without a bike computer and I am really starting to like it. Somehow I still get to work in the same amount of time, but I don't wear myself out racing the clock.

    The only other winter problem I have had is when I brought my bike outside for a morning commute and as soon as I put my weight on the bike one of the rear spokes popped. Also, I recall my my shifter cable freezing up every so often, but that can only be expected.

  16. #16
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    I've used a wired Sigma, a wireless Sigma and a wired VDO in cold weather, -20-30C. Only cold-related problem I have had is the previously stated LCD display feature. It has not effected any of the comp's logging, though. I mainly use computer to check my ride distance at the end of the day, so I don't care if the display is sluggish or even non-existant during the ride. I expected to see reduced battery life with the wireless setup, but changed to VDO for other reasons before I could really find out.

    In my experience pushbutton-type shifters tend to freeze easily whereas lever-type shifters are more reliable. Shifting will not be silk smooth, especially if you leave the bike outside overnight occasionally (like I do). But it will work, if properly cleaned and lubed before freezing. Bungee cords, on the other hand, can deep freeze overnight and NOT bungee anything to your rack anymore . Battery lights can be a pain, so dynohubs or bottle dynamos are fairly popular here in winter beater bikes.

    Winterish mechanical problems are a nuisance in that you most probably will not be able to fix them on the spot. I've said it before, but here goes again: the most complicated roadside repair I would try below -10C would be changing an inner tube. If I really, really, really had no options.

    --J
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    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by velowolf
    I went on my first sub-freezing ride tonight. I had some issues:

    When I pulled the bike out for the ride, the headset felt tight, but after the initial turn, it freed up. But when I began to ride, there was a creaking noise that I'm 85% sure was coming from the headset. I noticed it mostly climbing and when I changed hand positions, it went away. I cut my ride short because I was concerned. Should I bring it in to the LBS or is this a normal occurence in sub-freezing temps? Moisture in the headset maybe?

    Also about 2 miles into the ride, my computer went blank. I thought it may be the battery, but when I brought it in after the ride, it began to work again, but was reset to zero (glad I log my miles online). Is this normal?

    Malfunctions below 32F is pretty subjective. 32 F for example is not very cold and I don't experience any problems that are out of the normal. When you get down in the low teens and single digits, then you have a different matter. Plastic starts to act more like glass etc.

    As far as your computer goes, i suspect you need a new battery. It certainly should operate normally at least down to 0 F. If it doesn't, you have a faulty computer.

  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sebach
    Well, the effect on my Pb/acid battery's run time isn't so extreme that I need to stick the coke bottle-sized mofo in my jacket. Besides, I'm sure the sulfation process taking place right now will increase the exothermic properties of the cells during discharge as a function of increased resistance, thereby keeping my battery warmer, muhaha, it's a win-win situation! Not really, but I like saying it is.

    All in all, I'd say that of my available choices for power sources (NiCd, NiMH, Pb/acid, Li-ion), taking into consideration the conditions of use (high drain, cold temps, weight being no issue) I'd have to go with either Li-ion or Sealed Pb/acid cells. NiCd are cheap and can handle high drains great but they do horribly in cold temps. NiMH don't suffer the memory effects of NiCd and can hold more charge but they can't handle the high drains. Li-ion has an awesome charge-weight ratio but I'm not sure how long it can sustain a constant current in cold conditions.

    So here's my vote (preferred to least):
    1: (tie) Li-ion, Pb/acid (Li-ion gets vote for LED light or Xenon, Pb/acid for Halogen)
    2: NiMH (awesome if you need a single Christmas light for a couple hours)
    3: NiCd (awesome if you need a batsignal for 2 seconds, bad if you need it for 5)

    Any thoughts?
    I've never used Li-ion but I have used Pb/acid, NiMH and NiCd. I find the NiMH to be a very poor performer in anything below about 35F and they tend to be rather delicate. I've also used Pb but found it to be a poor performer too as well as not being that rugged either. I do find the comment about NiCd being a poor cold weather performer to be curious since that's all that I use. Most of the stuff that I've read about them also state that they work well down to -40F. I do charge and store my batteries indoors and take them out to the bike just before I leave but I don't put them anywhere special on the bike and I certainly don't put them under my jacket. I do have 2 7Ahr NiCd that do very well during the cold but that might just be a function of their mass.

  19. #19
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    LCD doesn work as well in cold? Thast odd, ive owned many devices (beside computers) with LCD screens and i use them while waiting at the bus stop when its 10-20F out htere without issue.

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    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2
    LCD doesn work as well in cold? Thast odd, ive owned many devices (beside computers) with LCD screens and i use them while waiting at the bus stop when its 10-20F out htere without issue.
    The display will get sluggish or stop working when its temperature drops enough. 10-20F and a short(ish) wait at the bus stop apparently aren't quite enough to kill the display. You probably also hold the device in your hand, further shielding it from the elements.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  21. #21
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    Batteries: Have used lead acid, ni-cad, and currently nimh, most of my light and therefore battery usage is during months when the temperature is consistently below 50F (for about 5 months a year it is below 30F). Had lead acid batteries from Union Night Pro lights which lasted about 4 full years usage (200 hours year) over about 8 years. They were tolerant of the 1 or 2 times I forgot to recharge and therefore over discharged, seemed to have less power in temps below 25F. I find the cost/performance/weight/size of them to be good and would recommend for low cost battery system. Ni-cad batteries came in VistaLight 3 headlight/2 battery package, they worked well for 3 years, but I was always totally paranoid about "memory" when recharging. They were lighter than the leadacid, smaller, performance about the same, but the cost much higher. I wouldn't discount a system completely because of them but wouldn't highly recommend it either. Ni-Mh: I have 2 sets of batteries in current use. A Marwi Night Pro 12w for the last 3 1/2 years, and a Cate-Eye Stadium for the last 2 winters. Batteries work all temps ( although I do try to keep either the bike or at least the batteries indoors until riding) their biggest test was last February 28,29 and March 1. I did a long (380 mile) 3 day/night ride with muy mucho riding in the dark and the batteries being in the weather all day long. Temps were from 15F to 44F with the average about 28F. The Stadium light performed as the literature predicted, I got 3 hours twenty minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes each night. The Night Pro performed as expected with about 2 hours twenty minutes the first and last night. I couldn't recharge it the second day, so it got a free ride. I highly recommend the NIMh very light, charge well, consistent, but not cheap. The three hour recharge of the Stadium system is/was very handy.
    I have a Naviion computer, which tracks temp, speed, altitude, yadayada. The interesting thing is that it's temperature reading is not the air temperature but the computer temperature. It takes the computer about the first 3 miles (12 to 15 minutes) of my commute/ride to cool down to the outside temperature. As the computer cools to air temp below 25F the display and functions slloowww down, but it never drops any mileage from the total. Same for my Sigma Sport computers.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    I've used NiCd's in very high drain devices (turning over motorized mechboxes) in weather down to about -15F and I can tell you they don't last nearly as long as they do in warmer conditions. Mind you these are small 8.4V sub-c packs and although I wouldn't expect any battery to last long in this cold, these died much faster than I expected them to. Perhaps larger cells (of any kind) are more resistant to the effects of cold?

  23. #23
    Unfit, fat and forty SSSwede's Avatar
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    Once when it was really cold (-20C) my freewheel froze, what happens is that the pawls in the freewheel donīt lock onto the wheel due to the grease getting to thick. So after coasting a short while I stand up to start pedaling and the pawls fail resulting in wildly spinning cranks and my groin hitting the frame....Everybody having a chain break knows the experience

  24. #24
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    On your what?!? Zin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSSwede
    Once when it was really cold (-20C) my freewheel froze, what happens is that the pawls in the freewheel donīt lock onto the wheel due to the grease getting to thick. So after coasting a short while I stand up to start pedaling and the pawls fail resulting in wildly spinning cranks and my groin hitting the frame....Everybody having a chain break knows the experience
    I had a simular thing happen on yesterday's commute. I didn't have a fall, but after coasting for a short time, the cranks spun freel like the chain was off.

  25. #25
    Unfit, fat and forty SSSwede's Avatar
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    I have (by advice from sheldonbrown.com) added some thinner oil into the freewheel and that sorted it out. Another not so good advice was to stop and pee on the freewheel to get it warmer..

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