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  1. #1
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    Is Winter bad for bikes?

    After looking through this forum, I thought for sure I'd see a post about how bad for a bike Winter is. A guy at my LBS said Winter "murders" a bike. A have a Specialized Hardrock that is giving me problems in the freewheel/hub area. I think it's from riding in rain/winter conditions. I like to have 2 bikes--one for nice summer conditions, and the other (an older one) for rain and snow.

    Anyway, is there a way to protect a bike from the elements of Winter that eventually kills it? If snow gets into the hub, is there a way to seal up that area? Anything else?

  2. #2
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Rain riding does chew up chains, cassettes, chainrings, etc faster than riding on dry roads. I'll ride any of my bikes in the rain,but they're all 7sp and 8sp so replacement parts are CHEAP.

    If you've an old steel hardrock you may want to treat it with framesaver

    Repack your hubs twice a year, replace cables once per year, etc

    Repack your headset occasionally. Every other year if you have fender, twice per year if no front fender
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 10-28-11 at 05:11 PM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  3. #3
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    Higher quality parts will fare better in inclement weather, but will also cost more to replace when they finally succumb to the elements. Out where I live they salt the roads till they're white so I imagine it is as bad here as it gets. Usually, I'll just lube everything up (cables, etc.) before the first snow, and then just keep lubing the chain throughout winter. Usually the derailleur seizes, so I just use my bike as a one speed. Come spring, I'll repair the damage.

    My wife's free-wheel on her wal-mart bike seized too in winter. Rather than upgrading it, we just bought new. I've had good luck with shimano cone-and-cup hubs, although if you really want weather proof you can always invest in cartridge hubs. I have Shimano hubs front and rear, a cartridge bottom bracket, and a Shimano Deore derailleur, and my bike is going into its tenth winter now with minimal problems.

    I also wash down the frame every few years and put on 3-4 coats of turtle wax. This does wonders for keeping grime from sticking to the bike (everything just brushes off), and the paint still looks like new.

  4. #4
    Enthusiast Shinjukan's Avatar
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    Wow, I didn't realize how winter riding can wreak havoc on one's bike particularly on its components. Thanks for sharing that first-hand experience. Most probably I'll skip the snow/slush/sleet riding this coming winter and just ride when the roads and trails are relatively clean.
    "Sometimes riding slower is the faster way to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings."

  5. #5
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    It ain't that bad. We get 222 cloudy days/year and most of those are wet. I ride most of them.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  6. #6
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    I guess "winter" is different in every area,
    but my 2009 FUJI has gone through 2 winters
    so far and seems to be doing ok. Everythings
    original except the front hub and rims, went
    from 28 holes to 32 holes when I had the front
    wheel rebuilt.


    THIS IS A BIKE PATH by 1nterceptor, on Flickr

  7. #7
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    My (steel) Kuwahara Cascade and Shasta both served me well for at least three winters each and were in such nice shape afterwards I retired them from winter duties and turned the Cascade back into a touring bike and the Shasta into my main commuter.

    I ride nearly 365 days of the year and our winters are about as harsh as they get and people cannot believe either was a "winter bike".

    Frames have been treated with frame saver, got waxed once a year and were just maintained properly... they have little to no rust on them.

  8. #8
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    I live in Vancouver, Canada. It hardly ever snows here but it rains constantly in the winter. I ride some very hilly and dirty roads to work and it kills the brake pads and rims. When it's really bad, I can go through a set of brake pads in a week or two and grind through a rim in a season.

  9. #9
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomecki View Post
    I live in Vancouver, Canada. It hardly ever snows here but it rains constantly in the winter. I ride some very hilly and dirty roads to work and it kills the brake pads and rims. When it's really bad, I can go through a set of brake pads in a week or two and grind through a rim in a season.
    What kind of crappy brake pads are you using ?

    Portland is every bit as wet and we do not go through brake pads at that rate and even with all the sand they put on the roads here my brake pads (Kool Stops) last more than a season.

    I can see rims wearing out over a winter of continuous riding.

  10. #10
    Senior Member biknbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    What kind of crappy brake pads are you using ?

    Portland is every bit as wet and we do not go through brake pads at that rate and even with all the sand they put on the roads here my brake pads (Kool Stops) last more than a season.

    I can see rims wearing out over a winter of continuous riding.
    I know I was using pretty basic pads, often Koolstops or whatever was on sale at the online discount places. I would go through at least couple sets on both front and rear every winter. I might get two years out of rims before the wear made me nervous. Now I use discs on my foul weather bike. Anyway, I can totally believe that someone that was riding more than my 8 mile round trip could go through pads in mere weeks and rims every winter.

  11. #11
    Senior Member MNBikeCommuter's Avatar
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    Winter in MN is pretty hard on a bike, with the salt and sand and slush doing their damage. My summer bike has 85k miles on it and my winter bike has 16k miles. With one-fifth the mileage, the winter bike has gone through as many components as the summer bike. Both are Cannondales, and hence aluminum. There's been some corrosion on the winter bike's frame, but I just scrape that off and paint over it. The first set of rims lasted 12k miles, with the rear blowing out the sidewall when it got too thin. (Why the rear and not the front? The rear gets a lot more use than the front because of slippery conditions--frost, ice, sand, etc. I finally got some studded tires for last winter, but they don't help with the sand, so braking continues to rely heavily on the rear.) Yes, I could prolong component life with more maintenance, but I don't have the time or desire. And with the commuting, buying new stuff is still far cheaper than taking the car.

    Hubs: The bike came with Shimano Alivio hubs that have great seals. I can go several thousand miles and the grease still looks fresh.

    Rear derailleur: Many, many years ago I bought a Grunge Guard boot for the rear derailleur. It's been working wonderfully. I haven't seen it on the market for quite some time. I'd love one for the front derailleur.

    Chain: It seems to only go 200-300 miles before needing cleaning. In an ice cream bucket, I'll slosh it through water up to a dozen times before the water starts looking clear, at which time I throw in some cleaner. In a tough winter, it'll last 1k miles. In a not so tough, maybe another 500. (Again, it's the time vs more maintenance issue.)

  12. #12
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Winter commuting can be very hard on bikes. Just use good quality components and maintain your bike and you'll get many years of service out of your it. As for hubs I use both, cartridge bearing hubs and shimano deore/xt, my shimano hubs have never given me any problems, I've taken them apart to inspect the grease and bearings and everything was clean even after several winters. I also prefer to ride SS/FG, this eliminates any need for maintaining the drivetrain other then lubing the chain. Disc brakes are great for winter time, no need to worry about rims wearing out.

  13. #13
    gbg
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    Winter commuting can be very hard on bikes. Just use good quality components and maintain your bike and you'll get many years of service out of your it. As for hubs I use both, cartridge bearing hubs and shimano deore/xt, my shimano hubs have never given me any problems, I've taken them apart to inspect the grease and bearings and everything was clean even after several winters. I also prefer to ride SS/FG, this eliminates any need for maintaining the drivetrain other then lubing the chain. Disc brakes are great for winter time, no need to worry about rims wearing out.
    I would say the opposite. Just get cheap components that can be easily replaced. My winter beater has a cheap chain, crank, cassette,
    that I do minimal maintenance to. If they last 2-3 winters that's great, I can replace them at hardly any cost.
    The Xt hubs (6 years old), thumb shifters (23 yeas old), HS22 hydraulic rim brakes (15 years old) are going strong with 0 maintenance.
    I would have used less than the F/R XT derailleurs, but they were on the bike so I kept them.

    Depending on severity of the riding (salt/sand/temp)
    I think LX/105 should be the highest quality used on a winter bike.
    I think even deore cranks ($30-50) would do just fine.

  14. #14
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    This bike is ready for murder... wheel set and chain came off my Shasta which used these through all of last winter and with the IGH drive the chain is still showing no measureable wear, and with regular cleaning and oiling did not get a speck of rust. An internal gear hub is a wonderful thing as they are impervious and drive life is greatly extended.

    Frame is pretty much new old stock, am running quality brakes and have made sure all the bushings are well greased to prevent seizing, and the bike received a coat of wax and framesaver.



    I expect this bike to last me many many years and cannot stress how much the full coverage fenders help keep the bike clean in the sloppiest conditions.

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