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  1. #1
    Senior Member mtalinm's Avatar
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    slush in the gears

    been riding winter for a long time and this never happened before.

    snowed overnight and this morning the temp was hovering around freezing. as a result slush was everywhere.

    halfway to work I noticed that I was unable to shift into certain gears - more accurately, they would skip continuously. stopped at an intersection and looked down to see the cogs caked with slush. tried to dig them out a bit with my gloved hands, and it helped a little bit. but before long it was back to mush.

    any suggestions on how to prevent (other than riding singlespeed/IGH)? I guess I could just shift between gears occasionally to keep them from caking up
    Trek Domane 4.5 (commute/distance), Specialized Roubaix (climber), Xootr Swift (winter/travel), Trek Soho (around town)

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    During the winter I use one of the lower weight lubes and I clean & lube the chain after every ride home (I also use an old toothbrush to lube the cog each time). It helps prevent rust and I'm guessing it helps keep the slush from accumulating because the lube keeps the snow from building up on the chain and there is less of it for the chain to transfer elsewhere. Lubing the cog may also make it more "slick" so the slush doesn't stick to it. Some of the other cheeseheads use a heavy weight lube so they don't have to clean & lube each day, and perhaps that helps with the slush because I've never heard them complain about it.

    Temperature does play a part no matter the type of lube, because if it gets cold enough the water & slush will freeze to parts of the chain, derailleur, and pretty much everything around it. When that happens it doesn't fall off as easily or as quickly as it would in other conditions. I learned this on a 2 hour beach ride when it was 14 degrees with a 10 MPH wind. Towards the end of the ride the bike was shifting bad and making sounds and I thought something had broken, but it was just the chain hitting all of the ice surrounding the drivetrain and the ice build-up in areas close to the chain was affecting the chain's movement.
    Last edited by MadCityCyclist; 01-16-13 at 10:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    silicon spray

    Quote Originally Posted by mtalinm View Post
    been riding winter for a long time and this never happened before.

    snowed overnight and this morning the temp was hovering around freezing. as a result slush was everywhere.

    halfway to work I noticed that I was unable to shift into certain gears - more accurately, they would skip continuously. stopped at an intersection and looked down to see the cogs caked with slush. tried to dig them out a bit with my gloved hands, and it helped a little bit. but before long it was back to mush.

    any suggestions on how to prevent (other than riding singlespeed/IGH)? I guess I could just shift between gears occasionally to keep them from caking up
    you can try some silicone spray on exposed parts before you leave, giving it enough time to evaporate the propellent and such. It will help but it won't prevent it. You can also carry some cans of deicer spray. THAT will help, but there are conditions like you've experienced with the ice/slush just at the freezing temp so any of it that gets kicked up and cooled in a breeze will immediately freeze. There is almost nothing you can do to prevent it. In those conditions you want to get into a reasonable gear and work like heck to try to stay away from slush. The chainrings will -usually- take care of themselves and the rear will also be OK as long as you don't try to shift. In some conditions you simply don't get to shift. Period.

  4. #4
    Junior Member Geok's Avatar
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    At winter, real winter with snow, there is no place to gears for everyday ride. It's not practical to clean it up after every ride from AtoB and reverse. That's why in snowy places it's popular planetary hubs or SS/FG. Also, it's big advantage to have full chainguard so there will be need to clean only once a weak.

  5. #5
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    there's snow and there's snow....locally we qualify for real winter, and once it is cold enough the snow is "dry". I never have problems with wet snow in the middle of winter. Typically our snow never sticks to anything. My drive train comes home perfectly clean from nearly every ride. When spring arrives that will be a different story. I'd love to have an internal hub bike though....

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    I ride in Minneapolis and have had problematic slush buildup on the cogs - but very rarely. My suggestion would be to carry one of the tiny 3 oz WD40 spray cans with you.

    No way would I try to ride this town in winter with a single gear.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim hughes View Post
    No way would I try to ride this town in winter with a single gear.
    You should give it a try, it's pretty flat here.

  8. #8
    tougher than a boiled owl droy45's Avatar
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    Yeah, slush freezing on the cogs is a reality I deal with too. I don't worry about it too much, and just keep it in the lower gears and go slower and not shift as much. When I get home, I blow compressed air over all of it to clean it out and quickly lube up the chain if needed. That's all, no lengthy or special maintanence until spring.
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by digibud View Post
    there's snow and there's snow....locally we qualify for real winter, and once it is cold enough the snow is "dry". I never have problems with wet snow in the middle of winter. Typically our snow never sticks to anything. My drive train comes home perfectly clean from nearly every ride. When spring arrives that will be a different story. I'd love to have an internal hub bike though....
    I would have never agreed until the snow yesterday. I rode over 10 miles in the snow and came home and the bike looked like it hadn't been out in the snow at all. Normally when I get home the bike looks like it's been to he!! and back. Not yesterday. I'm still not sure why since the road were a mix of snow and slush.

    Today I paid for that big time. I wasn't even 5 miles into the ride today and the bike looks horrible. I'll definitely have a clean up job to do tonight.

    I have a few more snows to ride in but I think I may understand the difference. Riding in colder snow, farther from the freezing point, helps to keep it from slush up on the bike and makes clean up during/after the ride much easier to deal with. I would still expect it to take colder temps though to give what I saw yesterday. I didn't shovel out yesterday, I swept out with the broom so it was fairly dry snow.

    Being further south the OP probably had wet snow that made it easier to stick to everything.

  10. #10
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Yes, this happens. No, there's nothing you can do about it. You can pee on the cassette, but that doesn't last long. The fix is simple, though: pee on it, get it in a good SS gear, a 17 or 19 cog, and leave it there. The one cog with the chain will always run OK. Another thing I notice in such weather is that my rims will ice. Once that happens, braking is not good. Not good at all. The Flintstone method give better results than the levers. Another thing is that my glasses will ice, so I pedal one handed, while the other hand scrapes ice so I can see. That is not good, either. Not good at all.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bat56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deathmobile View Post
    You should give it a try, it's pretty flat here.
    For real. My winter bikes are fixed gears and I love it. I have an 8spd IGH also but I haven't needed it this winter. That bike is for the days where we get completely hammered and snow plows can't keep up.

  12. #12
    Dirt junkie. SnowJob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim hughes View Post
    I ride in Minneapolis and have had problematic slush buildup on the cogs - but very rarely. My suggestion would be to carry one of the tiny 3 oz WD40 spray cans with you.

    No way would I try to ride this town in winter with a single gear.
    I've actually enjoyed riding single-speed bikes here throughout the last few winters. It's much simpler and less stuff you have to clean off at the end of a snowy or slushy or salty day.
    Last edited by SnowJob; 01-17-13 at 09:52 PM.
    Traitor Ruben :: Redline Monocog :: Surly Pugsley

  13. #13
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    A bike with gears will be faster in winter. I've never had "problems' so bad i've considered foregoing gears in the winter.

    Skipping gears, kicking derailleurs with your heel, non-compliance with shifting comes with the territory. but man, it's fast when you spin up studded tires with a 52-11.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Go to the hardware store and buy a small wire brush. Carry it with you to dislodge junk from between the sprockets. Works great. Then just clean and lube when you get home.

  15. #15
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    was gonna say tap with your foot, and or carry a brush. my comute was only 13 miles and I always seemed to just make it in time before my water froze solid and before I lost all gears to the same reason. avoid water. do you have fenders?
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  16. #16
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    IGH is the answer if you don't want to eventually end up with a SS. If you don't like them for year-round use then consider getting a winter beater with a 3-speed.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

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    The cassette cleaner on the right has served me well to remove both summer and winter gunk from between sprockets. If you have one of these just toss it into your bag and clean out the slush when the shifting starts getting sloppy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Pete View Post
    consider getting a winter beater with a 3-speed.
    Been there, done that - went through 2 of them in 3 years. 3 speed hubs - at least the ones I tried - are low-cost assemblies for low-cost bikes. They're definitely not 'sealed' and in the winter they rust out internally. I also broke the bearings because they're not designed for an adult who sometimes stands on the pedals to get up a hill or through the mush.

    I hope those expensive Alfines are tougher, or people buying them for winter use are going to be disappointed.
    Last edited by jim hughes; 01-19-13 at 05:17 PM.

  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Know anyone working at Logan Airport ?,get a Gallon Of De icer , they spray Hundreds of Gallons on the Airplanes

  20. #20
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    IGH kicks arse in the snow, but I find they feel a little stiff in very cold weather.

    If you simply have to ride with a derailleur, whenever the drivetrain gets clogged up, stop, lift the bike about a foot off the ground, and slam it down on its tires to break loose the sticky slush. Another solution would be to use a stick you find on the side of the road to clean out the crevices and space between cogs.

    I have a derailleur equipped winter bike this year, but (1) there has not been enough snow to really cause problems, and (2) I haven't actually ridden that much - just short errands around town, not to work yet as I always come up with some reason (too warm, meaning the road will be slushy, too cold, too much snow and road may not be plowed, etc). Last year I rode my Alfine 8 equipped bike and I love it more than my dog.

    Edit: I read another poster on here a few weeks ago that he rides a good quality full susp. bike in the winter and that better quality components don't suffer as much as entry-level ones in the winter - well, the last time I had a derailleur-equipped bike it had Deore LX derailleurs and it was constantly freezing up. I don't know how people do it, but some do ride winter bikes with derailleurs and they don't clog up. Maybe they are just better riders than me and they can avoid every riding through slush.
    Last edited by LarDasse74; 01-19-13 at 06:14 PM.

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    Mostly it's too cold in my area for the snow to pack into the gears. I only have that happen once or twice a winter. I've always had at least 2 gears I could still use, so it wasn't a stopper type of problem.
    mainlytext.com/bike.html Bicycling in winter, the entertainment version

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    Lube-wise, I highly recommend winter-weight chainsaw oil. Very thin, doesn't get all over everything. It's also good for the insides of 3-speed hubs such as Sachs and Sturmey-Archer.

    Btw, for my first winter-specific bike I built an old Sturmey 3-speed into a modern rim and it worked great. I set the gearing up so that 3rd (highest) was for cruising, 2nd was for cruising in slush, 1st was for towing the trailer through slush. (I did not need a higher gear, as how often do you need to pedal going downhill in winter?). The new Sturmey 3-speed hubs are better than the old ones because they do not have the dreaded neutral (freewheeling) spot between 2nd and 3rd. Some also have either drum or coaster brake. I had mine set up with a little housing as possible (one little piece at the front) and it always shifted, even at -25C. I eventually replaced that set-up with a Shimano 7-speed Nexus hub, because the three speeds ended up not being enough for trailer-towing in winter.

  23. #23
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    drumbent has had good luck with 3 speeds, but he has the advantage of having access to a healthy stock of old parts. Jim hughes above has expressed disappointment in the quaity and durability of 3 speed hubs.
    THe disconnect here is the wide range of quality you can find if you look at a population of 3 speed hubs. THere are a few categories we in Canada are likely to encounter:

    1. Old Sturmy Archer hubs (~early mid 1970s and older)... these are great... built like farm equipment, remained unchanged for the better part of the 20th century. Serviceable.
    2. Middle-aged sturmey archer hubs (late 1970s, 1980s, maybe up to 1990s) - still made in UK but with vastly inferior materials. Less reliable.
    3. Old Shimano 3 speeds - an inferior version similar to SA hubs, but quite poor and unreliable
    4. New sturmey archer hubs - made in Taiwan, probably better than the middle aged UK ones, but I have no experience with these.
    5. New SHimano 3 speed hubs - the Nexus version, which I am led to believe are very good. My Alfine 8 is a 'cousin' of the Nexus 3 speed and it has been fantastic.
    6. Others - my wife had a 1970s Fuji with a Suntour copy of a SA-AW hub, but it lost its middle gear after a while. There are Sachs that are likely quite good. And I think few others but they are quite rare.

    The first three are the most commonly found on used bikes. The new Shimano ones are found on quite a few new bikes - cruisers and the like.

    The one concern I have with Jim Hughes' comments is that his rusted on the inside... before I knew how to do any maintenance on any other bike part, I knew that some rear wheels had an oil port on the hub... a few drops of oil in there every other month should be all the maintenance these need. Maybe this was the problem he had... lack of maintenance?

  24. #24
    Senior Member capejohn's Avatar
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    I am another who went single speed this year. I have no hills to climb in town which was a big influence in my buying the new bike.
    Bike riding Northern gentleman.

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    Gadzoooks! What do you SS guys do when you run into soft roads? I was hyperventilating in the granny gear trying to force my way through trafficked snow the other day. The kind of snow that is the consistancy of sand, maybe slightly packed sand.

    I have a derailleur bike and so far have not had any troubles with slush fouling the derailleur so bad it wouldn't function. Not sure if that is because I keep the moving parts well oiled or if I just haven't been winter biking long enough.

    I've been using the Prestone De-Icer windshield fluid in my car and I'm wondering if dousing a bike with that stuff might be helpful. It thaws ice, but I've noticed when its time to scrape ice off the ice doesn't stick to the glass as well as it does the other windows that do not receive regular doses of the fluid. Anybody try it?

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