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  1. #1
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    Winter setup configuration

    Hello everyone. I know winter is a long way off (snow is a very recent memory here in Chicago), but I was wondering a few things about setting up a bike for winter. I just bought a Surly Cross Check to serve as my do it all bike and I plan to use it during the winter months for city commuting in Chicago. I noticed that a lot of people on this forum switch to single speed and fixie setups for the winter. What is the logic behind this? Is it just an ease of maintenance/preserving your good drivetrain from salt/moisture issue? Is it imperative that I switch my drivetrain for winter?

    Thanks everyone

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My bike got a drum brake hubset, wide 26" snow cat rims , from a Fairbanks Alaska company.
    Nokian studded tires

    it has a screw on freewheel , Its been fine for 20 years,
    of course now I'm in a place that Ices up at Sealevel infrequently and they use Gravel on the ice ,
    rather than salt.

    Its an old 80s MTB frame Build Up..


    How far do You Have to ride ? Multiple Ice age's Glaciers flattened where you are ,

    Volcanos and sea floor spreading Pushed up Mountains out Here.

  3. #3
    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wippen View Post
    . . . I noticed that a lot of people on this forum switch to single speed and fixie setups for the winter. What is the logic behind this? Is it just an ease of maintenance/preserving your good drivetrain from salt/moisture issue? Is it imperative that I switch my drivetrain for winter? . . .
    The main drive-train problem I have had in the winter months is the rear derailer. It hangs down there right in the snot with all those moving parts that can get all iced up and corroded by road salt. More often then not at least when riding on the roads (not near as much trouble off road) the rear derailer becomes useless to try to use to change gears when it is below freezing and they are salting the roads. The half melted snot off of the road gets splattered all over the rear derailer where it freezes solid until the darn thing is completely froze up. Same thing happens to the rear cogs that the chain isn't running on.

    I don't change my drive-train over for winter. Rather I have a dedicated winter bike that has no rear derailer. It does still have a full spool of cogs on the rear and it still has the front three chain rings with a working front derailer. I built a chain tensioner out of the old rear derailer that all it does is keep the chain tight and take up the slack that is mounted to the chain stay about half way between the crank and rear gear spool and it pulls the chain up and keeps it "high and tight" up out of the snot. I just run it as a three speed using the front derailer and three front chain rings for me gears that I can shift "on the fly" from the handlebars. To change gears on the rear I have to stop and move the chain manually by hand by lifting it over to a different rear cog. This sometimes means wire brushing the ice off the rear cog teeth.

    So I'm not single speed but I am just using the front chain rings and front derailer only because they don't ice up and jamb up like the rear derailer does. I also use Alox on my chain in the winter. Alox is a goopy sticky substance that they used to use to keep the bores on big battleship guns from rusting when at sea due to salt water exposure it is both a lubricant and a corrosion preventative and is a common ingredient in the lubricant used for cast lead bullets. You can internet order the stuff from online sales outlets for people that cast their own bullets and make their own lube for them. I bought some "X-lox" from White Label Lube (lsstuff.com/store) which is the cheap generic non-name brand version of the stuff and have been using it on my winter bike chain for several seasons and it does protect against the road salt and keep the chain lubed. He sells basically three different thicknesses of the stuff. The "350" stuff in the metal can is the thickest and almost like honey consistency. The "Liquid" in the plastic bottles is like the consistency of maple syrup (that's what I use) and the "Delux Liquid 45-45-10" is the thinnest stuff of all. Thicker stays on the chain longer and has to be re-applied less often but also can give a slight drag in the cold if you go too thick. I like the middle "Liquid" thickness.

  4. #4
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    I have a 1987 Peugeot Crazy Horse that I converted to a single speed with a coaster brake and I use Nokian W160 studded snow tires and cheap planet bike fenders.
    Here in the Dakotas the winters can get brutal so I keep it very simple.
    This set-up is very simple and I have had zero problems, no gears or brake cables etc to freeze up.
    I use Boeshield T9 for lube and I clean the bike with vinegar and water (to clean off all the snow sludge and salt), followed by a quick wipe down with simple green then lemon pledge.
    Cycling in the winter is about not dressing too warm and balance, balance, balance as the studded snow tires are no guarantee that you won't dump the bike on ice.
    Commuting in the winter is a great workout and riding my road bike during the spring and summer is a breeze...lol

  5. #5
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    Thanks for helping clear that up everyone! Hopefully it will be several months before I have to worry about it. More time to amass used parts!

  6. #6
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    I have been using my bike, a Kona Fire Mountain/Xtracycle, year round for 5 years now.
    The only thing that I changed for winter riding was installing friction shifters, Grunge guards and Nokian Mount & Ground W106's.

    Actually, winter riding was only part of the reason that I changed the shifters. The Grunge guards, installed on the front and rear derailleurs, seem to work very well, I have never not been able to shift in any temp/weather conditions.

    The only downside, is that Grunge guards, in this day and age, are rather hard to come by.
    2008 Kona Fire Mountain/Xtracycle
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    I void warranties.
    Cycling well IS Cycling Advocacy
    Originally Posted by Steely Dan: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

  7. #7
    Senior Member scoatw's Avatar
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    Grunge guard.jpg

    I've had mine for a few years. It does an unbelievable job of protecting the Rear dee. Keeps it looking and performing like brand new. I also, haven't had any problems shifting in frigid temperatures. But I also grease my cables inside the housing. And I think that has more to do with it than the Grunge guard.

    And in answer to the OP. I prefer the different gears in winter as opposed to SS. The variety comes in handy for different road conditions.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    It's never too early to think of a winter bike, . I've been thinking of building one up as well so you're not the only one thinking about winter. I know you want a do it all bike but you might want to think about a dedicated winter commuter and build it up from something inexpensive off CL.

  9. #9
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    The only downside, is that Grunge guards, in this day and age, are rather hard to come

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    IGH seem a fine solution... No RD at all..

  11. #11
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    Thanks everyone, I picked up a cheap late 90s mtb I'll be outfitting as an SS for snowy/sloppy commutes.

  12. #12
    bhc
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    Even though you might be tempted to try and make it without studded tires to either save $$ or keep the weight down, don't. And get the carbide studs, they don't wear too quickly on the pavement.

    Then come spring, you will enjoy the light feel of your Surly. My Surly Crosscheck goes into the basement and hangs from the rafters in the winter. An old Trek 930 gets the studded tires for the winter.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Turbo231's Avatar
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    Experience also helps. My winter warrior has fenders and it just happens that where my fenders connect they tend to take sticky snow from the tires and dump it straight down on my derailleur, which as previously stated, plugs with snow and is pretty much only usable in one gear, especially since its a townie and only has the rear derailleur to shift. Next year I'll adjust for that.

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