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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 02-12-14, 03:48 PM   #1
North Coast Joe
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Please Confirm/Refute Some Observations

Thanks for taking a look. This is my second Winter riding and have some observations about it that may or may not be correct. I try to ride six days weekly this year, regardless of conditions or temperatures. Last year, without studded tires, I took days off whenever ice and snow were persistent on the roads. Glad I bought them this year, I wouldn't have been able to ride since November! I'd just like some feedback about how others feel about these points.

1. It takes way more energy to Winter ride. Good weather rides of 25+ miles are the norm, but here in the Winter I feel lucky to get 8-12 miles done.

2. It's slow....Creeping along on my MTB with studs feels like I'm 100 years old. I feel like rejoicing when the speedo hits double digits on the flats.....ooooh...20mph on clear downhill pavement....I'm riding the Space Shuttle!!!

3. Corollary to point #1 : Part of the energy expenditure is the high concentration levels needed to determine the constantly variable road conditions. In any 100 yard section of roads here you can find sheet ice, loose snow over same, piles from plowed driveways, salty slush, frozen ruts, yada, yada. Picking my line down the road seems to exhaust me as much as pedaling.

3a. Sub corollary to point #1 : Another portion of the energy expenditure is just staying friggin' warm in these conditions....this DOES NOT include misc. expenditures such as constantly wiping a running nose or clearing fogged goggles.

4. Even though I'm fairly sure last Winter wasn't the cause, I just replaced the entire drivetrain on my bike, from BB to the cassette. All that salt and cinder mix can't be doing any favors for those new parts....how soon before it has to be done again? I do try to rinse it off, or at least wipe down the chain after every ride.

I'm sure it sounds like whining; believe me, I'd do 5 miles outside for every mile I wouldn't enjoy on an indoor trainer. I just don't see ANY other cyclists at this time of year and would like to hear your input on these observations. Thanks!
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Old 02-12-14, 05:46 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Coast Joe View Post
Thanks for taking a look. This is my second Winter riding and have some observations about it that may or may not be correct. I try to ride six days weekly this year, regardless of conditions or temperatures. Last year, without studded tires, I took days off whenever ice and snow were persistent on the roads. Glad I bought them this year, I wouldn't have been able to ride since November! I'd just like some feedback about how others feel about these points.

1. It takes way more energy to Winter ride. Good weather rides of 25+ miles are the norm, but here in the Winter I feel lucky to get 8-12 miles done.
Yup. Generally speaking, cold weather is harder to ride in. You've got more clothes on which restrict your movement, the road conditions might not be the best, the cold itself zaps your muscles, darkness zaps your attitude, etc.

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2. It's slow....Creeping along on my MTB with studs feels like I'm 100 years old. I feel like rejoicing when the speedo hits double digits on the flats.....ooooh...20mph on clear downhill pavement....I'm riding the Space Shuttle!!!
Training. Training. Training. In the summer, when the weather is nicer, get out the mountain bike and put some miles on it with knobbies. Go ride it off-road. You get used to the (slightly slower) speed in those conditions. Ride the knobbies to where you are going to ride off-road and you'll really get used to the slower speed. On the plus side, you'll build strength and speed when you switch back to a bike without knobbies.

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3. Corollary to point 1[/URL] : Part of the energy expenditure is the high concentration levels needed to determine the constantly variable road conditions. In any 100 yard section of roads here you can find sheet ice, loose snow over same, piles from plowed driveways, salty slush, frozen ruts, yada, yada. Picking my line down the road seems to exhaust me as much as pedaling.
Again, ride off-road in good weather. Gnarly off-road teaches you how to focus without wasting a lot of energy. It sounds like you may be trying to dodge all the stuff on the road which burns a lot of energy. Learn how to ride over what you can and how to dodge what you can't ride over...and how to recognize the difference quickly.

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3a. Sub corollary to point #1[/URL] : Another portion of the energy expenditure is just staying friggin' warm in these conditions....this DOES NOT include misc. expenditures such as constantly wiping a running nose or clearing fogged goggles.
I never found keeping warm to be too much of an issue. The other problems have easy solutions...learn how to blow snot rockets and get better air flow to your goggles/glasses.

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4. Even though I'm fairly sure last Winter wasn't the cause, I just replaced the entire drivetrain on my bike, from BB to the cassette. All that salt and cinder mix can't be doing any favors for those new parts....how soon before it has to be done again? I do try to rinse it off, or at least wipe down the chain after every ride.
Replace things that are worn out or broken. Don't just replace them preventatively. Bike parts will last a long time even in bad conditions.
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Old 02-12-14, 10:01 PM   #3
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This is my first winter riding my bike. I've been out a number of times in 16-30 degree weather and have been surprised by the drop in average speed during my standard 20 mile, somewhat hilly loop. In the warm months, i do it in 80 minutes but in winter it takes a full 2 hours. I've been enjoying the rides and not worrying about my speed. It's really great being able to ride in the winter, and I've been quite comfortable now that I have winter boots. The studded tires work fine, but come April I will be happy to pop on my road tires!
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Old 02-13-14, 04:09 AM   #4
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Fun point. Air is denser in the cold. This provides more power for cars but also more air resistance for cyclists. The baggy clothes don't much help either.

Grease stiffens. This will cause extra drag and make the bike feel heavier.

Most disc brakes start to rub a bit in the cold (some a lot). Mechanicals are my tool for the winter.

Snow will also cause extra rolling resistance.
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Old 02-14-14, 09:05 AM   #5
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^^^ Why would disc brakes rub more in the cold? My BB7'S and avid hydros work just fine.
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Old 02-14-14, 12:46 PM   #6
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^^^ Why would disc brakes rub more in the cold? My BB7'S and avid hydros work just fine.
Mechanics usually don't. However if there is little to no tolerance the cold might shorten the cable etc. The fix is of course very simple.

With hydraulic brakes it depends on the model and luck. For example the rubber seals in brakes using mineral oil (shimano, magura) have a flexibility cold tolerance to -20 to -50 celsius. I believe the current shimano generation is relatively close to the -20 celsius because they just stop working when it hits -15 celsius. You see disc brakes have two methods of function. One is the pistons moving out from the caliper to meet the disc. When they meet the disc they back out a bit and stay there. The movement we see after this is the seals flexing, not the pistons moving in or out. But when the seals stop flexing the pistons need to move, they do not return properly due to the cold and the stronger piston will start to rub. This can be very intense depending on the brake.

Brakes using DOT fluid have better flex tolerance for cold but it still depends very much on the brake as even the DOT fluid rubber may have bad cold tolerance.

Btw. In my personal opinion Avid hydros do cope well in the cold but I stopped using them because they are simply the worst brakes I have ever used. Like, absolutely horrible. Nothing compares...
The avid BB7's are awesome but do squeal like dying pigs when even a bit of moisture gets on the disc. I do believe though that this is a mounting issue. I need to see if I can align them a little better.
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Old 02-14-14, 12:54 PM   #7
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^^^^ Yow, yes I have the Avid turkey warble. May try some different pads. They were stock on my new enduro and will replace with some slx when they die. BB7'S, make sure they are set correctly including facing the frame if needed. Also try some organic pads.
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Old 02-15-14, 01:21 PM   #8
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disc noises could be dirt& contamination & pad glazing .. service time.
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Old 02-15-14, 02:41 PM   #9
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Automotive grade greases help a good bit for the thermal issues both in hot(discs) and cold. My peeve is the road salt/brine making the rotors rust or squeak like mad even when they are fine dry.
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Old 02-26-14, 11:55 PM   #10
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Just got back from a 10 mile ride at -3F, it felt like 20 miles. I find I ride everything in one chain ring lower in the winter. In winter I ride hours, and forget distance. If I'm in a dogsled trail, that might only be 3 miles in an hour. Sometimes it's a matter of how slow you can ride as you spin the crank. It's still faster than walking, and better than a gym. When it's colder than -10F, I try not to sweat, I just conceed defeat at the bottom of the hill, throw her in granny gear and get there when I get there. The post ride beer tastes just as good.
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Old 02-28-14, 08:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Coast Joe View Post
Thanks for taking a look. This is my second Winter riding and have some observations about it that may or may not be correct. I try to ride six days weekly this year, regardless of conditions or temperatures. Last year, without studded tires, I took days off whenever ice and snow were persistent on the roads. Glad I bought them this year, I wouldn't have been able to ride since November! I'd just like some feedback about how others feel about these points.

1. It takes way more energy to Winter ride. Good weather rides of 25+ miles are the norm, but here in the Winter I feel lucky to get 8-12 miles done.

2. It's slow....Creeping along on my MTB with studs feels like I'm 100 years old. I feel like rejoicing when the speedo hits double digits on the flats.....ooooh...20mph on clear downhill pavement....I'm riding the Space Shuttle!!!

3. Corollary to point #1 : Part of the energy expenditure is the high concentration levels needed to determine the constantly variable road conditions. In any 100 yard section of roads here you can find sheet ice, loose snow over same, piles from plowed driveways, salty slush, frozen ruts, yada, yada. Picking my line down the road seems to exhaust me as much as pedaling.

3a. Sub corollary to point #1 : Another portion of the energy expenditure is just staying friggin' warm in these conditions....this DOES NOT include misc. expenditures such as constantly wiping a running nose or clearing fogged goggles.

4. Even though I'm fairly sure last Winter wasn't the cause, I just replaced the entire drivetrain on my bike, from BB to the cassette. All that salt and cinder mix can't be doing any favors for those new parts....how soon before it has to be done again? I do try to rinse it off, or at least wipe down the chain after every ride.

I'm sure it sounds like whining; believe me, I'd do 5 miles outside for every mile I wouldn't enjoy on an indoor trainer. I just don't see ANY other cyclists at this time of year and would like to hear your input on these observations. Thanks!
1. Yes! That is not your imagination. I can tell how much slower my bike rolls @ -10F vs +10F. My coldest ride home this year was -14; I store my bike in the heated garage at work. The first mile I rode, I could feel the bike rolling slower and slower. Great exercise.

2. Studs immediately slow me down by 1/3, that is, on dry pavement, my commute goes from 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs. And I haven't seen much dry pavement in the last 3 months.

3. Yep. My commute feels like I'm doing a mountain bike race.

4. Very hard on bikes. Hence, the concept of the "winter Bike".

The big payoff is with bragging rights! You earned it!
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Old 02-28-14, 08:59 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
With hydraulic brakes it depends on the model and luck. For example the rubber seals in brakes using mineral oil (shimano, magura) have a flexibility cold tolerance to -20 to -50 celsius. I believe the current shimano generation is relatively close to the -20 celsius because they just stop working when it hits -15 celsius. You see disc brakes have two methods of function. One is the pistons moving out from the caliper to meet the disc. When they meet the disc they back out a bit and stay there. The movement we see after this is the seals flexing, not the pistons moving in or out. But when the seals stop flexing the pistons need to move, they do not return properly due to the cold and the stronger piston will start to rub. This can be very intense depending on the brake.

Brakes using DOT fluid have better flex tolerance for cold but it still depends very much on the brake as even the DOT fluid rubber may have bad cold tolerance.
I found today, at -28C (-18F), that my hydraulic brakes worked fine but were slow to retract so if I tried to use the brakes again within a few second, I needed just a very short pull on the brake lever to engage the brakes. However, after a minute or so, the brakes were fully retracted and a normal brake pull was needed to engage the brakes. However, no noise or rubbing, just slow to retract.

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Btw. In my personal opinion Avid hydros do cope well in the cold but I stopped using them because they are simply the worst brakes I have ever used. Like, absolutely horrible. Nothing compares...
The avid BB7's are awesome but do squeal like dying pigs when even a bit of moisture gets on the disc. I do believe though that this is a mounting issue. I need to see if I can align them a little better.
My brakes are Avid Elixir 1 and they don't squeal.
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