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Winter Commuting Tips

Old 08-25-16, 09:30 AM
  #1  
absoludicrous
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Winter Commuting Tips

Looking for some insight, tips, tricks for those who commute during the winter. I will be riding in Minneapolis, MN.

I have never done this before and would like to continue my commute through the winter.

My current bike plans to be an All City Space Horse set up with 35mm Gravel King SKs. I'd like to add fenders, headlight, and possibly a rack, but I don't have an issue continuing to ride with my back pack. I will convert my SPD pedals over to platform in order to wear a hiking boot. I also plan on wearing my insulated snowboarding helmet along with goggles and a face mask.

What are some things I should also consider in order to make the winter commute as enjoyable as possible? Tips on bike handling, gear, etc?

Last edited by absoludicrous; 08-25-16 at 03:01 PM. Reason: Location
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Old 08-25-16, 10:04 AM
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What are your winters like? You don't have a location that I can see so it's hard to give you specific advice.

But it sounds like it's cold where your'e at. First thing I would recommend is get good mittens and possibly bar mitts (I use ones for scooters since they're cheap). The rest of your body will require less clothes than you think. You'll want to have everything covered with light layers. When you walk out of the house you should be cold. I warm up after about 5 minutes in the snow. After 20 minutes layers need to come off or I start sweating.

Depending on how much you sweat, the goggle may fog if they don't have good ventilation. I like a good waterproof hiking boot in the event there's a thaw during the day and it gets slushy.

Studded tires are practically mandatory if you have a lot of ice. I stick to the back roads on my fat bike and that's not as much of an issue due to snow cover.
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Old 08-25-16, 10:33 AM
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Where are you from? How much ice do you get? How cold does it get? How much snow do you get?
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Old 08-25-16, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by absoludicrous View Post
I'd like to add fenders, headlight, and possibly a rack, but I don't have an issue continuing to ride with my back pack.

Neither did I... until I got a rack and stopped riding with a pack on my back. It's wonderful... no going back to the back for me!
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Old 08-25-16, 11:17 AM
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If you're riding in traffic - lots of lights. I have two NiteRider headlights, a rear flasher and wheel strobes on the bike, plus two more flashers on my backpack.
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Old 08-25-16, 11:42 AM
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a good coat. Something to unfreeze your lock or gears.
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Old 08-25-16, 11:51 AM
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Good advice here already! Consider lobster claw mittens for dexterity in very cold weather (or the bar mitts). I like the ventilation of my regular bike helmet even in extreme cold, wear it with a thin balaclava and throw up the shell jacket hood if it is windy. Light shell pants are a good layer in many conditions. I've been wearing Lake winter spd boots - spendy, but they are warm, light and efficient.
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Old 08-25-16, 12:26 PM
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Check out the Winter Cycling subforum. Probably quiet there right now, but things will pick up as the temps drop.
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Old 08-25-16, 12:40 PM
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My Tips after one winter season of occasional commuting :

Turn the bike gradually, don't jerk the handlebar left or right quickly.
Never use your front brake; only back brake, and sparingly.
At times, use your legs as safety when you turn.
Don't ride over 20km/hr.
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Old 08-25-16, 12:54 PM
  #10  
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it all depends on where you live. answer that first and you will get more detailed answers.


start cool- cold because you will warm up no matter how cold it is.


if you can block wind you may not need that much insulation because you are making your own heat.


Backpack will keep you warmer in winter but I like panniers on a rear rack. It allows you to take off most of the morning stuff since the ride home is usually warmer..(not as much needed)
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Old 08-25-16, 01:01 PM
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Where are you? Please put your location in you profile.

It is all very dependent on where you are located. How cold, how much snow or ice or rain? How do you ride? How warm you get or how tolerant of cold you are?

I live in the pacific we(s)t coast so it hovers about 5░C or 40░F with a lot of moisture. Only infrequent ice and snow. I get hot quickly and I used to ride a Surly LHT with drop bars and brifters, so that all impacts my decisions as to what works for me.

Hands: I use Black Diamond ice climbing gloves and they are great, they do get wet from sweat and rain but they keep me warm. I have used and abused them for years and the inner liner is sewn in and I can pull it out and invert it and let it dry a bit at work, or stuff it with newspaper. I have no issues throwing them in the washer and dryer at night so they are clean and dry and they are 5 seasons old, so they hold up well, the thumb soft nose wipe piece is the only thing that degraded. Or, neoprene kayaking gloves. If it is really cold maybe get a size larger and add a wool liner.

Body: I wear compression tights and when it gets colder I put on a pair of cycling pants that are water resistant. On the top I layer wool shirts maybe an occasional polypro shirt depending on the temperature, sometimes when significantly below freezing I add an extra sweater or jacket to cut the wind. I always wear a reflective vest.

Head: Laboratory safety glasses (Uvex Genesis). I wear a cross country head band to cover my forehead and ears. if really cold a beanie of the same material to keep my head warm, some people use helmet covers.

Feet: I use my normal SPD shoes and shoe covers. They do sell winter specific SPD shoes and boots. Other than that usually defeet wool socks.

Bike: Occasionally Schwalbe Marathon winters, normally regular marathons. One solid and two flashing red lights. One solid and one or two flashing white front lights. I put on spoke reflectors and some 3M reflective tape on the fork and stays.

Ride careful, take your time, account for extra time, take turns slow, learn to look for shadowed areas where ice may melt more slowly, watch for cars sliding into the intersection due to icy/slippery hard pack snow on secondary roads.

And the most important: experiment and find what works for you.

Edit: If you feel warm or hot when you get out you're over-dressed. You should be cool when you start and for the first 5-10 minutes, then you warm up and are comfortable.

Edit: My old set up and outfit.
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Old 08-25-16, 01:19 PM
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@joeyduck that is a nice headlight/ taillights? what are they?
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Old 08-25-16, 01:41 PM
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I commuted winters for 10 years by just wearing more clothes, heavier socks, and eventually moving to platforms and hunting boots when it got really cold (like, below 10*F).

on the bike, all I did was to get good lights and mount studded tires. My current fav are Nokian W240s. For lights, I like ones with external packs for long runtimes (I need at least 2 hours even when the temp starts abusing the batteries). Magicshine clones front and back work well and < $100 will set you up with very good lights. I like a front light with a smooth reflector and add a wide lens on the front of it to spread the beam flat and wide. On the back the Magicshine for $30 with a Y adapter for power is good and bright for starters.

These days I run a DesignShine DS400 in the back, though I think if I were doing it again I might get a Dinotte Quad Red. I still might.
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Old 08-25-16, 02:01 PM
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No idea if this applies to you, I add studded tires beginning in Dec/Jan. I found I had no trouble layering sufficiently for hands/head/upper body, but will try to get a couple pairs of nylon type wind pants that I can just pull over my regular attire. I don't wear bike kit to work, but found that the wind was just ripping through my pants, but it's too warm to wear base layers under my pants at work. Something I can easily pull over my office clothes when I run out to lunch, then remove easily would be ideal.
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Old 08-25-16, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by RidingMatthew View Post
@joeyduck that is a nice headlight/ taillights? what are they?
The bright front one is like this one.

LZZ-T6 Cree XM-L T6 600lm Red 3-Mode White Bicycle Bike Light / Headlamp (4 x 18650)

The rear are planet bike super flash. There are two or three and one other generic thing.

https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5025-7...LED-Rear-Light

https://www.mec.ca/en/product/4007-4...ini-Tail-Light

Then another front like this, but an older version and the house brand.

https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5050-3...-w-Side-Lights
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Old 08-25-16, 03:08 PM
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Added location (Minneapolis). Thanks for the replies so far, all awesome. I think my biggest questions is to run studded or not. I will be starting out with a gravel oriented tire (Panaracer Gravel King SK in 35mm), being that I'm told the trails that I currently commute on are usually plowed. In the event that they are not, is a studded tire crucial? MNDOT salts the hell out of the road surfaces here, but MN is known for terrible re-freeze. Especially after those January thaws followed by sub-zero overnight temps. That's what I'm scared of.

I'm trying to make my current set up work with minimal add-ons or purchases as money is tight.

My ride comprises of 1 mile of normal road, and 4.5 or 5 of paved trail.

Also, fenders?
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Old 08-25-16, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by absoludicrous View Post
Added location (Minneapolis). Thanks for the replies so far, all awesome. I think my biggest questions is to run studded or not. I will be starting out with a gravel oriented tire (Panaracer Gravel King SK in 35mm), being that I'm told the trails that I currently commute on are usually plowed. In the event that they are not, is a studded tire crucial? MNDOT salts the hell out of the road surfaces here, but MN is known for terrible re-freeze. Especially after those January thaws followed by sub-zero overnight temps. That's what I'm scared of.

I'm trying to make my current set up work with minimal add-ons or purchases as money is tight.

My ride comprises of 1 mile of normal road, and 4.5 or 5 of paved trail.

Also, fenders?
I would have to say yes to studs. They last several years and they are better than a broken hip, arm, or clavicle. I would say the return on investment is high. If you look around now you may find some sales.

At that distance you should be fine, not long enough to get super cold.

From what I understand fenders can get clogged with slush and snow if there isn't enough clearance, and from what I recall from looking at the All City there wouldn't be a lot of clearance.

Last edited by joeyduck; 08-25-16 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 08-25-16, 05:40 PM
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Bar Mitts. Look really dorky but much better than numb hands.
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Old 08-25-16, 06:21 PM
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I commute year round

on the northern edge of the Twin Cities. Some good advice throughout the thread. Regular hiking boots wont do undsr 15 degrees or so. Get a pair of of winter boots. My favorite are Salomon Toundras. VBL socks from stephenson Warm Lite with thin wool socks on top will take you as cold as you want to ride with Toundras.

Get bar mitts, as suggested. I have pogies on my fat bike. I can ride my Troll with winter gloves and gore tex shell mitts pretty cold. Your challenge wil be retaining enough dexterity to work the gears.

15 and above I wear a mountaineering shell on my legs, no long underwear. Below 15 ill put on a thin pair of long underwear.

On top I wear a light long sleeve merino top with a no insulation shell over that. That takes me to 10 degrees or so. A second meriono top takes me much colder.

On my head I wear varying weight caps and balaclavas depending on temp. I find a merino buff very useful. At -15 and colder I bring out the Cold Avenger mask. Ive never felt the need for goggles. I wear a Ber Brentwood helmet in the winter.

As otherwhave said, I start cold and warm up.
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Old 08-25-16, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by joeyduck View Post
I would have to say yes to studs.......From what I understand fenders can get clogged with slush and snow if there isn't enough clearance, and from what I recall from looking at the All City there wouldn't be a lot of clearance.
Studs will be necessary in MN wintertime. On icy pavement two rows of studs should be fine (take turns carefully) and on refrozen rutted trails four rows is better, to control interaction with the frozen troughs.

I have essentially zero clearance fenders and the studs flush out the snow just fine without adding noticeable effort to my pedaling.
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Old 08-26-16, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by absoludicrous View Post
Added location (Minneapolis). Thanks for the replies so far, all awesome. I think my biggest questions is to run studded or not. I will be starting out with a gravel oriented tire (Panaracer Gravel King SK in 35mm), being that I'm told the trails that I currently commute on are usually plowed. In the event that they are not, is a studded tire crucial? MNDOT salts the hell out of the road surfaces here, but MN is known for terrible re-freeze. Especially after those January thaws followed by sub-zero overnight temps. That's what I'm scared of.

I'm trying to make my current set up work with minimal add-ons or purchases as money is tight.

My ride comprises of 1 mile of normal road, and 4.5 or 5 of paved trail.

Also, fenders?
I live in Minnesota. That you think plowing will remove all the ice (or even salting the hell out of the road surfaces will do it) is...amusing. You should expect that there will be significant ice on the roads for a large portion of the winter, even in a good winter.

These are the winter tires I would recommend:
- Schwalbe Marathon Winter 35c - the fastest studded tire I would ride here (this is what I have on my winter bike)
- Schwable Marathon Winter 40c - A little wider, handles icey rutted road better because it's wider
- 45nrth Gravdal 38c - this is the grippiest and best studded tire I know of, I'd be using it if my winter bike handled a tire size above 35c :-/
- Fat Bikes - to be complete, a lot of people ride fat bikes because they handle the most conditions. They're a lot slower though.

Cheapest way to buy them is either hit a 2 for 1 sale at the bike shops, or amazon, like here's the Schwalbe in a 35c for $55 / tire:
https://www.amazon.com/Schwalbe-Wint...2Bwinter&psc=1

Nokian makes decent winter tires, I used to recommend the Nokian w106 as the cheapest decent studded tire, but nowadays the Schwalbe Marathon Winter 35c costs less or the same, so I prefer that.

------------------------

I don't have cold feet, when I was using clipless I used shoe covers and wool socks. I use flats now, but still just use thick Fits brand wool socks (they sell them at Midwest Mountaineering, or on amazon) and my regular summer chrome shoes.
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Old 08-26-16, 06:48 AM
  #22  
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What I did for boots (and gloves) is to buy post-hunting-season clearance. I got a pair of nice high top insulated hunting boots for $30 and blaze orange hunting gloves for $10 a pair.

I'm going to pick up some bar mitts. I've gone 12 years without them but keeping my fingers warm has always been a challenge. That and toes. For toes, windproof toe covers are a huge win.

Last year I finally gave up and spent $250 on Lake winter shoes. That WILL solve your winter cold toe problems, they are very warm and windproof. But not really necessary IMO unless you're going to be riding sub-zero.

My cold tolerance seems high though, the things I wear at -5*F are what many others are wearing at +20*F. I guess it depends on what you're used to.
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Old 08-26-16, 08:03 AM
  #23  
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Been winter commuting for about 7 seasons now. I live in Sioux Falls which is quite similar to Minneapolis climate-wise. My biggest recommendation:

Unless you have a warm space in which to bring your bike in, and the dedication to spend the time cleaning it every single night, don't use a bike you're not willing to sacrifice. The salt/chemicals they use in our region quickly destroy components at a highly alarming rate.

The first year I commuted all winter I rode my nice Giant mountain bike. By spring it looked like it had aged 30 years. Every piece of steel on the thing was solid rust, even though I was trying to keep things lubricated. Any non-painted aluminum was oxidized. Since then this bike has become my dedicated winter bike and I just replace components as they break (which is quite frequent) and don't worry about trying to clean the thing.

After that first year, my Giant was only used during the winter and I bought a replacement bike for spring/summer/fall commuting.

People in more temperate climates can just hose/wipe down the bike after they get home to wash the chemicals off and let it sit in the garage to dry. We know that if we tried that in our part of the country we'd come out in the morning to a literal bike-cicle. That is, if the hose wasn't frozen solid to begin with. When the temps drop below freezing and stay there for months like they do for us, bringing the bike inside to wash it is pretty much the only option in the winter. And there's no way my wife would allow me to wheel that sloppy mess of a bike through the house and put it in the bathtub.

There are probably solutions to preventing this that would require me to spend more time in the sub-zero temps in the garage, but frankly after riding to/from work in those temps by the time I get home I'm no longer interested it being outside. So I just resolved myself to having a sacrificial bike for the winter.

On average I'll log about 500-700 miles of winter riding per year (my mileage drops along with the temps.) I get one season out of a chain. I'll get about two seasons out of a cassette, and about five out of the front chain rings. My hubs last about 4 years until the axles break. This year I'm going to have to do a major overhaul before the season starts as (in addition to the above items) I noticed my cables have rusted to the point where I don't trust them to hold much longer, my rear rack has a spot that broke due to rust and my brake adjustment screws have deteriorated to the point where they no longer have heads on them.

My two cents.
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Old 08-26-16, 09:00 AM
  #24  
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The biggest issue I face with winter commuting is the WIND. You NEED windproof gloves/jackets/pants when it gets cold enough. You can try the thickest gloves you want, but since you're moving forward at a good pace, your hands will just freeze.

I use dogwood designs pogies on my flat bar winter bike. They're thicker than bar mitts and give you more room to move your fingers around. If you do buy bar mitts, I suggest larges. I bought mediums for my fall/spring drop bar bike and it's hard to wear anything but a light pair of gloves under them. I usually wear medium gloves, but sometimes larges depending on the length of the fingers. Both of these things are good at keeping the wind off of your hands. The pogies do a better job since they come up higher on your wrist. I've ridden down to -40 (yes, negative 40) with the pogies and a GOOD pair of ski gloves under them. (But I have VERY cold hands, so you could probably get away with a bit less.) The pogies are nice because sometimes you can just take your gloves off and ride barehanded under them. I've ridden down to maybe 25F (yes, positive 25F) with the bar mitts and found that was about the limit for me. I was not very happy that day, but I made it home. (Again, very cold hands, so you could probably do a bit better.)

As for clothing? I wear a simple down jacket (puffy) over my sweater. I've never really needed anything else. The jacket is windproof, so it keeps me warm. I wear a warm tossle cap on my head (I forgo the helmet... don't yell at me.) I think my limit for a facemask is below 10F. Anything below that I'll wear a warm facemask. As for pants? Well, I've never been one to have cold legs (I'm a runner), so I can usually just wear the jeans I normally wear on my ride to work. When it gets below -10F or so I may wear my rain pants to keep the wind off of my legs. When it gets colder than -30F I find I need to wear some sort of long underwear/under armor under my jeans.

Glasses. If you wear glasses you'll find that they will fog. It's annoying. When it gets cold enough I just start wearing my contacts to and from work. When it's a blizzard outside (or very cold, say below -20F,) I'll wear ski goggles. You'll also find that your eyelashes will freeze together when it gets cold enough. That's... very annoying. Again, wind + cold + eyes = eyes watering = eyelashes freezing.

I wear normal hiking boots with nice down socks. I don't generally have cold feet. However on the days when it's very cold... -20F and below, I will take more precautions to keep my toes warm. (2 pairs of socks, perhaps chemical toe warmers.)

EDIT: It's pretty dry here in MT, so you may have to adjust all of my above temperatures up 10-15F to get a similar experience in humid climates.

Oh and yes, you need lights. Good lights, not crappy $30 ebay lights. I use a couple of fenix lights (BT 10 for a few years, now BT 20) and I have my dynamo lights. Both the fenix lights have replaceable external batteries, and I always keep extras in my pannier. Batteries die without warning in the cold. You have to be prepared. Trust me, you don't want to be walking home in a blizzard at -20F with no lights. (Ask me how I know.)

And finally, yes to the studded tires. Studded tires with CARBIDE studs. That's important. The ones with carbide studs will last you many seasons. The ones with steel studs will not. I use the schwalbe marathon winters 35c for my 700c bike, and nokian mount and ground + w240 for my 26" mountain "oh **** it got really bad outside and riding to work is going to be hell" bike. Last I checked you can get the pair of nokians I mentioned for < $100 total at REI.

Last edited by corrado33; 08-26-16 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 08-26-16, 10:17 AM
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Studs it is. Thanks a lot for the insightful information.

Originally Posted by revcp View Post
on the northern edge of the Twin Cities. Some good advice throughout the thread. Regular hiking boots wont do undsr 15 degrees or so. Get a pair of of winter boots. My favorite are Salomon Toundras. VBL socks from stephenson Warm Lite with thin wool socks on top will take you as cold as you want to ride with Toundras.

Get bar mitts, as suggested. I have pogies on my fat bike. I can ride my Troll with winter gloves and gore tex shell mitts pretty cold. Your challenge wil be retaining enough dexterity to work the gears.

15 and above I wear a mountaineering shell on my legs, no long underwear. Below 15 ill put on a thin pair of long underwear.

On top I wear a light long sleeve merino top with a no insulation shell over that. That takes me to 10 degrees or so. A second meriono top takes me much colder.

On my head I wear varying weight caps and balaclavas depending on temp. I find a merino buff very useful. At -15 and colder I bring out the Cold Avenger mask. Ive never felt the need for goggles. I wear a Ber Brentwood helmet in the winter.

As otherwhave said, I start cold and warm up.
Originally Posted by Archwhorides View Post
Studs will be necessary in MN wintertime. On icy pavement two rows of studs should be fine (take turns carefully) and on refrozen rutted trails four rows is better, to control interaction with the frozen troughs.

I have essentially zero clearance fenders and the studs flush out the snow just fine without adding noticeable effort to my pedaling.
Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
I live in Minnesota. That you think plowing will remove all the ice (or even salting the hell out of the road surfaces will do it) is...amusing. You should expect that there will be significant ice on the roads for a large portion of the winter, even in a good winter.

These are the winter tires I would recommend:
- Schwalbe Marathon Winter 35c - the fastest studded tire I would ride here (this is what I have on my winter bike)
- Schwable Marathon Winter 40c - A little wider, handles icey rutted road better because it's wider
- 45nrth Gravdal 38c - this is the grippiest and best studded tire I know of, I'd be using it if my winter bike handled a tire size above 35c :-/
- Fat Bikes - to be complete, a lot of people ride fat bikes because they handle the most conditions. They're a lot slower though.

Cheapest way to buy them is either hit a 2 for 1 sale at the bike shops, or amazon, like here's the Schwalbe in a 35c for $55 / tire:
https://www.amazon.com/Schwalbe-Wint...2Bwinter&psc=1

Nokian makes decent winter tires, I used to recommend the Nokian w106 as the cheapest decent studded tire, but nowadays the Schwalbe Marathon Winter 35c costs less or the same, so I prefer that.

------------------------

I don't have cold feet, when I was using clipless I used shoe covers and wool socks. I use flats now, but still just use thick Fits brand wool socks (they sell them at Midwest Mountaineering, or on amazon) and my regular summer chrome shoes.
Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
Been winter commuting for about 7 seasons now. I live in Sioux Falls which is quite similar to Minneapolis climate-wise. My biggest recommendation:

Unless you have a warm space in which to bring your bike in, and the dedication to spend the time cleaning it every single night, don't use a bike you're not willing to sacrifice. The salt/chemicals they use in our region quickly destroy components at a highly alarming rate.

The first year I commuted all winter I rode my nice Giant mountain bike. By spring it looked like it had aged 30 years. Every piece of steel on the thing was solid rust, even though I was trying to keep things lubricated. Any non-painted aluminum was oxidized. Since then this bike has become my dedicated winter bike and I just replace components as they break (which is quite frequent) and don't worry about trying to clean the thing.

After that first year, my Giant was only used during the winter and I bought a replacement bike for spring/summer/fall commuting.

People in more temperate climates can just hose/wipe down the bike after they get home to wash the chemicals off and let it sit in the garage to dry. We know that if we tried that in our part of the country we'd come out in the morning to a literal bike-cicle. That is, if the hose wasn't frozen solid to begin with. When the temps drop below freezing and stay there for months like they do for us, bringing the bike inside to wash it is pretty much the only option in the winter. And there's no way my wife would allow me to wheel that sloppy mess of a bike through the house and put it in the bathtub.

There are probably solutions to preventing this that would require me to spend more time in the sub-zero temps in the garage, but frankly after riding to/from work in those temps by the time I get home I'm no longer interested it being outside. So I just resolved myself to having a sacrificial bike for the winter.

On average I'll log about 500-700 miles of winter riding per year (my mileage drops along with the temps.) I get one season out of a chain. I'll get about two seasons out of a cassette, and about five out of the front chain rings. My hubs last about 4 years until the axles break. This year I'm going to have to do a major overhaul before the season starts as (in addition to the above items) I noticed my cables have rusted to the point where I don't trust them to hold much longer, my rear rack has a spot that broke due to rust and my brake adjustment screws have deteriorated to the point where they no longer have heads on them.

My two cents.
Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
The biggest issue I face with winter commuting is the WIND. You NEED windproof gloves/jackets/pants when it gets cold enough. You can try the thickest gloves you want, but since you're moving forward at a good pace, your hands will just freeze.

I use dogwood designs pogies on my flat bar winter bike. They're thicker than bar mitts and give you more room to move your fingers around. If you do buy bar mitts, I suggest larges. I bought mediums for my fall/spring drop bar bike and it's hard to wear anything but a light pair of gloves under them. I usually wear medium gloves, but sometimes larges depending on the length of the fingers. Both of these things are good at keeping the wind off of your hands. The pogies do a better job since they come up higher on your wrist. I've ridden down to -40 (yes, negative 40) with the pogies and a GOOD pair of ski gloves under them. (But I have VERY cold hands, so you could probably get away with a bit less.) The pogies are nice because sometimes you can just take your gloves off and ride barehanded under them. I've ridden down to maybe 25F (yes, positive 25F) with the bar mitts and found that was about the limit for me. I was not very happy that day, but I made it home. (Again, very cold hands, so you could probably do a bit better.)

As for clothing? I wear a simple down jacket (puffy) over my sweater. I've never really needed anything else. The jacket is windproof, so it keeps me warm. I wear a warm tossle cap on my head (I forgo the helmet... don't yell at me.) I think my limit for a facemask is below 10F. Anything below that I'll wear a warm facemask. As for pants? Well, I've never been one to have cold legs (I'm a runner), so I can usually just wear the jeans I normally wear on my ride to work. When it gets below -10F or so I may wear my rain pants to keep the wind off of my legs. When it gets colder than -30F I find I need to wear some sort of long underwear/under armor under my jeans.

Glasses. If you wear glasses you'll find that they will fog. It's annoying. When it gets cold enough I just start wearing my contacts to and from work. When it's a blizzard outside (or very cold, say below -20F,) I'll wear ski goggles. You'll also find that your eyelashes will freeze together when it gets cold enough. That's... very annoying. Again, wind + cold + eyes = eyes watering = eyelashes freezing.

I wear normal hiking boots with nice down socks. I don't generally have cold feet. However on the days when it's very cold... -20F and below, I will take more precautions to keep my toes warm. (2 pairs of socks, perhaps chemical toe warmers.)

EDIT: It's pretty dry here in MT, so you may have to adjust all of my above temperatures up 10-15F to get a similar experience in humid climates.

Oh and yes, you need lights. Good lights, not crappy $30 ebay lights. I use a couple of fenix lights (BT 10 for a few years, now BT 20) and I have my dynamo lights. Both the fenix lights have replaceable external batteries, and I always keep extras in my pannier. Batteries die without warning in the cold. You have to be prepared. Trust me, you don't want to be walking home in a blizzard at -20F with no lights. (Ask me how I know.)

And finally, yes to the studded tires. Studded tires with CARBIDE studs. That's important. The ones with carbide studs will last you many seasons. The ones with steel studs will not. I use the schwalbe marathon winters 35c for my 700c bike, and nokian mount and ground + w240 for my 26" mountain "oh **** it got really bad outside and riding to work is going to be hell" bike. Last I checked you can get the pair of nokians I mentioned for < $100 total at REI.
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