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Winter commuting

Old 07-01-17, 08:30 PM
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cfree5119
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Winter commuting

What type of bikes do you all recommend for a short cold possibly icy commute in the winter?
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Old 07-01-17, 08:50 PM
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Anything with studded tires.
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Old 07-02-17, 06:15 AM
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I lean toward a mountain bike. With the right skills, you can ride over and thru what is left behind from the plows. There's more than corn in Indiana, we have snow too.

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Old 07-02-17, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
Anything with studded tires.
Originally Posted by baldilocks View Post
I lean toward a mountain bike. With the right skills, you can ride over and thru what is left behind from the plows. There's more than corn in Indiana, we have snow too.
I agree with both of these posts. Studded tires are the bomb for winter riding. Vintage mountain bike (i.e., with rigid forks) are cheap on craigslist (you can find a quality one in the neighborhood of $100), parts are cheap and easy to find, and there is plenty of room for a nice fat 26 x 1.75 or 2.0 tire and fenders. Plus the flat bars and upright sitting position which were designed to maximize control for going offroad also help you maintain control while riding on road.

I live in Iowa and while we have snow here too, we don't have much more than corn here, unlike in Indiana,
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Old 07-02-17, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by cfree5119 View Post
What type of bikes do you all recommend for a short cold possibly icy commute in the winter?
What are your winters like? And what your roads like during them?

Studs for sure. And I favor a flat-bar style bike capable of running some reasonably wide tires.

An internally geared hub means there is less to clean each day. Belt drive is nice too.
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Old 07-02-17, 09:11 AM
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Fixed gear with studded tires and full fenders.
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Old 07-02-17, 11:50 AM
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I've been commuting successfully in Chicago winters for 15 years. About 10 years ago I discovered studded tires. Schwalbe Marathon Winters on a Dahon Mu XL works well for me. It has to be a folder to get on METRA, otherwise I have a 50-mile commute... too far for winter commuting!
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Old 07-02-17, 03:16 PM
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My main winter commuter is an old Giant Innova hybrid with schwalbe marathon winter studded tires (700x35) and drop bars. My winter route is ~ 15km. I was running a friction bar-end shifter for the rear (7 speed with a 'mega-range' freewheel) and had the FD locked to the middle chainring with the limit screws. I found a set of 7sp bar end shifters to go on that bike now.

My secondary bike this past year was an SE draft light single speed (I like to be able to coast, and the danger of the kids getting there fingers caught is enough to not have a fixed gear in the house until they're bigger) with schwalbe CX Pro cross tires(700x30) for fresh, deep snow. Worked well up to the hubs. I used a Sturmey-Archer drum brake front hub - worked pretty good.

I'm considering a Sturmey S2C kickback hub for a backup bike this year (the SE is going to be sold) but I'm not sure how it'll hold up.
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Old 07-02-17, 06:05 PM
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The same bike you ride all summer long will work fine on most days in the winter. Something with studded tires will work on the icy/snowy days.
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Old 07-03-17, 01:09 PM
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I ride a Workcycles Opafiets summer & winter. I once put studs (Schwalbe Marathon Winters) on front & rear but this past year did only the front and that worked quite well for Minnesota bikeways.
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Old 07-03-17, 02:46 PM
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Studs are a good idea but only if you really have to use them. I have a Moots YBB softtail...which Photobucket won't let me show you...that is set up with studs for snow rides. I buck the trend of rigid bikes for snow rides because I've found that suspension, particularly front suspension, helps immensely when it comes to handling snow and ice. The rear suspension provides some traction as well when the suspension squats down during pedaling.

Front suspension lets you float over ruts and soft spots in snow where a rigid bike will just plow into those places and throw you off your line. You just don't have to work as hard to keep going.
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Old 07-03-17, 08:48 PM
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I ride a hybrid 700c with studded tires. My fav are Nokian 240W, though I rode a lot of miles with the 106 stud tire from Nokian, and a couple of years with the Marathon Winters. I found the Marathon Winters to be pretty useless in deep wet snow - a few miles of my route are on gravel roads, they're steeply crowned, and the Marathon Winter has no tread blocks to prevent sideways movement, so every time I'd push the pedals, especially going up a hill, on wet snow more than an inch or so deep, the rear tire would just slip sideways a foot or so, which was impossible to ride with.
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Old 07-04-17, 07:58 AM
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Definitely studded tires. I've got mine on an old rigid steel mountain bike. There's nothing special about the bike, except it has clearance for the wide tires. I treat the bike differently, for instance coating some of its exposed steel parts with sticky oil, so it looks pretty scuzzy by the end of the winter. The bike also has ugly MTB fenders and a big globby shift lever that I can operate while wearing mittens. The front derailleur is long gone.

In my area, they salt the roads heavily, so an additional reason for the winter bike is to keep the salt off of my other bikes. I basically ride the winter bike throughout salt season. The tires are slower (or I'm slower in the cold), but my commute isn't all that far (4 mi each way, mostly flat), so it only adds about 5 minutes each way.

I think if you get the studs and it gives you the confidence to ride in the cold, you'll gradually figure out what other things you need for your winter commute. And that first spring day when you can get your summer bike back out -- you'll have earned it.
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Old 07-04-17, 11:18 AM
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I ride a Surly Ogre all year with big apples for 3 seasons than some Marathons Winters for the cold season. I would recommend studded tires and fenders, fenders go a long way during winter riding, we also get heavy road salt here. The Marathons are not a beefy tire but role really well when the ground has no ice on it and is dry pavement, because once you put them on its not worth taking them off (for me not until May 1st).
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Old 07-04-17, 11:26 AM
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In Frankfurt, I rode a hardtail MTB with studs as ice was a serious problem, but the road and cycle lanes were always clear of snow, so I never had to worry about the rear mech.

I just lowered the seat a little as I usually had it so I could only toe touch the ground.
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Old 07-04-17, 06:03 PM
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FWIW I eventually got a bike with hydraulic disc brakes and IGH for winter riding. The IGH is a Shimano 8 speed, and I'd recommend the unapproved but commonly done trick of relubing with automatic transmission fluid if you're going to be riding in very cold conditions (say, 15*F or lower).

I've had to ride all the way to work in whatever gear I left it in the previous day some days when I had a derailleur, as it was entirely iced up. I've also had rim brakes go to zero effectiveness when riding in freezing rain.
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Old 07-05-17, 07:54 AM
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Some mechanical disc brakes have the rear cable and housing loop slightly below point of exit for the cable where water might enter into the housing. If this happens and it's really cold your rear brakes won't work on account of the water in the housing freezing and seizing the cable. Happened to me one time. I had to bring the bike inside to let the ice melt, then tip the bike upright for a few minutes for the water to drain.

Not all mechanical disc systems have this loop. It's a design flaw, IMO.
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Old 07-05-17, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
FWIW I eventually got a bike with hydraulic disc brakes and IGH for winter riding. The IGH is a Shimano 8 speed, and I'd recommend the unapproved but commonly done trick of relubing with automatic transmission fluid if you're going to be riding in very cold conditions (say, 15*F or lower).

I've had to ride all the way to work in whatever gear I left it in the previous day some days when I had a derailleur, as it was entirely iced up. I've also had rim brakes go to zero effectiveness when riding in freezing rain.
Don't assume that hub mounted discs are any better, especially in freezing rain. The rotors can ice just like a rim can and they don't work any better.

On the other hand, actuating brake has never been a problem in frizzle or ice or snow for me. The lack of friction between the tire and the road is much more of a problem and having grabby or touchy brakes...and I've never found a hydraulic that wasn't either... usually leads to making out with the pavement.
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Old 07-05-17, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
On the other hand, actuating brake has never been a problem in frizzle or ice or snow for me. The lack of friction between the tire and the road is much more of a problem and having grabby or touchy brakes...and I've never found a hydraulic that wasn't either... usually leads to making out with the pavement.
I didn't find that my cantilever brakes were an issue during a pretty bad freezing rainstorm last winter despite the copious amount of ice build up on just about every part of the bike.

IMG_0759.jpg

IMG_0761.jpg

IMG_0767.jpg
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Old 07-05-17, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Don't assume that hub mounted discs are any better, especially in freezing rain. The rotors can ice just like a rim can and they don't work any better.
I'm not assuming. It is better. The rotor does ice up, but I hit the brakes and the ice explodes off the rotor and I have brakes 1/2 second later. On the rim, it just slips and I wind up ditching to stop.
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Old 07-05-17, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I'm not assuming. It is better. The rotor does ice up, but I hit the brakes and the ice explodes off the rotor and I have brakes 1/2 second later. On the rim, it just slips and I wind up ditching to stop.
And the ice explodes off the rims as well. I've experience both for the same reasons and neither brake system works any differently. Wet or icy rotors respond the same as wet or icy rims in my experience.

I've had many rides with bikes that look like mcours2006's bike and still managed to stop without issues.
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Old 07-05-17, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Wet or icy rotors respond the same as wet or icy rims in my experience.
Braking distance under wet conditions is increased with both rim and disc brakes. This obvious not just because of the wet disc/rims, but the traction of the tires on the pavement. However, from my own experience disc brakes are less affected by the wet than rim brakes.

During my icy ride the rim brakes worked fine, but under those conditions I'm more worried about the friction between the tires and the road.
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Old 07-05-17, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
And the ice explodes off the rims as well. I've experience both for the same reasons and neither brake system works any differently. Wet or icy rotors respond the same as wet or icy rims in my experience.

I've had many rides with bikes that look like mcours2006's bike and still managed to stop without issues.
Could be. Maybe it was colder when I was trying with rim brakes. In that instance the brakes simply did nothing despite not being seized as far as I could tell. After I finally stopped by ditching, there was clearly ice on the rim.

I switched to discs after having that happen to me a couple of times and haven't had any brake failure since then. But it's possible it was a temperature difference or something.

For the last few years I just give up and drive if it's freezing rain. There are plenty of days to ride on, and I can't afford the time to ride on all of them (riding to work and back takes 3 hours out of my day versus 1 hour to drive).
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Old 07-06-17, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
Could be. Maybe it was colder when I was trying with rim brakes. In that instance the brakes simply did nothing despite not being seized as far as I could tell. After I finally stopped by ditching, there was clearly ice on the rim.

I switched to discs after having that happen to me a couple of times and haven't had any brake failure since then. But it's possible it was a temperature difference or something.
I would suspect ice somewhere in the brake mechanism like in the cables or the caliper themselves. But that can happen with discs as well.

As mcours2006 has pointed out, I'm much more concerned about the tire to road friction than the brakes. I resisted studs for many years and still hate them but they do work better than regular tires. Last winter I stopped at a stop sign while on my bike with studs (front disc/rear rim) and was shocked at how slick the road was when I put my foot down.

Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
For the last few years I just give up and drive if it's freezing rain. There are plenty of days to ride on, and I can't afford the time to ride on all of them (riding to work and back takes 3 hours out of my day versus 1 hour to drive).
My problem with freezing rain isn't the rain. It's the vast number of idiots who have moved to Colorado from places where there is no freezing rain and they can't drive in it 90% of them can't drive in warm rain! I, too, usually leave my bike at home on the days when driving is more like hockey.
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Old 07-06-17, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
My problem with freezing rain isn't the rain. It's the vast number of idiots who have moved to Colorado from places where there is no freezing rain and they can't drive in it 90% of them can't drive in warm rain! I, too, usually leave my bike at home on the days when driving is more like hockey.
Yeah, native Colorado drivers are the best I've ever seen. They (you) know what they're (you're) doing!
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