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Can I use my bike in winter or should I get a new one?

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Can I use my bike in winter or should I get a new one?

Old 07-17-15, 04:30 PM
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simpsondes32
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Can I use my bike in winter or should I get a new one?

Well I have this bike
We get weather that gets below 20F. I would like to know will this bike be good to ride in snow? We get 1"-4" of snow in winter and some times icy. So will this bike be good? What will I need to get to make it good for this weather.

If this won't work will the bike be good? https://buffalo.craigslist.org/bik/5060334847.html
I can get that bike. If it is a good bike, is there anything I will have to add to it to be prepared for the winter. Advice will be helpful.
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Old 07-17-15, 04:46 PM
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Riding in the winter can be slippery and as a veteran of several aborted attempts to cross snowy passes in the winter, I can tell you that it matters little what the width of your tire is.

Regulars from the winter-commuting boards are better qualified than I but I feel comfortable offering this advise:

* Ride the bike you're least concerned about damaging. That sounds like your existing bike, not a new one. (I've tried, but failed, to suggest that your existing bike is a great choice.)

* Get fenders, full fenders will keep you driest. That suggests that the bike you linked to would not be a good choice because it is next to impossible to add good fenders to a dual suspension bike.

* Make visibility an important part of commuting plans. People don't generally focus on bicyclists and pedestrians when they're fiddling with their air vents to clear the windshield, etc.

* Dress warmly and don't leave any skin exposed. Probably your biggest danger is frost bite. (Cover your ears, nose, throat, wrists, ankles, etc.) Extra socks will stave off cold for a while but beyond the first 30 min of a 20*F morning commute you're going to need electric socks if you want to avoid painful "defrosts" at work. Also, don't consider your ride as a workout. Wearing cloths that are appropriate for an aerobic workout probably won't be enough to keep you warm if you have to stop to repair a tire.

That's it.
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Old 07-17-15, 04:56 PM
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Two questions: Does your locale use salt on the roads and how much do you care about this bike? If the answers are "yes" and "a lot", get yourself a beater. If the answer to the 1st is "no" or the second "not much", that bike will do just fine. Get grippy, soft tires or tires with studs. Tread is better in snow, grippy and smooth better on ice. Continental ice tires are supposed to be superior on ice to all but studs. I got a pair but they have done the job and satisfied Murphy so far and so, cannot comment.

Edit: Completely agree with the poster above. Fenders rock! Especially if your roads have salt.

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Old 07-17-15, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Two questions: Does your locale use salt on the roads and how much do you care about this bike? If the answers are "yes" and "a lot", get yourself a beater. If the answer to the 1st is "no" or the second "not much", that bike will do just fine. Get grippy, soft tires or tires with studs. Tread is better in snow, grippy and smooth better on ice. Continental ice tires are supposed to be superior on ice to all but studs. I got a pair but they have done the job and satisfied Murphy so far and so, cannot comment.

Ben
1-4" inches of snow a winter isn't much. We get more than that here in Seattle where winters are very mild. Just about the only people that get studded tires in Seattle are the drivers that regularly go over our 3,000 ft passes. Consumer Reports warns that studded tires might increase stopping distances on dry paved surfaces. Seems like that's worth keeping in mind considering that about 99% (I guess) of the riding will be done when there's no snow at all.
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Old 07-17-15, 09:26 PM
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The biggest casualty of winter riding has been the external bottom bracket cups on two of my newer bikes. Particularly my Moonlander which lacks a vent hole. The ball bearings get all rusty and seize up. And this is in a city that uses mostly sand and little salt.

My old mountain bike with a cartridge bottom bracket handles winter just fine.
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Old 07-17-15, 09:59 PM
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Note to OP. I don't believe in "saving" bikes for some other time. I suppose that is why I thought first that your existing bike was your best choice. It won't be the same bike after a winter on the road but then you will look upon it with a new sense of kinship after that winter too.
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Old 07-17-15, 10:00 PM
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Invest in snow tires and fenders. Studded snow tires are best. Find ones with plenty of carbide studs both toward the center of the tread and along the sides. The ones near the center of the tread will help with acceleration or stopping and the ones on the sides come into play during turning. The most important aspect of winter riding is to make all your moves smooth and gradual. Sharp turns, hard braking, or trying to accelerate out of the saddle are common ways to end up lying on the frozen pavement. With decent winter tires, some practice, and common sense, you can ride safely on any road you would walk on in snow boots.
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Old 07-20-15, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by cale View Post
…* Ride the bike you're least concerned about damaging. ….
Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Two questions: Does your locale use salt on the roads and how much do you care about this bike? If the answers are "yes" and "a lot", get yourself a beater… Especially if your roads have salt.

Ben
I was seriously considering getting a Fat Bike for this next winter. But based on the postings by the two above, I can’t justify spending $1000 or more for a decent quality bike only to be beat up with the elements of winter. I already ride a beater that my son had picked up from the neighbour’s curb. Yes, they were throwing it away. I gave it a second life by changing the tires to studded snow tires and rode it all winter.

It can’t ride through 5 inches of fresh snow. In those days, I have to walk to work. When the snowplow has cleared the sidewalk, take a detour and I ride on the sidewalk until I reach a safe street to ride. When the snow in the bike trail has been packed enough by pedestrians and other cyclists, I return riding in the bike trail. I understand that Fat Bikes would have no problems with fresh snow and that’s why I was considering it. But the cost doesn't justify it.

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Old 07-20-15, 02:32 PM
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One to four inches of snow and you live in Buffalo?

I have 2 bikes set up as winter commuters. I have studded tires on one. They work pretty well in snow and ice. My other winter commuter has continental winter tires. They work well in mixed conditions where there is some snow and ice.
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Old 07-20-15, 02:41 PM
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Winter here is too long to ride a crappy bike... the disc brakes and rigid fork on the Dew are a plus for winter riding and your bike could handle anything with a set of studded tyres and some fenders.

Know that winter can be a harsh mistress and that, if you love your new bike that having a dedicated winter bike is not a bad idea... older rigid mtbs are plentiful and usually take to fenders and studded tyres.

I have a Pugsley for all season riding as it handles snow, mud, and sand like nothing else but my dedicated winter bike is an old Raleigh ATB with studded tyres, fenders, and a fixed wheel to make it as simple and tough as possible.
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Old 07-20-15, 02:43 PM
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Winter here is too long to ride a crappy bike... the disc brakes and rigid fork on the Dew are a plus for winter riding and your bike could handle anything with a set of studded tyres and some fenders.

Know that winter can be a harsh mistress and that, if you love your new bike that having a dedicated winter bike is not a bad idea... older rigid mtbs are plentiful and usually take to fenders and studded tyres.

I have a Pugsley for all season riding as it handles snow, mud, and sand like nothing else but my dedicated winter bike is an old Raleigh ATB with studded tyres, fenders, and a fixed wheel to make it as simple and tough as possible.

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Old 07-20-15, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by simpsondes32 View Post
Well I have this bike
We get weather that gets below 20F. I would like to know will this bike be good to ride in snow? We get 1"-4" of snow in winter and some times icy. So will this bike be good? What will I need to get to make it good for this weather.

If this won't work will the bike be good? https://buffalo.craigslist.org/bik/5060334847.html
I can get that bike. If it is a good bike, is there anything I will have to add to it to be prepared for the winter. Advice will be helpful.
It sounds like you have mild winters. I've been bike-commuting year-round in Minneapolis for 5 years. Temps get to -20F with lots of snow every winter. With temps below 0F, you need to be careful about grease getting to thick (not an issue for you).

This Kona will make a great winter bike - you started with a bike with disc brakes, I like them for snow/slush/wet conditions.

I highly recommend winter tires, two options:
Nokian Mount and Ground - Studded tires with carbide tips to last long on paved roads. Great grip on ice! Not too heavy (still heavy).
Continental Top Contact - Improved grip on slick winter road, but will not have the same grip as studded tires on ice. These are lighter and roll better than the studded tires.

These tires will not be great if snow is deeper than 4 inches, you'll sink in and have a hard time controlling the bike.

Around Minneapolis most riders convert to studded tires for the winter. I run the studded tire on the front and the non-studded tire on the rear - nice compromise. If you buy studded tires, make sure they are carbide studs, stainless steel studs will not last on paved roads. If you have fresh snow, keep the tire pressure on the low end of the tires recommendation for maximum traction.

To keep the bike in good conditions, you can use some frame-saver - basically wax to keep the road salt off. T-9 is my preferred option, you can use it on the chain and the frame.

Be prepared to clean the chain monthly and lube the chain weekly. Winter is tough on a bike, so if keeping this bike nice is important, look for a cheap beater (very common in Minneapolis).

This is my winter commuter:

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Old 07-20-15, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
Winter here is too long to ride a crappy bike... the disc brakes and rigid fork on the Dew are a plus for winter riding and your bike could handle anything with a set of studded tyres and some fenders.

Know that winter can be a harsh mistress and that, if you love your new bike that having a dedicated winter bike is not a bad idea... older rigid mtbs are plentiful and usually take to fenders and studded tyres.

I have a Pugsley for all season riding as it handles snow, mud, and sand like nothing else but my dedicated winter bike is an old Raleigh ATB with studded tyres, fenders, and a fixed wheel to make it as simple and tough as possible.

Ha! Nice timing!

Thanks for the fender comment - forgot that one!

And rigid for too - the fork in my picture is actually rigid (too much salt and it wasn't moving). Since I took that picture, I replace the fork with a Surly Troll fork.

And one last point I forgot, my primary commuter is a Kona Dew Drop - LOVE this bike! I haven't bought studded tires for it, but it's been out on snow many times, handles it like a pro!
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Old 07-20-15, 03:22 PM
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The first year I decided to commute through the winter months, I just used my good mountain bike. By the end of that winter it wasn't a good mountain bike any longer. The chemicals they dump on the roads for the ice are extremely hard on the components. Seven winters later the bike looks like it's been through a war. My painted aluminum frame still looks pretty decent (if I were to wash it) but the exposed pieces of unfinished aluminum have oxidized terribly. All of the steel pieces (cassette, rings, chain, screws, etc) are nothing but rust.

After that first winter I relegated my mountain bike to winter-only service and bought a new hybrid to replace it for fair(er) weather riding.

Even though the winter months are the months I put the least amount of miles on the mountain bike (probably 500-700 per season max) I completely trash the chain, even with constant lubricating. By March the rust is making the links stick together. I just budget for a new chain at the beginning of the season and throw the old one away. I get about two seasons out of a cassette and three out of a bottom bracket. Usually every year I'll lose some additional part else to the elements. Last year my rear hub snapped in two on my ride home from work.

I know some people try to combat the wear of winter riding by washing their bike after their rides. Where I live you can't do that outside, as the hose is frozen solid and even if it wasn't you'd just wind up with a bike-sicle (like a popsicle only with a bike) sitting in my unheated garage. And there's no way my wife is letting me roll a snowy bike through the house to clean it in the tub. So I just accept the fact that my winter bike is going to look terrible and require more frequent repairs.

Can you use your bike in winter? Sure. Should you? That depends on how much you like your bike. If it has sentimental value then I'd recommend getting a Craigslist beater for the winter months.
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