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cydisc 09-21-09 03:47 PM

Preparing for first winter commuting season
I started bike commuting full-time in February when I got a new job that wasn't a 70 mile round trip. I missed the snow season in Iowa, so I've been lurking around in here to get an idea of what I need to prepare for the coming weather.

My current ride is a 90's vintage Trek 950 (unsuspended chromoly frame). I replaced the knobbies with slicks for the summer and figured I'd just get a set of decent studded tires and be done with it. Now, I'm wondering if I'll need to do more.

My first thought is to replace the steel frame with an inexpensive aluminum frame and switch over the components. Then I started listing all the other things I'd love to replace (disc brakes, front suspension) and I ended up thinking I might as well just get a new bike.

I don't know. I'm still hashing it out. I actually can't wait for the snow to fly.

hshearer 09-21-09 04:11 PM

Winter cycling is actually very nice if it's dry (I'm in Saskatoon; too cold for salt, and a winter melt is very rare). However, winter will be hard on your bike, especially if your area uses salt and sand and you get occasional melts.You also probably won't feel like bringing your messy bike in to clean and service it, and you REALLY won't want to work on it outdoors, which makes the wear and tear worse. I sure wouldn't be buying a new bike for winter... if anything, I'd be leaning more towards using a disposable beater.

Your Trek sounds like a perfect winter bike to me if you get studded tires, and don't mind abusing it a bit. I wouldn't worry too much about rusting out your frame; you'll ruin just about everything else on the bike before that happens if wet/salt is a concern. If you do get a new bike, just save it for nicer weather!

The only other thing I'd recommend would be to replace the grease in your bearings with something that will stay mobile if you're expecting to see temps approaching -20F (or colder). It will make the handling much safer; I had my bike out a few times at -40F last year, and that's about where my grease got so sluggish that it became impossible to move the handle bars; it seems okay at temps that are a little warmer, and then, boom... a couple degrees colder and you have no steering. I'll definitely be replacing the grease before winter hits this year.

tsl 09-21-09 06:13 PM

I got by just fine for my first winter of commuting by just buying studded tires. I already had fenders on the bike and it was fully commute-rigged otherwise. Then, all I had to deal with was clothing. Took me the whole season to get that sorted out.

Anyway, I did it that way just in case it turned out that winter commuting wasn't for me. I wouldn't have a lot of money tied up in something that didn't work out. I figured the Nokian W106s would be easy to Craigslist too.

I went hog wild on a new bike for the second winter. It'll be the third winter on this bike, fourth on the snow tires.

Just keep a spare chain and some brake pads in stock, get the studs, and go for it. It it works out, get the new bike for next year.

cydisc 10-04-09 10:50 PM

Mounted the studded tires on the Trek tonight. Waiting for flurries.

scoatw 10-07-09 03:44 PM

Do some "searches" for clothing on sale. Find out what others do to protect yourself from the cold.

Redrom 10-14-09 04:58 PM

I found components to have a greater impact on winter cycling success than the frame. Internal hubs for gears and light generator, disc breaks. I went with 29" wheels, and I do think it's better, than 26" wheels, but not a cost that was realized (fortunately I got the frame used...) I can't imagine the frame going bad in the next 20 years, but if it does maybe I'll try aluminum next time...

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