Thread: Winter Riding
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:49 AM
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BarelyAWake BarelyAWake is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Maine
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Default Re: Winter Riding

Originally Posted by littletinman View Post
Anyone got any updates on riding in the snow? Think of buying a commuter car, but if there isn't any issues riding in the snow/freezing cold, I'm planning on just motorized bicycle riding.

Also, what is better for winter/cold: Friction or chain, and four stroke or two stroke.


I'm an all season commuter... it all started as a bet years ago, that I couldn't ride an motorized bicycle year-round as a daily driver here in Maine & not only did I obv win that bet, I've never stopped as it's so much fun.

I mostly agree with the posted quote from "Chicago Bike Tips for Winter Biking" - particularly the importance of lighting as not only are the days quite short, adverse conditions such as dark, overcast conditions, sleet & snow make visibility an issue (cars seeing you)... but "Weekly chain lubing & Worn brake pad replacement" might be understated lol

There's a bit of a catch, an issue overlooked & that's corrosion. Rock salt is bad enough but many areas are adding calcium chloride to the deicing mix as well & it's a brutal devil's brew indeed. If you're riding in it, you'll need to relube every moving part every two to three days & even still the components will deteriorate, doesn't matter how careful you are or what it's made of - steel, aluminum, w/e. Simply put - don't ride anything you value in that caustic slurry, build a winter beater instead.

Here's some pics of my faithful ol' beater, note the cassette in the 2nd pic - while I lube every three days or so during winter riding you can see the effects of corrosion. It wasn't that bad when I pulled the wheel off the bike but after just a month or so hanging on the wall (unrinsed) the corrosion has really taken it's toll & there's almost no oily residue left. The 3rd & 4th pics show the massive increase in rim wear from using the brakes in wet/sandy/salty conditions & lesson learned? I'll not use anything other than disc or drum brakes from now on. The last pic was taken right before I "retired" that bike... it's a lil hard to see in the pic, but after years of winter abuse pretty much every component is corroded & unserviceable - while it still runs well, it'd simply be a waste of money to repair/replace all the worn & crusty bits, it's far cheaper to just build another (those are my summer tires on it BTW);

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to dissuade you - winter riding is not only feasible it's a lot of fun. The bike pictured was rode hard & put away wet (literally) for years & it's got over 10,000 miles on it, a ridiculous amount of use for any bike regardless of conditions - I defo got me pennies worth out of it lol, but still I figured I'd mention the downside.

Insofar as gear - I'm not fancy, I don't use studded tires as I've found they don't make enough of a difference to be really worth the expense of buying them or the effort of making some. I'm sure folks will disagree & defo to each their own - but in my experience slightly aired-down knobbies with lots of little but tall lugs work equally well. It seems that if there's snow & slush there's no difference in grip as studs are for ice & if it's ice (glare/black ice) there's just not enough weight on the bike for the studs to be truly effective, particularly the smaller, factory studs. With DIY studs you can ofc make "monster" ones but the wear rate is problematic given they're not carbides & you'll be riding at speed on dry pavement a lot regardless of snow coverage as they will plow, eventually *shrug* If you can get a set of studdeds cheap, don't care about the hundred dollars in tires aone or are willing to make your own defo go for it - but don't expect yer bike to turn into spiderman is all lol

Riding gear? Just my normal work clothes, supple leather gloves, face guard/scarf, hiking boots & a windproof/waterproof jacket. When it's really, really cold I'll wear my rain gear over that - but I try to avoid "true" winter gear as much as possible & defo avoid bulky layers as you are riding in very technical & tricky conditions and you need to retain as much dexterity as you can.

As for "Friction or chain, and four stroke or two stroke" unfortunately you've really no choice, as mentioned by others friction drives would be helpless in such conditions as would belt - heck even the "friction" of rim brakes becomes highly questionable as they load up with wet snow & ice. Two vs four stroke is completely up to you though - both are equally well suited and don't need any modification whatsoever for winter riding, save perhaps guarding the air filter from the inevitable spray...

Whatever you choose, it'll be a ton of fun & that's a fact heh
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