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Old 12-13-2013, 01:24 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: Success on 7 deg F motorized bicycle work commute!

Originally Posted by bluegoatwoods View Post
Reluctantly, I'm thinking that though it might be possible to ride this thing through anything that winter gives me, that may be in theory only. It might not be practical and it might not be safe enough.
Safe? Practical? I dunno about that as such is relative, it can only be judged by the rider... but "possible" is a definite. I'm on my forth year of all season commuting and I've found somewhat oddly - I'm in some ways better off the worse the weather is as whenever it's snowing and accumulating on the roads not only is there better, more predictable traction but I end up passing traffic as they creep along in their heated 4WDs lol

I'm a strong advocate of "minimalist" gear even in such conditions, perhaps more so in the crusty frozen stuff as while being warm is of course important, while riding on such treacherous and unpredictable surfaces immediate dexterity & flexibility is of paramount importance. It just wont do to obscure peripheral vision with gommy goggles, twenty pound block boots for feet while you're blocking approaching traffic sounds with the fuzzy earmuffs, so bundled up you look like the stay-puft marshmallow man and can't even swing a leg over the bike...

...that'll getcha every time. That's when that little patch of ice will flip ya, hands still on the bars and feet on the pedals 'cause ya couldn't move lol

It's tough though I'll admit, most winter gear isn't designed with ninja moves in mind but there's some basic solutions that are often unmentioned, even overlooked. First & most obvious is ofc "layers" - which we've all heard a million times. The difference being is usually they mean to remove some when you get too warm (sweat = wet = cold death) whereas here you'll want to start with the least you can get away with and only adding more if you have to.

What I usually do is no more than very light hiking boots with maybe two pairs of socks, two pairs of jeans (one oversized) or jeans & thermals, T shirt w/a flannel button down over it and a loose fleece or sweatshirt. Then over that I've just my normal light but lined jacket, which is more of a nylon (waterproof) windbreaker then what anyone would think of as winter gear and for gloves I've no more than a very supple pair of essentially driving gloves, a thin downy liner with very soft thin leather outers as I've got to have my fingers, brake play gets decidedly important on ice and if you can't feel the levers you're in for problems.

Then again, if you're frostbit you're not going to feel anything anyway so to "kick it to the next level" (distance and/or extreme cold) I do no more than add my summer rain gear to the above - I might do the bread bag over my socks thing (very warm BTW) but it's usually just my plastic pants over the above, the same old jacket I always wear as it's waterproof/windproof anyway and for the fingers I'll wear a pair of heavy, unlined work gloves (waterproofed w/spray) over my lighter driving gloves...

...and that's it really. I know it doesn't sound like enough but it's proved more than sufficient for my needs for years now. I've tried a bunch of variations like snowmobile gauntlets & snow pants, work boots & parkas and they're just dangerous, TBH I didn't even find it was any warmer than what I usually run but it was seriously cumbersome, the only advantage might be the extra padding when you hit the ground lol

Insulation doesn't help if the windchill can get through - stop the wind and you'll need far less gear then ya think

Nothing special, just an average December week 'round these parts for example... at least it isn't stormy;

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