Success on 7 deg F motorized bicycle work commute!

Discussion in 'Motorized Bicycle General Discussion' started by bluegoatwoods, Dec 7, 2013.

  1. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    I just got home from work. Coming home the temp was 18 deg F, winds in the single digits, 60% humidity. I've already been through conditions like that three or four times this winter. It's now so clearly do-able that it doesn't even need comment.

    But this morning it was 7 deg F, wind NW at 10 mph and 40% humidity. I could already tell that I'd be able. The only question was; how miserable? Turns out that the answer is no misery at all. Only the mildest discomfort. Not even enough to make me unhappy. My face got cold, yes. Tips of the fingers, just a bit. Torso was a bit warmer than I'd really like. But I didn't open any zippers, figuring that it'd help keep the extremities warm.

    My commute is six miles. I've been getting it done in a half hour. That's an average of 12 mph. Not too shabby for an motorized bicycle in these circumstances.

    The point of this is; you can do it!

    It doesn't even take all that much prep. And there's really no suffering at all. It's invigorating.

    I did some easy and cheap bike mods. I'm certain that I could not ride below about 30 deg F without them.

    For any who haven't seen my threads about winter riding mods;

    Bar Mitts: http://motorbicycling.com/showthread.php?t=50693

    Lower Fairing: http://motorbicycling.com/showthread.php?t=51799

    And this one contains some info on clothing.
    http://motorbicycling.com/showthread.php?t=51799

    I've done one other mod since those threads.

    Upper fairing.jpg

    This is just a piece of tarp that stretches between the two bar mitts, forming an 'upper fairing' that covers the belly and lower chest.

    One of my hopes was that it would form a stream of air at speed that would blow toward the face and wipe away any breath that would threaten to fog glasses and face shield. Maybe it helped. Though I did still have some fogging. But it wasn't too bad. I've been in conditions where it was more difficult to manage.
     
  2. Intrepid Wheelwoman

    Intrepid Wheelwoman New Member

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    Well done! Positive proof that motor bicycling is possible in cold weather conditions.
     
  3. wheelbender6

    wheelbender6 Active Member

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    You're a lot tougher than me, BlueGoat. It was above freezing here and I felt like a popsicle on my short errand to the drug store.
     
  4. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    Thanks Intrepid WW and Wheelbender.

    But one thing I can't stress enough; I'm not all that tough where cold weather is concerned. I'm a cold weather wimp.

    An example. This time of year you'll still see a few motorcycles out there. Temp 20-25 deg F. They're wearing more or less their mild weather clothes; waist length leather jacket, blue jeans. They're wearing a stocking cap and, probably, long johns. I couldn't do it. And this is not just, 'I don't think I could do it'. I have enough experience with motorcycles that I know I couldn't do it.

    I'd be shaking uncontrollably. I could probably hold the bike up when stopped at a red light. But I'd be incapable of actually operating the machine. And I'd be so miserable that anything would be better than riding. I promise this is true.

    If I can do it, anyone can do it.

    I am convinced that some sort of fairing is required. After that, the clothing is not all that big of a deal.

    And opening up the entire year to motorized bicycle riding? Priceless...
     
  5. curtisfox

    curtisfox Well-Known Member

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    Sure can i remember back in the mid 70's me and a friend took a ride on my snowmobile over to a friends house visited for a while and when i got home my wife was giving me a bad time. She said it was -43 F ,but we were behind the windshield and didn't really notice. It was a couple mile ride,i am sure we would have been done in if it were any further or longer.
    We had a -20 F yesterday and close to that today. With the modern day outer were you can do a lot outside in these temps. A lot of construction workers are outside all day untill it get down to -20 F
    The worst thing i had to do was ride on the outside of box car at the papper mill i worked at from the south yard to the plant. Not a hole lot of speed but right out in the open. Face and hands are the the worst of the for cold..............Curt
     
  6. apex

    apex Member

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    I've been commuting on my motorized bicycle for a couple weeks in 20°f weather. Broke an axle on car so I had no choice (fixed car last night). As OP said, its all about the prep.
    I owned nothing but bikes/motorcycles in my twenties, no cars. Its a bit extreme, but i rode enduros all thru the Indiana winters, it beats walking anyday.

    Now that i have commuted in cars for decades, i forgot how fun/satisfying it is to take on Mother Natures challenges. I might continue to commute on bike when possible.
     
  7. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    You're right, Apex.

    It's fun. It's satisfying. It's invigorating.

    There's another thread active right now called 'winter blues'. The people around me have got 'em. I don't.
     
  8. CTripps

    CTripps Active Member

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    The key to cold weather riding is the clothing. Multiple layers, topped with a wind/water resistant layer and you can generally keep from getting too cold. Unfortunately I have some (arthritis) problems with my hands and knees so if they get too cold I'm pretty much screwed for the next couple of hours after getting inside. Currently looking for new gloves, the stitching between and around the fingers has given up on the ones I wore through last winter, so they're no longer wind or waterproof.
     
  9. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    I just finished a couple mile ride on my plain old pedal bike. Temp is about 15 deg F with pretty stiff wind & low humidity.

    I was mostly comfortable except the feet. They got cold.

    My pedal bike has no splash guards. My motorized bicycle does. And I was more comfortable on Saturday morning on that bike when the temp was nearly 10 deg cooler.

    I'm not really surprised that those splash guards help keep the feet warmer. But it's neat to find some actual evidence.

    Anyway you're correct, CTripps. Proper clothing makes on heckuva difference.

    I'm going to go outside now and do a bit to make the 'upper fairing' just a bit more comfortable and then put a studded tire on my motorized bicycle. Maybe two. Though the rear might wait a week or two. Plus a few other small things.

    Then I'll really be ready for anything.

    Winter's not really soooo bad.
     
  10. CTripps

    CTripps Active Member

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    When I lived back in southern Ontario where the winters are harsher, there was a trick I used to use on the really bad nights.. When you're getting ready to go, pull a couple of plastic grocery store type bags over your feet (over regular socks, of course). Smooth/wrap them to your feet, and pull on a pair of grey wool socks, then put on your boots. It doesn't matter how wet and slushy it is if the bags have no holes. Your boots might ship water, but your feet won't get wet from it.

    I often say no one may know the whole secret to happiness, but I'll share the piece I carry: Warm, dry feet. If your feet are cold and wet, no matter what you do you'll be miserable until that changes (whether you realise it or not).
     
  11. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    You guys have me thinking. I have these nice four bikes sitting here in my garage and I haven't ridden one is a couple of weeks. We've been having teens and single digit temperatures and I had no desire to go out there. However, I have a set of insulated coveralls that I wear to blow snow and waterproof boots and some gloves that are two layers. They keep me warm while I'm using the snow blower, maybe, just maybe I'll bundle up in this arctic gear and take a bike ride around the neighborhood.
    I'll let you know if and when. I'm going to wait for the ice to melt off the streets though. That's for sure.

    Personally I hate being cold so I'm not sure what the provocation is except that I like to ride my bikes. If I don't take the chance it might be March or April before I do it again. Colorado winters can be long and brutal.

    Tom
     
  12. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    You should go for it, Tom.

    My guess is that without some sort of wind protection built onto the bike, you'll only be able to do neighborhood rides. And even those'll be cold. (At least that's how it would shape up with me) But that's better than waiting until spring to ride. But you ought to also consider building a winter rig. Behind a 'windscreen' is a comfortable place.

    I did two short rides plus one moderately long one on my motorized bicycle today. Plus one moderately long one on my pedal bike. I was more comfortable on the motorized bicycle. That's sayin' something. Because on the pedal bike, of course, you burn more calories. Staying cool is a bigger problem than staying warm as long as the temp is above zero. My upper and lower windguards have actually made that much difference.

    We're expected to get about another inch of snow tonight. I guess I'm gonna have to switch to studded tires in the morning before work. Maybe I'll just do the front. Maybe the back can wait another day. Today I found a comfortable seat height that's low enough to let me put a foot down without stretching. There'll be cleats on my soles, too, by the way.

    I already know I've got the icy wind beat. I think I've got the slippery conditions beat.

    This is gonna be a year-round vehicle. That's a very invigorating accomplishment.
     
  13. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    Just got home from work on Wed, Dec 11. Temp was 5 deg F. Wind chill was minus 7 deg.

    It worked. And I was comfortable. Torso was warm, hands were comfortable. The last two miles or so a little coldness was beginning to creep into the feet. But not enough to make me unhappy.

    But not all was really well. Just getting that engine started and halfway warmed up was a big production. And I'm not sure it ever warmed up completely. Most of the way it was a bit weak and wanted to sputter at low speeds. The last two miles she felt about like normal. But that was downhill.

    I couldn't even stop at the grocery store like I'd planned because I didn't want to go through the headache of getting her started and warm. I had to just go straight on home. With the time and effort involved in starting it, I was no faster than if I'd ridden my pedal bike.

    Plus I was a bit frightened of the ice patches that kept showing up in my headlight. And that's only gonna get worse as we get more precip.

    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.

    Still, I could regard this bike as the weekend, daylight, grocery getter.

    That's not my final decision on the matter.

    But tomorrow it's definitely the pedal bike for me.
     
  14. siouxindian

    siouxindian Member

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    use anti antiperspirant spray on your feet . so they don't sweat and get cold! and any were else you may sweat.drn2 drn2.
     
  15. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    You know...it never occurred to me to use anti-perspirant on the feet.

    And I think that the stuff I buy is deodorant, as opposed to anti-perspirant.

    But it sounds like something that's worth a try.
     
  16. rogergendron1

    rogergendron1 New Member

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    pleaaaaase post a pick of the gloves you are using !!! i have -20 deg gloves and my fingers still freeeze up after about 5 miles at 30 mph ! what are you usng for gloves ????

    the whole rest of my body is fine lol i put on my military issue thermals aka the waffle gear and then layer acordingly but there seems to be no glove on the earth to stop my fingers from freezing ! lol

    by the way its about 5-7 degrees right now !
     
  17. rogergendron1

    rogergendron1 New Member

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    ohh i saw your post on the bar mitts, nice job is that all you use ? can you post your glove and hand system ? pics i mean close ups !

    any way i was going to order a set of snowmobiel hand fairings and heated grips then i noticed like all typical snowmobiel sht it was wayy over priced like out of the question to much lol though about getting some scrap pieces of lexan plastic from my work and using a heat gun forming 12 x 12 in sheets into hand fairings / guards and clamping them onto my bike, could even ruff em up and paint em with vht platicoat paint. i think that would solve the problem of the wind chilled hands at 30mph i hope any one done this ?

    lol at the milk jug ones on the bike ! great idea though

    i would just make little clear windshields out of molded lexan held on with a bar and a clamp
     

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    #17 rogergendron1, Dec 12, 2013
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  18. maniac57

    maniac57 Old, Fat, and still faster than you

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    I used to make my own all the time when I lived up north. They work just as well as the expensive ones.
     
  19. BarelyAWake

    BarelyAWake New Member

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    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;

    [​IMG]
     
  20. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    rogergendron; sure I'll post a pic of my gloves. I'm in the middle of my work week, so it might take a day or so. Or maybe a description will do. I mostly wear a pair of soft leather mittens. With a bit of fleece inside. They're not bulky gloves, by any means. But inside the bar mitts, they're plenty warm enough. 5 deg F temp, wind chill -10 the other night and hands were perfectly comfy. And they were comfortable on my pedal bike last night. Though it was a great deal more warm, too.

    Those photos and ideas you posted have potential, too. They might not be as warm as bar mitts. But they might be warm enough. And they might have the advantage of more space for your hands to work with.

    Barely Awake; Thanks. You're stiffening my backbone on the issue. I dress much like you describe. And it really does work. The other night was drastically cold. But I was just fine.

    My problem in that extreme weather was that my engine started hard and didn't run very well the whole time. But I have options there. I've been pondering some sort of engine wrap that'll hold in it's heat. Also I'm running a 50 cc that is now nearly two years old, with quite a few miles on it. I have a brand new 80cc waiting for this one to die. Maybe it's time to do an engine swap.

    But I also ride a good deal off road after dark. And I'm a bit concerned about seeing the ever-changing ice landscape underneath. It might not be really do-able.

    But I'll be on two wheels, all the same. It might be pedal and it might be motor.
     

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