winter commuting: a different bicycle or just change the tires?

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by mustangblue01, Nov 26, 2004.

  1. mustangblue01

    mustangblue01 New Member

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    I wanted to pose a few questions to the more experienced riders about winter commuting.
    I have not commuted in the winter, only in the summer months. I have a road bike (Felt 65 w/triple) that I use in the summer. I live in michigan so snow, slush and ice are a concern for winter commuting.
    Do you riders in similar climates have bicycles set up exclusively for winter riding or do you just change to a more aggressive all-weather tire? If you have a specific bike, do you change from a road to say a mountian for the winter or keep the same style bicycle with a different setup?

    also, off topic, any winter riding tips would be a help.

    Thanks,
    John
    mustangblue01 "at" yahoo.com
     
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  2. britez

    britez New Member

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    Personally, I've just started winter biking. My first year of 50km/day commute anyways. I started in early spring though (beginning of march) where conditions here in Winnipeg, Canada are quite cold and icy. Now that winter has started, I find riding in the snow is alot of fun. It is slower, but the level of concentration you exert really makes the time fly. I've done all my commute on a mountain bike and have just changed the tires from slicks too rubber studded tires, lowering the pressure of the tires so that most of the treads touch the ground. I'm happy with my tires, but have to admit, I've crashed a couple of times. These were all due to stupidity. Got a friend using metal studded tires, but they seem to make his ride quite heavy, I find him having to push more then me. But he hasn't crashed yet.

    Anyways, one big tip I can give you is PATIENCE. Its not much fun speeding the way one does and suddenly finding oneself in a middle of a ice patch. Winter riding tends to take 1/3 more time compared with summer riding. I tend to drift off mentally during a ride, but thats not much of an option on snowy roads. Always focus on whats ahead of you, and don't use the front brakes.

    The toughest of all for me is when it comes to dressing properly, and that I thinks will always be an art.

    Have fun.
     
  3. Glowingrod

    Glowingrod New Member

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    I've had some experience with daily winter riding. For snow, ice and slush nothing beats thin, hard tires. I ride 23cm at 100+psi they cut right through everything except black ice and unusually thick ice (once someone's pipes bursting put a 2 inch coat of perfectly clear ice on a block downtown, thankfully an alleyway. it was pretty but..) It also helps that there is nothing for ice and snow to build up on with thin tires, you can ride through 2 feet of snow and while it slows you you'll never have to stop.
    As far as your current ride goes, if you're going to encounter snow and ice you may want to consider a single-speed or fixed gear. Gears and derailluers tend to fail in icy conditions, snow compresses between gears on your rear cog, turns to ice and before you know it all you have is the gear you're in anyway.
    Winter riding is fun, definately go for it.
     
  4. Mikeisgreen

    Mikeisgreen New Member

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    I'm about to start winter commuting today (Dec. 01, 2004). I see snow outside:D . It will be my first season of regular winter commuting. Until now, I have only done icebiking as quasi-suicidal recreation (i.e. stupid & unprepared). I am a member of Mountain Equipment Co-op, and find great advice there regarding bikes & biking. Here is a link for winterizing your bike & yourself. Hope it helps you as much as it did me: http://www.mec.ca/Main/content_text.jsp?FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=648541&CONTENT%3C%3Ecnt_id=659337&bmUID=1101915103010 Have Fun! (Your co-workers, by the way, will fear you as the "insane one" at the office. Milk all you can out of that fear. Extra breaks, time off, better shifts, you get the idea;) )
     
  5. chizlr40

    chizlr40 New Member

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    this is my first winter commute year. have benn doing the 15 mile round trip for over 6 years. so far have been down to 23 degrees. the wind is the most difficult to judge. no wind and you can overheat, with wind you need good outwear. i also live in southeastern michigan. i ride a cannondale silk path 400 year round but stay home with too much snow. wonder if i should get out my mountain bike?
     
  6. Mikeisgreen

    Mikeisgreen New Member

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    Do it. Just get some studded tires. I was stupid enough yesterday evening to let someone at the bikeshop talk me out of studs, because he said they were very uncomfortable on pavement. It was the first real winter day here in Montreal. Well, I hit a patch of black ice on my way home, and nearly wrecked my knee (I did, however, wrek a $40 pair of splash pants. I think I'll use cheap ones for the winter). At a minimum, I'm putting a studded tire in front for control on ice. Better a bit uncomfortable on dry pavement than to get myself killed by ice that can't be seen untill to late.
     
  7. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    You're absolutely right. There's been a massive debate about studded tires over here, but now it's pretty much settled down into the following:
    1) studded tires weigh more, sound more and rolls heavier on hard surfaces.
    2) the studs won't help in snow or slush
    3) the studs gets blunt fast if you ride on dry roads
    4) They offer superior grip on ice and hard-packed snow.

    If you have a choice and can leave the bike if it's icy, then there's no need to go studded. But if you always need to get where you're going then you gotta have them. In soft snow both wide knobblys or narrow tires will work just as well, depending on the density and thickness of the snow. Narrow will work as long as they can cut through to a firmer grippyer layer below. Wide knobblys will work as long as they can run "on top" of the snow.
     
  8. PALux

    PALux New Member

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    My Cannondale T2000 has 35c tires with agressive tread. When a wet winter storm moves in I change to the mountain bike. Tires are Performance road tires with Kevlar belts. They have almost no tread. I ride the mountain bike simply for the disk brakes that stop in the rain. Snow and ice and the Jeep gets me to work. I have been caught at work and have had snow during the day. If it is real bad I have a bus line 3 blocks from work that takes me to 2 blocks from home. Local busses have bike racks. Any imperfections in the road with ice and you are on the ground. Try riding on icy cobble stones in Germany. Been there done that and walked to the trolly stop.

    Phil Lux
     
  9. arkiejerr

    arkiejerr New Member

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    I know its getting late in the season for this to be much use, but, here is a website that deals specifically with winter riding issues; www.icebike.com
     
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