The Chainlink

Anyone commute in the winter? Biggest challenge? Necessary gear? Bike maintenance issues?

I am determined to do some commuting this winter.

Views: 679

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The hard part is the mindset that the first 15-20 minutes will be cold. After my body warm I become comfortable, with the correct clothing For that paticular Days weather. Each day can be differentin what I should wear.

I ride a Fixed Single Speed in the winter. So as long as I lube my chain when Needed my bike will not freeze or seeze
Getting going is tough in the winter. The hardest part for me is just walking out to the garage dressed for the ride. Once I pedal a few blocks, I'm usually feeling pretty good about riding.
yeah. i got mine on sale too, and when it went on sale even more the next month, i called up rei and they gave me a refund for the difference.

i keep so much stuff in it: work clothes, pump and spare tube, school books, food...etc. i love the shoulder strap, too for when walking around.

i had to add a velcro strap for the handles to keep them together, and had to put some duct tape to the underside that sometimes rubs against the tire (rarely, with very heavy load and a big bump in the road).

also, i like to think it scares off cars because the silver makes it look like metal.

and i don't think it's drab at all. i tell people i'm an astronaut :)


Duppie said:
Mark Kenseth said:
i have an ortleib, the silver one. it has pockets inside, and doesn't fall over. here's a couple options...

http://www.rei.com/product/768571



+A lot on this one. I have had it for almost two years. Affordable when bought on sale. I use it daily and it shows minimal wear and tear. I store my blackberry, wallet, multitool, spare batteries and more in the pockets. It's big enough to carry lunch and a change of clothes. Biggest downside is it's drab appearance
Norm Hansen said:
The hard part is the mindset that the first 15-20 minutes will be cold. After my body warm I become comfortable, with the correct clothing For that paticular Days weather. Each day can be differentin what I should wear.

I ride a Fixed Single Speed in the winter. So as long as I lube my chain when Needed my bike will not freeze or seeze

Quick question: I've never been a winter rider, but I've heard that going single speed/fixed is a good way to cut down on potential problems (with sand, salt, dirt, moisture, etc.).

Do many of you find this to be true?

I haven't ridden a single speed in about 15 years. I'm considering buying a beater Schwinn or something and rigging it up for winter riding (fenders, etc.).

Last question:

Does the city clear the lake front path in the winter, or is it left covered?

Thanks for all the good information in this thread.
Dan,
The additional maintenance that winter riding entails was one of the main reasons I switched to a single speed - which I now use for my city bike year 'round. It has worked! I have not had a problem with a derailleur, shifter or their cables since! Less moving parts means less stuff to go wrong. I did have to replace a free-wheel once, and now I've replaced that with a fixed cog.

I did what you are considering: got an old schwinn and converted it, added fenders and a rack and never looked back!

Sheldon Brown claimed that a fixie (in particular) can be safer for winter riding as riding one helps a rider develop a better feel for traction conditions. I didn't convert from a freewheel to fixed until this summer so I can't confirm or deny this (yet).

Dan M said:
Norm Hansen said:
The hard part is the mindset that the first 15-20 minutes will be cold. After my body warm I become comfortable, with the correct clothing For that paticular Days weather. Each day can be differentin what I should wear.

I ride a Fixed Single Speed in the winter. So as long as I lube my chain when Needed my bike will not freeze or seeze

Quick question: I've never been a winter rider, but I've heard that going single speed/fixed is a good way to cut down on potential problems (with sand, salt, dirt, moisture, etc.).

Do many of you find this to be true?

I haven't ridden a single speed in about 15 years. I'm considering buying a beater Schwinn or something and rigging it up for winter riding (fenders, etc.).

Last question:

Does the city clear the lake front path in the winter, or is it left covered?

Thanks for all the good information in this thread.
The Lake Front Path gets cleared pretty regularly. In fact, it's not uncommon for it to be cleared within a day of snow falling. The Path is not always cleared that quickly, but it's not uncommon.

As for maintenance, I ride a 30 spd (3 x 10) year round. Wiping off the chain each night and keeping the bike inside at night eases maintenance a lot, but if there is any snow / slush out I find that I end up washing the drive train out about once a week or so.

Dan M said:

Quick question: I've never been a winter rider, but I've heard that going single speed/fixed is a good way to cut down on potential problems (with sand, salt, dirt, moisture, etc.).

Do many of you find this to be true?

I haven't ridden a single speed in about 15 years. I'm considering buying a beater Schwinn or something and rigging it up for winter riding (fenders, etc.).

Last question:

Does the city clear the lake front path in the winter, or is it left covered?

Thanks for all the good information in this thread.
Dan M,

For me, the major advantage in going single speed/fixed gear in winter is a reduction in maintenance. The rear derailleur would pick up a lot of street crud and get balky until I cleaned it out. Even on sunny days, the streets can be wet from melting snow, so the rear derailleur seemed to be constantly catching nasty road spray.

It never got so bad that I was stranded by equipment failure, but it did get old bringing a salt and dirt-encrusted bike into the house and down to the basement for mid-winter cleanings. Now I just wipe the chain and re-lube every now and then, and everything keeps running smoothly.
I biked all winter in some of the worst weather this year all the time trying to imagine what is was like for people who had to flee war zones or who were being marched by the Nazi's to death camps. I thought it would make me a better person and would acclimate me to colder weather as well. I can say that this winter I am gonna do some driving cause I don't feel like freezing my azzz of unless I have to in 2010.
koala said:
Dan M,
For me, the major advantage in going single speed/fixed gear in winter is a reduction in maintenance. The rear derailleur would pick up a lot of street crud and get balky until I cleaned it out. Even on sunny days, the streets can be wet from melting snow, so the rear derailleur seemed to be constantly catching nasty road spray.
It never got so bad that I was stranded by equipment failure, but it did get old bringing a salt and dirt-encrusted bike into the house and down to the basement for mid-winter cleanings. Now I just wipe the chain and re-lube every now and then, and everything keeps running smoothly.

That all makes sense.

So the next question is where to get an old Schwinn 10 speed ('81 Le Tour) converted to a single speed/fixed gear? I am handy and I know how to do a handful of things with my bike, but I don't think I'm up to the conversion. Too far over my head.

Any suggestions?

Thanks for all the responses. Very helpful.
I notice that the original poster posted a year ago but since there seems to be some recent interest in this subject, I'll throw in my two cent's worth.

I biked all through this last winter (commuting, errands, some recreational) and actually enjoyed it. I can tell you that the worst problem is road salt... it eats up your bike, particularly your brakes. You have to be very careful when cleaning the junk off that you don't get more of it seeping into cables and enclosed mechanisms. About halfway through the winter I decided that thorough cleaning just wasn't worth the trouble and so all I did was wipe down the chain and keep it lubed. I rode a heavy Gary Fisher mountain bike with really thick tires and didn't have much trouble with skidding or falling. Also, as the winter went on, I got a lot better at navigating the ice. Once the temperature drops below 10 degrees, the ice and snow aren't really that slick anyway. The worst time is late November/early December and March/early April. Any snow or ice at that time is probably going to be just warm enough to be really slick and dangerous.

They do clear the lake path sporadically but you can't depend on it. Most days I took the path but occasionally the streets. Also, this past winter the Oak Street curve was completely impassable from about mid-December through mid-March because of accumulated ice. I would usually get off at the Drake Hotel underpass and finish the commute down Michigan Avenue. Make sure you have lots of lights on your bike! The path, by the way, is pretty much deserted in the winter and that's kind of pleasant. Once in a while I'd see another rider or a few joggers but mostly I had this wonderful, zen-like feeling of being alone with nature.

Cold was never really a problem for me. On the very coldest days, I'd wear a couple of base layers, a fleece layer, and a wind-breaking layer. Also, a balaclava (sp?). Your fingers and toes are the problem. For feet I'd wear neoprene socks and one or more regular socks. I tried the neoprene booties but didn't like them. Hands usually got lobster gloves and a liner glove.

Biking in winter is a great workout too. I came out of this last winter in almost my best cardio shape ever.

At work I'm now known as that crazy person who bikes all winter. But I wouldn't go back to riding the bus for anything.
1) for clothing: merino wool is the best layerying system. they are more expensive but worth it just in general for a chicago winter. you lower body needs less layering but don't forget about your feet. wet and cold = miserable. i always keep some toe warmers in my bag for back up. i keep a patagonia down sweater at the top of my pack in case the bike breaks down. i only suggest keeping an incredibly warm but lightweight piece like that if you are going to ride into single digits. it helps if you will be unexpectedly stuck outside in the cold.
2) for outer layers: something waterproof, or at least windproof. dont buy anything ultra thin because if you wreck, you outer layer may tear. i start to wear ski goggles when it gets to that blistering cold stage. it helps a lot.
3) good lights. at least 1 blinking front white light and 1 blinking rear red light. i wear a reflective blinking band on the side of my leg too just to catch a little more attention.
4) wipe your bike down and take care of the chain. the winter really does a number on your bike if you dont do any maintenance.
5) be patient and plan for your commute to take a little extra time.
6) be extra careful when riding in ice or just dont do that. whenever a wet road freezes over, i feel like drivers forget how to drive and have to relearn how to drive on slippery road.
It makes me sad to see a winter commuting thread at the top in the middle of August. I know it's coming, but I'd rather pretend it's going to be warm forever...

RSS

Groups

© 2008-2016   The Chainlink Community, L.L.C.   Powered by

Disclaimer  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service