You got a dedicated winter bike? Why? I've got a fairly nice steel road bike - wondering about buying an cheap fixie or some such. Only thing is my commute is so long and I just got my current ride the way I want it.
I ride a traditional English touring bike in non-snow/ice conditions. It is set up for front and rear panniers and carries a lot of groceries around town, as well as being nice for a recreational ride in the country. But for the snowy winter around town, I use a Dutch Opafiets (Gazelle). It has rod-actuated drum brakes (not great ever, but no worse when wet), fenders, skirt guards, and can carry huge rear panniers. It's a little beaten up, but gets me where I need to go, and spares the nice touring bike a lot of needless exposure to rust-inducing salty water.
Belt drive, dynamo, 45N gloves, internal gears, ultimate winter ride Joe!
I have 3 nice steel-frame bikes, and I am nowhere near as good at keeping them clean as they deserve. To avoid wrecking the frames and components with salt build up, I ride a cheap aluminum fixed with Nokian A10 studs in the winter. If it gets warm out again, like today, I just break back out one of the nice bikes.
Thanks for ruining my entire plan with this aluminum vs steel observation! And when I say "ruining" of course I mean, making me reconsider the merits of my plan. :)
To make you feel better, I hate the ride of the aluminum bike (the cheapness of the frame plays a role here I think), and have actually developed weird wrist pain since riding it the past few days (granted, that's largely a fit issue I need to dial in, but I think the increased vibration isn't helping).
If I had it to do over, I probably would grab the Nashbar steel single-speed cyclo-cross bike JM mentions below, and just not care as much if the salt eventually destroyed it. If the plan is to go cheap, I think a cheap 4130 frame (not hi-ten) rides better than a cheap aluminum frame.
I think if I had four bikes my wife would shoot me :)