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  1. #1
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    5k commute. Primarily for winter. Kona Unit?

    Hi all. Been a roadie and cx rider for awhile. Looking into getting a low maintenance bike for 5k commute in the snowy cold winters up here in Canada. Leaning towards the 15' Kona Unit. Thoughts?
    Thanks is advance.


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  2. #2
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    I've not got a Unit but do have a SS steel frame MTB of similar ilk. Probably won't go far wrong with this type of machine, just be prepared to get some dust covers for the other bikes You could also run the CX bike SS for a cheaper option.

  3. #3
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    Does the Unit have fender mounts? I didn't think it did, but I could be wrong. I would want fenders for a winter commute.

  4. #4
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    I'm from a few hours north of you, and used a Unit for a bunch of winters. I specifically ran it geared for the winter (just a cheap and painless 1x setup), and singlespeed in the summer.

    I love singlespeed, and in the winter I'll ride ss and fixed when I can. But any days there are 10cm of fresh snow on the ground (and churned up carsnot on the roads to go with it) you really need gears.

  5. #5
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    Great tips all. Like the look and feel of the bike so may go for it. Looking to ride to low of -20. We shall see.


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  6. #6
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    I have been riding calgary winters since 2005...

    The salt is gonna get you big time...the gravel is next.

    The ice puddles hidden underneath the snow is gonna get you...

    For safety get a pair of studs.

    Wash your bike for sure after every chinook, or more.

    Fenders will pack up with deeper snow but then we probably only get that twice a winter.

    Basically a beater will be consumed after one season....high quality parts will last well...(Kris King Headset stainless and ceramic bearings).

    Great fun and entirely doable....stick to the mups and residential streets as much as possible...

    Figure out where the plows go first etc.

  7. #7
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    Thanks Jeff


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  8. #8
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    Not sure I'd get a total beater for this (I can't tolerate riding junk anymore), but I also don't think I'd get something new. I'd probably search co-ops, ebay, and whatnot and make each component selection individually with an eye on function and durability in winter conditions. Rigid aluminum frame/fork. Full length housings. Thumbshifter (1x drivetrain). Disc brakes (I like TRPs for cable-actuated brakes, but BB7's would work fine, too). The only things I wouldn't cheap out on would be bearings, like jeffscott mentioned. Cheap bearings = cheap/nonexistent seals.

    I agree with gears, fenders, and studs.

    My commuter ticks a number of these boxes, but I don't actually ride it much in wintertime. I do a little. Mine is a steel frame, though, so I have to be especially diligent about cleaning off road salt after a winter ride.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Not sure I'd get a total beater for this (I can't tolerate riding junk anymore), but I also don't think I'd get something new.
    I think the beater-bike thing tends to get overblown.

    Or at least, there are certainly some people who will not maintain their bikes under any circumstances (summer or winter) and ride them into the ground, and for those people a beater is great idea.

    But if you know how to 1) check a chain for wear and 2) replace a worn chain, that's 99% of winter maintenance right there. Bikes are pretty modular - with a non-beater you replace the chain every winter, and maybe the bottom bracket, casette or derailleur pulleys every few years. With a beaterbike you just toss the whole thing and start over.

    I guess I should have mentioned that all my bikes are steel (including my old Unit), and so I do spray the insides down with Boeshield T9 ever two years or so. Framesaver is typically recommended, but I don't know where to find it in Alberta, and boeshield is apparently a decent alternative.

    Instead of a Unit you might want to look at a fatbike. A bunch of used ones are turning up pretty cheap (there's a swanky Moonlander on pinkbike right now for 1/2 price)

  10. #10
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    speaking of framesaver, I should probably tear down my commuter and apply a new coating. It's been a few years since I built the bike up and coated the interior.

    There was a stretch of time where framesaver was REALLY hard to find even in the states. I found a similar product and used it when I built up my Vaya. Now, a number of shops in town have it in stock so availability must be better.

    interesting about Boeshield. I've always considered it more of a lubricant.

    you do make a good point about "certain people" and beater bikes. I've seen several-thousand-dollar high end carbon fiber road bikes ridden into the ground in 2-3 years. Sweat and grime and utter failure to consider component wear.

    Biggest reason I'd build up a purpose-built winter commuter would be component selection, though. I've seen enough ratcheting shifters (mostly Shimanos, but that may have more to do with their ubiquity) fail in cold temps that the simplicity of thumbies in the winter is not lost on me.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Biggest reason I'd build up a purpose-built winter commuter would be component selection, though. I've seen enough ratcheting shifters (mostly Shimanos, but that may have more to do with their ubiquity) fail in cold temps that the simplicity of thumbies in the winter is not lost on me.
    I ran Shimano XTR 9 speed shifters for 10 winters....the shifter would occasionally freeze...this was due to water condensing inside the shifter....

    I quickly began to squirt a little WD40 into the shifter housing through the cable change screw....about once a year in the fall...followed by a blast of compressed air.

    Never had a freeze up after that. all the way down to -36C...

    The front shifter ratchet mechanism finally wore out last spring....

    I switched to SRAM 10 speed twist grips....no problems yet.

    Rim brakes freeze worse than disc brakes....Brake heat will melt snow that leaves a film of water on the brake surface....this film will then freeze...next time you apply the brakes you get zero braking...

    Disc will do this around -20C in snow deep enough to get on the disc...

    Rims will do this aroun -10C in snow deep enough to get on the brake track.

    Steel and salt do not play well together...

    I have worn the powder coat off most of my chain stay and bottom bracket housing...

    The aluminium has a light coat of oxide on it but no damage...

    Same would apply to carbon fiber...

    Saves a lot of pain.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    interesting about Boeshield. I've always considered it more of a lubricant.
    The other problem is online stores won't ship framesaver by air, so as a Canadian I can't get it from Jenson or any place like that.

    As for boeshield, I probably stumbled upon something like this:

    Waltworks Bicycles: How to take care of your frame!

    If Walt is okay with it, I'm okay with it. But any googling of framesaver will also often mention boeshield and linseed oil.

    Oh, and as Jeff says, I've had good success reviving shifters by blasting them with wd-40. Usually there's just some crud gumming up the cams, or the grease has turned into wax.

  13. #13
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    If it's only 5K, maybe a fatbike?
    Bike angry.

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