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  1. #1
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    help me build snow c'muter

    So I have a few spare steel mtn bikes laying around semi built up. I think I will want a snow/bad weather 'muter. I think maybe womens frame, ss(fixed??), v brakes, steel fenders, and a rack. what have you guys done? the bike i ride to work now is great most of the time, has fenders. but i want something for those extra special days. i welcome any input. thankee.

  2. #2
    I'm SUCH a square....
    Reputation: bigpedaler's Avatar
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    My personal experience tells me that it's hard to beat Hutchinson Spiders for rolling in the snow...unless you have studded. Mine didn't pack up last winter, and only skidded where the cars did. I've seen them listed in 26x1.85, 2.0, and 2.3.

    IMO, if you're not already familiar with the idiosyncracies of a fixie, snow isn't the venue for education. But that's your call, I don't know your skill set.
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  3. #3
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    Fixed gear is the best way to ride in the winter. You have complete control of the wheel and know instantly if you have any slippage. It also always works. Even on the coldest days, when a freehub or freewheel won't engage, the fixed gear works.

  4. #4
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    I am rolling a mullet mountain frame SS with a quasi flip flop using a TomiCog for my fixed gear pleasures.

    Haven't had the pleasure just yet of any wet weather but I am sure it's coming and I like the previous comments about fixed gear riding in freezing weather.

    If you are not riding studs, do you recommend a knobby tire vs more of a slick? Right now I have these 26x1.9 Kenda Cross Tires that are slick on the inside and have knobs on the edges. They are great in sand and loose gravel but not sure how'll they do in the snow.

  5. #5
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    I have a couple of old Norco rigid mtb's I use for the winter commute, I run small knobbies on them and have a set of Nokian studded tires on rims to put on when it's icey. (the studs really slow you down on dry pavement). I've got 3 or 4 winters in, haven't had much in the way of shifting problems, but brake cables freezing up have been a bit of a challenge (usually one brake will work!).
    I tried my fixed gear road bike last winter in about 6" of new snow with icey stuff underneath, rode 3 blocks, then turned around to get the mtb. Wasn't impressed with skinny tires on icey stuff at all.
    Fenders and racks for sure. The old bikes take a beatin' from the salt and grit, but keep on goin'. Makes me happy I'm not riding a good bike in that crap!

  6. #6
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    You bring up a good point about salt and sand. I think I will need to loose my disc brake upfront on run just linear pulls.

  7. #7
    viva la v-brakes!
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    Studded tires are worth the $$, just pony up for them and you will be glad you did. Lots of lube on the chain, just use old chains and toss them out as they rust out. Poagies to keep your hands warm. If you will be riding in sub-zero weather you may want to swap out the grease in your free-hubs and hubs for something that is less viscus when the temperature drops.

    Kool Stop salmon compound pads have a lot more braking power when wet or icy, so swap out your crappy old pads, they'll stop you better then discs.

    I would get plastic fenders with the ALUMINUM CORE because the steel ones rattle and will drive you crazy, also, steel rusts. Planet Bike and ESGE make the best of these. Extend those fenders with, well any number of things, duct tape for the Red-Green way of going about it, and get the bottom of the fender within an inch of the ground to keep the car snot off of you and your bike.

    Here's a pic of my commuter bike last winter inside after a bit of a clean-up. Though you can't tell from the photo, the tires in the photo are studded Nokians, this was their 8th and final winter of use.

    Lots more good advice at www.icebike.com
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  8. #8
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    FISHMAN: great advice on the icebiking website. It was very helpful. Alot of people are using clipless pedals. what do you guys say on that? i thought womens frame and platforms for easy bail outs, but it doesnt seem to be that way amongst the vets. And how about a IGH? I was thinking 3 speed. I am fired out to get into the snowmuter scene.

  9. #9
    viva la v-brakes!
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    what is your intended use? I had a 22-25 mile round-trip commute last year so clipless pedals made that a lot easier, but I was also rocking the Lake winter boots, otherwise my feet would have frozen off. For commuting, I think a good pair of waterproof boots and Power Grips on the pedal are a good compromise of comfort and efficiency.

    As for speeds, 3 speeds makes more sense then one. Its really not THAT hard to keep an external gear system rolling all winter, but it is hard to pedal through deep snow in a high gear, or spin on icy pavement in a low gear. If a 3-speed had a sufficient spread of the gearing, and all of the gears were lower then what you would use in the summer, you'd probably be fine.
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  10. #10
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    well my ride to work is fairly flat and entirely paved, 7 miles one way. but i want to ride around town some too. I live in northern colorado. i currently use the powergrips on my 80% of the time commuter and love em. I am concerned that a rear der. may drag through the snow. Also i subscribe to K.I.S.S. philosophy. so you think IGH will work fine in cold weather/ worst conditions? or should i go 1x7? Honestly I just want to bomb down sledding hills like a jackass. jk, sorta

  11. #11
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    Another nice thing about riding a fixed gear is you don't need any brakes. Obviously it is a smart idea to have brakes, but the only thing you need is that chain.

    I ride clipless, but I also have the Lake MXZ302s. If you crash in the winter it is almost always on ice and you're on your side pretty instantly.

    Tires really don't matter. I have friends that ride 23c slicks all winter. I rode 26x1.9s two years ago, and 35c hybrid tires last year. If you hit ice you'll probably crash if you try to turn or brake regardless of tire unless it's studded. Two days last year required studs. Like the one day where we had a 40 degree temp change in 24 hours. Just black ice everywhere. This year I'll be riding 29x2.0. The only reason I'm going with more beef is because I want to mess around on snow mounds.

  12. #12
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    Get some studded tires. They may seem expensive at first but they are always cheaper than an emergency room visit. Going down on ice happens very quickly especially if you do not see the ice. I have a pair of Nokian Mount and Ground tires, they roll pretty well for an MTB tire because of the angled center tread and offer just the right amount of carbide studs for commuting. The next option would be to make your own studded tires.
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  13. #13
    viva la v-brakes!
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10speedbiopacefreewheel
    well my ride to work is fairly flat and entirely paved, 7 miles one way. but i want to ride around town some too. I live in northern colorado. i currently use the powergrips on my 80% of the time commuter and love em. I am concerned that a rear der. may drag through the snow. Also i subscribe to K.I.S.S. philosophy. so you think IGH will work fine in cold weather/ worst conditions? or should i go 1x7? Honestly I just want to bomb down sledding hills like a jackass. jk, sorta
    OK, I guess let me give you my perspective here. I often ride off-road on a SS. I have a fixie for cruising around town, and I use it for winter road riding too. But for commuting in winter, I want gears and studded tires.

    The fixie is limited to riding when the roads are fairly clear. It does have a bit more control then a freewheeling bike, maybe. My bike seems more stable but that might also have something to do with the very tacky Spec. All-Conditions tires I am running. Overall, I guess between the tires and the fixed-ness it allows me to be more cautious and controlled. That said, I only take it out when I am expecting the roads to be 90% bare pavement, and even then I have to be pretty cautious on the slick spots. Fixed-geared bikes are trendy and fun, but they are not the solution to every problem.

    If you can get your hands on a 7 speed or 8 speed system that would be perfect. My wife has been running the same 8-speed system year round for 8 years on her commuter bike. Sure, we're on the second der., second cassette and who knows how many chains (probably a new one after each winter) but its still going strong and shifts well. The wider spacing of 7-8 speed cassettes makes them easier to maintain because even if the cables get a bit gummed up they still shift fine, and its less likely that snow/ice is going to clog them up. When I built a bike last winter specifically for riding on snowy trails and frozen lakes, I went through a little extra trouble to make it a 8 speed drivetrain. Two by eight works great.

    Internally geared hubs, are kind of the holy grail for winter riding for obvious reasons. But from what I can gather they are still proving to be unreliable. I have not heard a report as to how well the newer Alfine and i-Motion 9 work in winter, but I have heard that they are more reliable for summer use then older internal geared hubs from Shimano and SRAM. At very least you would have to drain the oil and use a winter weight oil instead. Heavy oil has killed many a Nexus hub in winter. Rolhoff reported work quite well if you replace the oil (which they will do at the factory for you), but they are obviously a bit expensive. Check out the icebike listserve. Someone there has tried just about everything.

    The detractors against studded tires always say 'you don't need them all the time/very often'. But the real deal is that with studded tires you can throw caution to the wind, riding as fast as you want without having to constantly pay attention to the road conditions. Not only can get get around on days (post ice storm or mid blizzard) and places (frozen lakes, ice skating rinks, etc.) that you never could on standard tires, but you can also just relax and ride like you would any other time of the years. Overall, this allows you to travel faster on a studded tire then on a non-studded tire even though they have higher rolling resistance on pavement. These partisan anti-stud riders will tell you that you don't need studs, that you can ride all winter without them. But that's like saying that I can dig a hole with my hands, that I don't need a shovel. Studded tires are the right tool for the job.
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  14. #14
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    I like the studded tires as well, they are expensive but you only ride them a couple months a year so they last a while

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