1st time winter commuting in Burlington VT. Tires?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    1st time winter commuting in Burlington VT. Tires?

    Hey guys and girls from Vermont,

    I, a 4 season upstate NY commuter, am being asked by my gf's mom to help put together a complete rig for her dwi'ing son's 8 mile ride to/from work. I've never had the pleasure of being there in the winter to know if your DOT uses salt or something else, or just plows. I don't think he was ever an avid enough cyclist to have learned how to use the front brakes or any of the myriad advanced techniques we may take as given, so I'm not recommending disc brakes to her, nor the skinny tires (armadillo elite 23x622) that I find to seem to "cut" through the snow/slush down to the pavement. She says that his route is not too hilly, so I figure an ss or something with a sturmey will do him fine while minimizing risk of lack-of-maintenance-inspired-roadside-breakdowns.

    So, tires... I saw on here a thread featuring the Serfas Drifters 2-1/4" (-ish?) which seem great for reliable cush for a lincoln-driving-tush and a good blend of long road smoothness and occasional snow-throwing. Do y'all think he'd be just fine on 28x622 slicks, or will he be needing puffy semi-knobs? Ice studs? or would going halfway with some 35mm specialized nimbus-type things be best there? She says that budget is not an issue, so I'm kinda leaning towards recommending her getting him a "clean roads" bike for the majority of the time and a "state of emergency" bike with a 22 tooth tugging at an alfine 8 and big paddle-looking knobs. Overkill?

    Thanks, in ad vance, guys and girls

    Matt

  2. #2
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    Hi, I'm about an hour south of BTV (by car), and ride all year. I wouldn't do it without a MTB, studded tires, and on my hills, at least 1 disc brake (cable or "mechanical" ones are fine). Some of the roads around BTV are flatter and slightly warmer since Lake Champlain is right there, and being more densely populated, may be cleaned up better after storms. They do use salt. On the other hand, I can't think of 8 miles around it where I'd want a singlespeed. And there is more traffic than where I live.

    And umm, is he really motivated to do this or is it Mom's idea? It is totally doable for those who enjoy it, but if he is interested wouldn't he be researching it some? For a rural area, there is surprisingly good bus service: Interior Not to discourage anyone cycling, but I also have a friend that got approved for and now has one of those engine-interlock breatholyzers that checks for alcohol before & during driving. He also rented a room close to work before that. Sorry if these are dumb ideas, obviously I don't know his situation.

    Two bikes would be nice, but he'd have to err on the side of caution and take the
    snowbike when there is a "chance of snow" to avoid a long walk.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, even with the breath-thing, he ain't gots no choice. She'd likely just let him use his mid 90's wally world BSO if he didn't have to share with tractor-trailers this one long stretch with a foot-wide shoulder (definitely getting a generator hub and some rearward blinking-blinders). Alfine/nexus on both then, if she goes for two for him, no? Are studs a more-than-once-a-week thing there? What are your preferred stud and non-stud rubbers, mtbxp?

    Thanks for the bus routes! Do the busses there have the bumper-mounted bike-racks?

    Edit- d'oh! BENNINGTON she said to me! Likely just the same weather and hills there though, too.
    Last edited by Captain Duderino; 10-19-2012 at 08:05 PM.

  4. #4
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    I'm not as familiar with Bennington, but I happened to do some work with their bus people, Route 13 | Wilmington - Bennington. I'm not sure about the bus bike racks down there, I saw a pic that looked more like a ski rack. Not radically different weather, hills depending on route. I don't know enough about alfine/nexus to recommend or not.

    I use the studs daily, but that's partly because I'm on a dirt road that turns to "ice pavement" in winter, so I wouldn't make it up my hill even on snowless days without studs. Last year was so un-snowy it's hard to guess how often he'll need them. They're also good for icy patches, shoulder ick, etc. I tend to err on the side of caution as 1 bad fall could ruin your day, and you need to get to work, it's not like choosing to go for a ride on a nice day. The pricey studded tires from Schwalbe and Nokian have carbide tips so they last longer. I don't have a recommendation for un-studded since I leave the studs on all winter and use nobby nics for trail & commute in summer. A local bike shop might have good info on what local commuters use.

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