Best bike for winter (snow) commuting- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Best bike for winter (snow) commuting

    I live in buffalo NY. Currently im commuting to work on my race bike, a salsa dos niner with cross tires on it to make it faster on the road. It works perfect for this, but I dont wanna take this bike out on the salty roads in the winter, trust me it will ruin it fast.

    So what kind of bike should I use to commute in the winter? I want it to be durable so I dont gotta worry about it. So for that reason im thinking single speed. My commute is only 8 miles so no big deal. I also need my bike to be somewhat fast, I dont wanna take forever to get there (it currently takes me 20-25 minutes).

    I'd love a cross check set up SS, but thats more than I wanna spend. My budget for this is ~$500, maybe slightly more if I find a good deal on something

  2. #2
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    Hah I ride a FS fully geared bike...

    Biggest problem is the salt gets in brake pads....

    Need to wash it down say once every two weeks...

    Get cartridge bearings...

    Single speed is definately not neccessary, I have very little problems with shifting.

    If you really plan to ride in the winter studs, make alot of marginal things very safe.

  3. #3
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    yeah. My Dos would do a great job at it im sure. Just dont wanna ruin her. I might just pick up a cheap hardtail on ebay and slap a rigid fork on it. I've been wanting a single speed for a while, so ill prolly go that route too...I already have the conversion kit in my tool box, so why not lol

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Destin
    yeah. My Dos would do a great job at it im sure. Just dont wanna ruin her. I might just pick up a cheap hardtail on ebay and slap a rigid fork on it. I've been wanting a single speed for a while, so ill prolly go that route too...I already have the conversion kit in my tool box, so why not lol

    try plowing 12 inches of car snot running 44 16

  5. #5
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    lol, I dont doubt thats hard lol. I think a surly pugsly would make a fun winter commuter since its only 8 miles

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Destin
    lol, I dont doubt thats hard lol. I think a surly pugsly would make a fun winter commuter since its only 8 miles

    Go for it...

    Good bike components will out last cheap **** in the winter.

    Heck I am down to one and 1/2 chains per winter.

  7. #7
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    Nice. I totally know good components are worth it, Ive got pretty much the best on my dos, which is why I wont take it out in the winter lol. I'm watching ebay for a pugsly, we'll see. I'll pick up a cross check if I get a good deal too

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Destin
    Nice. I totally know good components are worth it, Ive got pretty much the best on my dos, which is why I wont take it out in the winter lol.Listen close the good components of the dos will take the winter fineI'm watching ebay for a pugsly, we'll see. I'll pick up a cross check if I get a good deal too
    Go fo what ever you want....One winter on cheap components and you will start all over next winter...

    Good cartridge bearings, and aluminium frame and a CN-7701 chain will last the winter...

    BB7s freeze as bad has everything else. Rim brakes freeze...So do hydros....but guess which type have less damage at the end of the winter...

    Yeah cables and salt just love each other.

  9. #9
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    I rode most every workday last winter in VT on paved & dirt roads on my Litespeed unicoi softtail with studded tires. Usually 11 mi in, 3.5 home. I originally planned to switch to an old steel bike I have, but could not give up the front discs on my hill, that was scary enough. I did not have any trouble with the BB7s freezing up, though I did wash/lube weekly & was able to store it above freezing at work and at home. If you don't have scary hills, you can get away with any older MTB, but get the good studded tires. If you can find a used aluminum one you won't have to worry about frame rust anyway. My drivetrain & all cables did fine too with weekly clean/lube. If you don't already have some, budget for good head//taillights.

  10. #10
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    Disc brakes and a good quality rear hub (at least XT) if you want to do SS. Otherwise fixed is a better choice. No need to worry about your brakes (they're a backup and you never use them in the winter). Get some studs and roll hard.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker
    Disc brakes and a good quality rear hub (at least XT) if you want to do SS. Otherwise fixed is a better choice. No need to worry about your brakes (they're a backup and you never use them in the winter). Get some studs and roll hard.

    Yeah right....fixed SS in a snow storm up and down hills....car snot, then a plowed snow route at 30 km/h the rest of the way home.

    Studs make sense....

  12. #12
    NormalNorm
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    I know you are asking about a commuter bike. But FWTW, I live just over the border in Canada(Hamilton, Ontario).I would buy a used "beater". The winters are hard on bikes. Probably a few hundred bucks.

    I find the worst thing is if you store the bike overnight in a warmer place....like a garage or something. It really does more damage to the bike, do to the melting of snow. Best to leave it outside if you can.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by norm
    But FWTW, I live just over the border in Canada(Hamilton, Ontario).I would buy a used "beater". The winters are hard on bikes. Probably a few hundred bucks.

    I find the worst thing is if you store the bike overnight in a warmer place....like a garage or something. It really does more damage to the bike, do to the melting of snow. Best to leave it outside if you can.
    Born and raised 12 miles from there, I agree with your comments for wonderful wintry SO. Here? In the southern Midwest? Not entirely. They don't know what salt is except on the main thoroughfares. Snow ploughs were uncommon except on federal and state routes until a 24-30 inch blizzard 5 years ago. Learned then that F350's are inadequate.

    Last winter was a lot of white 'snot' on white hardpack. Rode several days but not many. Tried a couple between storms when there were not ruts to pavement and was out and back with my life (barely). So waited until the roads cleared. Rode almost every day the previous winter. Needed studs couldn't fit them, then. Now I can. A request for Santa this fall.

    Here I bring the bike in. It will get way wetter in the rain/ice storms outside. PITA to keep the Brooks saddle covered in winds. Make sure you've greased the stem (if it's a quill) and seat post well to reduce water infiltration into the frame with luck, to none. Have a drain hole in the BB. A low humidity fast dry off is best (in the house not the unheated garage). Frame is rarely cold enough to get condensation in the house when first brought in.

    The winter before was my first full winter riding. The only issue was riding during a snow fall when the rims froze and the rim brakes quit. Not sure discs would work then, but they've got a chance. Still, having a beater for the worst days is likely a good idea if your good bike's frame is steel, but not stainless steel, and is expensive or hard (rare) to replace.

    So the lesson is, you need to adapt to your location AND the particular winter you are experiencing. What worked before or elsewhere may or may not where you are this winter.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by norm
    I know you are asking about a commuter bike. But FWTW, I live just over the border in Canada(Hamilton, Ontario).I would buy a used "beater". The winters are hard on bikes.Winters are hard on low qualtiy bikes and components Probably a few hundred bucks.

    I find the worst thing is if you store the bike overnight in a warmer placeNope not at all....like a garage or something. It really does more damage to the bike, do to the melting of snow.Nope helps get the salt off Best to leave it outside if you can.

    Let see Hamilton...Calgary hmmmmm

    Low qualtiy bikes simple fall apart during a winter...

    Good quality parts and components are properly sealed and are not exposed to the elements...

    Key thing get the salt off regularly, say once every two weeks.

    Or when there is a build up...

    Inside is just fine and prevents a lot of theft issues...

    Yup, get that old beater and sure enough you will beat the **** out of it...

    My last problem was last winter, decided to back off on rinsing off the salt....no problem with the chain, no real problems at all, until I discovered the cassette was salted on to the hub....and the spokes on the rear were frozen on...

    First time ever (6 th winter) that happened and it would have happened to any bike including a single speed beater...

    Sorry good parts and components no probs, poor components get a beater once a winter.

  15. #15
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    I rode a Kona Minimula with good compontents through a winter once. It totally killed my bike and the parts on it. The road salt ruined the seals on the fork. Since then, I look for "beaters" for the winter. Your right, the bike will only last a winter or two. I don't spend more then a hundred or two on bike.

    Here in Hamilton we get alot of temp variations, not much in the way of heavy snow falls and tons of salt/road slush(I don't know about Buffalo or Calgary's winter conditions). Like the one post said it really depends on your area. After a season you have it hands down on what you need or what works best.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by norm
    I rode a Kona Minimula with good compontents through a winter once. It totally killed my bike and the parts on it. The road salt ruined the seals on the fork.Not very good seals then were they Since then, I look for "beaters" for the winter. Your right, the bike will only last a winter or two. I don't spend more then a hundred or two on bike.I spend about one chain and a brake bleed extra for a winter

    Here in Hamilton we get alot of temp variations, not much in the way of heavy snow falls and tons of salt/road slush(I don't know about Buffalo or Calgary's winter conditions). Like the one post said it really depends on your area. After a season you have it hands down on what you need or what works best.
    I doubt it you have only really tried two set-ups generally it can take three years to get everything just right...

    Hell this year I am gonna get it down to one chain, about normal summer wear....How good maintance....not more maintance just better timed.

    So you are spending $100/yr extra for the winter, me well hopefully just an extra brake bleed...

  17. #17
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    I believe I got some fallout today from riding last winter with the XTR BB. <1 mile into a trail ride today, the pedals failed to turn. After checking rear V-brake, chain, der, etc., found it was the BB. Totally frozen & metal shavings coming out & a slight odor of burning metal in the air. Coasted, scootered, walked back & dropped @ LBS. After a brief struggle, mechanic was able to get at it & found the bearings were totally toast..."I've never seen anything like it" and "You got the life out of it and then some", but I imagine the salt didn't help any either, as some rust was visible inside. So about $100 for the new BB, tomorrow if I'm lucky, or if not, next week. On the plus side I am hoping to feel speedier once I am rid of the drag, which in hindsight I believe started intermittently before it totally locked up.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer
    I believe I got some fallout today from riding last winter with the XTR BB. <1 mile into a trail ride today, the pedals failed to turn. After checking rear V-brake, chain, der, etc., found it was the BB. Totally frozen & metal shavings coming out & a slight odor of burning metal in the air. Coasted, scootered, walked back & dropped @ LBS. After a brief struggle, mechanic was able to get at it & found the bearings were totally toast..."I've never seen anything like it" and "You got the life out of it and then some", but I imagine the salt didn't help any either, as some rust was visible inside. So about $100 for the new BB, tomorrow if I'm lucky, or if not, next week. On the plus side I am hoping to feel speedier once I am rid of the drag, which in hindsight I believe started intermittently before it totally locked up.

    The Shimano XT and XTR BB bearing is noted for short life...I get only about 6 months on an XT bearing buddy gets about a year on his XTR....

    Replace the XT/XTR BB bearing with an Enduroseal ceramic hybrid about the same cost...

    http://www.enduroforkseals.com/id322.html you can also go with the $65.00 bearings last just as long.

    I get two years plus out of them...

    And yes you will be going like a bat out of hell for a couple of weeks at least.

    Oh BTW to check BB wear grab the pedals and try to move the pedals in and out from the bike (every time you wash the bike)...any movement means you need to tighten the preload....

    When you have no more preload adjustment left time for new bearings...

    I tighten the preload about 4 times during a bearing life.

  19. #19
    namagomi
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    Let's see...
    • Hardtail MTB, Alloy won't look as bad in spring
    • Wide chain and seat stays for extra tire and snow clearance.
    • Fender(a must) and rack provisions
    • Good double-sealed/labryinth sealed hubs
    • Freehub that is easily serviced and well sealed
    • shimano un square taper bottom bracket - invincible!
    • flat handle-bars... don't cut em - better balance left wide.
    • disc brakes are great, one up front
    • double-sealed pedals.
    • studded tire if you aren't going to take the bus on icy days or have icy paths to contend with.


    If you can get that for $500 you're set!

  20. #20
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    Wow, I guess the obvious solution has been overlooked—Surly Pugsley:

    Last edited by Leopold Porkstacker; 08-11-2010 at 08:11 PM.
    Don’t frail and blow if you’re going to Braille and Flow.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold Porkstacker
    Wow, I guess the obvious solution has been overlooked—Surly Puglsey:
    IMO that thing is overkill for just commuting, now riding the snowmobile trails.. maybe not!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik
    IMO that thing is overkill for just commuting, now riding the snowmobile trails.. maybe not!
    Actually, they’re suitable for ANY sort of terrain:

    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/NwkX6jannkM?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/NwkX6jannkM?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>
    Don’t frail and blow if you’re going to Braille and Flow.

  23. #23
    namagomi
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold Porkstacker
    Actually, they’re suitable for ANY sort of terrain:
    I know that:


    They're just over-kill for a simple commute - plenty of regular mtb work well enough.

  24. #24
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    On nice days, I can put the regular commuter back in service. I am contemplating a disc bike to fill the winter gaps I had this past winter.

    So what is the pros/cons of a disc braked cross bike, a rigid 29er like the Fargo or one with locked fork, and the Pugsley for the occasional bad winter weather/sloppy road commute and a long-time roadie but neophyte trail (not since childhood, and no mountains pretty tame trails here) rider (a fair amount of wet trail maybe)? I get the impression this is a questoin only I can answer for myself but it would be expensive to try one of each.

    Impressed with the Pugsley's flotation, though I hope I'd never need it on a commute!

    Scene from such a disaster:
    "Hello? Bettty? Brian here. I am going to be late because I am currently washing downstream. No, I'm fine, the Pugsley's keeping me afloat. Call you back when I am ashore if the phone stays dry."

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold Porkstacker
    Actually, they’re suitable for ANY sort of terrain:

    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/NwkX6jannkM?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/NwkX6jannkM?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

    Often the absolute shiits for car snot.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc
    On nice days, I can put the regular commuter back in service. I am contemplating a disc bike to fill the winter gaps I had this past winter.

    So what is the pros/cons of a disc braked cross bike, a rigid 29er like the Fargo or one with locked fork, and the Pugsley for the occasional bad winter weather/sloppy road commute and a long-time roadie but neophyte trail (not since childhood, and no mountains pretty tame trails here) rider (a fair amount of wet trail maybe)? I get the impression this is a questoin only I can answer for myself but it would be expensive to try one of each.

    Impressed with the Pugsley's flotation, though I hope I'd never need it on a commute!

    Scene from such a disaster:
    "Hello? Bettty? Brian here. I am going to be late because I am currently washing downstream. No, I'm fine, the Pugsley's keeping me afloat. Call you back when I am ashore if the phone stays dry."
    Car Snot is usually the worst case....depends on the depth and quality...

    Sometimes you need the front floating and the rear digging...if it ain't too deep digging front and rear ain't too bad, but can get tiring..

    Sometimes with the deeper stuff ya gotta float...

    For any given tire size the only variable left is speed faster to float more slower to dig...

    So a really wide tire can be a pain in the ass at times.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer
    ... After a brief struggle, mechanic was able to get at it & found the bearings were totally toast..." So about $100 for the new BB, tomorrow if I'm lucky, or if not, next week.
    She is out of the hospital (LBS) & ready to ride! Here's a couple not so hot pix of the old BB.
    oops, 1 pic got lost in satellite- or cyber-space, but I was surprised how small the ball bearings were.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    • File Type: bmp bb.bmp (56.3 KB, 1105 views)

  28. #28
    namagomi
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Car Snot is usually the worst case....depends on the depth and quality...

    Sometimes you need the front floating and the rear digging...if it ain't too deep digging front and rear ain't too bad, but can get tiring..

    Sometimes with the deeper stuff ya gotta float...

    For any given tire size the only variable left is speed faster to float more slower to dig...

    So a really wide tire can be a pain in the ass at times.
    Yes, sometimes a wide-tire is annoying when there is only a small snow-fall and you know a thinner tire could reach the asphalt, in that case it leads to excessive floating.

  29. #29
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    What abouy one of those hybrid bikes. The ones that all the old people ride on bike paths, that have the handlebars up about nipple height. They are cheap on Craigslist. Cheap brand new also. Slap on some knobby like tires and enjoy. You get to sit up so you can wear any kind of jacket you want. The grips and controls are massive so you can use them with snowmobile gloves. You're pretty centered on the bike so easy to move around on the slippery stuff. And no one will ever want to steal it cause they are just ass-ugly.
    In the great Ford vs Chevy debate, I choose Porsche.

  30. #30
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    I see your point about car snot. First hand experience this winter. One before, I rode clear dry roads mostly. A Pugsley would be great for that 30 inch pre Christmas Eve snowfall we had in 2005, though.

    Car snot on white pack and snow hiding ice with tire ruts seem to be the biggest issues if we get long ebough cold snaps so it doesn't melt in a day or two. I figure studs to get a grip. I can fit 700C 32mm so I will give them a whirl. That will help decide what other bike I might need to deal with winter here.

  31. #31
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    After many years of very snowy winter commuting I've come to the conclusion that an IGH and disc brakes make the experience much more enjoyable, and far, far, more trouble free.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas
    After many years of very snowy winter commuting I've come to the conclusion that an IGH and disc brakes make the experience much more enjoyable, and far, far, more trouble free.
    Bingo! And if funds alow get a Titanium frame, no corrosion or rust problems that way.

  33. #33
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    Go for an aluminum frame. Disc is possible. I've ridden bikes where the rim or pads had ice on it. Not good. I don't agree with a bike only lasting a winter season or two. This may be true if you do NO maintenance, but with quick wipe downs, it should be fine.

    I also strongly suggest a single speed/fixed gear commuter. This is noticeably easier to clean which will make you clean it more often. I have many different bikes that I commute in, but stick to the SS whenever there is going to be a weather issue.

  34. #34
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    Mid-90's something Gary Fisher Utopia. Riding on Nokian Extreme 294's.
    When I come home on days like this. I just take a couple of empty milk jugs
    of hot water to it. Stick it in the house and let it dry on an old towel. I've been
    doing that for the past three winters. Outside of cleaning the chain more often,
    I do normal maintenance. Which is practically nothing. I ride on XT hubs and overhaul
    them about every 2yrs.


  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoatw
    Mid-90's something Gary Fisher Utopia. Riding on Nokian Extreme 294's.
    ...
    The last time I rode in conditions like that, I had no brakes for the steep hill just before the turn to my place. I should have ridden around the other way. A bit too exciting, but I managed to scrub off speed and got round with out sliding or going off road. I had dragged brakes for a long way before the hill and still nada.

    Do you ride uncleared bike paths? The Extreme seems a bit well, extreme, for the street unless they don't plow your route but once and then at noon so its a mess coming home, too.

    Sand and salt are the big enemies and some locations use little. Some it is a terrible assault on the bike. Grease on the seat post to minimize penetration into the frame there, if you have a threaded stem, ditto on it. Regular maintenance chain cleaning including testing wheels and BB to detect contamination early can save BB, and wheel bearings. Grease is cheap.

  36. #36
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    I can ride snow up to about 5". Anything more and I'm walkin'. I commute all winter, everyday. I couldn't do it without the Nokians. Some may think they're overkill. But I want
    to be prepared to handle anything ol' man winter throws my way. Ice, mushy stuff, deep ruts (as long as they're not frozen). And sometimes dry pavement. The tires have alot of
    resistance. But it's minimal compared to the normal time on my 45min commute.
    Hey, riding in bad weather you just have to account for the extra time anyway. If the roads are going to be clear in the morning and at the end of the work day, then I just swap wheelsets. Which takes me less than 10 mins.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoatw
    I can ride snow up to about 5". Anything more and I'm walkin'. I commute all winter, everyday. I couldn't do it without the Nokians. Some may think they're overkill. But I want
    to be prepared to handle anything ol' man winter throws my way. Ice, mushy stuff, deep ruts (as long as they're not frozen). And sometimes dry pavement. The tires have alot of
    resistance. But it's minimal compared to the normal time on my 45min commute.
    Hey, riding in bad weather you just have to account for the extra time anyway. If the roads are going to be clear in the morning and at the end of the work day, then I just swap wheelsets. Which takes me less than 10 mins.

    Hah works out a bit different for me, since I come out of downtown...

    If we get 5 plus inchs of snow the downtown rush hour backs up and can take double or triple time...

    So if there is more than 5 inches from snow I am definately riding, I can plow until the snow gets over the BB...if it does then walking will still be quicker than driving.

  38. #38
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    Lived in the southern snow belt in Medina County, Ohio for 16 years and commuted to Coilumbus so iI have some familiarity with winter there. The double wheelsets make the Nokians make a lot of sense.

    In Southeastern Indina 5 inches shuts everything down for at least one day, maybe two. Unsafe to challege idiots in 4wds. It's the sloppy snot over packed semi frozen snow/ice left by their excuse for snow plowing that's the problem and black ice. Mostly it all melts and is gone in two days. So I rode all winter two winters ago. Not this past winter. So I am asking Santa for two studded 700-32 mm Nokian studded tires for the errand bike's wheels.

  39. #39
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    I have been thinking about a snow bike too.

    I don't want to ride it all the way to work, cause there would be way to much gnar involved in the commute. Just to bus stops.

    I use to have a beach cruiser that was excellent in snow. I think the key in snow bikes is fat tires and fenders. You'll want fenders because it will keep the slush off of ya. they also make studded snow tires and those would be ideal. My cruiser was not fitted with studded tires, but had some nice tread on them and it was usually sufficient. I would ride it on packed down snow in Breckenridge Colorado to grocery stores and stuff, but not to work. I lived very close to my job. Your eastern snow would probably be harder to ride in cause it's wetter.

    I want to get a beater, fit it with fenders and snow tires. Maybe an old hardtail or ridgid bike. Sadly my cruiser is gone and my current bikes do not need to be subjected to the salt and snow.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    try plowing 12 inches of car snot running 44 16
    I ride this all winter in the Far Northwest Suburbs of Chicago

    My gearing is 44 17 I have two sets of wheels one set with 700x35 tires and one with 700x40 Studded tires
    I have 5 winters on this bike

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4360953457/" title="SJ Snow Fender by normbilt, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm5.static.flickr.com/4046/4360953457_b33627b32d_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="SJ Snow Fender" /></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4360953093/" title="SJ Snow 2-15-10 by normbilt, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2777/4360953093_88a6a6cebb_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="SJ Snow 2-15-10" /></a>

  41. #41
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    [QUOTE=Normbilt]I ride this all winter in the Far Northwest Suburbs of Chicago

    My gearing is 44 17 I have two sets of wheels one set with 700x35 tires and one with 700x40 Studded tires
    I have 5 winters on this bike


    [QUOTE]


    That's a steel frame - no? I ask as I have a Novarra Buzz I'm not too in love with and I am thinking of picking up a Salsa Vaya frame and swapping all the bits. My only concern is corrosion.

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