Winter Commuting

Printable View

  • 09-15-2010
    Bicyclelist
    Winter Commuting
    Ok guys, here is the story.

    I was born and raised in Texas, I graduated college recently, got married, and my wife accepting a job in North Dakota. We moved to Bismarck at the end of May of this year.

    I have been commuting to work every day on my Langster. The ride is about 1.5 miles with some hilly sections.

    I'm quite ambitious and want to commute through winter. I was thinking about riding one of my single speed mountain bikes instead of the Langster. Also, would gears help? I have 9 bikes and they are all single speeds, i'm guessing a low gear ratio for the snow/ice would be a good idea. I'm also thinking about getting studded tires for one of my MTBs so I could ride that one when it's icy.

    Do you guys have any tips to help me commute for my first real winter? I've heard for weeks at a time it doesn't get over 0 degrees Fahrenheit. I've never really been in single digit weather or below sadly, so I have no idea what it's going to feel like.
  • 09-15-2010
    Self Motivated
    Not to come off negative or anything - but that's a pretty short commute. This opens the door to more "hardcore" studded tires that you can use for real mountain biking (Nokian 294 comes to mind) as rolling resistance will be less of a concern. The key with cold weather riding is wind-proof clothing. @ 1.5 miles I also wouldn't go too crazy with the hi-tech expensive riding gear. Some good sorels for footwear, decent mittens (if it does get that cold), balaclava and basic jacket should do the trick.

    A single speed is ideal here as well - you might add a tooth or two on your cog to compensate. If you already ride this with the single speed - you have an idea where you need to be.

    As far as how it will feel: COLD! I assume your ride takes no more than 10 minutes - which isn't enough time to get warmed up. It will prevent excess sweat though - which is also beneficial.
  • 09-15-2010
    Bicyclelist
    yeah, it's a pretty short commute, most days it takes about 7 minutes or less, i enjoy it a lot. right now i start getting hot right when i'm about to my office, so i don't really get too sweaty so i'm guessing i won't have to worry about that when riding this winter (i guess if i dress too warm i might get too sweaty though). i'll definitely have to get some windproof pants and shoes, waterproof too.

    i'll have to check on those tires. if it wasn't icy, would it be bad to ride studded tires on the pavement?

    thanks for the advice!
  • 09-15-2010
    Self Motivated
    Riding on pavement is actually how your supposed to break studded tires in. It seats the studs some - but if you ride any gnarly off road trails - you will definately lose some of them. That's why they sell replacments and the installer tool (wink).

    With that many bikes to choose from I'd ride "normal" tires most of the time and save the heavy duty tires for heavy duty days. I use the studded version of the Schwalbe Marathon for commuting throughout the entire winter season as they roll quite a bit easier than hardcore off-road tires and I don't do any serious off-roading or deep snow riding with the commuter. Good tire (Schwalbe Marathon)
  • 09-15-2010
    markf
    i ride about 4 miles each way in iowa, not quite as bad as north dakota, but still not great. if your route is well plowed, it is likely you won't need studded tires, but medium width knobbies should work great. single speed is ideal, don't bother with fenders or anything like that, they just pack up and suck. for clothing: layers with windproof outers, and definitely some good insulated boots which i imagine you'll need anyway as normal walking around clothes. for my coldest days (below zero with -30F or lower wind chills) i wear at least two warm layers on my legs under some endura waterproof pants, and a baselayer, light middle layer, light/thin wool layer, heavy wool sweater on my upper body under a seriously wind/waterproof outer layer. i use a balaclava under an insulated snowboard helmet with some goggles, and a extra bit of material to make sure all my face is covered as many balaclavas leave the nose totally open, i seal that gap with some extra fleece and tuck it under my goggles. hope that helps.
  • 09-15-2010
    Bicyclelist
    thanks so much for the advice guys! everyone i've asked here said they don't ride in the winter. i think they are crazy for putting off their passion just because of the weather.

    i was looking at balaclavas, would you recommend a full face one or the half one's?

    i'll be sure to buy some extra studs and the tool when i get some tires, thanks for the advice!

    one thing i thought of, would you recommend a rigid fork? i'm guessing the oils in the cold won't do well. I have cable pull brakes luckily, since i've heard of issues with hydraulic's getting stiff.
  • 09-15-2010
    perttime
    I'd say that for 1.5 miles, it does not matter much what you are wearing, as long as it includes long sleeves, shoes and gloves. But go by feel: if it is a bit cold today, adjust your clothing tomorrow. If you get heavy snow, you are close enough to walk.

    Studded tires are great for ice and very hard packed snow. Otherwise you'll do as well with knobbies. Normal width tires don't float much on snow, so sometimes skinny tires are better because they cut through the soft stuff to whatever harder surface is underneath.
  • 09-16-2010
    JonathanGennick
    Most of my winter trips are a mile or less, just to get around the town where I live. Blocking the wind, or at least mitigating it, are the critical factors. I wear a windproof jacket, windproof gloves, something thin to cover my head under my helmet, wool socks, a bottom base-layer to mitigate the wind getting through my jeans. That combination works well enough for the short trips that I make around town. I'm good down into the high teens, temperature wise.

    For more than a mile or so, I'll think twice about what I'm wearing, and pay especial attention to hands and feet. If snow is falling, jeans get wet fast, so that's a consideration. And I really don't have the gear sorted for colder temps like the low teens and single digits.

    Do get studded tires. They're heaps-o-fun after an ice storm. I just love getting out and riding the bike on glare ice when the opportunity arises.
  • 09-16-2010
    jeffscott
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CoppellStereo
    Ok guys, here is the story.

    I was born and raised in Texas, I graduated college recently, got married, and my wife accepting a job in North Dakota. We moved to Bismarck at the end of May of this year.

    I have been commuting to work every day on my Langster. The ride is about 1.5 miles with some hilly sections.

    I'm quite ambitious and want to commute through winter. I was thinking about riding one of my single speed mountain bikes instead of the Langster. Also, would gears help? I have 9 bikes and they are all single speeds, i'm guessing a low gear ratio for the snow/ice would be a good idea. I'm also thinking about getting studded tires for one of my MTBs so I could ride that one when it's icy.

    Do you guys have any tips to help me commute for my first real winter? I've heard for weeks at a time it doesn't get over 0 degrees Fahrenheit. I've never really been in single digit weather or below sadly, so I have no idea what it's going to feel like.

    North Dakota is ****en cold.....I ride Calgary we hit -35 C for a week, but that can be warm in ND....

    Get the studs, Nokian Peter Whyte cycle (on-line retailer).

    ND also gets wind, you need to cover your entire face. I use a balaclava, ski googles and they have neoprene swatchs that velcro to the bottom of your googles to cover the nose and overlap the bottom of the balaclava.

    First you get fresh snow easy to ride....

    Then the cars start to pack it and you get ruts...tough to ride.

    Then the cars get it pack down great riding, need studs, but you can also get car snot...total *****, sometimes you need thin tires to cut through, sometimes you need fat tires to float....course you only got one set of tires on....

    For Car Snot sit on the rear wheel, go hard...let the front wheel float and go where it wants.

    BTW don't bother screwing with booties etc....get a good pair of winter biking boots, I use Shimano's good to -35 C for about an hour.

    Oh yeah gears help, a well packed road with studs can be faster than pavement....with car snot it can be like climbing a 15% grade.
  • 09-16-2010
    s0ckeyeus
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jeffscott
    North Dakota is ****en cold......

    That is the truth. It can be windy too. Brrr...no thanks.
  • 09-17-2010
    Bicyclelist
    yeah, they say it will be incredibly cold with the wind. my wife and i are both native Texans, hopefully with all this great advice i will be able to show the North Dakotans how its done.

    speak of the devil too, it's actually snowing outside right now. it's mid September!

    i'll have to watch out for the car snot too, sounds gross!

    I guess some days i can take my lansgter, some days my regular MTB, and other days i can ride which ever bike i decide to put some studded tires on.
  • 09-17-2010
    Normbilt
    700X40 Kenda Klondike Tires on my Bianchi San Jose Single speed Fixed 44x17 Gearing.
    30 psi in tires over 6000 miles on this Bike ridden Mostly in winter

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4255882430/" title="Going to Work 1/7/10 by normbilt, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm5.static.flickr.com/4059/4255882430_d92af48b68_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Going to Work 1/7/10" /></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>
  • 09-17-2010
    ThreePutt
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CoppellStereo
    yeah, they say it will be incredibly cold with the wind. my wife and i are both native Texans, hopefully with all this great advice i will be able to show the North Dakotans how its done.

    speak of the devil too, it's actually snowing outside right now. it's mid September!

    i'll have to watch out for the car snot too, sounds gross!

    I guess some days i can take my lansgter, some days my regular MTB, and other days i can ride which ever bike i decide to put some studded tires on.

    I live in Fargo and wish you well, but in my opinion it just isnít worth the effort. Itís dangerous regularly commuting in ND during the heart of winter. Many years, the streets never get fully cleared of compacted snow and ice and too many drivers don't slow down enough. As more snow falls, the roads get narrower and more treacherous and the margin for driver error gets smaller. Then there is the issue of break downs. What do you do if you have a failure at -30F? You can't fix anything because exposed skin will freeze in a very short time when you touch the metal of the frame. And breakdowns occur more often at extreme temperatures.

    Studded tires are great on glare ice (I have a set of Nokians on an old mtb) but most of the time, I can get around more reliably with a set of Rampages on my Karate Monkey. You will also need a good set of lights. Daylight is pretty scarce in January and February.
  • 09-18-2010
    jeffscott
    ****en snowed yeserday
  • 09-18-2010
    mtnbikecrazy55
    I live in wisconsin and commute during the winter school year. all you need are some good studs and a beater bike. i prefer a fixed gear in the winter, as the exra control is amazing