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Thread: Cold and slow

  1. #1
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    Cold and slow

    Has anyone else noticed how much slower their bike feels when it gets really cold out? It was about -12F when I rode last night. I only rode three miles, but it felt like it took forever. Tires felt really stiff. Pedal bearings were also quite stiff. The freshly groomed snow at that temperature probably didn't help.

  2. #2
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    yes. when i ride in temps around zero and below, especially when it's windy, the pedals are significantly harder to turn. the bike in general seems to protest audibly from everywhere. the bottom bracket screams, squawks, and sings at different points in the ride. the wheels pop and ping. the frame has even creaked and cracked (aluminum).

    sorry, back to the slow factor. there are a couple things going on here. grease turns into a solid wax type substance, chain lube turns to the same useless paste. oil, lube, grease, all things that move including bearings, become slow, sticky, non-smooth and reluctant at low temps. so drag is significantly increased.

    another factor is the snow. when it's really cold the snow is very dry and does not pack. you have less grip and it slows you down a lot. it makes riding much harder. plus if your heavy like me, 210, your rear tire will dig in more instead of floating so it's like a constant uphill. so yeah, it can take me 2 hours to go 10 miles on a bad day.
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  3. #3
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    Grease gets stiffer. Switch to thin grease or even oil for the winter.

    Pressure drops when the air inside the tires gets colder. Even small changes make a big proportional difference because the pressures are so low to begin with. Increase pressure when you've been out for a while.

    Rubber gets less compliant. You'll benefit from going tubeless.

  4. #4
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    Honestly I haven't noticed any of that (grease, bearings, tires etc). The only thing I do is check the tire pressures when the bike's been at outside temps for long enough, and I usually add a couple psi when it's really cold.

    I do feel my legs more though. I think your muscles are probably not getting the same amount of blood flow when it's really cold, and the workouts feel tougher and perhaps I ride a little slower as a consequence.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies, guys. Your explanations all makes sense. I've heard people talk about changing grease in the winter, but until now I hadn't seen a need for it. I don't plan to do much riding when it's that cold, so I probably won't make any changes to my bike.

    The most surprising thing was how different the tires felt, even with pressures that were appropriate for the snow I was riding on. I kept thinking how glad I was to not be doing a super long race like the Arrowhead 135 . I now have more respect for those people.

  6. #6
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    Probably also depends on the pedals/bearings and overall situation. That was about the average temp for a race a few weeks back. You can count on the brakes being stiffer, the tires being at a lower PSI than you pumped to indoors, but at a fast-pace (all-out) I may have been keeping the pedal and crank bearings a little warmer. Still, some pedals have bushings, some have bearings, some have ample grease, some have almost none.
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  7. #7
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    My tire pressure may have been a little on the low side. I'm sure the slow feeling was a combination of many factors.

  8. #8
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    Y'all gotta go synthetic! Easier cold pedal ups (sarcasm)

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