Saturday, September 17, 2005

[Commute] Winter is coming...

are you ready for four months of snow, slush and ice?

Biking in winter is a fun and challenging way to stay fit and beat the winter blahs while saving $$$. Here are some useful tips to remember while you prepare for the winter season...

  • There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
  • Take care of your bike, and it will take care of you.
  • Keep your tires slightly underinflated for better traction on snow and ice.
  • Studded tires are great for Finland and other Arctic conditions, but standard knobbies work fine here.
  • Don't worry about falling, you'll tense up and probably will fufill your fears. Once you get the technique down, your confidence and enjoyment will increase. IceBike has a good article on winter riding techniques, as well as other excellent articles on winterizing your ride, cool accesories, etc.
  • Ride a 'beater bike' and consider going single-speed or getting an internally-geared hub. Also, clean and lube your drivetrain weekly. The grit, sand, salt, and slush are murder on a nice bike (and a beater too, for that matter).

  • Fenders are a must.

  • Brake and turn gently!

I'm starting to build up my winter rig, a 1991 GT Tequesta that I purchased this summer for three very important reasons --
  1. the triple triangle frame with seat stays parallel to the down tube is very cool looking
  2. the splash paint job that was so popular during the time has a certain 'retro-bling' factor. And most importantly...
  3. I won't feel guilty about it getting grimy, banged up, and exposed to the deicer solution.
The bike was in good shape when I bought it, and my nostalgic urges were satiated for a mere $30.

The first thing I did was totally disassemble the bike and pop a cartridge bottom bracket in. Cup and cone BB's are more hassle than they are worth - unless you want to shell out $50 for pin spanners, fixed-cup wrenched, and lockring spanners - all of which are rapidly becoming obsolete.

I then rebuilt the headset and front hub, stuck the Suntour XCE crank back on, got some platform DH pedals and put a Nexus 7-speed wheel on the back. In addition to the internal transmission, the Nexus also has an internal 'roller brake' - much better than trying to stop with icy, wet rims and pads. I'm going with a 22-tooth chainring and 18-tooth sprocket, which should give it a range of 20-49 gear inches (or a speed of 5.4-13.1 mph at a cadence of 90 rpm).

I'll be using a chain with a master link to make frequent removal and cleaning less problematic, and getting a zinc & chrome plated chain will resist corrosion. I like the green viscous Finish Line Cross-Country wet lube for wet winter riding, but any heavy water-resistant lube is great.

Want to read more?

The Edmonton Bicycle Commuter website has a great page about DIY studded tires, winterizing your bike and misc. tips.

TotalBike has a winter riding page

I already mentioned IceBike, but it's worth repeating. They have a section on winterizing your freehub, although that's overkill for Moscow's relatively mild winters.

Now, repeat after me, Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow!


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