Author Topic: Question about winter bikes  (Read 1441 times)

bosspross

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Question about winter bikes
« on: October 11, 2017, 09:40:45 AM »
I live in a snowy area and would like to continue riding a bike to work. Currently I have a trek fx which is a hybrid. I was talking to some individuals in the area who ride year round and they recommended buying a cheap mountain bike and using it as a winter beater. I have been looking on craigslist and have found several quality brand bikes that are my size for ~$200. I looked online at Walmart and saw I could get a bike for about $70. Because I will be just using the bike as a winter bike that will get covered in salt/snow/ice would it make more sense to get the Walmart bike? I know the quality will not be as good but would it really matter? Any advice appreciated.

Debts_of_Despair

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Re: Question about winter bikes
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 09:59:00 AM »
Under no circumstances should you buy a Dept store bike.

http://www.randomthoughts.fyi/2012/01/buying-bikes-from-craigslist.html?m=1

GuitarStv

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Re: Question about winter bikes
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 10:02:12 AM »
There are different approaches to this problem.  What kills your bike in the winter is mostly salt, a little bit grit (eats your drive train).  Really cold temps are pretty safe for your bike, but the damage happens when it gets above zero (or a little below zero when the salt melts the snow into slush).  You can just deal with the damage that happens, or you can actively work to prevent it.


Either:

1.  You get a crappy bike, just ride it through the winter and have it pretty much disintegrate come spring (cables will rust and stick, derailleurs will stop working, brakes will rust and stick)

2.  You get an OK bike.  You take apart the axles, the derailleurs, the headset, brake pivots, the bottom bracket and grease them all with waterproof grease (marine bearing grease works well, as does snowmobile grease).  Then after every winter ride (if commuting after every time you get home) you pour boiling hot water over the bike to knock the salt off and give it a quick wipe down, re-lube the chain and brake pivots, and maybe occasionally do some re-greasing.  I've managed to get a bike to last through five winters of commuting by doing this.



There's also
3.  Get a an IGH bike with a belt drive.  It's more expensive but will require less maintenance.
4.  Get a fixie.  It sucks if you have any hills, but will require less maintenance.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 10:04:55 AM by GuitarStv »

acroy

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Re: Question about winter bikes
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 10:38:24 AM »
I would look at using the bike you have.
Add fenders and winter tires, and go for it.
good luck!

spokey doke

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Re: Question about winter bikes
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2017, 10:46:05 AM »
I second the "NO dept. store bikes" advice...better of with a used mountainbike.

However, the main difference in the stock offerings on the mountainbikes and your FX is the tires, and especially with the blooming of the cross bike category, what you can put on your hybrid may not be MUCH different than what you can fit on an old mountainbike.  So if you want to just ride your current bike through the winter, check on tire options first.  Also consider in the price of a used mountainbike the possible cost of replacements (tires being a consideration again). But...as mentioned, you may not want to get salt on your current bike (depending on what they do to the roads where you live).

Generally, big tires (bigger contact patch, increased by the ability to run them at a lower pressure), and if you get a lot of solid ice, studs, will give you more grip in the winter.  Mountainbikes now have a really wide range of tires they can take, but many older models have a fairly limited range with relatively narrow rims and tight frame clearance.  Plus and fatbikes expand the possibilities, but can be spendy for what you get (although cheaper models have been coming out as their popularity increases).

Overall...I'd check tire options for your current bike and then look at used mountainbikes (perhaps with a tire upgrade to something with the most volume the bike can accommodate)...


GuitarStv

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Re: Question about winter bikes
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2017, 10:57:09 AM »
Exactly what kind of conditions will you be riding through?

Big knobby tires work fine when you're cruising through several inches of snow, but they are actually less grippy than smaller treads when you're riding in a little slush or plowed roads.  If you're expecting lots melt/freeze cycles that means ice, and for ice your best bet will be studded tires (but studs will really slow you down on bare roads).

The conditions will also determine what width you prefer to use.  You can go very wide and try to float over the snow and slush, or you can go very narrow and try to punch through the snow/slush to contact the road.  Both options have their place.

One thing that I will argue for on any winter bike is puncture proof tires.  Yes they're more expensive.  Yes they're heavier.  Not having to change a flat when it's dark and cold out and your fingers are freezing cold is 100% worth it though.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Question about winter bikes
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2017, 11:17:20 AM »
I would look at using the bike you have.
Add fenders and winter tires, and go for it.
good luck!

+1
Personally, I don't bother to change the tires...I don't ride when there's accumulated snow or ice; I wait a couple of days after it snows to allow time for plowing and melting...fenders are definitely a great add on!

GuitarStv

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Re: Question about winter bikes
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2017, 11:24:07 AM »
+1 on the fenders.  They keep a lot of crap off your drive train.  Note, you have to be careful when you're installing them because in the right conditions wet snow can and will accumulate in them as you cycle along . . . if there's no path for it to exit this can build up to a frozen bunch of crap that jams your tires.  You want the part of the fender at the rear of the bike to be closer to the wheel than the part of the fender at the front of the bike.

BlueMR2

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Re: Question about winter bikes
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2017, 03:56:33 PM »
My around town commuter is the same winter and summer.  Old beat up mountain bike.  Other than oiling the chain and cables I basically do no maintenance on it.  All exposed metal on it is rusty, but the thing keeps on keepin' on...

I'd just pick up the cheapest beater possible from a local garage sale.  If it's a department store bike it probably won't last more than a few years, but hey, you can get those for $10 all day long, so it's cost effective.

bosspross

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Re: Question about winter bikes
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2017, 08:06:14 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback so far. So far it looks like my options are:
1) ride the bike I have
2) Washing the bike down after each ride (I don't really see myself taking the time to do this after each run)
3) Buy a beater and let it rust out on me

A little more information. I live in Buffalo NY which is one of the snowiest cities in the US. In the winter there is pretty much salt constantly on the roads so it will cover any bike I ride.  I would mostly be riding in slush or packed snow on side roads because they do a good job of clearing roads. How long does a bike last in winter weather. If it last a year or two I think it would make sense to just buy the cheapest thing I can find and let it rust apart on me

GuitarStv

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Re: Question about winter bikes
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2017, 08:37:10 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback so far. So far it looks like my options are:
1) ride the bike I have
2) Washing the bike down after each ride (I don't really see myself taking the time to do this after each run)
3) Buy a beater and let it rust out on me

A little more information. I live in Buffalo NY which is one of the snowiest cities in the US. In the winter there is pretty much salt constantly on the roads so it will cover any bike I ride.  I would mostly be riding in slush or packed snow on side roads because they do a good job of clearing roads. How long does a bike last in winter weather. If it last a year or two I think it would make sense to just buy the cheapest thing I can find and let it rust apart on me

Based on the last few winters I've been down there Buffalo uses a similar amount of salt as Toronto but it tends to be snowier.   FWIW, washing the bike down can be done in very short order after a couple tries (I've got it down to a system that takes no more than 5 minutes).  You really just want to fill up a bucket with some hot soapy water and knock the worst of the salt off the drivetrain, frame, and brake pivots.

If you're not keeping things clean just make sure to oil your chain and brake pivots regularly with some wet chain lube.  The chain can turn into a solid immovable red block (kinda defeats the whole point of having a bike), and the brake pivots need to work for you to stop.  Anything else broken is just shades of annoying.