Author Topic: Winter Bike Comute  (Read 19133 times)

ECrew28

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Winter Bike Comute
« on: October 22, 2012, 07:28:03 AM »
So I have been riding my trusty mountain bike to work (8 miles each way) for the past 2 months...thanks to this site.  But as the weather starts to turn here in Chicago, I was wondering what sort of gear you all suggest for cold weather riding.  I make weekly trips in to the office on Sunday bringing in my business clothes and breakfast/lunch for the week.  I am fortunate enough to have a gym on site and access to a shower.  So what sort of lightweight WARM gear do you all recommend?

zhelud

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2012, 09:06:27 AM »
When the weather gets cold, I find that I can cope by adding layers- the coldest days I wear 4 layers on top, including a jacket with a hood that tucks under my helmet.
I got a pair of insulated bike pants as well. If it is really cold I might wear a pair of shorts on top of those for an extra layer.

Hands and feet are my biggest problem when it is cold. I wear wool socks and regular sneakers, which usually do the job for my feet, and big snow gloves.  That will get me down to about 20 degrees. Below that, I usually just don't ride. Where I live, we might have 10-15 days of weather when it is below 20 degrees in the morning, so it's not a big problem.

smrf

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2012, 09:40:43 AM »
I'm a Chicago bike commuter as well. I ride my bike a couple of times a week from Logan Square out to Elmhurst where
I work (about 15 miles one way) and I do it all winter.

My recommendation for gear is pretty simple: wool. Wool works in a very wide range of temperatures and you don't
have to wash it every single time; it never smells like the fancy high-tech gear. The only downside with wool is
my roadie friends tend to mock anyone not wearing space-age materials with corporate sponsorship logos plastered
all over them.

Most of my gear is from Ibex. I'll just give you my list -- these items combine to work in basically
every weather condition from november through march. I've been out in snow storms, sleet storms and even Snowpocalypse.

(I've included temperature ranges for each piece, this may vary for you)
Wool Balaclava (< 20)
Wool cycling cap (from Rivendell) (< 30)
3/4 wool bibs (< 40)
leg warmers (add these under wool bibs when less than 20)
wool tights -- I typically wear shorts over these to block wind (< 20)
Smartwool socks (< 50)
wool shirt (< 40)
wool jersey on top of wool shirt (< 30)
wind breaker (< 20)
Neck gaiter (< 30)
Sidi cyclocross shoes (I clip in, these are nice because they don't have so much ventilation and my feet don't get soaked immediately in wet conditions)
Booties (<20)


If it's less than 10 I don't ride. I also skip icy conditions, although studded tires would help with this. They are overkill almost 90% of the time though. The first winter I rode a fixed gear bike with skinny road tires all year. I only put the bike down when taking the shortcut through the icy cemetery, so stick with the plowed and salted roads and you won't have any problems.

My biggest problem when getting geared up for winter is I'm usually too warm! Wear a helmet and get a bunch of lights; front lights are legally required in Chicago.

smrf

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2012, 09:48:13 AM »
P.S. This list is pretty expensive. But I've more than made up for it in terms of money saved on commuting over the years and also feeling like a total badass when I tell people about my commute in the winter. I justify it in the same way I justify having a nicer bike: I'm more likely to ride if I feel I'm properly prepared. When it's 25 and dark outside I need to use every trick in the book to get out on my bike instead of enjoying the toasty, warm inside of my car. :-)

That said I have friends that ride all winter and they just wear regular winter stuff. Their commute is not as long and they ride much slower than me.


caligulala

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2012, 10:10:02 AM »
We're Chicago bikers too. The list of wool is great, I'd also recommend some water proof pants and a jacket for slushy days. Costco has a decent, packable set for about $50 right now.

We stay off the roads if they haven't been thoroughly plowed yet, if it is really icy or super cold and windy. And wear a helmet for sure. Last year I saw a girl take a corner too fast in icy conditions and whack her head on the curb. It was really, really bad. Biking in the winter is bad ass, ignoring the road conditions is acting like a jack ass.

galaxie

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2012, 11:23:31 AM »
I bike in the winter in Boston.  I second the recommendations for wool, wool, wool.  However, I tend to use a wind resistant or waterproof top layer over all the wool.  My body heats up pretty quickly but my hands and feet can get pretty cold - my exciting new acquisition for this winter is a pair of lobster gloves. 

I biked all winter last year in canvas sneakers, which wasn't great (one day in late November I had to stop to buy booties on the way home because my feet were too cold).  This year I've got bike shoes that are at least not wind-permeable but haven't installed the pedals for them to clip into yet.  We'll see how that goes.

My winter outfit usually looks like this:

wool base-layer shirt
wool mid-layer shirt
wool long johns under pants OR windproof fleece bike tights
hat (above/near freezing) or balaclava (colder)
wool knit gloves (35-45deg), windproof bike gloves (near freezing), or lobster gloves (colder)
wool socks
booties below about 35deg

skyrefuge

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2012, 12:55:34 PM »
I don't have much to add, but since this is apparently the Chicagoland Winter Bike Commuting thread, I figured I'd chime in!

I somewhat agree with the idea that "fancy expensive gear can prevent excuses for not riding", but I also want to highlight that it's far from necessary.

I want to reinforce what some others have pointed out: hands and feet are the critical areas, so that's what a Mustachian who wants to limit expense should focus on.  All the clothes between those areas isn't nearly as important, and if you ride fast enough, getting your non-extremities too warm and sweaty is more of a problem than getting them too cold.  So really any type of clothing will do there.  (That said, I *do* have the fancy high-tech windblocking jacket and pants that I wear when it gets cold.)

But that high-tech/lightweight stuff isn't good enough for the extremities, so when it gets around 20F, I have big ol' insulated gloves (ok, they're GoreTex too) and big ol' insulated waterproof boots to do the job (I have pedals with clips on one side and a flat platform on the other so I can use any footwear, and am more than happy to trade any minor loss in efficiency for being able to feel my toes.)

galaxie

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2012, 01:20:54 PM »
Some of my bike friends really love "Moose Mitts":  http://www.trails-edge.com/retail/te_shirts/amfbikemits.htm

I haven't tried them but they seem like a good idea.

cambridgecyclist

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2012, 01:55:51 PM »
Lots of great recommendations here. One trick I've learned -- a balaclava LINER keeps my face warm down to about 20 degrees and it fits under a helmet. The liner can be pulled down so that it covers everything but your face, or pulled up so that it covers everything but the area around your eyes, so it's versatile enough to be used in lower temperatures.

ECrew28

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2012, 03:10:05 PM »
Thanks for all the info guys.  I will choose my pieces carefully.  Have a safe cold weather season!

yolfer

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2012, 04:09:28 PM »
Sidi cyclocross shoes (I clip in, these are nice because they don't have so much ventilation and my feet don't get soaked immediately in wet conditions)

OT question: which shoes do you wear? I race CX and it's such a non-mustachian sport! I bought a used 'cross bike but I still need a good pair of clip-in shoes.

flygirl

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2012, 05:23:49 PM »
Came to say that you don't need a big jacket. Most days all Boston winter I wear a long sleeve wool base layer (Ibex Woolies) under a windbreaker and that is enough for trunk warmth down to like 15F. (Bottoms is wool tights under shorts - shorts become pants below 20F) I definitely run hot, and you mileage DEFINITELY will vary, but you probably need less than you think!

Russ

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2012, 06:24:43 PM »
Sidi cyclocross shoes (I clip in, these are nice because they don't have so much ventilation and my feet don't get soaked immediately in wet conditions)

OT question: which shoes do you wear? I race CX and it's such a non-mustachian sport! I bought a used 'cross bike but I still need a good pair of clip-in shoes.

I was actually just about to open a Reader Recommendation thread about this same thing. Try "The Pro's Closet" on eBay for nice used cycling equipment. I just bought a used pair of Shimano SH-M225's (discontinued, carbon sole w/ buckle) for $50. They've been ridden hard, but all the seams are still in good shape and the buckles work perfectly. The only potential issue is that you have to know your size beforehand if you don't want to mess with a bunch of returns. My old shoes were Shimanos so I knew what I needed.

Russ

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2012, 07:15:11 PM »
Oh and for the OP:

People kinda dismissed this last time I brought it up a few months ago, but I'm 100% serious: plastic grocery bags are the absolute best winter riding accessory ever, and not just because they're cheap. When it gets too cold out for my normal riding gear, all I do to stay warm is add a plastic bag or two in between layers to block the wind and retain heat. Cold torso? stuff a bag down the front of your shirt. Cold legs? stuff a bag down the front of your pants. Cold feet? Layer up with a bag in between your socks and shoes (now your feet are safe from wetness too!).

The benefits:
-They pack smaller than any other piece of cold-weather gear you'll own
-They're versatile: you don't need one special item for your legs, one for your feet, etc., the same bag will do all of these
-They're free with your groceries
-They're easier to take on and off while on the move. Ever tried to put on a jacket while riding a bike? Stuffing a plastic bag down your shirt is way easier.
-They're the perfect "breathing" windproof garment. Expensive purpose-made cycling vests and jackets have windproof fronts and vented (mesh) backs so you don't get too hot. With plastic bags you have the windproof front without messing around with useless mesh backs (the bags are even more breathable!)

The negatives:
-They don't work well for hands or heads. I recommend good gloves and a balaclava for that, as mentioned by other posters above
-People will probably make fun of you. Good thing you're badass and DGAF what other people think.

Jack

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2012, 10:32:01 PM »
Has anyone considered mountain-style clip-in shoes? That's what I use for commuting (with Crank Bros egg-beater-type pedals) and not only do they work great, but I can walk around in them comfortably and they can pass as normal casual shoes. They also have much fewer air vents, so they'd probably be warmer in the winter.

Russ

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2012, 05:59:25 AM »
Has anyone considered mountain-style clip-in shoes? That's what I use for commuting (with Crank Bros egg-beater-type pedals) and not only do they work great, but I can walk around in them comfortably and they can pass as normal casual shoes. They also have much fewer air vents, so they'd probably be warmer in the winter.

Yeah, I use my mountain shoes (with Speedplay Frogs) for both CX and commuting. I've actually stopped bringing regular shoes with me most places because the MTB shoes are so nice to walk around in.

MrsKensington

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2012, 07:32:45 AM »
I'd just like to add that this is excellent information for us new scooter commuters. Since I'm just sitting on my butt, and not actually exercising, my knees get cold, along with everything else mentioned above. I'm about to start modifying my commute from 2 miles/7 minutes    to 11 miles/40 minutes.
The moose mitts are a great idea - I've seen some scooter folks with these but wasn't sure what they were called.  I bought a pair of huge elbow-length down mittens at the thrift store for $1. I'm thinking I could cut them open at the end and resew somehow to make these work with regular gloves inside.
I also bought an ankle-length 700-fill power down coat for 20 bucks to wear under a $7, thick, hip-length leather jacket for winter riding. I'm hoping less than $30 in new gear - I have a full-face helmet, balaclava, etc - along with a few plastic bags (!) will do it for winter city scooting.

yolfer

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2012, 01:08:14 PM »
Sidi cyclocross shoes (I clip in, these are nice because they don't have so much ventilation and my feet don't get soaked immediately in wet conditions)

OT question: which shoes do you wear? I race CX and it's such a non-mustachian sport! I bought a used 'cross bike but I still need a good pair of clip-in shoes.

I was actually just about to open a Reader Recommendation thread about this same thing. Try "The Pro's Closet" on eBay for nice used cycling equipment. I just bought a used pair of Shimano SH-M225's (discontinued, carbon sole w/ buckle) for $50. They've been ridden hard, but all the seams are still in good shape and the buckles work perfectly. The only potential issue is that you have to know your size beforehand if you don't want to mess with a bunch of returns. My old shoes were Shimanos so I knew what I needed.

Thanks, I'll go check out that ebay page.  Also, your plastic bag idea sounds awesome, I wish I had a couple to keep my legs warm and dry during yesterday's commute.

Tom Reingold

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2012, 01:39:31 PM »
I suggest as little cotton as possible. Cotton is an excellent fabric for most activities, but it's worse for cycling than just about anything. Your temperature goes up and down on the bike, sometimes by a lot. When it decreases and your cotton clothes are soaked with sweat (or rain), it can make you cold quickly. Wool and synthetics keep a lot less water directly on your skin.

Wool has some properties that no other fabrics have. Though it costs a lot, you get your money's worth in the long run. You don't have to wash it often. The property of wicking sweat away also keeps it relatively odor-free. A wool blend with about 15% nylon (or similar) is very nice, because that helps keep its shape and strength.

I wear wool dress trousers on the bike in the winter. They look like regular clothes, because they are. And they have most of the advantages of purpose-made athletic tights.

There's a blog called Let's Go Ride a Bike. The blogger, named Dottie, has a video of how she gets dressed for Chicago winters on the bike. She wears office-type clothing, very stylish and also totally practical.

smrf

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2012, 07:29:54 AM »
Flygirl, Yolfer -- My brother works in a bike shop and EP's (employee purchases) stuff for me at cost. So I picked up a CX bike for the winter commute and the Sidis through him -- both items decidedly unmustachian without the discount but with the discount it was a no brainer.

jpwilliams

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2012, 12:46:04 PM »
Hi All,

I'm just starting to hit low temperatures for California (~40 Farenheit). I guess I'm a wimp by Chicago standards ...

I'm wondering if anyone has a good suggestion for legs. I ride to a train station, then take the train to another station, then ride from there to work. It's those times off the bike where a little extra something on the legs would be nice.

Gonna try the trashbags idea, that's epic. Way to think outside the bigbox retailer mindset.

One more for anyone who wears balaclavas, do you feel it hinders you ability to hear the things around you?

capital

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2012, 04:16:49 PM »
Hi All,

I'm just starting to hit low temperatures for California (~40 Farenheit). I guess I'm a wimp by Chicago standards ...

I'm wondering if anyone has a good suggestion for legs. I ride to a train station, then take the train to another station, then ride from there to work. It's those times off the bike where a little extra something on the legs would be nice.

Gonna try the trashbags idea, that's epic. Way to think outside the bigbox retailer mindset.

One more for anyone who wears balaclavas, do you feel it hinders you ability to hear the things around you?
Pants? Anything more seems like it'd be too warm at 40 degrees, unless you're riding slowly or it's raining. If your normal pants aren't warm enough, you can buy a set of windproof athletic pants at lots of places. Balaclavas also seem excessive to me above freezing; a cheap fleece earband (http://www.sierratradingpost.com/kenyon-polartec-ear-band-windbloc-fleece-for-men-and-women~p~46912/) can keep the ears warm, and a scarf or buff can take care of the neck.

You should generally be a bit cold for the first five minutes or so when biking or otherwise doing athletic activities in cold weather; otherwise you'll overheat once you get warmed up.

The great thing about weather under 60 degrees or so is that you can bike in normal clothes & not sweat through them.

jpwilliams

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #22 on: October 31, 2012, 09:55:00 AM »
@ehgee: You're absolutely right. I've noticed in my first few weeks of "cold" weather riding that my legs get warm if I pedal faster (go figure!) and my its only my ears that are cold. I'll give the fleece headband a shot.

Thanks

frompa

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2012, 10:36:22 AM »
I agree with all the wool suggestions -- Smart Wool used to have some good long lasting light weight wool undergarments, that worked great when layered.  (I don't know if they still do, because the ones I got some years ago are still in working order.) I usually do up to two layers and a goretex/waterproof outer coat up top, and up to two layers of wool on the legs, and that keeps me quite comfortable down to about 5 degrees F.  If it's colder than that, I don't ride. 
The one thing I'd add for winter bike commuting is a steel studded bike tire, for traction on ice and snow.  First time I used these, I bought a pair of these (as I recall from some manufacturer in Sweden), and then made a couple myself with instructions found via internet. You basically put steel screws, screw side out, through a tire, then put a rubber liner over the screw heads before inserting your tube and mounting on the rim.  These are awesome and I wouldn't consider riding in snow or icy conditions without one on the front -- the rear tire seems not so important.  And believe it or not, you can ride comfortably on them when the streets are free of ice and snow, so you don't have to keep changing out your tires. 

Bakari

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2012, 04:29:25 PM »
For "cold" (cool) weather biking I wear arm warmers and a wind proof vest.
(socks with the toes cut off can make free arm warmers, or you can get nice ones for about $10 at any bike shop)

Both pull off very easy while riding once you heat up from exercise, and both stuff into a pocket so you don't have to lug around a coat or anything.

They make leg warmers too, though I very rarely find it necessary (I just wear regular pants)

Re: balaclava and hearing - I wouldn't know, I almost always wear headphones when ride.
I don't understand the need to hear cars coming up behind you, just like I don't see any need for a mirror.
Whether someone is coming up behind you or not, you should ride in a straight line, about 2 feet from any parked cars.  Its not like you can hear the difference between a car on a collision course and a car that will safely pass you.  Just never randomly swerve into the traffic lane, and then whether or not someone is coming is irrelevant.

mindaugas

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2012, 11:13:33 AM »
If you have disc brakes on the mtb this might help in snow and ice


jpwilliams

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2012, 03:51:17 PM »
@bakari, Thanks.

For 90% of the riding I do, hearing won't make much of a difference. However, if I need to make a quick move, or if a cyclist is behind me in the bike line and wants to pass, I'd rather have my hearing intact so I'm more aware of my surroundings. I had something like that happen the other day where I was riding straight, and a car came on from my right and began to cut into the lane because they didn't see me. My instinct may have been to swerve to the left slightly, but I heard another car behind me, so I laid on the brakes.

I also cut across many intersections during my ride (trail crossing an intersection), and I'd like to have my hearing available in case a car shows up all of a sudden from the direction I'm not looking.

Of course, I have what you might call an irrational bias toward not wearing any sort of headphones when riding or running. I sit in an office all day, and welcome the Sounds of Nature.

Bakari

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2012, 10:28:04 PM »
yes, all good points.  Its also illegal to ride with stereo headphones (at least in CA).

To the original question, when I'm in ninja stealth mode, I haven't found the facemask to block hearing at all.

BolusOfBees

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #28 on: November 04, 2012, 10:36:06 AM »
It's going to be my first winter biking in the Windy City, but after coming from Northern Wisconsin I think I can handle it :). 

On the coldest days, I go "full ninja":

Balaclava and scarf wrapped around head ($7.50 with Amazon Prime)
wide lens ski goggles ($15 at TJ MAXX)
windproofed neoprene biking gloves ($14 Amazon Prime)
insulated hiking boots ($65? Don't remember, had them for ages)
long johns or running tights under pants (Cheap packs at Costco)
skiing socks ($5/pair at Fleet Farm/ Farm and Fleet)
Snowboard Jacket ($90 Buy off season, previous years model, on clearance, online) Read reviews and don't be too cheap, because quality matters here.

I ride at a leisurely pace both to prevent getting too sweaty and be safe.  I also keep my work shoes at work or in my gym locker.

Lina

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #29 on: November 04, 2012, 12:27:22 PM »
The plastic bags works also for keeping your feets dry. Put your foot in the plastic bag and thereafter in the shoe. Your shoes will be soaked but your feets will be dry! Otherwise I prefer windproof clothing. I use the same stuff for biking as for cross country skiing.

I bought studded winter tires for my winter biking (in Sweden).

Bakari

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #30 on: November 04, 2012, 01:08:42 PM »
The plastic bags works also for keeping your feets dry. Put your foot in the plastic bag and thereafter in the shoe. Your shoes will be soaked but your feets will be dry! Otherwise I prefer windproof clothing. I use the same stuff for biking as for cross country skiing.

I bought studded winter tires for my winter biking (in Sweden).

I find bread bags to be just about the right shape, size and material.  More comfortable and more effective than shopping bags.

Lina

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #31 on: November 04, 2012, 01:58:22 PM »
I guess I was a little unprecise when I was talking about plastic bags. I don't either use the big shopping bags but rather the tin bags that we have for fruits. Bread bags works also fine.

capital

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2012, 11:58:30 AM »
http://www.civiacycles.com/whattowear/
Civia has a nice illustrated guide as to what to wear at various temperatures from 100 to -10.

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #33 on: November 08, 2012, 12:17:33 PM »
Regular office clothes + gloves do for me down to just about freezing, but my commute has a lot of hills.
All your extra wool and balaclavas sound like what I wear at -40, to be honest. If you're cold, you're not going fast enough!

jpwilliams

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #34 on: November 08, 2012, 02:54:15 PM »
@StarswirlTheMustached
That may be true. Unfortunately, my commute has many stop lights, plus a train ride, so I need something flexible between riding and standing outside. A tall, order, I know. I got some light weight ear covers for $19 that are working pretty well so far.

masont

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #35 on: November 08, 2012, 05:26:30 PM »
Studded tires are awesome.  Expensive, but awesome.  The thing is, the carbide tips these days last longer than the tire itself.  If you get a good, durable tire like the Schwalbe Marathon Winter (what I use) you should be able to use the same tire for years.  It was only below freezing for 3-4 weeks here in Seattle last year, and it doesn't take too many icy falls to convince you it's a pretty good idea to rock the studded tires. 

My least mustachian most indispensable winter riding item is a pair of shimano mw81 gore-tex boots.  They're awesome.

capital

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #36 on: November 09, 2012, 11:14:22 AM »
I believe I posted this before, but the best deal I found on the Marathon Winters when I was shopping for them last year was here:
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/schwalbe-marathon-winter-performance-rigid-road-tyre/ (700c)
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/schwalbe-marathon-winter-performance-rigid-mtb-tyre/ (MTB)
I bought mine after one slip on ice on otherwise bone-dry roads, except for the leaky fire hydrant right before a turn. After that day, last year the winter here in NYC barely went below freezing, so I felt silly for buying them, but we'll see what winter's like this year.

Schwalbe makes durable, high-quality, expensive tires. I had a pair of regular Marathons that I rode across the country and then for months of commuting a 20-mile round trip. One of them get a slice through the tread from something eventually, knocking it out of service, but the other is still going strong after many thousands of miles on a bike I sold to my friend.

jwystup

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2012, 09:08:45 PM »
As I'm currently gearing up for my first winter of riding to work, I've been considering what I need to do for bike maintenance. I bought some mountain bike tires that I have yet to put on (I have hybrid-style ones atm). But ever since I started a daily bike commute, I've been very lax on any bike maintenance. So, I realize I should clean/regrease my chain ever and I have yet to do so, but how often would you say I should do that in winter when I'll be driving through (probably) heavily salted roads once it snows? How can I prevent any rust/premature breaking of things/etc? Should I rinse the saltiness off of my bike every time I park? Once a day? Would I mess up the grease if I rinse it?

I've also heard that having slightly underinflated tires helps with traction. Any thoughts?

hoppy08520

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #38 on: December 01, 2012, 11:35:55 AM »
I have a fleece balaclava for my head which is great for dry days, but what do you recommend for wet days? My cycling jacket doesn't have a hood. I'd need something that would work under the bike helmet (or over it).  Thanks!

Bakari

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #39 on: December 01, 2012, 06:23:35 PM »
As I'm currently gearing up for my first winter of riding to work, I've been considering what I need to do for bike maintenance. I bought some mountain bike tires that I have yet to put on (I have hybrid-style ones atm). But ever since I started a daily bike commute, I've been very lax on any bike maintenance. So, I realize I should clean/regrease my chain ever and I have yet to do so, but how often would you say I should do that in winter when I'll be driving through (probably) heavily salted roads once it snows? How can I prevent any rust/premature breaking of things/etc? Should I rinse the saltiness off of my bike every time I park? Once a day? Would I mess up the grease if I rinse it?

I've also heard that having slightly underinflated tires helps with traction. Any thoughts?

Don't spray it off with a high pressure hose, that will mess with the grease.  Just wipe it down with wet rags or sponge.
Take out your saddle post and handlebars and dribble some thick oil into the inside of all the frame tubes at the beginning of each wet season, that will help reduce internal rust, and spot paint any chips on the exterior that have exposed metal beneath.  Keep the chain well oiled.

Underinflated tires will help in loose snow, but be worse on wet pavement.

Russ

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #40 on: December 01, 2012, 07:39:13 PM »
I have a fleece balaclava for my head which is great for dry days, but what do you recommend for wet days? My cycling jacket doesn't have a hood. I'd need something that would work under the bike helmet (or over it).  Thanks!
Wet like raining? If it's raining it's above freezing, and I think your balaclava would still keep you plenty warm. If it's below freezing it's snowing, and I don't think snow will make you wet enough to make a difference in the balaclava's effectiveness.
If you really need something waterproof though, I'd go over-the-helmet. a quick search for "waterproof helmet cover" should turn up something. Then just wear your balaclava under that for warmth.
FWIW, my philosophy on waterproof clothes is "you're gonna get wet anyway" so I try and avoid that waterproof stuff and add enough non-waterproof layers that I'll still be warm.

GuitarStv

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #41 on: December 04, 2012, 11:30:06 AM »
We've only had a few days below zero this year so far in Toronto, but some stuff that I'm noticing during winter biking:

- The temperature has nothing to do with how cold it really is.  Check how windy it is.  Wind is the real killer.
- Don't go with studded tires or big knobby mountain bike tires unless you REALLY need to.  The cheap 1.5 inch Kenda Kwest tires that I put on my mountain bike have made a crazy difference in how easy it is to bike around.  It was like making my bike 50 lbs lighter.
- Around here at least, winter biking means you're almost guaranteed to be biking in the dark.  Get front and back bike lights, and make sure your reflectors are clean when you go out.
- Insulated, waterproof winter hiking boots work great for biking in cold and windy days.
- Studded platform pedals on your bike (with adjustable screws) keep you from slipping off the pedals when it's icy/snowy.
- Get a cheap bike helmet that you can fit a warm winter toque underneath to keep your ears and head warm.  On really windy days you can tape over the vent holes in the helmet for a little added wind protection.
- Weather can change on you pretty quickly this time of year.  Bring two pairs of gloves with you, a decent pair of ski/snowboarding gloves that will keep you warm when it's -20 and a thinner pair of gloves that breathes enough for you to sweat in a bit.  That way your hands will always be the right temperature.


I don't know if anyone else notices this either, but when temps drop below freezing my bike seat plastic gets less bendy and the seat feels a ton harder.

Nancy

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #42 on: December 04, 2012, 03:21:45 PM »

Don't spray it off with a high pressure hose, that will mess with the grease.  Just wipe it down with wet rags or sponge.
Take out your saddle post and handlebars and dribble some thick oil into the inside of all the frame tubes at the beginning of each wet season, that will help reduce internal rust, and spot paint any chips on the exterior that have exposed metal beneath.  Keep the chain well oiled.

Underinflated tires will help in loose snow, but be worse on wet pavement.

Bakari, you're awesome! Thanks!

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #43 on: December 04, 2012, 06:59:49 PM »
- Studded platform pedals on your bike (with adjustable screws) keep you from slipping off the pedals when it's icy/snowy.
I really need this one. Why won't anyone put pedals on craigslist? I don't want a crap bike just for its pedals. Though I guess I could swap and resell... =/

grantmeaname

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #44 on: December 04, 2012, 09:29:08 PM »
You want to buy a whole bike to get a set of these?

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #45 on: December 05, 2012, 05:53:36 AM »
You want to buy a whole bike to get a set of these?
Seems absurd, doesn't it? But that's still 10$ each, plush shipping, and as good a deal as I've seen online. I was comparing that to the 5$ trashbike you get at yard sales sometimes, which often have bear trap pedals. Switch pedals, oil the chain so it doesn't squeek and give it a polish and it'll resell for, why! Perhaps even 10$! How could you say no to 100% profit?
 Alas, those deals are a season away, and my feet keep slipping. I suppose I needn't pinch every penny till it screams. (I still must make them whimper, at least. The line has been drawn!)
Hey, why don't I drive screws through my plastic platform pedals to get some spikes?

GuitarStv

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #46 on: December 05, 2012, 01:13:29 PM »
Driving screws through the plastic might break the plastic.  Screws might also be too pokey and damage your shoe bottoms.  It might be worth a try though to bring your pedals down to the hardware store and find some nuts/bolts/washers that fit your current pedal height exactly.  Just make sure to get thin nuts/bolts . . . I'm not sure how grippy 1/4 inch hex heads would be.

yolfer

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #47 on: December 11, 2012, 11:29:56 AM »
My folks gave me this pair of earmuffs for Chanukah, they work surprisingly well at keeping my entire head warm. They wrap around the back of your head. For my helmet, they fit perfectly beneath the bottom edge of the helmet.

At $19, I'm not sure if I'd have bought them myself if it wasn't for the gift. But now that I have 'em, they're a regular part of my winter commute getup.

zoltani

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Re: Winter Bike Comute
« Reply #48 on: December 11, 2012, 11:53:31 AM »
Here is a very good Winter Cycling 101 article....

http://www.ravingbikefiend.com/?page_id=12