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I am sure this has been asked many times. This will be my first winter on a bicycle.
I have a Pugsley that I got in June(have been riding it ever since).
Anything I should do before the snow flies and the temps drop. I have already replaced the Endomorph with a Nate. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Wider platform pedals are already in the works.
 

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I am sure this has been asked many times. This will be my first winter on a bicycle.
I have a Pugsley that I got in June(have been riding it ever since).
Anything I should do before the snow flies and the temps drop. I have already replaced the Endomorph with a Nate. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Wider platform pedals are already in the works.
Lots of things are different when you winter commute, but here are a few thoughts.

A lot depends on your ride, and there are usually a lot of different options and preferences. It's an evolving science, if you will. I don't use pogies myself, for example, but there's no doubt that you'll have to pay some special attention to your hands. Being out front they cut the wind, and you'll find that they get colder than you're probably expecting. Three other essentials for me for winter commuting are a good light, full fenders, and a studded front tire, but again a lot depends on your ride. Here are a few thoughts by category:

Hands: They break the wind and will get cold. Some people use pogies. Some use lobster gloves. If you have twist shifters you can probably get away with good mitts. I use a large pair of warm ski gloves with a liner glove. Being able to layer is important as well. The full ski gloves with liners combo I'll wear between about -10C and -20C. Between 0 and -10 I don't need the liners, and above freezing I have another pair of gloves.

Light: Part of my commute goes through an urban park where there are no lights. I have a 250 lumen light which works fine, especially when there's snow on the ground and trees reflecting the light. Although 250 lumens is fine, when I replace my light I'll probably buy something in the 400 lumen range.

Fenders: In the spring and fall, and many days in the winter when you're on busy city streets, slush, grime, and crud will be in abundance. Full fenders, or the equivalent, can keep you amazingly clean, however, almost as clean as if you drove. And they'll keep your bike clean as well.

Studs: I don't own a fatbike yet, so I can't speak to how the fat tires handle ice, but on my winter commuter I consider my front 26 x 2.1 Schwalbe Ice Spiker and essential component. Ice can sneak up on you, and if you lose lateral grip with your front tire on ice you can go down in a hurry, and very unexpectedly. As long as you're riding at a reasonable commuter's pace studded tires work very well, however. I have had no slippage at all with my front tire, even when riding on black ice with a film of water on top. I have had my non-studded back tire start to slide on occasion, but as long as you have control of the front you can deal with that. Lose the front, however, and it's hello pavement!

Face: Because of the wind you'll need to pay special attention to your face as well. There are lots of different options, but for me a simple fleece bandana works the best. It doesn't have a high R value, but it hangs away from your face a bit and creates a pocket which traps your warm breath against your face and neck. Some of the neoprene options which have much higher R-values don't manage your breath and body heat as well, and end up being not as warm. This is very much a matter of preference, however, and there are LOTS of options.
MEC Oust Bandana (Unisex) - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available
Men's Winter Hats - Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). Free Shipping Available

Eyes: I don't find that I have to use eyewear at all, even down to -20C. My winter helmet has a visor and I think that cuts the wind far enough in front that it's deflected blow my eyes, and my eyes end up sitting in a fairly warm pocket of air.

Head: A relatively thin skull cap that fits under your helmet will actually provide a lot of warmth. The key again is cutting the wind, and a lot depends on the ports on your helmet. You can also buy helmet covers which are designed to block rain and wind.
MEC Bolt Toque (Unisex) - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available
MEC Drencher Helmet Cover (Unisex) - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available
 

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Just wondering how brake and shifter cables react when it gets cold.
They work fine, but condensation, road salt, road grime, and corrosion can be an issue over time. Also note that below -20C freewheels often don't work properly, and other strange things happen as well. I think that must be a critical temperature for some of the lubricants used on bikes.
 

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Some good information here. From my experience last winter commuting I found:

1) As said above your hands will get cold faster than anything else. I use Sugoi Firewall Z gloves (your three smaller fingers are all together while your thumb and pointer finger are able to move separately - to me they function much better than lobster gloves). These gloves have worked great through the whole winter here in Omaha NE.

2) I finally switched to ski goggles which drastically helped my face stay warm along with a wool buff that I pull up over my mouth.

3) Single speed - no gears to worry about screwing up ;).

4) I used fairly standard Bontrager knobby MTB tires without studs and was fine as long as I kept my wits about me. When I came upon ice I would make sure I did not make any sudden movements and look ahead to where the ice ended. That being said, I did fall once when it was dark out and I stood to pedal right on a layer of ice. Those falls happen FAST!

5) I used clipless pedals so I purchased some full cover booties for my standard mtb shoes. These work great until you get under 15°F at which point I add one of those chemical warmers on top of my socks.

6) Other clothing stuff is really up to what works for your body, but I found if I was slightly chilled when I started riding that ended up working out well as I would be almost sweating by the time I was done riding.

Have fun! One of my favorite rides to and from work is from this last winter. It had been snowing all day in those big fluffy snow flakes, but not with any crazy wind so they were just falling lazily down. Part of my ride takes me through a local recreational park type place which was completely empty. The only sound was the crunch of my tires on the snow and my breathing. It was magical.

-Tyler
 

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Winter FatBiking Newbie Questions

I plan to do a daily fatbike training ride all winter on snow this year for the first time in preparation for the White Mtns 100. I have borrowed a buddy's Pugsley in the past and now my new Mukluk is on the way. Any tips from snow biking veterans would be really appreciated as it usually takes years of experience before you learn the tricks at a new sport. I am a road and summer mtn biker and xc skier. I think that I can handle the clothing with my xc ski experience. My main questions are:

- Any bike maintenance tricks? Winter lube? Any winter bike prep? I have heard that gluing one side of the tire to the rim is a good idea. Is this true? What's the best way to inflate a big tire on the trail? Do I need a pump or will one CO2 do it?
- Pedals and shoes. I use XT mtb pedals on my mtn bike. What works best in the snow? What shoes are best in the very cold?
- Recommendations on lights. I will be riding mainly on snowmachine trails. I plan to get a front light and a blinky LED on the back. Any safety ideas?
- Any additional accessories that save your butt in cold/snow that you wouldn't typically bring along on a summer ride?

Thanks!
 

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I plan to do a daily fatbike training ride all winter on snow this year for the first time in preparation for the White Mtns 100. I have borrowed a buddy's Pugsley in the past and now my new Mukluk is on the way. Any tips from snow biking veterans would be really appreciated as it usually takes years of experience before you learn the tricks at a new sport. I am a road and summer mtn biker and xc skier. I think that I can handle the clothing with my xc ski experience. My main questions are:

- Any bike maintenance tricks? Winter lube? Any winter bike prep? I have heard that gluing one side of the tire to the rim is a good idea. Is this true? What's the best way to inflate a big tire on the trail? Do I need a pump or will one CO2 do it?
- Pedals and shoes. I use XT mtb pedals on my mtn bike. What works best in the snow? What shoes are best in the very cold?
- Recommendations on lights. I will be riding mainly on snowmachine trails. I plan to get a front light and a blinky LED on the back. Any safety ideas?
- Any additional accessories that save your butt in cold/snow that you wouldn't typically bring along on a summer ride?

Thanks!
  • A hi-volume pump will be very helpful. You can always start out with CO2, but I doubt even the 25 gram ones will be enough.
  • SPD pedals seem to clog up with snow and ice relatively easily. I prefer Crank Bros. stuff. But this is often a religious issue, so YMMV
  • There are a lot of good, inexpensive light choices out there. I suggest one for the bars and one for the helmet, 200 lumens min. each. AFAIAC, more is better.
  • Chemical warmers and one of those foil blankets, matches and an extra flashlight. It's also a good idea to wear an orange (or whatever) day-glo vest to make it easier to find the body. :p
HTH :)
 

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Just wondering how brake and shifter cables react when it gets cold.
I changed over to a 1x9 because the front derailleur would be a block of Ice after an hour or so. I thought I'd miss it but I really haven't. For me any hill where I'd need the granny gear I'd be better off walking and the 32 gives me plenty of top end.
 

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- Pedals and shoes. I use XT mtb pedals on my mtn bike. What works best in the snow? What shoes are best in the very cold?
The steel cleats on shimano style pedals tend to build up more ice and hold onto it longer. I prefer Time Atacs, some prefer Crank Bros. Both use brass cleats which wont build up as much ice and will shed it more easily when they do. Personal experience has told me the Time's are more durable all the way through the line, but plenty of people seem to be satisfied with their CB pedals.
 

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I've heard Time pedals are more reliable. My CB pedals worked well last season. One swift kick seems to remove any snow buildup.

I use Lake boots, like many other, but plan to do Susitna and White Mountain race and may switch to platforms. After three hours clipped in, my feet always get cold.

Anyone have experience using the CB Mallets in winter? I am considering switching to them for their versatility as platform or clipped in.
 

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If the bike has been really wet consider replacing the shift cables. The cable housing on a Pugs do a really good job of staying dry but once wet it can freeze causing shifting to get funky. Personally I do my shift cables every fall after I'm done riding in the mud. Also shift cable housing can catastrophically fail when the vinyl coating get old look for cracking near the cable adjustments. This type of failure is a contributing factor to my yearly ritual of replacing them. Oddly I've never had a problem with brake cables, but who needs brakes they just slow you down.
If you ride a mukluk consider rerouting the front derailleur cable, stock arrangement is bottom pull and water can get into the housing and freeze up, the Mukluk I 've seen look to be easily converted to top pull to avoid freeze-up. Note I do not ride a Mukluk but I ride with friends that do, so I'm speaking from the point of casual observation having had to listen to them whine.
Rock and Role extra dry lube tends to work well down to -40F.
I've been running SPDs for at snow biking for something like 15 years, apply the principle of K.I.S.S. Keep your cleats from rusting by never placing your shoe flat on the floor after riding. If the cleats are already badly rusted replace them. On days when you know the cleat may ice up give the bottom of the show and cleat a shot of silicon spay, if your green use Pam. On the occasion the cleat does ice up while riding just get in the habit of the hitting the shoe/cleat on the pedal to clear the ice before trying to clip-in.
I settled on the Lezyne MTB pump it has a rubber hose that isolates the pumping action from damaging the valve stem and it allow you to do a pretty good Bill Murray / Cadi Shack impression trail side. Beyond that the pump has hi quality O-rings that hold up well to extreme cold. Additionally give the body of the pump couple wraps of duck tape, it help to keep your hand from freezing to the pump- no I'm not joking.
Lezyne Alloy Drive Mini Pump at REI.com
The best advice I ever got -
1. Just go ride and don't over think things
2. Always keep a pair of toe and hand warmers in your pack. The warmers replace your towel when traveling a frozen universe
If any of you are in the Anchorage area I would recommend hooking up on the Hatcher Pass ride Nov 5th you'll get a chance to meet other winter bikers with varied experience's from hard core Iditarod trail riders to not so hard core riders. If the ride sounds too long you can setup a ride to pick you up along the way. The feed at Frank's after the ride is a good time to ask questions.
See this blog AlaskaBikeHub.com • View topic - DIAS DE LOS MUERTOS- 4TH ANNUAL 2011
 

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Shimano winter boots good to -35 C for an hour...

Studs so you don't kill yourself on ice one day when you not paying attention.

Mitts work fine on rapid fire shifters and brake levers.

Get a helmet that covers your ears.

SPD work fine in the snow slush and ice.

Clean and Lube often

Disks can get a thin film of ice the eliminates braking....hammer hard several times to break the film.

Ride hard and ride fast.
 
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