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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this is a little premature, but if I decide to pick up a beater bike, it may take me a couple of months to get what I need, putting me into October, and the really crappy weather up here starts in November.

I just built a new Soma Double Cross for commuting. I love it and would want to keep it a long time.

I've read some articles on winter commuting and some recommend picking up a second-hand bike for the winter, especially if you love your bike.

I'm all over properly maintaining my bike but not sure if I'm into hosing it & wiping it down every day and re-lubing every 2-3.


Thoughts?
Thanks!
 

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We mostly ride fixed with fenders in the winter. Cuts down on the service requirements big time.

On icy days we have our MTBs set up with studded tires.

It is always good to have more than one bike ready to go.
 

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My fixie is my main ride in the winter. It's pretty nice, built up with Miche parts. The simplified drivetrain is brilliant. I also ride my 29er in the winter. It's pretty nice as well. I like riding nice bikes. I keep both bikes pretty clean. I guess I'm saying you don't "need" a beater if you take a bit of care of your rides.
 

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Depends on what yer winter is like...

You get rain or snow? Do they salt your your roads or just sand them? Does it freeze or is it just cold?

Snow and ice means icy buildup on your drivetrain and your frame. if yer town salts, that means salt buildup on yer drivetrain and frame.

Even with the extra maintenance, I found gears to be a good thing last winter- it's nice to be able to shift into a lower gear when the snow gets deeper.

I learned this trick from Touch0Gray and it worked great this spring- get a lawn chemical sprayer- you know, the ones that hold about a gallon or 2 of water that you pump up- works great for cleaning the crud off your drivetrain and frame.
 

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With fenders almost any bike can be used year-round. I ride either a fixed gear commuter or an internal hub city bike for my commutes year-round. I have two other bikes for my road riding. I think of the difference as being between recreational/road bikes and commuting/utility bikes. All my bikes get used year round. A beater can be a fun project, but with the right equipment (ie fenders), your Soma will outlast you as a commuter.
 

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I use an MTB as a commuter around Boston.

One of the things I experimented with came as a result of some long debates we had over on mtbr... I drilled out the cable stops and ran full housing. It sounds counter-productive, like it would add unnecessary friction. But after riding it for a while, I found that in fact, the full housing shifted a little more smoothly than bikes that were owned by friends of mine. Lacking the opportunity for rain, mud, salt, gunk, etc, to get in the housings, not to mention the lack of cheap plastic ferrules to kink up, the cables slid smoothly through. Of course, it also voids the frame warranty. But I think it's very worthwhile for any commuter that's going to see weather.

Why mention this in a winterizing thread? Salt. Slush. AND... freezing rain. I had a previous bike parked outside one winter, and it got coated in ice from a freezing rain storm. The ice seized up the cables. I was trying to shift into a higher gear, but the ice held the tension on the cables. I had to stop, first, which only happened after all the ice cleared off of the rims. Then I had to grab a fistful of cables and yank them around until they were clear of ice, and would move again. Major hassle.

The ability to shift definitely helps, but one thing I was told that made absolute sense was that an internally geared hub was much more immune to the hassles of winter cycling. Nothing outside to get gunked up or salted. Another tip... a water bottle full of ammonia to wash the ice off of frozen parts. (Be sure to mark the bottle so you don't ever drink from it by accident.) A squirt bottle would also work.

Re: braking, I found after a while that my optimal rim choice for that commuter was to run a ceramic rim in front, and a plain aluminum rim in rear. In warmer months, when tehre was good traction, and front brakes are useful, the ceramic rim was brilliant in the rain and the dry weather. But in winter months, when it's so friggin cold, the ceramic rim would soak up any water that came from snow, melted by braking friction, and then re-freeze in the pores of the ceramic surface. So ceramic rims are really utterly useless in the wintertime for rim braking. But in the ice and snow, or other slippery conditions, you really don't use your front brake anyway, if you value your teeth, since the wheel can lock up so easily and slide out from in front of you. So the ceramic front and aluminum rear was really what I found to be optimal for all season braking. When it's really cold and the road gets icy, the front rim ices up and almost can't lock up at all... which seems like a sort of built in safety factor, to me.

Studded tires for MTB... I love those things. In the spring thaw, they actually get much better traction on remaining piles of ice than you'd think... even going uphill.

There's a site called icebike.com that deals with with winter cycling in specific.

Sigh.. guess I overran again.

A beater for the winter... it's one idea. I think a bike that's seen hard use but isn't quite to the "beater" stage yet is optimal, with the setup mods I described above. There seems to be plenty of used MTBs around to experiment with, and I do think that they're better suited to riding over snow and slush... especially when there are ridges in the road from snow and slush that has re-frozen.
 
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