Monday, January 04, 2010

This week, instead of my regular Rules of the Road update, I decided to give some advice on winter riding.

I recently made a post on twitter wondering if anyone was reading any of this. Low and behold there was some response!

One response said I should put up some winter riding tips.

My winter riding resume looks like this: I rode day in and day out for 4 years in West Michigan where I faced everything a winter could throw at you, and this will be my third season here in Chicago and here it’s a whole new beast.

First let's talk bikes.

In Michigan as well as Chicago there is salt. The salt is thrown all over the roads to help melt the ice. Salt will destroy pretty much any bike with a quickness, so it’s best to have a winter bike. The idea is build up something simple that you really could care less about.

In the past I've rode a mountain bike that I converted to single speed, a Schwinn Varsity that was converted to fixed gear, and currently i'm riding a single speed road bike.

All have their advantages, but here are the things to really think about.

Fenders are a must! They will keep you dry and some of the crap of your bike.

Fixed gear gives you good control on ice and your brakes won't freeze up. I have had derailleur’s freeze up so I tend to stay away from them.

Disk breaks seem like a good idea- I haven’t tested them out yet, but rim brakes always get clogged with snow, or covered in so much grime they're pretty useless.

People always talk about studded tires, but I think they're way too expensive and pretty useless. 80% of the time you're riding on dry or just wet roads. The metal studs are also kinda sketchy on corners so I take my chances.

If there is a lot of snow, traction is an issue, and you're not running disk brakes, I like to run zip-ties around the tire. It makes like a paddle wheel and you can haul ass!

Something to look for in winter tires is a good commuter tire with a lot of groves in it. Big knobs- while they seem like a good idea, really just throw shit all over you and don’t provide a lot of traction in the snow.

Look for a tire that is really thick and around 28 mm wide- you want a tire that cuts through the snow and down to the pavement- not one that rides on top of the snow.

Feel free to leave a comment with any tips or questions you have and I'll try my best to answer them...

Tomorrow we'll post part two!