Winter Biking Advice From A Minnesotan

What is your camera set-up for your bicycle? I currently have a Garmin Virb Ultra 30 mounted on a K-Edge Garmin XL Combo Mount (Garmin Edge 1000 on top and Virb Ultra 30 below) and would like to add a rear-facing camera. Do you have your rear camera mounted to the seat post, downtime, chainstay? What mount do you use and what camera(s) are you running?

Just want to affirm what others have stated about how awesome this winter riding presentation is. I have seen several good ones over the years, but they were all minor league presentations when compared to what you have gifted us with! Quality presentation from start to finish. This took lots of time to put together, but it was worth the effort. Keeper presentation!
 

James Kohls

Active Member
What is your camera set-up for your bicycle? I currently have a Garmin Virb Ultra 30 mounted on a K-Edge Garmin XL Combo Mount (Garmin Edge 1000 on top and Virb Ultra 30 below) and would like to add a rear-facing camera. Do you have your rear camera mounted to the seat post, downtime, chainstay? What mount do you use and what camera(s) are you running?

When I created this post I had two Garmin Virb Elites. You can see where I mounted them in this pic:

2015SpecializedTurboX_5.jpg


I've recently switched to GoPro Hero 4 Sessions due to their small size.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
I love this write up! I'm another 52 weeks a year fat tire ebiker commuter (excluding rain, snow, and ice).

It takes soooo much more gear to "below freezing" winter work commute compared to spring/summer riding. We don't get snow/ice for days/weeks in New Mexico. It is usually just cold in the 20s/30s in the morning and 40s/50s by afternoon. I end up packing twice the gear for the temp extremes during the day. Dressing in layers with bike gear works best for me and having plenty of storage with pannier/backpack to add/remove layers as needed.

I also use anitfog spray on my ski googles and breath in my the mouth and exhale out my nose with my balaclava on (only my nose is exposed so moister doesn't collect on the face mask). Breathing normally with or without the balaclava covering my nose just made my nose run like crazy in the below freezing temps. Only exhaling out my exposed noise helps keep it warm and it doesn't run like a kid with a cold. Keeping hands and feet warm is the biggest challenge for me since I might have to carry any heavy gear back strapped to the bike in the afternoon. Bar Mitts, heating pads inside of Bar Mitts (microwave or heat with hot water gel packs), and extra thick wool socks take care of me 95% of the time.

Having a place to put extra layers (backpack/pannier) is a good tip. Especially during fringe weeks where it tends to be really cold in the morning and warmer in the afternoon. I still haven't tried bar mitts, personally, but like the idea. Now that I own a fat bike, this season, I may want them for long trail rides.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
I ride a bike ~52 weeks a year; fortunatly it only gets down to -10 deg F in S. Indiana.

So much shopping is requred in the above post.

Certainly cheaper options out there. Clothing is probably the biggest variable in terms of what will work for some and not for others. Budget, notwithstanding. I am a tall skinny rail with next to 0% body fat. Cold air cuts through me like a knife.
 

Brambor

Well-Known Member
Yesterday's bike ride back home was a treat. Snow, ice rain pellets hitting my eyes and then the downhills on 1" of freshly wet freezing snow :) good thing I have snow tires. My Turbo still going strong after all these years. :) . Here is a photo when I arrived in the morning. ... it started snowing around noontime. I rode back at 5pm.

My clothing for yesterday was: softshell pants, leather hiking boots, cycling bibs, wool top layer, synthetic fill jacket, reflective vest, winter ski helmet, balaclava, OR glacier gloves, wool socks.

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James Kohls

Active Member
Sounds like a good kit @Brambor! I used my Turbo X all last winter. Excited for this new season with my Turbo Levo Fat to see if it can successfully fill in the gaps during big snow events. Keep riding!
 

Brambor

Well-Known Member
Lucky You. Fattie e-bike must be a pleasure to ride. I have not tried one yet (I should) . In the meantime I'll have to suffer this beauty without power ;-) :

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mrgold35

Well-Known Member
Bar Mitts are the way to go if you get cold fingers. I've tried larger and thicker gloves with the same frozen finger tips after longer rides because of the wind chill factor. The thicker gloves just made it harder to press the ebike controls on top of that. I can now go with a lighter glove for more feel of the ebike controls under the Bar Mitts AND you still have the option of going with the extra heavy gloves+Bar Mitts on really cold mornings.
 

Brambor

Well-Known Member
I'm assuming you are asking about the tires on the Turbo. They are
Nokian - Suomi W106 Tire 700 x 45C Wire Black

I've had them for 3 years now. No flat tires... for some reason ...


The temps have dropped to a windy -2 degrees Celsius but that didn't stop me from going on my daily commute. My thermal underwear works very nicely and the layered approach keep me nice and warm. For the head, my hoody is placed under the helmet and the visor is down. It keeps my ears snug. But the real problem is the hands. They get cold after only a few kilometers and I get frostbite. For rain, I've bought a Vaude Poncho which folds nicely into a pocket.

Cold weather doesn't really seem to bother my Haibike Trekking Sduro. I've bought a neoprene cover for the battery and I haven't really noticed a considerable loss of range. Maybe when the weather gets colder that might change. If it snows I think I'll call it quits for a few days. So far I've ridden to work 75% of the time since April. It's only a 9 kilometer ride one way so I don't really have that many excuses. To top it off, I travel on back roads and rarely ever encounter any traffic. The only thing I can complain about is that the ride to work is uphill, and the winds are often blowing downhill. I suppose I should have bought a more powerful bike. Maybe I'll take the plunge for the ST2 at some point.

@Brambor - Those tires look spiffy. What brand and size tires are they? I'm curious as I currently have 700x38Cs (28 x 1½ x 1,75). I think I could go up to a 42C but I'll have to make some measurements for the fender clearance.
 

antimuss

New Member
Great post! Nothing can stop a real bike lover from riding in any weather. People who do winter and cold weather riding will agree with me. Those who want to try winter activity they will find some great advantages of doing it. Only one-step to follow and you’ll never forget great feelings of enjoying! (Link Removed - No Longer Exists)
 
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WilliamT

Active Member
Today was about 16 degrees F and the ride in was pretty comfortable all suited up. I used electric glove liners and set the temperature to a low 70F and started to sweat under my bar mitts. Wore the usual ski helmet, light weight goggles, and balaclava. Hiking boots one size up for the thick wool socks + base silk liners.

The only problem I had was a bridge I crossed. Crossing the bridge with very high cross winds cut right through my face mask. It got so cold I could feel the sting. Luckily that only lasted about 3 minutes. Anyone have any suggestions on how to fix that problem. I was thinking about wearing something around my cheeks to stay warmer.

I currently use this:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0018BGFF4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The wind was going right through the holes.

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For those interested, these heated gloves are warm enough that I probably don't even need the bar mitts with the temperatures in the teens. I only use them on days where its below 30F so they can last many winters.

The stickman cable that come with the kit allows you to use 12v batteries that you can get from Home Depot for power tools (like the M12). You don't have to buy their battery but their price is about $10 more but fits in the glove pouch if you don't use the stick man cable.

https://itsmotionelectric.com/

Note: these gloves are liners so you need to wear a pair of gloves with it.
 
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Okanoggin

New Member
How about the battery? I am moving over the hill to our colder part of the state and does battery performance plummet? My new house will be an uphill trip from just about anywhere.

I used to say that as long as your snot is not freezing, it is not cold. I did take off on a long ride on my conventional bike when it was +10 and had to stop at a friend's house to warm up on my way home.
 

WilliamT

Active Member
Battery was fine in the cold. Didn't notice any performance drop from riding but my commute is only 35 minutes in the cold.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
Great post! Nothing can stop a real bike lover from riding in any weather. (Link Removed - No Longer Exists)

Any weather? We're in the deep freeze right now, calling for -14 deg F over the weekend. Pretty sure I'm not riding that morning.
 

WilliamT

Active Member
Any weather? We're in the deep freeze right now, calling for -14 deg F over the weekend. Pretty sure I'm not riding that morning.

The heated gloves liners were tested at -25 deg F. So at least your hands would be warm. Personally I would commute in that just for fun but would have more layers and full ski goggles.
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Any weather? We're in the deep freeze right now, calling for -14 deg F over the weekend. Pretty sure I'm not riding that morning.
I rode until this past week. Temps below 20F get difficult. I'm adding battery warmers to a larger pack for longer days, but have a small 52V 6Ah PF pack I cary in for runs to the grocer or visiting friend a mile or two away. I wear my ski bibs and North Face parka and heated vest and modified snowmobile grip covers (read cheap compared to bike specific). Being retired I can choose the days I ride but sometimes I just want to go regardless. Biggest and most important piece of gear are studded tires and studded boots/shoes.

I'm building a new 2WD MAC motor driver bike and will see how that responds. I do like my front wheel drive bike better than rear on ice.
 

Nomad

Well-Known Member
Upgrade your bike

There are a number of upgrades you can make to your bike that will keep you safe, dry and in good working condition during the winter.

Brakes
If you have rim brakes, before winter is a good time to check that the rubber material that makes up the pad is still pliable. This will get worse in colder temps. Keeping your rims dry and clean can be difficult in the winter and may cause them to become less effective. Cleaning your rims after every ride is advisable.

If you have Disc Brakes, mechanical are the best in the winter. DOT based brake fluid hydraulic brakes are next best and mineral oil based hydraulics will suffer the most in very cold sub zero (F) temps. If you want to read about what Bike/Component manufacturers say about brake performance in cold weather, read here:

http://www.velonews.com/2015/01/bikes-and-tech/technical-faq/technical-faq-disc-brakes-cold-weather_358172

Fenders

Fenders are often the first things people cite when talking about winter bike upgrades. If you have good waterproof outer layers, you could probably forgo this feature if you don’t mind having a streak of mud and dirt up your back. That being said, they are very good upgrades which will keep water and dirt off you—always a big plus.

Pedals

If you have pedals with large surface areas, these will tend to get caked with snow. Also consider your winter riding shoes/boots and upgrade to pedals that increase your grip when wet and snowy.

Lights

My recommendations for lights, besides being bright enough to see at least half a mile away, is to get two front and two rear. One blinking and one steady on. Not only do two lights help with being able to use multiple modes simultaneously, but two lights help with depth perception for drivers. It is much easier to see the shape of an object with two points of reference than one. The farther apart they are, the easier it will be to visualize your shape as a bicycle. This is really important on snowy days or when drivers are less than stellar at removing ice and fog from their windshields.

Lights should be used during the day and night. Especially on cloudy days. The farther back a car sees you, the better off you’ll be.

Rear View Mirror

Get a mirror! Knowing what’s creeping up behind you, especially on roads, is critical for reaction time. Keep something in your pocket to wipe it off occasionally too. Especially during active snowing days.

rbNxmOY.png


Here is a perfect example of where having a rear view mirror helps you make navigation decisions on-the-fly when dangerous conditions approach. This is not the time to be swiveling your head behind you and forward. I had to make quick determination where traffic was around me, slow to fit in a gap between the cars and pay attention to their approach while avoiding obstacles in front of me.


Tires

99% of bike tires are not winter tires. Regular bicycle tires typically use very hard rubber. This is great for wear and flat protection, but they can become ice skates when cold. Winter tires have softer rubber and some even have metal studs for handling ice. If you live in an area the gets below freezing, studded tires are a must. Even days when the roads look clear, black ice can loom in the most unsuspecting of places.

Studded tires are not snow tires, they are ice traction tires. Studs will not help grip snow unless it is very firmly packed and not full of road salt.

When buying studded tires, check to see what material the studs are made of. Studs will contact lots of road salt so steel studs will quickly rust. My preference is aluminum/carbide (aluminum base with carbide teeth). Studs also have a tendency to fall out. Most studded tire manufacturers will sell replacement studs. They are often easier to replace with a special tool.

PFN3DCa.png



Fat Tires


Fat bikes are the only true snow bikes. Regular skinny tire bikes tend to do horribly on snow, even with winter tires. Especially on powdery snow or greasy snow (see road conditions later).

Fatter tires are intended to ride on top of snow. Skinnier tires need to cut through the snow to reach a hard surface. The deeper or more sticky the snow is, the harder it is for skinny tire bikes to travel.

The downsides to fat bikes are the added rolling resistance of bigger tires. This means you will need to exert more work to achieve the same speed. Bigger tires also tends to mean greater expense when pricing out studded tires, etc.

Flat Repair Kit

If you don’t have someone to pick you up, easy access to public transportation, etc. you should carry a flat repair kit on every ride. This includes a mini pump, extra tube (patches don’t always work that well in the cold and especially not when wet), tire levers, and wrenches capable of removing your wheel if you don’t have quick-releases.

If you’ve never fixed a flat before, now is the time to practice. Do it several times. Take the wheel off, take the tire off, take the tube off and put them all back on. Discover any extra tools it may take you or I haven’t thought of. Never done it before with fenders on your bike? It takes a bit more effort depending on the type.

I always carry a pair of chemical hand warmers with me as changing a flat in freezing temps will probably require taking your hands out of your gloves for the fiddly bits.

Gx9Qiff.jpg




Brakes what about dot5? There is a reason they use it in certin applications so I wonder?
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
I think many consider riding your bike in a frozen winter setting more akin to ice skating than cycling. Here is all of my knowledge and wisdom passed on to you. I am a 43 year old Minnesota native with 5 winter seasons of biking experience.

Advice Lesson #1: Don’t get into winter biking if you aren’t willing to commit to the expense.
Winter biking is expensive, if you do it right. You can easily spend as much on winter gear as you would on a decent road bike. Only committing part way means compromises. Compromising means you will either A) quit riding and thus forgo any investment you’ve already made, B) create an unsafe environment for you and others, and/or C) die because you knew the risks and didn’t prepare for them. Seriously. Winter biking is dangerous. It only takes seconds for a perfectly normal ride to become a nightmare.

How far do you plan on biking?
This is an important question you should know the answer to before committing. Are you just biking down the street to a friends house or the store? Are you commuting to work? Frequent trips within 3 miles is a completely different scenario than a 10-20+ mile trip. The farther you travel, the more likely one of those worst-case-scenarios will come up.

Imagine your route
If you are new to the area, be sure to scout out your route on snowy days—preferably in a car or on the bus. Learn what roads get plowed quickly and which stay snowy. If you take bike trails, try to find out if they get cleared and how soon. If you ride on the road, do the plows clear all the way to the curb? Is the shoulder clear? Can you see blacktop? Is their rock salt scattered about? If a plow goes around a car, would the snow trails force a cyclist to swerve into the street? Do people put their trash cans and recycling out in the shoulder instead of on their lawns? While driving a car, imagine a cyclist on the shoulder or bike lane next to you. If that cyclist slipped, could you avoid them? Do you have hills to overcome? Are they steep? Imagine they are covered in ice. Or worse yet…patchy black ice (there is help for this, so keep reading).
Realistically, you should already be a comfortable spring, summer and fall rider on the routes you plan to take for at least a full year. The route and obstacles should be second nature to you.

A timely topic with winter approaching... some of the best Cold Weather tips I have seen on EBR. ;)