More Snow Bike

In the snowy Seattle area, Val photographs his commute home with bonus points for doing it at night.

Meanwhile reader David Schloss sent in photos of his ride in NY. He had to stop for icing at 8 miles.

Reminded me of the time I rode ‘till it froze in the Tri-Cities …

bike_ice.jpg

I’m sure someone is working on bike deicers.

Something to do, anything

Going stir crazy, Pam made a sled from old tires, tubes, duct tape, and cardboard. Also makes a fine drum to beat and announce another snow day to the neighborhood.

Also, whoever the cyclist is that power slid down an icy hill into the KomoTV news van and rode off wins Snow Bike 08!

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12 Comments

Bonus points?!  This time of year, that’s when the commute IS - it’s not like I waited especially.  That was, like, whattayacall normal, there.  My everyday commute, donchaknow.  No freezing of my shifting system, either - internal gears are sweet.

I don’t live in an area where it snows so I can’t test this out very well.  But, how about using a mixture of vinegar and water (3 parts vinegar to 1 part water) or alcohol and water (2 parts alcohol to 1 part water) placed in a spray bottle?

This is supposed to be used on windshields of cars but I’m guessing it may work on your drive train and derailleurs.

From what I’ve read at DIY sites, you put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it on the night before so that in the morning, no ice on the windshield.  I’m guessing that if you spray it on your drive train prior to your commute, the effects may be the same.

I’m not sure how alcohol or vinegar may affect the parts of the drive train in terms of corrosion.

You have some snow up your way, right?  Maybe give it a test and let us know.

While you’re frolicking in a blanket of fleeting snow, it’s like the planet Hoth out here.  I haven’t done any biking to work and there haven’t been many opportunities that don’t involve sixteen layers and frostbitten toes.

What you have there is one of the better days of our winter, with the kind of storm winter unleashes as it finally loses its grip somewhere in mid-March (although the snow isn’t gone until April).

I hate to sound like one of the fanboys, but I’ve heard people say that a fixie is the best kind of bike for the conditions (if you don’t have too steep of hills). There are fewer things that can get iced over- no derailleurs, no/minimal brakes, no freewheel pawls.

I guess the freewheel pawls are mostly an issue when it gets cold enough to make the oil/grease in them really viscous. Or if they have bad seals.

Is that SRAM Red in the picture of the iced-over derailleur? I hope that’s a cyclocross pit bike or something! Either that, or they’ve got a pretty well fit winter bike…

As for de-icing agents… you probably wouldn’t want to do that. For starters, many are made of alkaline metals (sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, etc.) that produce ions in water, which effectively depress the freezing point of the water. Unfortunately, these same agents will also leave a residue which will accelerate corrosion, especially of “stainless” steels and chromoly steels used in bicycle manufacturing.

The stuff used on airplanes is predominantly propylene glycol (also used in soaps, deodorants   and detergents). But the stuff is toxic in high quantities, experiences biomagnification, and generally isn’t good for people or the environment. It also smells bad in high quantities. You’d have to wash your bike far more often.

I doubt the alcohol/water mixture would work. It’s too volatile, and doesn’t disassociate in water- so it won’t prevent freezing. Vinegar and water might work, but it will also have the effect of being a solvent on your chain and mechanicals, stripping lubrication that keeps parts moving smoothly and corrosion-resistant.

Bonus points?!  Dude, at this time of year, that’s when the commute IS.  I didn’t wait around, or anything - this is all perfectly normal. At least I have a nice trail for part of it.  Also, no icing of the drivetrain - internal gearing is sweet.

What I don’t think would work here so well right now is a fixie that doesn’t have fat knobby and/or studded tires.  Yes, it is convenient to not worry about derailleurs or brakes icing frozen, but it don’t mean squat without having good footing. If you had a choice between a keirin bike with 23mm tires or an mtb with 2” wide knobby, choose fat.

I can’t imagine not having a second or any brakes would help matters. And on that topic, see this photo I shot yesterday of a [fixie in the snow](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/3121295424/).

Or you could try [this combination](http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/393039_blackice20.html) that the State DOT is using—it’s recycled cheese whey, molasses and calcium chloride

To keep a very long story short, this winter (when temps reliably crack the teens) will be my first shot at combining fixed with studded.  In past winters, those options have not been individually impressive.

Longtime year round commuter from Denmark here.
Sometimes my lock or the shifting mech on my Nexus 7-speed would freeze up due to buildup of sleet/slush.
I’d use plenty of warm water followed by a liberal amount of WD40. Usually did the trick.
Nowadays it’s not that much of a problem due to mild winters. Global warming rules :-|

Global warming good for Denmark, SUCKS for Seattle. You can also spray your various bike parts with Pam (non-stick spray).

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