Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter cycling in Michigan

Hello and Welcome,
Today I decided to see if the "Road Warrior" would perform well in winter conditions.
The snow is very icey. The temp was 20 degrees F or -6.6 degrees Celsius. Our road is mostly hard-pack snow and the main road has been plowed and was mostly free of ice. The shoulder is for the most part unpaved and very icy. I don`t normally ride the shoulder unless I`m on a mountain bike and in the mood for some bumps and ruts.
It might not look like it, but I was a little over-dressed for the weather. The wind was calm today. The ride into town is "for the most part" a slight up-hill grade. About half way into town I stopped to cool-down a little. I`m glad I grabbed a water-bottle on my way out the door.
That`s my "Who the %#@& are You Honking At" look. I grew up in Metro Detroit and I think I developed "the look" as a defense mechanism. It also tends to come-out when I am looking at a camera. So I guess you could also call it my "Hurry Up and Take the $%&@#% Picture" look. Some jerk-wad blasted his horn at me on my way into town. Some of the misinformed people around here don`t know that, Bikes Are Traffic! After getting horn-blasted at, I usually follow the look with the "Your Number One" signal. Using the appropriate finger of course (: NOTE: I am not talking about a little "Here I am" toot on the horn. That does not bother me.
I like Michigan much more in the Summer. Although the cold, crisp and pollen free air of winter is hard to beat. Back to the bike. It rode nice in the powder snow last time out this winter. But this icey snow is a little trickier. It felt like it wanted to go sideways. So I stayed in the tire tracks till I got to the main road.
For rain or slush I would need a front mud-guard and a rear fender. I may add both if I decide to keep this bike. And I will be keeping it for a while, since I sold my MotoBecane. Or at least till I finish the Raleigh Technium
If you want to order Kenda gum-walls for a Raleigh Sports (27 X 1-3/8) do not order the K23. You want to order the K40. Although the description of the K23 sounds like it will fit. It will not replace the Raleigh 27 X 1-3/8 with 37 X 590 ISO. As the K23`s ISO is 37 X 597 (too big). And Thanks to the people at Niagara Cycle Works for getting this all sorted out for me today. You know the real mark of a good supplier is how they treat you when something goes wrong. And Niagara cycle takes care of their customers. I don`t remember the name of the "product tech" I spoke to today (sorry about that)but he was very helpful. And agreed that the information printed on the tire is a little confusing. Also thanks to Cheryl in customer service who always returns my calls. So check them out at
Till Next Time, RIDE SAFE and Remember to always RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE!


  1. Pretty cold temperatures you have there right now.I'm with you - summer conditions are a lot nicer.

  2. Would cyclocross tires fit on the bike? That might improve the "on ice" behavior quite a bit. If we ever get any ice down here this winter, I'll try it.

  3. Hey Trevor,
    Yesterday was a heat-wave compared to today. The temp now is 10 degrees Fahrenheit (windchill-8) or -12.2 Celsius. Just shoot me now! lol
    Actually this is not "that bad" My kid sister e-mailed me this morning. It is -25 Fahrenheit this morning in Michigan`s upper Peninsula.

  4. Hey Steve,
    Trust me on this one. The only tire that "works well" on ice is a studded tire. Oh yeah, And be careful what you wish for (:

  5. Ive heard of zap strapping tires for winter? Ever tried that?

  6. Hey Graeme
    I have never heard of it till now. I did an image search < zip tie bicycle tires for winter > What a fantastic idea! I can`t wait to try it. Thanks for
    the suggestion. Zap-Straps are called Zip-Ties around here. It took me a few minutes to figure that one out. Thanks Again

  7. I did some serious thinking about the whole notion of zip ties. They might work fine in snow where you'll stop regardless of the brakes due to the high rolling resistance, but on ice, remember that the wheel with the zip ties will have no brake (at least no RIM brake) and the wheel with the brake will have poor adhesion. Seems like a dicey combo...

  8. Hi Hugh,

    Before you zip-tie your tires, make sure you switch to disc or coaster brakes. The ties will block your rim brakes and you'll be in for an exciting winter ride.

    Glad to see you out riding; you're braver than me. I've just been sitting on the trainer for a couple months.

  9. Hey Steve,
    As Everett pointed out this will only work (on both wheels)if you are using a coaster or disc brakes. I think with the right brakes this would work well on hard pack. Hard-pack is mostly what we encounter around here anyway.
    As far as lake or smooth ice is concerned, I do not see the zip-ties working well at all. So my thinking is, If you have disc or a coaster brake, the zip ties should work well on the crusty stuff I usually encounter.
    But for any type brake system, on any icy surface smooth or hard pack (crusty). Then I guess studded tires would be is the best way to go.

  10. Hey Everett,
    Good observation,The zip ties would not work on the bike I have been riding this winter. And I gave the only coaster brake bike I had to my brother-in-law. I guess it`s true, No good deed will go un-punished!
    I still think on the right bike, this zip-tie idea would work pretty good. I`ll have to dig through the garage. I might have a rear coaster brake set-up on a 26inch wheel laying around.
    By the way, the bike you posted on F.B. was a sweet winter set-up. I was really impressed.

  11. OK, I think I figured out why I my comments have been vanishing when I click Post, so I'll try this again...

    Hi Hugh -

    I've tried a bit of winter riding this year - my main concern other than the safety issues is the effect of the slop & slush on my bike - any advice on dealing with this?

    I also have a repair question...

    I finally have found a bit of time to start working again on my '72 Super Sport, but when I tried to reassemble the bottom bracket, I ran into a snag. It has the old-style one piece crank. The original bearings (in hanger brackets) were pretty grungy, so i bought loose bearings to replace them. I greased the cup, and placed the bearings, but when I tried to replace the crank, there was not enough clearance - the bearings were in the way. I tried putting grease on the cone and sticking the bearings to it - you can imagine how well that worked. :-)

    Any ideas on how I can put this back together? I still have the original bearings - I suppose I could try to clean them up, unless you know of a source for replacements.

    Thanks for any ideas you may have.

    Jay Sinclair

  12. Hey Jay,
    When you re-assemble an Ashtabula crank with the jacketed or cartridge bearings. You can only put the drive side bearing cartridge in place until you have maneuvered the crank into the bracket. Once you have done that you can then slide the left-side bearing cartridge into place. There is just not enough room to put the crank into the bracket with the left side bearings installed. I imagine this would be true with free bearings as well.
    So try again with the right (drive) side bearings in place. And have the left side cup pre-greased with the bearings close by. As well as the threaded race that holds the bearings in place. And once you have maneuvered the crank into place. Then you should be able to put the left-side bearings into the cup. This will be difficult because you are holding the crank in place with one hand. I guess that is why they used cartridge bearings.
    If this does not work, try it again with the cartridge bearings. If they look nasty try soaking them in carb-cleaner. You can get a paint size can with a dunk basket at any good auto parts store. But be careful it is dangerous stuff. Read the cautions carefully.
    About winter maintenance. I spray a little Tri-Flo on my derailleurs and free-wheel before I go out. And just remember to leave your self enough time to dry it all off when you get home.
    This includes the chain and any exposed cables.
    Let me know how it goes.

  13. Thanks, Hugh -

    I figured out the commenting problem - it's a cookies issue - and left the same question on your blog.

    I only had the right side bearings in place, and it still didn't work. I'll try again, maybe with another pair of hands nearby. If that doesn't work, I'll try to clean up the old bearings.



  14. Hey Jay, I think you can insert the crank through the bracket shell with the right side bearing cartridge on the drive-side crank. You will want to have greased the bearing cartridge and the cup in advance. I must admit,I am much better at doing this than I am at explaining it. And for that very reason, here is a link that should help. :

  15. Hey Jay,
    You can also go to you-tube and enter Old-School bottom bracket, part two. He`s not exactly an expert but the video is correct. A lot more correct than my memory! that`s for

  16. Thanks, Hugh - that was helpful.

    By now I should know to check out what Sheldon Brown had to say before asking dumb questions. ;-)

    I remembered about putting the cartridge on the drive side cone, but was hoping to be able to use the loose bearings - always an upgrade, as I understand it.

    I guess I'll clean up the old bearings as well as I can, and maybe look around for NOS replacements.



  17. Hey Jay,
    Most of the time it is easier for me to show someone how to do a repair or an overhaul than to explain it. That is why I like to use links and URL`s and Video-Links. One day I might make a few videos. But when it comes to being in front of the camera... I am about as comfortable as a nun in a cat house. So I hope nobody thinks I`m brushing them off. I just like them to get the clearest explanation I can find. You know what they say, There are no dumb questions, just dumb answers. (:


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