Oct 23, 2009
After living in temperate climes for the past five years, I’ve lost a little of my Nor’easter edge. But those RootsRadicals and Tweeters living in winter’y zones are chatting about riding tips regarding cold, wet, icy riding. Nice thing about a longtail, you’ve got a longer wheelbase = more stable.
Humid air + wind will sap heat from your body if not properly layered with a winter, windproof shell. Hypothermia and frostbite are real concerns, especially with longer commutes/rides. Toes and fingers can go numb quickly since the body is retaining heat closer to your core. Layers are your friend, and if you get warm, your FreeLoaders will swallow up your excess clothing nicely.
- Wool is your friend (ladies, Goodwill has an abundance of them, depending on location). Cotton can kill. Seriously.
- Layer up
- Waterproof winter boots with quality sole traction
- Wind/waterproof gloves: Motorcyclists have high wind-chill factors to contend with, these might be of interest: Aerostitch orAlpinestars
- Handlebar covers:Full wrist coverage, a collection of ‘em
- Prevent components from freezing by applying lubricant/grease and remvoing snow/water/ice ASAP (see comment below for more info)
Slippery Road Conditions
Riding on rain can be tricky. Wet paint or metal is not your friend. Always cross as perpendicular and upright as possible over those surfaces. Snow can be fun, especially deep snow, but you’ll go slow if too deep. Ice is the tricky beast. It shows up invisible (black ice) from time to time, can send you to the ground in zero-flat and is just as hard as the ground. If you do have to ride on ice, studded tires are your friend. RootsRadical, Dr. Chase, wrote a good post a couple years back about studded tire riding.
- Ride, brake, steer slowly. Don’t heavily lean into turns, lessens the downward pressure on your tire’s contact patch and reduces your tire footprint too.
- Studded tires for icy conditions (great photo of a skid on ice with studs, courtesy Dr. Chase)
- Narrow road tires for deep, ice-free snow (but watch out for pinch flats on chewed up streets)
- Fenders to keep the road git out of your teeth
- Lights! Be seen, especially as the nights get longer, visibility decreases…
Have fun riding year round, but be careful and cautious. That reduced tracking and increased braking distance doesn’t only apply to you. It applies to the 2-ton cages riding next to you as well. Also, don’t forget to clean your bike more often. Many municipalities toss salt on the roads, that plus some moisture will make your steel rust in no time. Frame Saver might be a good investment, but requires dis-assembly of your components for a proper internal coating. Ride on!