Monday, November 1, 2010

Getting Ready for Winter

For you readers in climes where it snows and ices over, I can assure you that you can, indeed, continue bike commuting through the winter. In my last post, you'll recall that I fitted some 35mm studded tires to my Trek Earl. The fit was tight, but I did seem to be able to get the fat tires on the skinny rims.

Last week I refitted the studs and rode the bike a few miles to the Omaha Bikes winter commuting clinic. I felt silly riding studded tires when it was nearly 70 degrees out, but I wanted to do two things:
  • test ride the Earl with studs
  • show the studded tires to the clinic participants
I also got a new rack and a waterproof Pacific Outdoor Equipment pannier. I think the pannier is actually supposed to go on a front rack, but it fits pretty well on the rear rack. Even though I am comfortable on my commutes with a Chrome shoulder bag, my theory is that a rear pannier might help keep weight over my rear wheel for better traction. Having a rack also helps for trips to the grocery store.

I had wanted to replace the 17 tooth single speed freewheel with a new 22 tooth freewheel, but I ran out of chain. Simply, the new cog was large enough that there wasn't enough chain to go around it. The larger cog also put the chain up so high that I couldn't keep the chain guard. The 44 tooth chainring on a 22 tooth cog will provide for a 2-to-1 pedaling ratio, which may be easy enough to power through snow on the streets. Since I couldn't fit the chain, I ended up riding the bike with it stock 44 tooth chainring on a 17 tooth freewheel. Talk about slogging up the hills!

Yesterday I got a new chain to use for the winter configuration and took the bike for a spin. Certainly climbing Omaha's hills on the 44x22 was super easy, but all I could do on the downhills and flats was to coast and coast and coast ...

At this point, I think I have everything ready for the first snow. All I need to do is put the studs back on and I'm ready to roll. However, I may trade the cogs again so that I can use the rack for Cranksgiving in a couple of weeks.

Here are some pics of the new configuration.

From this angle, the freewheel looks as large as the chainring.

The Pacific Outdoor Equipment bag features pockets just the right size for my
wingtips. None of my other shoes fit, however.