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.


P.O.E. the BLOGGER Page said...

Thanks for the shout out on the Pannier. You can use it on the front or the back. Originally we called them fronts as they are symmetrical, but after we started using them as a smaller pannier on the back they were re-named small as they have plenty of heal clearance.

After some trips back and forth from work this winter shoot us an email at support(at) with your thoughts and comments. We always appreciate hearing from our customers and learning form their experience on how we can improve our gear.


Aaron James

Scott Redd said...

Thanks, Aaron. So far, so good with the P.O.E. pannier. I'm impressed with how waterproof the bag seems to be. When I roll it down, it traps air and gets all puffy. When I get to work, all of the air is still trapped inside.

The locks on the rack hooks sometimes come undone, but I might not have it seated properly.

I regret that the bag doesn't have any shoulder strap rings, as it's hard to carry up to my desk when it's loaded with my clothes and supplies.

In all, it looks like it's going to be a great foul weather bag. I'll post a review of it once I have done a few winter rides with it.

Ben Wiz said...

Nice Scott. Although I bet its hard to ride that Earl with no pedals...