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Sun Oct 21, 2012, 03:06 AM

Why I ride.

Last edited Sun Oct 21, 2012, 03:29 PM - Edit history (1)

Last night, picture this:

Full darkness, the sun sets early these days. Waxing crescent moonlight alternating with puffy, moonlit clouds that drop sprinkles. 42 degrees with a light breeze. Quiet suburban streets and leaf-strewn paved trails. The Police and Genesis on the bike stereo. My new Specialized Pro Disc equipped with two Phillips ultra bright LED lights. Camelbak pack full of cold water. Six layers on top, two on the bottom, the outer layer in both cases wind proof breathable nylon, so I stay nice and warm.

15.25 miles. Could have gone further, but I needed some sleep. I felt fantastic after I got home.


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Arrow 5 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why I ride. (Original post)
Denninmi Oct 2012 OP
happyslug Oct 2012 #1
Denninmi Oct 2012 #2
happyslug Oct 2012 #3
Fumesucker Oct 2012 #4
krik65 Dec 2012 #5

Response to Denninmi (Original post)

Sun Oct 21, 2012, 11:58 PM

1. On my Cannondale, I use a generator hub


I have biked in temperatures as low as 20 degrees (cold snaps, with no snow on the ground, are common in the Appalachian mountains of Pennsylvania). With cold snaps you rarely get any snow, the temperature is to cold to carry much moisture, but you can bike a fair distance. About half way through I tended to change t-shirts, they tended to get soaked with moisture and I felt better with a dry t-shirt instead of a warm but wet t-shirt (yes you can change in such temperatures, you just have to change quickly, your body can retain its heat for the 20-30 seconds it take you to take off the old and put on the new T-Shirt and put back all your other clothing.

For my feet I tend to wool socks and Army Combat Boots. About 10-15 years ago the Army finally switched to suede boots with Gore Tex Liners. With regular army wool socks it is sufficient (i.e. no need to actually winter boots, no snow and I am constantly moving so my body keeps me warm, you need winter boots only if it snows AND you have to wait around).

I use to wear long johns, but I then switched to over pants. The reason is simple, in most cold weather situations, you need to take off clothing if and when you get to hot, and put it back on when its gets to cold. It is much easier to take off a set of over pants then long johns. I use a farmer bib type over pants that are Gore Tex. In light rain or snow more then enough to keep me dry and warm. If to hot, I can un-zipper them not only in the front by along the legs. This permits me to use them even when it is raining but I am still to hot. I put them away in the Spring, really not usable above 50 degrees, but perfect below that temperature to about 10-15 then you have to loot into adding a set of long johns under your pants as your base before the over pants bid goes on.

I do a similar clothing mix when it comes to a Coat, Gore Tex over coat, over a Sweater or sweat shirt, over heavy shirt over a T-Shirt (And if to cold a set of long johns).

For my hat, under my Helmet I wear a Balaclava that extends to my neck. This gives me freedom of movement. I have also worn a thin baklava under the thicker balaclava for additional warmth. I have also wanted to go back to using Army Helmet Liners, I actually liked them for they are NOT knitted by woven material and thus better at wind protection. The down side is Knitted Material is warmer and can be switched over the head. The Army Helmet liner extends to under one's neck, but by using Velcro on its two extensions from the part of the Helmet Liner that goes over your head. The army extensions overlap and covers your neck using Velcro. Provides a very tight fit with woven material that is wind proof. Can fit over a knitted balaclava. I have been looking into getting a new one, but so far my balaclava have been sufficient, given I also tend to use a Russian Fur hat over the Balaclava in extreme cold weather.

As to my hands, I tend to have on me or on my bike at least four pairs of gloves. A light leather pair for temperatures from 50 to 35. I have a pair of Polyethylene glove inserts, to fit inside the leather gloves or any other cover for my hands. I have a pair of gore tex nylon insulated gloves for temperatures from 40-20. At these temperatures you have your greatest possibility of running into heavy snows. Below 25 degree I tend to switch to finger trigger Army Mittens. The mittens are NOT water proof, but it is rare to have rain below 25 degrees and almost as rare to have snow, thus you rarely need water proof material at temperatures below 25 (Even the Nature of the snow change, the heavy wet snow you get at about 30 degrees, becomes a light fluffy snow below 25, that tends to lay on insulated items instead of melting on them). I like the Finger trigger mittens for I can use the finger triggers to switch gears and then withdraw the finger into the rest of the mitten to keep it warm (This is the reason the finger trigger mitten was designed in the first place, you were NOT to keep your finger in the finger trigger part of the mitten, unless you needed it).

As to my bike, I tend to run slicks, unless you have ice or snow on the ground (and the snow has to be packed or covering ice, one can use slicks at very cold temperature, such as a cold snow on dry ground). On the other hand, ice and wet snow that turns to ice requires me to switch to studded tires. I have had a pair for almost 15 years. I tend to wait till it is clear the snow will stay on the ground for a while and the ice will NOT melt for a while (early snows that quickly melt are no grounds to change out of slicks). Late Snows that quickly melt, are grounds to switch back to slicks. Since I live in Western Pennsylvania we have winters when the early snows last till the late snows start i.e no snow that stays on the grounds for more then a few days. This is about half the winters and in such winters I never change tires.

On the other hands, in about half the winters, we have weeks of snow on the ground, with ice along with the snow. In such winters I have to switch to my studded tires. This last six weeks to two months (Early December to late February). Given that the studs have higher rolling resistance then slicks, I tend to avoid long trips with them, using mostly to go to and from work. The increase rolling resistance is clearly felt once you start to use the studded tires. On the other hand, you do NOT lose control of your bike when you go over ice or packed snow. The increase rolling resistance is why I tend to switch my tires late and switch them back early and why they have lasted 10 years. About half of those winters I never used them, in the the other half I did but for only two months and at a reduced biking level.

Cold temperatures should not be grounds to stop biking, but it also means one MUST be prepared to bike in such temperatures. Given that one often over heats in the winter for putting to much clothes on (For it is cold when you start to bike) and then freeze for lack of clothing (For you did not put on enough clothing and was warm till you came to a long decline when you do not have to peddle, but you end up with a lot of wind on you as you go down hill) one has to be prepared to switch what one is wearing. To do so you have to have the clothes on your bike (not necessary on you) and a place to put extra clothes you do not need right then and there. These two requirement can be meet with panniers. I do recommend a set of panniers to hold extra clothing that you may need, and the panniers supply a place to put excess clothes when you are over heated. I strongly recommend a set of panniers to hold such clothing. I tend to carry two around with me, for my extra clothing. I tend to also include an Army poncho and poncho liner.

The poncho and liner is a good emergency blanket if you ever need it (i.e. you need to hole up someplace till the weather improves). The Poncho is old fashion vinyl, so is NON-breathable but water proof. The liner fits inside the Poncho and provides some warmth, since it is polyester the warmth can be provided even if it is soaking wet. The poncho and liner is NOT the best tent, NOT the best water protection, Not the best sleeping bag, Not the best Stretcher, but is better then nothing if you need a tent, water protection, sleeping bag or stretcher. Thus it should be part of your emergency equipment on your bike (Along with a decent First Aid Kit). The Poncho and liner can fit in your panniers, if you have a set of panniers, thus I tend to like panniers on my bikes, especially if I am doing any winter biking.

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Response to Denninmi (Original post)

Mon Oct 22, 2012, 03:37 PM

2. Hey, that's all good info.


They're having a presentation about winter biking at REI next week, I am planning in going.

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Response to Denninmi (Reply #2)

Tue Oct 23, 2012, 11:44 AM

3. I do recommend Schmidt's "Son" hub generator and Studded tires


You can order both from Peter White wheels (This is where I obtained mine):

Peter white web page on the Schmidt:

Photo of the SON in Red (Mine is in Silver, it is also available in Black):

If you decide to go with a generator, wheel "barrel" generators (The ones that run off the tire) are NOT recommend, the snow and other junk common in Winter weather tends to make them non-functional. I have heard no complaints in that regard with Hub Generators and I have had no problems in that regard.

As to my SON, my first SON lasted about 5-6 years (it only had a three year warranty) so I had to purchase a new one about 6-7 years ago. No problem with the new HUB, but like anything mechanical I do expect it to wear out but I run it constantly (i,e I never turn off my lights). When I first purchased my SON, Schmidt did not have LED headlights, LED Taillights but no LED headlights. I therefore used a regular Schmidt headlight. I have since switched to LEDs, the first one last a couple of years, then it was damaged (I am rough on things) and I had to purchased a new one. The only problem I have had with them is tied in with the wiring. You have to make sure the wires are hooked up to the lights and the generator. No hookup, no lights. Given the SON is an AC system, you have to make sure BOTH lines are connected.

REI does sell the Shaman Generator, it is considered second best to the SON, but still a good generator.

The problem is you either have to buy a new wheel with the HUB (Which is what I did) OR install the generator yourself, by removing the present hub and spokes and installing the Generator HUB and new spokes (Much shorter spokes for the Generator is that much more around then a normal front hub). Given the price difference Peter White charges, I would tend to go with him making the wheel up but it is the buyer's decision.

Peter White also sells Sanyo Generators, higher drag then the Schmidt but a lot cheaper:

Peter White also sells Shimano Generators:

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Response to Denninmi (Reply #2)

Sun Oct 28, 2012, 02:29 PM

4. I have a LED Lenser headlight flashlight I put on my helmet


With three AAA Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable cells it's amazingly bright, tiltable, focusable and has a dimmer too. Putting the light on your head means you can aim it where you need it, handlebars stay mostly straight in turns while the light needs to go to the inside.

I've been riding on Schwalbe Big Apple tires for the last several months and I love them, they are low rolling resistance balloon tires that are not quite slicks, soak up bumps almost as effectively as a suspension and have 3M reflective white sidewalls that really stand out when headlights shine on them.


A taste of what the Big Apples look like at night, much brighter reflection than the little spoke reflectors in the wheels.

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Response to Denninmi (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 12:27 PM

5. Krik Edward


Thanks you for the sharing good information with us

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