View Full Version : what do you think is the best winter bike?

09-16-2011, 08:07 AM
it is getting cool here in rhode island and soon it will be cold and then it will snow. I have been here for 4 years now and i still have not built a super winter bike, just made due with my sycip single speed monster cross. I commute every day and i have been able to get around on 700 x 37 top contact conti's but when there is a lot of snow and ice build up i do have to walk some parts and the ride can be a little rough.

I have been thinking of something with big tires, something around 2 inches wide, maybe something studded, fenders, upright-ish position, cheap-ish.

I am not sure about gearing but i was thinking of just 9 on the back but maybe an internal.

anyone use an alfine in the winter?

i dont really use disc brakes but they do work very well so maybe discs.

So far i have been looking at-

Rawland rsogn or drakkar
Salsa fargo
used kogswell from bigflax925

anyone have any suggestions? experiences? winter anecdotes? used bikes to sell me?

CNY rider
09-16-2011, 08:09 AM
I am going to save you a ton of dough.
Forget the new bike.
Just get some studded Nokians. Your bike has plenty of room for them. I get them from Peter White.
Some gearing would be nice too but that's your call.

09-16-2011, 08:12 AM
I think that Surly is making a long haul trucker with discs.

For the $$$ it would seem hard to beat!

For me, it never gets much below 40 here so I don't worry about such.

09-16-2011, 08:15 AM
I've always had good luck with narrower tires in the winter.. They tend to cut through the snow pretty good. The black ice is what always get's me.. Landed on my shoulders a few times, braking or taking corners too quick..

I prefer a simpler ride in the winter.. mostly out of convenience for maintenance..

..I'm curious what people say about tires so thanks for posting this.

Dave B
09-16-2011, 08:19 AM
Lazy Boy makes a great winter model!

09-16-2011, 08:21 AM
and then there's this:


09-16-2011, 08:32 AM
for providence?

fixed gear, rigid fork 29'er, studded tires when necessary.

09-16-2011, 08:45 AM
i have the sycip set up as a fixed now, it is pretty nice, i think i would like to try some gears this winter, i have been dealing with a knee injury and i think it would be better.

09-16-2011, 09:00 AM
I went a little crazy and bought a GT Steel Peace 9'r 29'er frame, size large, color Yeti-Turquoise. It's disc, sing-speed via an EBB. I don't see why it wouldn't work with Nexus using zip tie guides.

I'd pass on the same stupid-cheap Nashbar price if you want it.

fiamme red
09-16-2011, 09:03 AM
An old rigid MTB with fenders.

09-16-2011, 09:34 AM
and then there's this:

i thought of the pugsley. it's also great in the sand.

09-16-2011, 09:42 AM
The best Winter bikes are here! ....... :cool:



09-16-2011, 09:50 AM
Careful with the 29er winter frankenbike idea...

I took my SS 29er and installed drop bars and 240-studded Nokians. Thought it would be the ideal winter setup, but it was just so damn heavy and sluggish that I didn't want to ride it.

This year I plan to sell the Nokian 240's and get some Nokian A10's... the ones with 72 studs per tire. The 240's were just overkill for my city commute. Slap the A10's on my Steamroller, maybe gear down a little bit, and call it a day.

09-16-2011, 09:51 AM
I've been using an alu nashbar cross frame with discs and studded tires for the last 3 or so years.

A 1x9 setup would work well. I ran mine as a 1x10 for a winter when by FD cable broke and I was too lazy to replace it. With studded tires and panniers I was happy with a 34 chain ring and a 12-27 cassette. You may not want to go that low, but if you'll be running studs, go for a smaller than usual chain ring. They add noticeable rolling resistance, but IMHO, they're worth it for the not crashing factor.

I've been happy with my set of Nokian W107's. This will be their 3rd or 4th winter, and they aren't showing much wear.

Get some good lights too, you'll be riding in the dark much more often in the winter.

On the Alfine, a co-worker of mine tried one out last winter. Before the end of the winter the internal gears had chewed themselves up, and the hub was dead. He's a pretty good wrench, so I'd be surprised if it was setup wrong, but there is that possibility. Also, it's been my experience that a derailleur setup really isn't much trouble in the winter.

Hope this helps,


09-16-2011, 09:51 AM
This one. Fendered, single-speed bike with lots of clearance for larger tires. It's actually not really made for fenders so it's not great.

As for gears? I love the near-zero maintenance aspect of the single-speed road bike, especially as winter miles are rarely 'pound 'em out' miles but rather base and 'just get out and ride' miles.

You'd be amazed at how little you actually miss having a lot of gears. I run a 42x16.


09-16-2011, 09:58 AM
How about this: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_522412_-1_10000__203088#ReviewHeader

09-16-2011, 10:12 AM
Hop on this ... add studded Nokians and fenders

09-16-2011, 10:26 AM
This is what id be getting if i had the cash for it. One day ill have one hanging next to my compact :) one day!!!


09-16-2011, 12:15 PM
Talk to the ultimate hardman of Winter...Spiderman.

Pete Serotta
09-16-2011, 12:19 PM
Bullett proof and lifetime warranty. :D

Yes, I have been accused of being biased : :)

09-16-2011, 12:22 PM
is there a bulletproof serotta now? kevlr in the AE or something?

rice rocket
09-16-2011, 12:25 PM
Spiderman is crazy, he goes out in non-navigable conditions, don't talk to him. :p

This is somewhat on topic, what bottom bracket seals best against the winter muck? Something square tapered, or the Shimano Hollowtech stuff w/ external bearings?

Then again, Hollowtech stuff is are throwaways at this point, $30 for a set of Dura-Ace? If it lasts one season, it'd still take me 4 years or so to reach what a Phil Wood would cost.

Dave B
09-16-2011, 12:26 PM
Someone find a pic of Mike Curiak's Moots with built in stove

09-16-2011, 01:43 PM
This fits some of the requirements, 26", disc or v brakes, rack and fender mounts.

Would need a suspension corrected fork, so that kind of messes up the cheap part of the equation.

Rocky Mountain makes some 700c disc commuter frames, but they probably won't take a 2" tire.

09-16-2011, 01:57 PM
Surly cross check?

I commuted through the last 5 Winters in IL. I used my quickbeam as a fixie with fenders running schwalbe snow studs. The snow studs finally rotted(the studs were fine, but the rubber became very brittle). Now I am on the nokians.

The cross check will fit pretty big tyres and fenders. Geared or SS.

If there was a lot of snow I would take my mtb, but that was 1 or 2 days a year. otherwise the mtb and big tyres felt too slow on the road. I just moved to MA and I am looking forward to a less cold Winter.

09-16-2011, 02:02 PM
slasa is making a ti fargo


09-16-2011, 02:19 PM
if i were buying a winter bike i like the salsa mukluk. also available in titanium this year. might even be the same frame as the fargo with sow tires.


09-16-2011, 04:52 PM
My best bike for allweather is Salsa La Cruz.

Ti Designs
09-16-2011, 05:15 PM
It's not about the bike. Any bike in the list above doesn't make a damn bit of difference if the rider doesn't get the thing out the door. If the rider does get outside, the bike doesn't make much of a difference.

For what it's worth, my winter bike is a Surley Staemroller with Nokian A10 studded tires. Probably not the best winter bike, but I'll put up my mileage under 20F with anyone else here.

09-16-2011, 05:48 PM
Well its not about the bike in the summer either yet here we are talking bout em all year long .)

09-17-2011, 07:53 AM
slasa is making a ti fargo


I have a gen 1 fargo and think it is nearly the perfect all-around bike.
isn't the best at anything but it great at just about everything.

09-17-2011, 09:45 AM
Well its not about the bike in the summer either yet here we are talking bout em all year long .)

Point well made here! :beer:

09-17-2011, 10:21 AM
Point well made here! :beer:

Tis a point well made. The flip side is that if you have the perfect bike then you have no excuses, you have to ride....

I commuted one Winter without fenders. Having almost freezing rode spray hitting me made me not want to ride. Studs and fenders are awesome.

09-18-2011, 05:13 PM
This one :)

09-18-2011, 05:23 PM
I've commuted a lot in Wisconsin winters. Narrower tires, whether it car or bike, cut through the slop and loose snow much better than wide tires. So a 32c cross tire with studs is faster and better handling in the bad stuff than an MTB.

Otherwise, I am most concerned with corrosion and places for crap to get into. So, Ti frames, Gripshift or barends, cantis instead of discs (who goes fast in winter?) and high fenders that attach to the seatpost and DT. Simple, simple, simple.

That said, my winter commuter is an old Raleigh Technium frame with six speeds, because it just doesn't matter what happens to it and the chains are cheap.

09-18-2011, 05:30 PM
I've commuted a lot in Wisconsin winters. Narrower tires, whether it car or bike, cut through the slop and loose snow much better than wide tires. So a 32c cross tire with studs is faster and better handling in the bad stuff than an MTB.

Otherwise, I am most concerned with corrosion and places for crap to get into. So, Ti frames, Gripshift or barends, cantis instead of discs (who goes fast in winter?) and high fenders that attach to the seatpost and DT. Simple, simple, simple.

That said, my winter commuter is an old Raleigh Technium frame with six speeds, because it just doesn't matter what happens to it and the chains are cheap.

I guess it depends on the snow. We often get 6 or more inches of snow at a time. In this the super fat Surly tires are absolutely better and faster than my 'cross or standard mountain bikes. With narrower tires (that "sink"), keeping the bike moving in a straight line...or moving at all, becomes a real challenge. The 4 inch tires at 5-6 psi just float right along. (when someone wins Iditabike on a 'cross bike, let me know!)

On the other hand, once it gets packed and turns into rutted ice / frozen muguls, the studded tires on my 'cross bike or MTB are the better chioce.

With all 3 options available, i can (and do) comfortably commute year-round.

But the Fat bike lets me ride singletrack through the winter :p

09-18-2011, 10:42 PM
This (which I pm'd you about yesterday):

Send it back to Joe for a refinish with new powdercoat/decals and have him add fender mounts/chainstay bridge/hole in the seatstay bridge and bottle cages. I bet it would be pretty reasonable cost-wise and you'd have a badass Columbus Max winter bike.

Way cooler than a Salsa.

09-19-2011, 01:03 AM
I know this doesn't apply to many areas, but for the northwest a cheap road bike with fenders is perfect for winter training. Funny, i spend more time on my 15 yr old alloy bike with rival than i do on whatever carbon thing I'm racing during the summer. I love my rain bike.

09-19-2011, 06:15 AM
I dont always ride in winter, but when I do, I choose
Serotta TiMax 1x9 speed Rigid carbon fork (Winwood)
For bad weather. In fair weather with clear roads, I ride the road
bike with 25mm tires

VF (the most interesting moron in the world)

09-19-2011, 08:37 AM
I've been using a surly 1x1 set up as a single speed with 24 inch large marge rims and 3 inch wide tires. It's the anniversary rat ride from a couple of years ago. It's a ton of fun and will go through the slop that we get in Boston - on the really bad days I go on the sidewalks that are unplowed an can still ride it when there is too much snow in the street. Its really fun on the big snow days, though I move at barely a walk speed. I just switched it up with a 26 inch Alfine wheelset and that's pretty awesome for commuting so far, but I haven't used it through a winter yet. It is nice if you're worried about your knee, though, as with the 8 speeds you can decide how hard you want to be able to pedal depending on how your knee is feeling.

09-19-2011, 09:07 AM
and then there's this:


All apologies to the Pugsley, but Surley's Moonlander makes it look like a casual beach cruiser:


Aaron O
09-19-2011, 09:20 AM
I've been really finding myself dreaming of a Pugsley (although after the post above, I might dream of the Moonlander) built with drop bars and a Campy Athena gruppo because of the worsening winters here, but part of me thinks save the money and toss a pair of Nokians onto my Poprad.

Stan Lee
09-19-2011, 09:35 AM
Being a daily commuter from Nebraska where winter is very cold, often snow or ice and salt on the roads I would recommend a simple single speed. I use a cross bike with fenders, flat bars and 40c knobby tires which I feel work much better at cutting through the snow than wider MTB tires. I road a Pugsly for a bit, and no offense, although very stable it was also slow for the commute I was doing and I don't recommend them on a daily basis. Saying that, we have many customers who use them on a regular basis without complaint.

Internal hubs tend to do fine but still need to be maintained to some degree where after the winter I typically just toss my chain, trade out wheels and set the bike up geared again.

my 2 cents....

09-19-2011, 10:56 AM
Spiderman is crazy, he goes out in non-navigable conditions, don't talk to him. :p


i would quite agree with this...that guy is nuts...
he had me down in the basement this morning...
the most beautiful day of the year--the beginning
of the last full week of summer, post op day 5
from a colostomy takedown...doing what??
you guessed it
putting together not only one
but two bikes for winter.
#1 - surly pugsley with white industries double double (35-38/19-16)
(those ss cogs go on so easy...come off so hard -- especially
with a #15 lifting restriction)
#2 - the ultimate bulletproof serotta, titanium uniscasi
with studded nokians...sluggish on dry pavement...nimble on lake ice!
achilles heel--snowpack and loosely packed snow.
i went through 2 rd's last year and kept the third for the haleakala climb,
july 4th. the middle of the triple (39) and a 19 tooth cog on the freewheel
worked great for the majority of the winter.


i have been tossing around the idea of a ti mukluk or moonlander, too
((i shudder to think of aluminum or carbon...given the way i ride--
i think clydesdale and now dave kirk (having separated my tt/ht lug
while doing what i call gentle riding) can attest to this))
but wholeheartedly agree with william that the ultimate winter bike
would be built by eric estlund...i just can't decide if i want to go with
a cabon belt drive and internal hub
build it up as a traditional single speed
or continue to go through rd's and hangers like they're going out of style...
once i can make that decision--i'm placing my order!
so, eric...if you're tuning in...maybe this is me saying
lets finally get started and i'd love to see what you come up with

oh, and i took the plunge on the strong mb on ebay
while still under the influence of my morphine pca
and coming out of anesthesia!
any suggestions on the build would be appreciated!

09-19-2011, 11:13 AM
lots of good info here. I agree that narrow tires really do cut through the snow well but i would like to have some wider tires for a smoother ride when the roads get all half frozen and icy and dirty and bumpy. I think one of those fargos might be the ticket, looks like it would be a nice bike to have around for general rough stuff riding year around anyways.

09-19-2011, 11:51 AM
I've been commuting through the winter for about 15 years. The first half of that was in Wisconsin, the second in Connecticut. I also commuted year round in Boston during grad school. You'd think, given this, I'd have it sorted out by now, but the conditions here in CT during February and March have me a bit baffled. A lot of the roads keep a 2-3 inch layer of slush on them (often with frozen hard-pack under spots) that make it hard as hell to stay up. In Wisconsin it was freezing cold, but generally clear with patches of black ice and the occasional powder day. In Boston, it was often slushy, but wetter and with little underlying ice and hard-pack. Here in CT the roads where I live are a mess from all the wet snow and freeze-thaw cycles. Last year I was going nuts and tried to ride my MTB to work, only to lose the front wheel at the bottom of the first big hill, going down hard. Admittedly, I didn't have studs, perhaps they would have helped, but in my experience using them in WI, they don't pull you out of the kid of wipeout I had last winter...

It has gotten to the point where I start to go so stir crazy driving to work in the winter, that I am seriously considering getting a recumbent trike. Much harder to tip! But really, I can't quite swallow the idea yet... Has anyone ever tried these???

I've also been looking at the Fargo, but my last wipeout leaves me dubious about keeping my front wheel under me cornering at speed on any two wheel machine (never see any motorcycles out on these roads either). Maybe it just takes more of a rider than I will ever be, or perhaps I need to adapt motocross cornering techniques and keep my inside foot out to stall the fall... that, and spikes, might work I suppose, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough to find out.