Thursday, 9 February 2012

Winter Bike Final Modifications & Mid Season Review

When I first bought my new winter bike in October I wrote "It's a bit small for me, but was about the largest they had in stock and with some adjustments to the handlebar and seat height I have it set up about the same as my mountain bike, which should be fine as my winter riding is usually confined to under 20 km rides around the neighbourhood."

That worked, but I still wanted a more comfortable riding stance so I started looking at changing the stem to raise the handlebars. After receiving some advice I decided to go with as straight a stem as possible to move the handlebars closer to the seat so that I could raise them enough and straighten out my stance without running out of cable which would incur more work and expense.

I found a replacement stem at Niagara Cycle in Niagara Falls, NY for $15 plus about $20 shipping. That added to the price of the bike, but well worth it I thought.

Before and After Bike Photos

(click on images to enlarge)

After riding with the new setup for over a week I am really pleased with how much more comfortable it is. Instead of just a leaning over MTB stance I now have more choice from straight up with arms straight to slightly bent over with a bit of elbow bend to a more bent over MTB style power stance.

Overall the new winter bike has been a great improvement over the old $100 Supercycle I used the previous two years. The 20 year old Shimano Exage 400 derailleur and shifters work as well as the shifters on our good bikes. And, of course, I still love those Schwalbe Ice Spikers, they ride through a layer of water on top of ice like it's dry pavement.

I'm hoping to get at least double the two years I got on the old Supercycle and I'm babying this bike to achieve that. After every ride it gets well cleaned and wiped down, especially the rims. The rear rim on the old Supercycle started to rust after a few weeks but both rims on this bike seem to be of a different, non-chrome metal and, as long as I wipe them clean after every ride, they resist the rust. I use a heavy grease on the drive-train because of the slush and winter muck and have already done a mid-winter cleaning with the MEC chain cleaner.

In recent days with low temperatures and puddles along the side of the road the cables have been icing up and I've had to stop and remove ice mid-ride, then bring the bike in to thaw after to get rid of any water that might refreeze and cause problems.

So far this winter, from December 14 to February 8, I have put 427 kilometres on the winter bike and I am aiming for at least 50 km a week.

I actually did some trail riding on it around the Old Quarry trails in December as I had put my MTB away for the season but the trails were frozen and still rideable. But most of my winter riding has been on the paths and local roads in Bridlewood and Glen Cairn. Over the previous two days, in two one hour rides I did 33.4 km, at an average speed of 16.0 km/hr and a maximum speed of 28.3 km/hr.

The map below of those two rides (including overlaps) gives a good idea of the typical routes I ride on the winter bike.

(click on map to enlarge)

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