Cold-weather Riding Workshops

Winter cycling is a blast!
Did you know that no matter how cold it gets you can still enjoy riding?

As a year-round cycling MSU professor of packaging (hat tip Diana Twede) likes to say “It’s just a matter of the correct packaging!”  Your body generates lots of heat while riding and you’re moving faster to your destination. MSU staff also keep the roads and paths very clear throughout the winter for everyone’s safety, although getting to campus is sometimes a little more challenging!

IMG_0762
Some budding winter cyclists getting a bike ready for the cold.

Come to the MSU Bikes Service Center for one or more of three classes to learn more about getting you and your bike ready for winter cycling so you can enjoy it as much as many others do every winter.  If none of these dates work for you then review our winter cycling tips here at your leisure.

If you’re already a cold-weather cycling veteran then PLEASE come with your setup and do some show ‘n tell to help inspire others!  The following workshops are FREE, short and full of good tips you can use this winter to have a better, safer more comfortable time.

Sessions are limited to 6 people attending with their bikes and requires at least 3 attendees, so RSVPs are requested. PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS with your name if you want to be notified of possible changes/ cancellations due to lack of attendance or unforeseen circumstances.

Sorry, there is no visitor parking available nearby; click here for visitor parking information. They will ticket cars in the Bessey Parking lot til 6 pm.

We close the shop at 5 pm, so you’ll find the Closed sign up when you get here; the door should be unlocked so just come in or knock.

All ready for fun cold weather riding!
All ready for fun cold weather riding!

101 Session: (Mon. 12/04/17) — 1 space open!

This session will focus on the overall/ general tips on how to prep your clothing and your bike for comfy, enjoyable and safe riding.

102 Session: (Tues. 12/05/17)

This session will mostly be a repeat of the 101 class for those who couldn’t attend it and then if time allows we’ll dig into more depth and other finer considerations of cold-weather riding.

photo2103 Session: (Wed. 12/06/17)

This session will be a DIY studded tire and other DIY ways to modify your bike for added safety and comfort. Materials are NOT included and we’ll NOT have enough time to actually make your own studded tires but instead you’ll see a demonstration of how they’re made.

 

 

Any questions about the class? Call Tim Potter, instructor: (517) 432-3414 or email here.

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Tired of a wet backside and feet?

Yep, it’s cold and wet out there and you like getting to class and home again quickly by bike but don’t enjoy the wet stripe up your backside and soaking feet all day long.  What to do?  Make your own?  There are plenty of ideas out there….

Examples of DIY bike fenders
Examples of DIY bike fenders (courtesy of The Plume Kickstarter – http://www.core77.com/posts/24896/another-minimalist-mudguard-the-plume-rolls-out-on-kickstarter-24896

These ideas can save you some $$ and give you some protection for the short term, but if you want to keep the junk off you and your bike for the long term come on into the Center and check out the various fenders we stock to fit just about any bike made starting at about $12.00.


Pros-Cons of Different Fenders – Different Bikes
If you’d like to read more about the pros-cons of different sorts of fenders and the strategy of having a ‘rain bike’ vs. using one bike rain or shine, read this excellent blog by Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly.

Personally, I’m a big fan of full-coverage fenders (whether plastic or metal) vs. the shorter “beaver tail” style rear and mini front fenders that don’t block that much of the water and other gunk coming off the roadway before during and after rain. The other critical issue mentioned in Jan’s article above of a “rain bike” vs. a nice-weather bike is the salt factor here in the Midwest. I have a ‘bad weather’ bike as I don’t want to subject my nicer bikes to road salts as it will quite rapidly destroy anything metal on a nicer bike.  I write that from experience of having gone thru several ‘bat weather’ bikes.  Even if you try keep the exterior clean by wiping or spraying it off the salt water that gets inside the frame and other spaces will rust and destroy anything metal.

Winter Cycling Tips & Information

photobucket-3660-1329696094106Cycling in the winter (yes, it’s here!) can be full of challenges and yet also very gratifying if you’re prepared.  Wet and slippery conditions, poor lighting, distracted drivers, and cold temperatures can all make your ride more difficult but they also make your driving more difficult and dangerous as well, right?  You don’t need to put your bike away until spring, however. Read on for tips on how to make winter riding more enjoyable and safer.

If you’re just not interested in riding through the winter, do your bike a big favor and store it indoors where it won’t get all rusted, stolen or vandalized (or accidentally hit by a snow plow).  MSU Surplus offers storage services for bikes (and just about anything else for that matter!).  Click here for more information.  Many residence halls also have indoor bike rooms which are first-come first-serve, so check with your hall’s front desk and see if you can get a key for yours.

Here are some photos of one of our year-round bicyclists, Thomas Baumann, showing off his bike, accessories and related gear.  More tips and information further below.

Tim's winter bike
Tim’s winter bike

Pics of Tim’s latest winter bike, an early ’80s Schwinn Sierra mountain bike, can be seen here.  ’80’s MTBs make perfect winter bikes for many reasons:  they’re quite cheap, they’re made like tanks (that is, to survive brutal treatment and extreme conditions), they have lots of room around the tires to allow for full coverage fenders and studded tires!

Stay Upright, Be Seen and Live

Winter is a hazardous time to be on the roads for everyone, not just bicyclists.  Falling snow, ice on windshields, fogged up windshields, blinding glare,  low lighting etc. will also dramatically affect the ability of motorists to see you.  Drivers may also be distracted by poor road conditions, phones, etc.  Assuming that drivers don’t see you is a good attitude any time of the year no matter whether you ride in the road (with or without bike lanes) or on the sidewalks/ paths.  Here’s a great article w/ more tips for riding safely in snowy conditions (courtesy Bike Arlington).

Be safe, be seen!
Be safe, be seen! Tim wears a safety vest in addition to using lights in case his batteries burn out and for increased visibility from all directions.

So you need to be sure you’re highly visible.  Although lights and bright clothing are recommended year round, they are especially critical during winter months. Use a flashing white light on your handlebar and a flashing red light on your back or seat-post to draw attention to yourself.  Here is a series of articles comparing the brightness and run-time of different headlights and tailights (many of which we stock here; most we can order), and another new article re: updating older taillights with modern LED bulbs (in case you have an older bike using incandescent bulbs). Remember to also ride responsibly and intelligently.  Bicyclists get full legal protection as a vehicle of the road when they’re riding on the road and behaving according to the laws/ rules of the road (e.g., riding your bike through a pedestrian crosswalk is NOT protected).  Assuming that drivers don’t see you is a good attitude any time of the year no matter whether you ride in the road (with or without bike lanes) or on the sidewalks/ paths.  Falling snow, ice on windshields, fogged up windshields, etc. will also dramatically affect the ability of motorists to see you.

Stay Upright with Studded Tires:

Studded tires can be very helpful for keeping you upright on icy roads. They can be expensive however, so handy folks may want to consider making their own. MSU Bikes’ Tim Potter crafted a pair for his own winter commuter:

Notes on DIY studded tires:

Tim's DIY front studded tire
Tim’s DIY front studded tire – click pic for more pics of Tim’s winter bike (2012 version).

I was under the mistaken assumption that as long as I ride in a straight line and make no quick turns that I’ll be OK on ice. Well, recently I crashed on some black ice while going straight ahead. That changed my mind on studded tires immediately. I priced commercially available studded tires and found they were expensive. So, I made some myself in about one-and-a-half hours, and they work great and last longer than I expected despite what is written about non-carbide tipped studs.   Note: these instructions only work with tires like the one pictured as you need to have a large knob to screw into, most common on 24″, 26″ or 29’er MTB tires.  So, no, this won’t work for 700c tires as there aren’t any made with such large knobs that I know of.

Here are some top-secret tweaks to those instructions: I screwed #6 x 3/8” sheet metal screws (a box of 100 costs $5 from a good hardware store) from the outside in, just like in the instructions, and then used an old tire carcass (after cutting off the beads — use a smooth tread tire) to line the inside of the tire to cover up the protruding tips to protect the tube (be sure and overlap the tire liner by 1/2″ at least to cover all the sharp points).  While this modification makes the wheels quite a bit heavier, it provides another great benefit: the tires are now effectively “run-flats.” Since there’s so much rubber inside the tire, you can keep riding if you get a flat. If you can find #4 x 1/4” screws, you probably won’t need a liner.

Another option for even better traction consider Kold Kutter ice screws, which motorcycle ice racers have used for years; they come in a small 3/8″ size for only $20 and change through College Bike Shop, Lansing or any good motorcycle shop I’m sure.  Remember: In the winter, you’re not trying to break speed records as much as stay alive!

Bar Mitts keep your hands toasty warm but allow you to use thinner gloves to work your controls better.
Bar Mitts keep your hands toasty warm but allow you to use thinner gloves to work your controls better. 
‘Borealis’ lobster gloves from Planet Bike

Stay Comfortable

It’s cold out there. Winter air stings eyes and turns fingers into meat popsicles. Sloppy road slush tends to end up all over pantlegs and backsides.

Don’t arrive at your destination soaking wet and half frozen. Fenders come in full coverage models and easy to attach clip-on models. Some rear fenders are designed with quick-release attachments that don’t require tools for installation. For your hands, try a pair of “lobster” gloves or mittens.  The three or four fingered design helps retain body heat and keep your digits warm. Many cyclists also find ski or chem-lab goggles helpful in keeping the cold air out of their eyes.

Keep Your Equipment in Working Order

A properly locked U-lock
Keep the opening to the lock mechanism facing down to reduce rusting and freezing of the lock.

Rusted and frozen parts are one of the most common issues we see in the shop during the winter. Moisture inside cable housing can cause freezing and corrosion, which results in poor brake and shift performance. Water in locks can cause them to freeze shut resulting in locks that can’t be opened or keys snapping off.

Tri-flow oil - great for chains and lubricating many other parts of a bike
Tri-flow oil – great for chains and lubricating many other parts of a bike. Pedros Syn-Lube - excellent for wet,freezing conditions of winterPedros Syn-Lube – excellent for wet,freezing conditions of winter

Pick up a bottle of wet lubricant that’s designed for bicycles. (WD-40 is not a lubricant. Try TriFlow or better yet, Pedro’s Synlube which stays on longer in wet, cold conditions). Chains need to be lubed frequently during wet months. You can also drip the lube down inside cable housing to restore functionality to frozen brake and shift systems.

When locking your bike, point the keyhole of your lock toward the ground to prevent to prevent rust and ice forming inside.  A squirt of chain lube into the lock cylinder will help prevent freezing and result in smoother operation.  If you find your lock frozen use some hot water, coffee or tea and pour it slowly over the lock mechanism to thaw it enough to open it up, then be sure and dry it out with a hair dryer and then lube it to prevent it from freezing or rusting in the future.

Covered Enhanced Security Indoor Bike Parking/ Storage Options

Bike Garage @ Trowbridge Parking Ramp
Bike Garage @ Trowbridge Parking Ramp. Holds up to 23 bikes and features a DIY repair station.

Looking for a place to lock up your bike out of the rain and snow? We’ve now got two enhanced security bike parking facilities on campus called “MSU Bike Garages”; one on the north side of campus (Grand River Parking Ramp) and one on the south side (Trowbridge Parking Ramp).  Click here to learn more about the Bike Garages.  Additionally, covered bike parking options around campus most of them inside our car parking garages. Click here to see them all.

Additionally, many of the residence halls on campus have indoor bike rooms: Holden, Wonders, Wilson, Holmes, McDonel, Akers, Hubbard, Mason/Abbot, Snyder/Phillips, Campbell, Landon, Yakeley/Gilchrist all have bike rooms (as of Nov. 2010). Inquire at your hall reception desk about using the bike rooms.  Note that the rooms use a common key so be sure and lock your bike even in these rooms.

Further Resources

More winter cycling tips and links to other sites can be found on our notes from our winter cycling class in 2010.   If you’d like to receive an email when we announce our classes this winter consider subscribing to our MSU Bikes e-newsletter here.

MSU’s Snow Removal Information

Many in the MSU community will comment on how great the sidewalks, paths and roads are in comparison to other area roads during the storms of winter.  The MSU road crew is out 24/7 to keep campus safe for everyone.  However, if you do see something on campus that needs immediate attention call the 24-hour IPF Dispatch number (517/353-1760) or email the supervisor of the snow crew: snowplan@ipf.msu.edu
If you’d like to learn more about MSU’s official snow removal policies check this page.  Here’s a short video on the topic by IPF.


What winter riding tips do you have to share?  Pls. comment on this blog with your thoughts/ tips/ advice!

(Updated and reposted by Tim Potter, 11/19/14)