Monday, December 14, 2009
Clyde- the winter beast
Pictured above is Clyde, a Trek cruiser I bought five years ago just because I thought it looked cool, I mean how many bikes do you see these days with springer front ends? Spring, Summer and Fall Clyde is the go to bike for doing errands around town if it is raining. But the winter is where it really comes in to its own. Clyde has some features that really make this bike perfect for winter riding. A seven speed Shimano Nexus rear hub provides reliable shifting in the worst conditions and can be shifted even when you are not pedaling. It also avoids all the maintenance headaches of a rear derailleur and cassette in slushy winter conditions. It has always shifted no matter how cold it gets. It also has a rear coaster brake that always works no matter how cold, wet and nasty things are. The big fenders are a no brainer in wet weather. Overall, I was about 80% satisfied with the bike the way it came from the factory for winter conditions. This year I did two things that get me almost to 100% satisfaction. I installed big flat platform pedals from Atom Lab that have built in studs to grip the bottom of your boots. The second thing I did was to mount a set of Continental Spike Claw 120 tires. I could not believe the difference that the tires made in icy conditions. The 120 carbide studs are mounted on the outside edge of the tire tread and do not touch the road surface when you are riding straight but if you lean in to a turn or start to slide and fall the studs provide an amazing amount of grip. I went out recently in some very icy conditions and rode hard enough to where a fall was almost a given. I never fell or even came close even riding way too fast for conditions.
So if you like to ride bicycles, instead of putting it away when the leaves come off the trees keep going and try winter riding. Riding in the winter is really not that hard if you dress for it. I dress just about exactly like I would if I were going snow boarding and I am very comfortable out there.
You can go with a dedicated winter bike like I did or equip your bike so it handles the rougher conditions without problems. Either way you go it will open a new dimension of riding to you and you may find yourself thinking of bicycling as a winter sport AND hardcore hardtimes transportation like me. See you out there!