Thursday, February 18, 2010

When the Only Biking is Snow Biking

Here in the DC area the only kind of Bike For The Rest Of Us you're likely to be riding is one that can trudge through snow and slush. Snow has a tendency to render rim brakes useless, clog up fenders and swallow tires less than 2" wide. So what kind of bike would I like to be riding in the snow? An Electra Townie Balloon 8i, of course.

What? No Cyclecross bike? No Surly Pugsley? OK, so a Pugsley would be really nice, but the Electra is a little more upright, a little less extreme. Plus, it has roller brakes, front and rear!! I can probably count on my hands the number of bikes sold in the US with roller brakes. OK, count on one hand for those sold in your local LBS.
The Electra also comes with Schwalbe Fat Frank tires that are 2.35 inches wide to float over the snow. Gearing is a Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal that is more impervious to the elements. A partial chain guard will keep the faux-fur trim on your Sorel Pack Boots clean. The crank-forward design of these bikes will also be useful for putting your feet down as your bike slides out from underneath you on the black ice.
OK, so I'd rather be testing tire flotation on some soft beach sand like Yokota Fritz, but for now just thinking about riding this bike in the snow will have to do.

5 comments:

Steve Grimmer said...

Another option for winter is the purpose-made Garneau Cityzen Sub-0. It only has a seven speed internal, but comes with studded 40mm winter tires, zinc-plated chain, and FENDERS, which are crucial for all-season riding. Last year's model had a (mostly useless) rack and an additional set of summer tires to boot!
Steve in Winnipeg.

Yokota Fritz said...

That's pretty funny, because I'd really like to try those bad boys on soft snow! The grass is greener and all that :-)

Tom said...

@Steve.. Wow those are snow-ready fenders. You can almost see daylight between the tire tread and the fenders from the side. Less room for snow to clog it up.
http://www.louisgarneau.com/ca-en/product/310647/0302036/_/CITYZEN_SUB-0

Steve Grimmer said...

@Tom: Yeah, it's pretty nice having that much room. I ride the older frame style, and it's a great bike for the $$. My winter tires are 38mm Schwalbe Snow Studs, and there's gobs of room in there. They never clog! In the summer, I ride 42mm Kenda Kahns with space to spare. A well thought out bike overall.

dcdouglas said...

During the DC snowstorm, I rode my Surly Big Dummy. It's got the disc brakes and Schwalbe balloon tires. It also has ample cargo capacity. I went on an outing after the first snowstorm to my local package store. I can say with confidence that adding extra weight really helps stick the rear end down.

locus
Washington, DC