I am planning on doing a couple of posts on winter riding. Over the last few years, a lot more information about winter riding has been shared. A few short years ago, it was difficult to find advice on riding through the winter. These posts are based mostly on learning through experience and reflect what I do to get ready to ride through the chilly season. This first post is on the all important steed!
All my winter bikes have been named Helga. She was tougher than Hagar, and a bike has to be pretty tough to make it through Canada’s coldest season. However, it does not need to be expensive. The most expensive thing I purchased was studded tires. I know people who ride through the winter without studded tires, but I love them. I have ridden for three winters on studded tires and have not had a fall yet.
I bought Helga III at the police auction for $20 this past summer. She is a Genesis Stealth, which I have never heard of, so you know she is a quality ride! She needed a few transplants and some work to get her ready for winter riding. I transferred the studded tires, fenders, seat, grips and rack from Helga II. I also visited Recycle Cycle to do a little work and improve the ride of Helga III. I rebuilt the bottom bracket with bearings and an axle. I replaced the chain, a shifter, a cable and a water bottle holder. The total cost was $6. If you haven’t been to Recycle Cycle to work on your bike, go! The total cost of Helga III was $26.
Helga II was a Raleigh. I rode her for two winters and could probably have gotten a third out of her. However, she had a couple of problems that Helga III doesn’t have. She was a little too small for me and the bottom bracket was welded slightly crookedly in the factory, which made the pedals turn awkwardly. I bought her off Kijiji for $20 and transplanted parts from Helga I to her. I also bought new handle bar grips for her and rebuilt the bottom bracket. The total cost of Helga II was $35.
Helga I was a Diamondback that I bought off Kijiji for $40. I bought a rear cassette ($25), fenders ($25), a rack ($10) and studded tires ($130). I rode it all through the winter. She was a great winter bike! Helga I was dependable and comfortable to ride, just what you want in a winter bike. Unfortunately, I didn’t take care of Helga I very well. In the spring, I just put her away in my shed, and hopped on my commuting bike. When I took her out the next fall, everything was seized solid. The total cost of Helga I was $230!
I have learned quite a bit since I first started riding through the winter. Most importantly, I have been washing and oiling my winter bike before I put it away each spring. I’ll share some other maintenance and riding tips in a future post.