Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oil Lubricants

Sliding around in the slop requires a bit of an attitude adjustment. You need to accept that your chain is going to need replacement at the end of winter. You need to recognize that you will be beating on a bike in the winter if your municipality uses salt.

Chain lubricants come in many different compositions and thicknesses. In the summer, I use White Lightning Clean Ride, a light weight lubricant. In the winter I switch to Cross Country Finish Line Wet Lubricant. It has the weight of lithium grease. This lubricant doesn't repel dirt, but instead sticks mightily to the chain and keeps the salt away from it. Every so often, I spray the chain with WD-40, which breaks down the Wet lubricant and then I wipe it all off and reapply the Wet.

Lastly, if you can leave a slushy bike outside, this keeps some of the slop from melting and further corroding the metal. Unless you rinse your bike after each ride, there will be salt left on it anyways. Again, fenders help keep the slop off the bike. Planet Bike seems to make most of the ones seen in bike shops. The ones that screw into drop-outs work best for me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

So often I hear, "don't tell me you rode your bike today...". Here is what it takes me to commute year round.

-10 to 32Fboots, J&G raincoat and rainpants, snowboard mittens (bring thin knit gloves as liners if needed), balaclava, 1 short sleeved, one polar fleece top
33-45Fboots, J&G raincoat, balaclava, 1 short sleeved,snowboard mittens (if raining: J&G rainpants and boot covers)
45-55Fsneakers, thin winter headband,J&G raincoat, cotton t-shirt, thin knit gloves (if raining: J&G rainpants and boot covers)
55-60Fsneakers, work pants (if raining, non-work pants), non-work t-shirt
60F and upsneakers, non-work shorts and non-work cotton top

Remember that I put fenders on my bike and they keep me from getting wet from below. Above 60 degrees, I generally don't worry about getting wet. A wind resistant jacket will keep me warm at colder temperatures and layering underneath means you can leave off a layer if the weather warms. The wonderful pit zips on my J&G raincoat are almost never zipped closed.
Commuting success
Here is an analysis of my success in commuting via bike all year.

In the summer I can ride with less clothing, but when it gets warm I need to bring a change of clothes. My bookbag (with laptop not trusted to panniers) presses on my back adds to my warmth. Still works alright, but a tiny bit awkward when arriving for meetings not at my building.

Winter- the rainpants and jacket I purchased over a year ago are still great. The pants don't breath, but it is a trade off for price. I rarely use the booties, because it is rarely wet and cold in Buffalo. I continue to love my J&G raincoat (breathes) and leave the pit zips open most of the time.

The steel studded tires were okay, but I would suggest people get the ones with studs down the middle, as well as down the edges. If you are going to slow yourself down, you may as well get good traction on ice as well as slush. Fenders make an enormous difference in how dry you stay.

Time- it takes me more time to get to work because I must dress for it/ stow a second set of clothes.