2 days ago
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The last week has been a great intro to snow riding. We've had super cold single digits to provide the ice-like experience and we've had good quantities of snow to provide a good range of road surface.
In terms of surface, it's full-on winter mode now. On my commute to the office today, I rode over ice, freshly scraped streets, accumulated/trodden-upon roads, and even some deep uncut snow. I also have a pedestrian over pass that is salted on the ends and provides a nice steep slippery climb and a sleddish descent.
I have three winter bikes going this year: a single speed mountain bike with 1.75" studs (the MB-2), a CX bike with 700x38 studs (the RB-T), and the Rawland with 2.3" fatties.
I like the MB-2 because it's got lights, racks, and fenders, which makes it a nice daily driver/grocery getter/bar bike. I can muscle it through most moderate snow. But once the snow piles up too deep I have a hard time floating the front wheel over the sandy stuff.
The CX bike with knobbies is just for ice. On our BF ride last week we had a couple guys show up with narrow-knobbied 700c bikes and they held up good. Both guys are in good shape aerobically, which I think is the primary reason they held up, but they also had good handling skills, and the snow was relatively fresh, which is easier to cut through with narrower tires.
Once the snow piles up and there are multiple layers which have been driven over, the surface can act weird and grab your front tire. You've really got to finesse the front end/steering in these conditions and narrower tires, I think, increase the finesse factor. Which, of course, makes you a better rider.
The Rawland is great. I think if I had to have just one bike this winter, I would go with the Rawland with the fat knobbies. I really fought the soft spots on the way home last night when I was riding the MB-2. The front tire just kept getting away from me.
Since my commute home last night, it's snowed more and the Rawland just eats it up. As long as you hit deep stuff with decent speed and your weight back, you can power through just about anything on the Rawland. I really enjoyed the ride to work this morning.
I would love to try a Pugsley for a week or two for this kind of commuting. I wonder how long I can put off buying a Pugsley? Especially now that Surly has a built Pugsley that retails for about $1550. And Salsa has the Mukluk, which I can't find a retail price for. But as I've noted before, the more the better -- we want a rich used market for these ultra-fat-tired bikes.
If I could find a way to use the Pugsley in non-snow, I might swing the justification. Maybe if I ratcheted up the Nat'l Forest camping a bit to go more trail than road? What's it like to ride 40+ miles a day on a Pugsley? How does it like moderate loads? It probably likes loading over the back wheel. How about as mountain bike? I think my SOS Sunday ride would not be ideal for a Pugsley. How about a generator hub? Is it possible to swap out the axle on a generator hub and add spacers so it can span the 135 mm OLD of the Pugsley fork?