winterrider's picture

Winter commuting on a folding bike?

Does anyone hear have experience winter commuting on a folding bike?

I currently drive to my kids school, and bike from there. I'm considering buying a car without a decent bike rack solution, so I thought maybe I could buy a folding biker which would fit in the trunk.

So, and folding enthusiast who could offer some wisdom here?

Forums: 

winterrider's picture

Things I want to know

Studded tires, are they possible?

Handling in snow (with or without studs)?

Does it fold easily when covered in salty sludge?

Anything prone to dying in salt other than the usual drive train damage?

Any and all advice appreciated!

uphill-both-ways's picture

my experience says ...

You can readily find studded bike tires either at MEC or pretty much any bike shop.  They may be tucked away for the summer season, so you will likely need to ask.

I have ridden on two studded tires for a few winters now, and really like them.  They don’t clog up with crud, but they might assist with the crud distribution on your pants as well as drive train.  If you decide to go with just one studded tire, most folks agree to put it on the front – that’s where you want the grip for turning and avoiding the skid out.  Most of the studded tires are rated for a lower tire pressure than a street or skinny race tire.

I don’t notice a big difference in snow, but they can be your best friend on ice or slippery hard surfaces.  Some folks claim that running studs on bare asphalt or conc (parking garages) is tricky and slippery, but I have not found that to be a huge concern (at moderate speeds).

Smile

Crivak's picture

There are some videos on

There are some videos on youtube of folding bromptons being used in the winter in NYC. So it should be doable here. Looks like they're just on standard marathon winter studded tires. No reason why you wouldn't be able to put a normal tire on them. I would definitely try to keep the folding mechanisms clean. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6p7m0V-9mQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5U7sY-gg_I

DarrenB's picture

I have some experience

I have a MEC-branded Dahon folder that I use in the winter, mostly for park'n'ride commutes. Generally, I enjoy the convenience of being able to throw the bike in the trunk of the car if I can't bike the whole way that day, but otherwise it isn't my preferred bike for winter riding. 

Most folding bikes use a 20" tire or smaller, which is less than ideal for winter riding. The smaller tire makes it hard to roll through small drifts or keep the bike upright on rutted, icy sections. On clear pavement, they are fine, though.

The other problem with small tires is that finding a studded, winter tire that fits can be challenging. I know Schwalbe makes a studded tire in 20" and 16" versions, but order them now if you want them for the winter. When I tried to get some in early winter, there were not stocked in bike shops and their warehouse was empty, and I couldn't find any online. I did manage to find one Innova 20" studded tire, which has been fine (and I just put a knobby 20" tire on the back, which has been fine too).

So I would recommend a folder for winter commuting if you are doing a "mixed" commute (e.g., driving or taking the train part way), or for short distances. But if you have a longer commute (e.g., 20 mins or more), they might now be the best choice.

winterrider's picture

Thanks

Appreciate all the comments.

My mixed commute is 15 minutes on plowed paths and cycle tracks, so probably the small wheels would be ok. I was mostly wondering if the winter conditions would kill the folding mechanism somehow.

I've already got my long distance winter commuter ready to go, so this would be one more bike to store somewhere when it's not in the car.

At least if it folds up, it should be easier to find space for it in the garage, right? :D




DarrenB's picture

Yeah, for a mixed commute,

Yeah, for a mixed commute, especially on cleared pathways, you will find a folder to be handy.

And no, you shouldn't have to worry about the folding mechanisms in the winter - they are pretty robust, at least on the two folders that I have (a Dahon and a Montague).

Regarding your idea about finding space in the garage, there may be a flaw in your logic - the biggest "space killer" is the the N+1 solution to the ideal number of bicycles.... just saying!

Wink