Gallery: A CA Winter Commuter

This is my modified Surly Long Haul Trucker dressed for winter commuting in Northern California.

  1. Headlights (Busch & Müller Ixon, Fenix L2D) – The Ixon is aimed straight forward and serves as my “be seen” light, the L2D is aimed low and serves as my “to see” light.
  2. Tail Light (Planet Bike SuperFlash) – The best little LED tail light on Earth! I run a second on the back of my helmet.
  3. SKS Fenders – These are my favorite plastic fenders. Not as nice as Honjos, but functional and tough.
  4. Mud Flap – Take your pick: plastic, leather, or rubber – a must have for winter.
  5. Arkel Bug Pannier w/Rain Cover – Read my review here.
  6. Neoprene Saddle Cover – If you’re running a Brooks saddle, a must-have item.
  7. Nitto Chainguard – A nice accessory for utility cycling any time of the year.
  8. Japanese Brass Bell – Bells are the most under-rated bike accessory, particularly if you ride multi-use paths.
  9. Klean Kanteen – Don’t forget to hydrate in the winter too!
  10. Acorn Handlebar Bag – For carrying a spare tube, multi-tool, etc.

I’m always anxious to receive submissions for the EcoVelo Gallery, so consider taking a few photos of your winter bike and sending them to me for inclusion. Visit the Submission Guidelines page for more information.

17 Responses to “Gallery: A CA Winter Commuter”

  • Chester says:

    Sweet rig. Do disc chainguards cover up enough to keep your trousers out of the chain 100%? I never worry about that with my full chainguard, but it’s pretty ugly…

    Also…insofar as LED flashlights as bike lights go, I saw this crazy-bright light (900 lumens!) somewhere else:

    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.16091

    (First comment on that page mentions a part number for a handlebar mount.)

  • Croupier says:

    This is the first winter I’ll be riding with my Brooks B68. To be honest I hadn’t thought much about a saddle cover before now (the weather has been so dry thus far this fall). Is Neoprene the way to go, seems to make sense. Does it effect your comfort level at all? Does it move around much? If it did I can imagine that would bug the hell outta me.
    Also, “seat” cover? Why does it become a seat when you put a cover on it?

  • Alan says:

    @Croupier

    Neoprene works fine, though many people just carry a plastic shopping bag in their seat bag. Both feel a little strange at first, but you adapt pretty quickly.

    Yeah, “seat cover” for a “saddle”. Perhaps I’ll edit the copy.. :-)

  • Croupier says:

    Just bustin’ your chops :-}

  • Alan says:

    Hey, ya gotta’ keep me honest… :-)

  • Adrienne says:

    In looking at your bike, it strikes me that the infrastructure conversation has overlooked something- American’s carry their infrastructure with them. We carry street lights, we use extra sturdy tires and suspension to smooth the road, we carry our secure parking, we waterproof everything so we aren’t wet at work… In my case, I even carry the café in the form of my Soma bikes ‘Morning Rush’ coffee mug and holder. Kind of puts a new spin on things for me.

  • Deb says:

    I have been trying the Fenix L2D the past two mornings, and I am thinking they don’t handle the cold. I need to test them with different batteries to make sure it isn’t just a fluke, but twice now it has been fine when I first start out, and dies somewhere along the way. No light emitting, but within 10 minutes of getting to work, where I’m lucky enough to be able to stash my bike indoors, the light comes on again. Temp seems like the most reasonable cause!

    My commute has been in the low 30’s, high 20’s the past two mornings. It is about an hour and fifteen minutes.

    Has anyone else tried this light in the cold and seen something similar?

  • Alan says:

    @Deb

    Hi Deb,

    That sounds like a battery issue. What kind of batteries are you using?

    Alan

  • LJ says:

    I doubt this applies to your headlight, but I had a cold-weather issue with my PB Superflash Stealth. In close to and below freezing temps, the light would click on and off at sharp bumps, like railroad tracks. The bottom of the case covers the actual switch and it must have been getting very brittle when cold. I cut the case away with a pair of wire cutters, which means I better not immerse it in water, but otherwise it solved the problem.

  • brad says:

    Vélo Québec has some good advice on winter cycling in severe climates like ours (in French, but I’ve summarized below in English):

    http://www.velo.qc.ca/fr/reseau.php?page=velo-hiver

    The key points they make are:

    1. Keep it simple: It’s best to use a “beater bike,” one that’s worth less than $500, because it’s likely to get corroded by salt. A bike with fewer than 8 speeds is preferable, and better yet is one with an internal hub rather than a derailleur. Fat tires, and studded tires especially are recommended. Straight handlebars are preferable to drops, and fenders and lights are of course recommended.

    2. You can leave your bike inside or out, whatever works best for you and your space available for storing a wet, muddy, icy bike. As the temperature drops, the most vulnerable points tend to be the keyholes of bike locks, the brakes, and the deraillieurs. Be sure to use lubricants that are resistant to cold, and use car-lock de-icers for bike locks if they get frozen.

    3. Dress in layers.

    4. Be as visible as possible, since motorists are less used to seeing cyclists on the street in winter and thus may be less vigilant. Just as with a car, ride more slowly and give yourself more time to stop.

  • Deb says:

    Alan, they are no-name-brand non-rechargeable batteries that came with something or other at some point. They had never been used, but I don’t know how long they might have been sitting around. I have some rechargeable batteries I can try tomorrow morning.

    Is there much of a difference between various rechargeable batteries? I’m going to need more soon, as I seem to keep adding to my lights!

  • jamesmallon says:

    How can you use the word once, much less five times, in a post about riding in California!? It ain’t winter unless snow stays on the ground for weeks at a time, and you’ve already had frost by now.

    When you ride below zero (Celsius) plastic snaps, so get rid of plastic bottle cages and the like. Also find a thermos that fits a bottle cage, so you don’t freeze your teeth. This is working for me: http://www.thermos.com/Product_detail.aspx?CatCode=THER&SubcategoryID=1&ViewAll=true&ProductID=282

  • roy says:

    Nice rig. But, what is the rider wearing?

    roy

  • Alan says:

    @Roy

    It’s California – khaki shorts and an Hawaiian shirt of course! ;-)

    Seriously, layers from the inside out: wicking base, fleece insulation, and breathable shell. I vary the weight and number of layers depending upon the temperature.

  • Alan says:

    @jamesmallon

    As they say, it’s winter somewhere… LOL.

  • Alan says:

    @Deb

    I’m no expert on batteries, but from what I’ve read there seems to be a difference in quality from one brand to another. Personally, I’ve had good luck with MAHA Powerex 2700 mAh AA rechargeables from Thomas Distributing:

    http://tinyurl.com/6o6mb6

    Alan

  • Adrienne says:

    This is a little slow in coming, but I thought I would share this picture with you :)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/33353980@N07/3256720272/in/photostream/

 
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