PDA

View Full Version : Cold Weather, Cargo, & Helmet


firemaplegirl
12-27-2006, 05:21 AM
After much deliberation, I decided to buy a new-to-me bike instead of fixing up an old bike for the time being. It's a beautiful Electra Betty.
http://www.electrabike.com/04/images/05bikes/large/str/05_str_14.jpg
I realize that this probably isn't many people's ideal commuting bike, but I thought the Electra cruisers were quite comfortable and found a used 3 speed at a decent price. Plus, it's so dang cute it makes me want to ride.

However I took it for a spin the other day and realized two things: 1) My legs aren't used to being on a bike and 2) Cold air + my asthmatic lungs = not breathing. The second one is particularly troublesome. I experience the same thing walking/standing outside this time of year, but it's not nearly as extreme. I usually just place a hand in front of my mouth and nose to warm up the air. This however is not practical or safe while on a bike. Does anyone else experience this? Any creative solutions?

I also need to acquire a new helmet and some method of hauling around my schoolbooks. My short list of helmets include the Bell Metro, Citi and Vela. I like that the Metro comes in different sizes. It had the best fit of any helmet I've tried on to date. The Citi has really good safety ratings. The Vela has an attractive price, and is the best fit I found in the lower end price range. If you were a college student with a limited budget, what would you purchase? Are there other helmets I should consider?

As far as the books are concerned I'm not sure if I should go with a rear rack or a front basket. Either way I'd like to place books into my backpack and then attach the backpack to the bike. My backpack can easily weigh as much as 30#. I'm afraid of what carrying the load in front will do to handling. But as I mentioned earlier, part of the reason I purchased this bike was it luscious looks, so I don't want to slap a ugly black utility rack to the back. No, this baby needs chrome. So if a back rack is really the way to go, does anyone have a suggestion for an inexpensive, sturdy chrome rack?

Val
12-27-2006, 09:43 AM
firemaplegirl: Great choice! As you say, this is not everyone's first pick for a commuter bike, but everyone is not riding it. If it makes you want to ride, that's the one.
A few thoughts, and bits of advice: first, if you find that the gearing is not enough to get you up your steepest hill, it should be possible to put a larger cog on the rear hub. It may be hard to find, but SRAM makes a 24t cog that will lower the ratio substantially. See if you need it first, though.
For carrying 30# of books, definitely a rear rack. Electra offers one that is styled to go with their cruisers, and should be strong enough. I know that it used to come in chrome; hopefully it still does. Check with your local Electra dealer. It is not readily compatible with panniers, but you should be able to strap a backpack onto the top with a bit of imagination. That said, a front basket can be a wonderful thing, too. It is marvellously convenient for incidental stuff and small errand swag; just try to keep the weight under 10# or so (you'll know when it is too heavy).
Have fun, and keep it rubber down!

lynnef
12-27-2006, 01:06 PM
Cool new bike!

You could try breathing in through your nose, out through your mouth. Easier said than done when you are working hard, though :)

Another option is to get a very lightweight balaclava, to wear under your helmet and over your mouth - it will warm the air slightly for you, and keep your head warm. I've found that wool works better than synthetics in terms of warmth/breathability of the fabric.

Any helmet will work, so get one that fits your head comfortably! The Bell Metro does have that nifty strap on the back for attaching a blinkie.

If you go for a basket, you might want to get a basket net so nothing bounces out.

firemaplegirl
12-27-2006, 10:47 PM
Another option is to get a very lightweight balaclava, to wear under your helmet and over your mouth - it will warm the air slightly for you, and keep your head warm. I've found that wool works better than synthetics in terms of warmth/breathability of the fabric.
Forgive my ignorance, are those the caps that look sorta like lightweight full face ski masks? Unfortunately I have a wool allergy, so I'll have to choose an alternate material. What's the next best option?


A few thoughts, and bits of advice: first, if you find that the gearing is not enough to get you up your steepest hill, it should be possible to put a larger cog on the rear hub. It may be hard to find, but SRAM makes a 24t cog that will lower the ratio substantially. See if you need it first, though.

I've been toying with this idea. So far I've used 1st/2nd extensively and rarely used 3rd. I've only done a few shorter runs so I'll wait a couple of weeks to get a better feel for it. Can you point me in the right direction to find more information about this?

NEPcyclistic
12-28-2006, 01:16 AM
Nice bike. I hope you keep cycling...

Val
12-28-2006, 09:22 AM
firemaplegirl: Your best strategy will be to find a local shop that deals with internally geared hubs on a regular basis. They are becoming much more common, so this should not be as hard as it once was. If they are truly well versed in hubs like this (3, 5, and 7 speed), they may have a selection of cogs on hand. The lowest gearing you will be able to achieve by switching the cog will be with the 24t that I mentioned above. If none of your local shops have these, they should be able to order them directly from SRAM, or they may be able to get them by special ordering through one of their regular distributors, such as Seattle Bike Supply. If all else fails, the last resort (in contrast to the preferred method of suporting your local shop) would be to order it online from Harris Cyclery ( www.harriscyclery.com ). That should be enough, but if you like to Zoobomb in reverse, you can also change the chainring. An extreme measure, and it would change the look of the bike, too, so it's probably best to try the rear cog first. Have fun!

lynnef
12-28-2006, 09:37 AM
go here: http://www.teamestrogen.com and search on balaclava. They've got 6 of them, none wool...

knary
12-28-2006, 11:43 AM
I have mild asthma. The ONLY solution that allows me to ride in cold weather is the usual list of prescriptions. :(

jwdoom
12-30-2006, 12:47 PM
Hmm, I thought I posted on this thread, but I don't see it now.

I got myself a hood (think ninja) for winter riding and it was a HORRIBLE purchase. It doesn't fit under my helmet well and when I exhale the air goes up and fogs my cycling glasses completely. When I bought it I tried on a balaclava and decided against it because all the ones they had gave me a choice of having my nose squished or leaving it hanging out.

I'm thinking of getting one of those ski face masks now. They generally have a semi-rigid triangular vent for the nose and good sized perforations over the mouth.

I can recommend the cycling glasses, with interchangeable lenses. Good for keeping wind, rain and super duper cold air out of your eyeballs. And as far as helmets, get yourself a helmet cover. Mine's just nylon but when I'm riding I don't need anything else on my head to keep it warm.

As far as luggage, I have to haul a lot of stuff for school myself and I just use my backpack. But I shelled out for a really good daypack with an internal frame and facilities for a camelback and whatnot. If you get yourself a rear cargo rack and some panniers, you should be set. I've never seen one in chrome, though. Or you could get some rear baskets, I have seen those in chrome.

2wheels
12-31-2006, 06:19 PM
I use a scarf - fleece, wool, or any scarf that is washable is nice, as they can get a little stinky/sweaty - fleece or wool are best in wet conditions, of course. I just wind it around my face & cover up my nose. I find after the first 10-15 minutes of biking that I usually adjust to the cold air & warm up enough that I end up popping the scarf in my bike bag at a stoplight. I also have a fleece tube thing someone gave me that works well as a biking scarf / face warmer with no loose ends. Check out stores like Next Adventure on Grand Ave - I picked up a fleece ear warmer thing there for $1 once. You could also buy some cheap fleece material at a store & make your own neck tube thing.

patrick_barber
01-01-2007, 05:28 PM
I have a 'neck tube thing' as described above by 2wheels. Mine was left in my house by a former roommate (gotta love that) but you can get them at any outdoor equipment store. Just get fleece instead of wool. I was out riding the last couple of days in rather cold air and it was very nice to have a cover over my mouth to keep the air warm and my chin from freezing! Of course, since it's basically a free-floating turtleneck, it does not interfere with helmets at all.

The technical term for these things is "neck gaiter", and the brand of mine is "turtle fur."

Enjoy the winter on your bike!

best

Patrick

donnambr
01-02-2007, 08:37 PM
If you can knit (http://www.planetshoup.com/easy/knit/scarfmb.shtml) or crochet (http://home.att.net/~susanBinKC/patterns/mobius.html), a moebius scarf is very nice for biking in cold weather.

beth h
01-09-2007, 10:46 PM
CUTE bike! Enjoy!
The Vela is a great helmet for the money and if you're on a budget you can't go wrong there. If you're on a super-tight budget, also consider the Pryme skate-style helmet, which looks, well, a little clunkier, but fits most heads and retails for around 20 bucks. Happy riding!

thinpaperwings
01-10-2007, 07:13 AM
I also use a balaclava (Thermax HeadLiner at REI for $16), and it makes such a difference. Generally I take a puff on my inhaler and then don the balaclava before taking off in the morning, but when I forget to use my inhaler, it is still doable because of the mask. The one I got doesn't fog up my glasses, which is one of the reasons I like it so much.

jwdoom
01-10-2007, 07:59 AM
CUTE bike! Enjoy!
The Vela is a great helmet for the money and if you're on a budget you can't go wrong there. If you're on a super-tight budget, also consider the Pryme skate-style helmet, which looks, well, a little clunkier, but fits most heads and retails for around 20 bucks. Happy riding!

Aren't the skater type helmets super hot?