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Today’s Monday morning sun bike pic is a bold north biker dude commuting to work on his fatty in Minneapolis, MN. Enjoy the warmer weather!
So adjust to the warmer temps and get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends, and check out more stories at Let’s Do MN.
Thanks for viewing today’s ice cream smiles Sunday bike pic
Now rolling through our 20th year as a bike tourism media, enjoy! As we pedal forward, we aim to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places you can ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.
Do you have a fun bicycle-related photo of yourself or someone you may know we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to [email protected]. Please Include a brief caption for the image, who shot it, and where. Photo(s) sent to us should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide to be considered. You will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram if we use your photo.
As we continue encouraging more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure. Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile-friendly in our 15th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.
Bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. With one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun, we may be around the corner. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.
Cold, snow, sleet, and ice are normal conditions for my winter bike commute to work here in Minnesota. With the elements being so unfriendly, I am excited to try commuting with a pair of gaiters for added warmth. With that direction in mind, I was excited to try the Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiters. For those who aren’t familiar with a pair of gaiters, they cover your shin and calf, below the knee, and above the ankle. Splash-proof protection works in combination with your winter boots to extend your leg. They are designed to keep snow, slush, and debris off your legs and dripping into your boot.
I am wearing the Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter for the first time.
A gaiters construction
The Armadillo LT gaiter’s upper is constructed out of Flexia, a three-layer material designed to stretch, be waterproof, conform to your leg and stay in place. The lower section is made of dense nylon, which is extremely tough. The zippers are waterproof, and the straps and clips seem to be more than tough enough for their job. Even though these gaiters exude durability, they are remarkably lightweight.
High-quality buckles, zippers, and straps are standard.
A full-length zipper makes for an easy fit.
I have to admit that I have never tried riding with a gaiter. Whereas my point of reference is small, I spend a lot of time on my bike in the cold. For the frigid weather, my riding boot of choice is the 45NRTH Wölvhammer, built with gaiters in mind. The Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiter paired with them easily. Thanks to the full-length zipper, I got my riding gear and boots on, then fashioned the gaiter into place with relative ease. That ease comes from the stretch that the upper material offers and the easily adjustable lower Velcro strap and upper buckle strap.
Warmth on the bike
The addition of a waterproof layer was immediately apparent when I left my house. We had gotten a fresh coating of wet snow overnight, and the salt trucks were out in force. Thanks to the slush created, my legs were immediately doused in slop but stayed dry and warm. This is a far cry from a week prior when I rode home without the benefit of gaiters. This time, I buzzed along my usual route to work and noticed that my legs were warmer than normal. Also, when looking down at my legs (not something I recommend), I saw all the sludge my tires were kicking up and bouncing off the gaiters. When I reached the office, my legs were dry and comfortable, and the gaiter was still doing a good job repelling moisture.
Snow and slush are no match for the Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter.
With my first foray into gaiters, I want to see where they are best used. I know that hikers and snowshoeing fans love them for their warmth and protection; now, after trying them, I am fascinated to see how they will help from a cycling perspective. Right now, I will reach for them whenever the weather is cold and wet. While I am sold on their benefit for wet conditions, I look forward to blocking the wind chill when temps get colder. Stay tuned for more information on my adventures with the Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiter.
About John Brown, the author
John operates Browns Bicycle in Richfield, MN as a lifelong cyclist and consummate tinkerer. It all started for him in grade school when the bike bug bit, and that fever is still there. Now, and over the past thirty years, he has worked at every level in the bike industry. Starting, like most, sweeping floors and learning anything he could about bikes. He eventually graduated as a service manager and then to a store manager. Through the years, he has spent extensive time designing and sourcing bicycles and parts for some of the largest bike companies in the world. All the while focusing on helping as many people as possible enjoy the love of riding a bike. In that pursuit, he has taught classes (both scheduled and impromptu) on all things bikes. John also believes in helping every rider attain their optimal fit on the bike of their dreams. Please feel free to stop in any time and talk about bikes, fit, and parts or share your latest ride. You can also see John’s tricks and tips on the Brown Bicycle Facebook Page.
Winter’s icy grip can be an unforgivable time for bicyclists riding without studded tires. We enjoy the solitude of winter riding and the added fitness it offers, but as rain or snow turns to ice real dangers abound. To combat those slippery hazards the best tool is a studded tire. Basically, studded tires are a deep lugged tire that can accept steel studs. Some come with the studs installed while others are stud compatible.
On-road studded tires for your bike
In my experience the best use for studs is on commuter tires. Commuting typically takes me through roads, sidewalks, bike paths, and bike lanes. These changing surfaces are never uniform in snow removal and always prone to ice. For that reason, I love to use studded tires on my commuter bike. They offer a level of consistency that I can’t get with normal, all-rubber tires. Additionally, the deep tread on these tires has the side benefit of puncture protection.
Schwalbe’s commuter studded tire.
Off-road studded tires
Here in Minnesota we periodically run into conditions that require studs off road, but usually winter trails here are white and soft. By contrast, the winter trails in Philadelphia were covered in ice all winter thanks to the normal freeze/thaw cycles. If your trails are particularly icy, off-road studs are a great solution for you. Studded tires are available for all types of mountain bikes with 26″, 27.5″, and 29″ versions from 2″-5″ in width. Also, there are mountain bike tires that are “stud compatible”. These “stud compatible” tires have pockets built into the tread designed to accept aftermarket studs.
MTB studded tire from Schwalbe (left) and stud detail of 45nrth tire (right)
Adding studs to your bikes tire
Beyond buying pre-studded tires, you can buy studs that install on existing tires. The easiest solution is to buy “stud compatible” tires, and install the studs when needed. The other option is to buy aftermarket studs like the Gripstud and thread them into a standard tire. Installing this type of stud is a relatively easy process. What is difficult is choosing the right tire. To install studs you need to be sure that the tire you plan to use has lugs large enough to support the stud.
Gripstud system explained.
Aftermarket studs from 45nrth and Schwallbe
Riding with studs
If you take the leap and go with studded tires, realize that they will be noisy on the road and heavy off road. While that doesn’t sound like a rousing endorsement, the pros do outweigh those few cons. The pros include added traction on icy road surfaces, as well as consistent traction off-road as trails go from snow to ice and back again. Winter is a great time to ride and studs help you enjoy it.