Tag Archives: winter riding

Now that I have had over a month of cold weather under my belt, I feel comfortable talking about the Sealskinz Winter Halo Glove.

A mid-term review of this amazing Sealskinz Halo Winter Glove

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking

Now that I have had over a month of cold weather under my belt, I feel comfortable talking about the Sealskinz Halo Winter Glove. The onset of Minnesota’s winter is probably colder than most peoples harsh winter months, so I feel that this mid-term review is probably a great indicator for 90 percent of America ’s riding needs.

The pros of the Sealskinz winter glove so far

I think we all agree, the major selling feature for any winter glove is warmth and this glove has that in spades. I have ridden well into the mid-teens and never once wanted for more insulation. Considering these gloves are a full five finger glove and lightweight, the fact that they are warm is unparalleled. Overall the gloves breath well, fit well and have a great amount of flexibility. I like the large Velcro flap that acts as the wrist closure and the palm material’s tacky grip on the bar.

The cons to date

The lighting system is one of the selling features for these gloves, but sadly it didn’t perform as stated. While the lights are bright their position on the glove doesn’t lend to amazing visibility. However, they do offer a really cool look when signaling your turns. Sadly, for me, one of the blinkers didn’t start well and didn’t last long. The bracket that holds the battery was loose from the factory and led to intermittent function. I was able to readjust the bracket (read bent) and the light functioned well. Unfortunately, maybe due to my work the wires broke free from the switch.

sealskinz

The wiring broke free on my Halo light (red circle). Luckily the part is replaceable

More Sealskinz  info coming

With the lighting system aside, these gloves have been amazing. Considering that the Sealskinz Glove is known for warmth and not electronics, this makes sense. I’m planning on riding these gloves right up until they can’t insulate anymore. So far they have done a better job than any of the dozen or so gloves I have sitting at home. I also hope to see how long the palm material stays grippy. That palm is starting to show some signs of wear, but overall, they are well intact.

sealskinz

Light wear on the Halo’s palm

My transition into winter has been cushioned by fine products from Sealskinz, most notably the Halo Overshoe. Read on to learn about my first impression

First Impressions of Sealskinz’ Super-visible Halo Overshoe

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

The pond in my back yard is frozen, all the leaves have fallen off the trees and the snow blower is ready. These are all signs that Minnesota is firmly in the act of becoming the ice planet Hoth, as history suggests. Happily, my transition into winter has been cushioned. I have some fine products to test, most notably the Halo Glove and Halo Overshoe, from Sealskinz. While I have written about the Halo Glove, learn about my first impression of their Overshoe for winter biking.

Out of the box, the Halo Overshoe

Sealskinz has made every effort to keep their products as waterproof as possible, including the packaging. The Overshoes came to me on a cardboard backer and was held in place with paper bands. In short, the Halo’s Overshoe construction is as impressive as its packaging. All the seams are in the product are welded (so no stitching). Plus, tape is bonded to the backside of all the seams to ensure they stay waterproof. The closure uses a zipper with large teeth so they operate under pressure. Then at the top of the zipper a large rubberized Velcro strap keeps everything tight. Also, the toe and heel are reinforced with a Kevlar fabric for durability. Finally, the most unique feature of the Halo Overshoe is its LED light mounted in the heel for visibility up to 500m away.

Packaging for the Halo Overshoe is neat and ensures the bootie stays waterproof.

First fit impressions

Trying the overshoes, my first time was a bit of a challenge. They fit snug and I had issues getting them to zip up due to where my shoes buckle was located. However, I am happy to say that was a onetime experience. I am not sure if the overshoes stretched, or what since that first time? Now, the overshoes fit on with ease and the zipper hasn’t offered any resistance. The fit is great as they are snug without being too tight. Not like many overshoes for bikes that often suffer from the toes flipping up due to a bad fit. While the Halo Overshoe stays put perfectly.

Halo Overshoe

Waterproof material, high visibility LED, and bulletproof construction are hallmarks of the Halo Overshoe

Overshoe Warmth

So far, I have ridden with the Halo Overshoe in conditions ranging from 30’s and raining down to windy at 11 degrees. Through all that weather I can happily say the Halo Overshoe has kept my feet warm and toasty. Even with the large holes in the bottom of the overshoe for the heel lugs and cleat, all the other waterproofing features kept my feet dry.

Added Visibility

The great thing about the overshoes LEDs is that, while blinking they are also moving up and down as you pedal. This gives them a unique appearance that is virtually impossible for drivers to miss. On top of the LEDs active visibility the Halo’s also have reflective material applied on the side, cuff and along the zipper. The red LED lights are also easy to activated by pressing on them.

Continuing tests

As the weather continues to get colder, I plan to see just how low a temperature I can go with the Halo Overshoes. As I mentioned above, so far I have had good success down to 11 degrees with wool cycling socks, standard cycling shoes, and the Overshoe. Moving forward, I plan to use the Halo Overshoes in combination with Sealskinz Superlight sock to see if I can be comfortable into single digits, Stay tuned for more info.

With below normal temps snow is sticking throughout the upper half of Minnesota making it perfect for some fat bike fun as this biker chick demonstrates.

Bike Pic Nov 7, its fat bike fun in the upper half of Minnesota

With below normal temps snow is sticking throughout the upper half of Minnesota making it perfect for some fat bike fun as this biker chick demonstrates.

What better way to continue your fall fun and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for viewing our ‘Yeah Fat Bike Fun’ Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to 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 that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage 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, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, 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. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

A peaceful fall Saturday to get junior conditioned for the weather ahead.

Bike Pic Nov 4, a peaceful Saturday morning bike ride with junior

A peaceful Saturday morning bike ride and the perfect time to bundle junior up and get him conditioned for the cooler weather ahead.

What better way to continue your 2017 riding season fun and to plan your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of the HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Saturday Morning’ Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to 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 that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage 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, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, 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. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

Is mountain biking in the snow season really here in the upper Midwest?

Bike Pic Oct 28, mountain biking fun in the snow is here again!

Is mountain biking in the snow season really here to stay in the upper Midwest? With temps hovering in the low 30’s, including rain and snow over the next several day. it maybe time to get the fatty out and prepare for some winter riding fun.

What better way to continue your fall fun and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of our HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Mountain Biking’ Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to 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 that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage 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, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, 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. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

While we cant stop the cold from hitting soon, get out and discover how fun it is to fatbike.

Learning to fatbike for fitness and fun as winter soon returns

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

As the winter winds begin to shift and blow into our office, here in Minnesota, thoughts turn toward the snow covered trails. We are lucky here to enjoy a massive amount of trails that are designed for winter riding. But if you are like me and new to the whole fatbiking thing, how do you get into it and what should you expect?

The fatbike

Fatbikes are more like normal mountain bikes than you may think. As an example, the only parts unique to most fat tired bikes are the crank, tires and wheels. Other than those things, all the other parts are interchangeable with you normal mountain bike. That being said, the parts that make a fat tired bike different are responsible for their namesake. The large wheels and tires give these fatbikes their flotation on soft surfaces like snow and sand. There are now several brands available at most price points so getting into the sport has never been easier. Plus many bike shops offer rental programs.

Interbike E Bike

The Surface Boar is as versatile as it is cool fatbike

The fatbike ride

The best part about a fatbike is that it extends your season with an all new cycling experience. For the most part, when snow was falling, people were kept from riding. Now, with so many fat tired bike options, a thick layer of the white stuff simply means more riding for all! With 4”-5” wide tires and pressures as low as 4psi, a fatbike can easily navigate deep snow. The only issue you will run into is ice. An icy surface doesn’t really care how wide the tire is, it’s still slippery. Once a trail gets slick it’s best to either change your tires to studded versions, or install studs in your existing tires. With studs below you, the game is back on.

Studded (left) and standard (right) fatbike tires

The Gear

I find the hardest part of fatbiking is dressing properly. I am no stranger to winter riding, but most of that has been commuting. Once I got off road, I found that I was chronically overdressed. Off road riding is slower than commuting, so there is less wind chill to contend with. Additionally, I find it is a higher effort (more calories spent) to fatbike than to commute. When winter riding make sure your feet and hands are warm with good gloves and winter shoes. I also find you should wear warm cycling clothes that will wick the moisture away and resist the urge to wear too much clothing.

While I can’t stop the cold from hitting Minnesota, I can prepare for winter riding. Here are a few tips to help you get ready for the winter.

While we cant stop the cold from hitting soon, get out and discover how fun it is to fatbike.

Having Fun

The most fun part of riding a fatbike is experiencing an existing trail you may have used before, in a new way.  With a fresh coat of snow on the ground, features that may normally be difficult get smoothed out and sections that are typically easy, can become difficult. That change in perspective gives all new life to trails that may have become old and commonplace to you. So get out there and try fatbiking this winter.

While I can’t stop the cold from hitting Minnesota, I can prepare for winter riding. Here are a few tips to help you get ready for the winter.

Prepare for winter riding with these fun, easy cold weather tips

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

I can’t fight it any longer, my powers of denial are only so strong. Despite my best efforts a change is coming and there is nothing I can do to stop it. That’s right, winter is right around the corner. While I can’t stop the cold from hitting Minnesota, I can prepare for winter riding. Here are a few tips to prepare your bike and body for the change of season.

Is your bike set for winter riding?

Even though your bike will function perfectly in cool weather, there are things you should do to protect it and you from the elements.

Lubricants

Not too much care needs to be taken for the sealed parts of your bike, like the hubs, bottom bracket, or headset. Those places are well greased and sealed from the elements, so no need too change the type of grease. What you do need to be concerned with is the chain. It’s best to switch from dry or wax lubes to a synthetic oil (like Park’s CL-1) ifor winter riding.

Lubing your chain is easy with a wax based lube or synthetic oil.

Frame

For most of the United States winter roads mean salt. That salt can play havoc with your frame and components. The best way to protect your frame from salt is to install fenders. A plastic fender is impervious to salt damage and can stop slat from ever reaching your frame. Additionally, Fenders keep you dry when there is moisture on the road and clean from any debris your tires kick up.

Tires

Thanks to rain, snow, and less road maintenance there is an elevated amount of debris on the roads during the winter riding season. Coupled with lower temperatures that make tires stiffer, flats are more prevalent in the winter months. For these reasons, I encourage you to get some “winter tires”. By “Winter tires” I mean something that has a pronounced tread and a puncture resistant feature. With a little more tread, and protection against flats you can confidently ride through he winter months. If you live in an area that gets below freezing and stays there for several days, investing in studded tires is also a good plan. For Fatbikes or Mountain Bikes you can also invest in aftermarket studs that thread into your existing tire.

This tire has a reinforced layer (orange) that prevents most flats

Lights

Winter is as dark as it is cold. Therefore, having some additional visibility is important. If you are riding on well lit roads or paths, blinkers that make you more visible are perfect. In contrast, if your route is not well lit, I recommend getting a headlight that has at least 100 lumens. That light will allow you to see safely.

Your Body and winter riding

For you, dealing with winter riding is simply the basics of keeping you comfortable. As the winter rolls on, you will need to use different amounts of insulation to keep you warm. In early fall, knee warmers and a long sleeve jersey will offer ample warmth but as the temperature drops, knee warmers make way to tights and long sleeve jerseys are eclipsed by jackets. For a complete overview of temperature vs. clothing, check out our article on winter clothing.

prepare for winter riding

This “Rider” has his arm and knee warmers (blue) on

The ride

Riding in the winter is amazing if you are prepared. It’s incredible because there is a calm and quietness to winter that cannot be replicated during any other season. While it may sound difficult or unenjoyable to ride during the cold days of the winter, it is that fear others have that allows you to have most of the trails, all to yourself. Start slow and build up. As an example, try to ride until the temps reach 40 degrees. That temperature requires little additional clothing, and will keep most others off their bike. For the following season, try riding down to freezing and so on.

If all else fails

AAA Road Service now includes bicycles, it like have a SAG in your back pocket and a call away.

AAA Road Service now includes bikes. It’s like having a SAG in your back pocket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because winter riding puts you out into the elements, breaking down can be dangerous. Rather than getting yourself stuck in a bad situation, make sure to tell others where you will be and have a contact you can call for a ride home. If you don’t want to rely on a friend for a ride, you can always buy a AAA road service membership, with three-inexpensive options, that includes your bike. Its like having a SAG service in your back pocket, if you have a flat or break a chain, call and they will come a get you.

Make Winter Bike Commuting Fun

by Fred Oswald
Winter commuting offers challenges and rewards to those who use a bicycle for work or to just run errands and here are some suggestions for safe riding.

Winter ride -13a

With the proper layers of clothing staying active can be fun

 

 Layers

The cold weather requires keeping hands, feet and especially ears warm while not overheating elsewhere.  The solution is layers of clothing with ventilating zippers using wool and other synthetic clothes products and stay away from wearing anything cotton which will  trap perspiration and make you cold.

Winter ride -4

Making a stop along the Minneapolis Greenway

For top layers a breathable wind shell over a wicking fabric works well.  Lined nylon running pants with leg zippers can keep legs warm.  Elastic sewn on the right cuff helps keep it away from the chainring.  An ear band or balaclava under the helmet will keep your head warm. 

Below freezing, wear liner gloves and possibly mitts. in really cold weather, keeping feet warm may be difficult.  Neoprene shoe covers will help.  A cheaper alternative may be insulated hiking boots and one of the many varieties of pedals with little pegs for gripping, available at your favorite bike shop.

Fenders

To protect both yourself and the bike from salt splash thrown up from wet roads, get fenders. 

Winter ride -1

Extend your rear fender with a flattened milk jug

If fenders do not extend low enough, add homemade flaps made from a material such as from a plastic milk jug.

 

Handling Black Ice

A special winter hazard is black ice.  My worst fall was in a place where the road looked clear except the blacktop was just a little “too black”. Some cyclists ride with chains or studded tires and now with the availability of fat tire bikes riding on ice have become much more stable – Though others wait for dryer roads for safe riding. 

Winter ride -3

Handling Visibility

Another problem is visibility.  In the early morning or late afternoon you may be invisible to a motorist dazzled by low sun.  Be wary and wear clothing that makes you stand out from your surroundings.

Winter commuting usually means riding in the dark, at least one-way.  Don’t even think of riding at night without a headlight!  Bright clothing and reflectors are not enough.  Some people use a flashing strobe for a headlight.  This is a good supplement to a standard headlight but not enough alone.  Follow the standard “color code”:  white in front, red or orange in back. PennCycle_728x90a

A strobe (flashing light) on the back of the bike will help motorists notice you but is not so good at providing depth information to following drivers.  I supplement the small standard red rear reflector with both a 3″ amber SAE auto reflector that is 8-10 times brighter plus an LED strobe.  If you mount the reflector off to the side it is less likely to get caked with mud thrown up by the wheel.

IWinter bike -8f you are caught in the dark without lights, don’t try to sneak down the sidewalk.  Walk your bike home! Reflectors and reflectorized clothing alone are not enough.  To understand why, read John Schubert’s interesting explanation “Why reflectors sometimes don’t work,” at SheldonBrown.com

 

Bike Maintenance

Finally, the salt and wet grit are tough on bearings, chain and wheel rims (abrasive grit imbeds in the brake pads).  Better bikes have seals to protect wheel bearings (but re-grease in the spring).  You should lube your chain every week or so and learn how to measure the wear (sometimes incorrectly called “chain stretch”).  Once a chain wears so it is about one percent longer (1/8″ on a 1-foot ruler), it will be damaging your cassette cogs.  It should be replaced before then.

Winter ride -5

 

A serious bike commuter will want more than one bike to cover different situations.  You may find it useful to have:  a light road bike for fast riding in good conditions; a sturdy steed that can handle panniers to carry clothes, etc.; and a fat tire bike or a “clunker” with fenders and knobby tires for bad weather and winter.  Having more than one bike saves you from being late for work if you find a flat tire or other mechanical problem in the morning.

Winter ride -7There are many benefits to winter commuting to work or just to run errands.  One of the biggest is maintaining fitness year ’round.  You no longer have to “get in shape” in the spring.  You experience the delight of spinning past frost covered trees on a crisp winter morning.  And it is fun to tell your shivering co-workers and friends how hot you got on that bitter, cold day.

 

Fred Oswald, is a certified “League Cycling Instructor” and a professional engineer in Ohio.