Nov 032011
Authors: Jordan Kurtz

In the last two weeks, Fort Collins received its first two snowstorms of the school year.

The slick terrain of a winter storm-ridden landscape can be a challenge to navigate –– unless you have the right tires, the right maintenance, the right clothing and also the right form.

“Try to pedal smoothly and relax your upper body, especially on ice and soft snow,” said Fort Collins Bike Coordinator Dave “DK” Kemp.

Kemp added that when the bike begins to slide, make small corrections and try to remain in a straight line.

Road ice comes in various forms, and it is important to learn how the different types look and sound.

“Try not to brake hard on the slippery sort, or if you must, use only your rear brake,” Kemp said. “Watch for dry patches where you can do your braking or turning.”

But some students don’t even bother biking in colder winter conditions.

“It’s too cold,” junior communications major Kaite Geohring said. “Drivers scare the crap out of me. They don’t pay attention, or give us courtesy.”

But diehard cyclists like Kemp believe in year-round biking.

“There is no bad weather, only bad gear,” Kemp said.

Choosing the proper attire could be the difference between a warm, dry and comfortable ride and a wet and miserable one, he said.

“Wear enough to stay warm but not sweat,” Kemp said. “If you sweat you will get cold fast. It is better to start a little cold and get warm and comfortable as you ride.”

Start off by wearing a base layer made out of synthetics or wool, no cotton. Cotton will feel wetter and colder, according to Kemp.

For a mid-layer, it is suggested to wear multiple light layers with zippers that allow ventilation. The outermost layer of clothing should be a wind/water shell that will keep the body dry and protected from the elements. Kemp said to always wear a helmet, even if it is over a warm hat. Gloves, neck warmers and scarves were some other suggested layers to add to a rider’s warmth and comfort.

However, it’s not only about what you wear on your body, what you wear on your rims is also important.

“You need a knotty tire with an aggressive tread,” said Bike Specialist Matt Kronwall of Road 34. The meat of the tread will help grip the ground a lot more efficiently Kronwall said. The most cost efficient options of this product are in the $30 to $40 range.

For those who are willing to open up their pocket book a little more, there is the option of studded tires. Studded tires have metal spikes that protrude from the knobs, making them the ultimate choice for cyclists that have to trek through the snow and ice. On average, studded tires are $40 to $60.

Along with the proper tire selection, some other maintenance can be done to help keep the bike in good working condition.

“Keep the drivetrain lubed well and keep it dry and clean,” said Brent Straw a bike specialist from Lee’s Cyclery.

The most common bike lube is a liquid compound that comes as a drip or spray application method. Lee’s Cyclery recommends using a product that is made for bikes because the typical all-around lubes sold at hardware stores are often too thick or too thin to lubricate your bike properly.

The most important parts of the bike that need to be lubed are the crank and chain components, cables, brakes and the suspension fork (if applicable). Make sure that any excess oil is wiped away.

Under no circumstances should any of the bike lube touch the brake pads or rims.

“Fenders will keep the moisture where it should be,” Kronwall said. “Try to keep it as dry as possible and keep it out of the weather.”

Collegian writer Jordan Kurtz can be reached at

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