Winter Riding Preparations

My road bike is great in the summer and fall but when winter comes I usually quit riding for a few months. A little south of Denver we get enough snow and ice to make riding on slick road tires treacherous. My commute is 13 miles each way on a concrete path called the Cherry Creek Trail. I’m not sure but I believe it will be plowed and I’m looking forward to getting out there in the ice and snow, with the right gear.

The first step was I had to get a bike that will hold wider tires than road racing slicks. I spent a few weeks shopping around on Craigslist, and toyed with the idea of getting a frame and building what I needed. Ultimately, I ended up buying a cyclocross racing bike, a really cool machine.

My Winter Bike

Frame

Lapierre X-Lite Racing Frame – made of Scandium, this thing is super light and stiff. I’ve only had aluminum and steel frames and this is definitely the lightest frame I’ve had.

Lapierre X-Lite Cross Racing Bike

scandium tubes

Xlite model

frame material is scandium

Lapierre logo

Components

Shimano Dura Ace 10 speed grouppo with Ultegra front derailleur and crankest. I’ve had Shimano 105 on a couple bikes, and always wondered how it would be riding Dura Ace. Two words … A – Mazing. Shifting is super tight and precise, and this is by far the quietest component set I’ve had. The shifters are the older version with aero brake cables and shifter cables that come out of the hoods. I’ve heard that before shifter cables went aero shifting was better and more precise. Maybe that’s why I think shifting is so amazing. Let’s face it, this is way more grouppo than I need or deserve but it’s fun riding it.

crankset

rear wheel

Dura Ace rear dérailleur

Ultegra front dérailleur

Ultegra crankset

Dura-Ace brake lever shifters

Wheels

Stans Notubes Alpha 340 ZTR rims, Shimano Ultegra hubs and cassette, and cross tires 700×35. They were setup as notubes which I’ve always associated more with racing, but I decided to give it a go. I love these wheels, super light, and very comfortable ride. These tires have to go, though, since they aren’t studded and I don’t want to spend half the winter lying next to my bike on the ice.

Ultegra hubs

Stan's ZTR Alpha 340 rims

Brakes

These are Avid Shorty Ultimate cantilever brakes. They get rave reviews and they seem very firm and smooth, as well as quiet. I’m happy with them.

cross wheels

Avid Shorty Ultimate cantilever brakes

Other Components

The other components are all high end quality components.

front end of bike

WCS headset

Specialized stem

Specialized saddle

IMG_0471

Overall

Overall I’m super happy with this bike, it’s fast, light, comfortable (the wider tires are really comfortable when I’m used to riding 120psi road wheels), and overall, just unbelievable.

Tire Research

There are some great options out there for winter riding, I’m only considering studded. Peter White Cycles certainly has a great writeup of mostly Nokians with a couple Schwalbe thrown in there. I think Nokians have been considered the gold standard for studded tires for years, and Schwalbe is starting to make a strong push for market leadership. More to come on my tire research in another article.

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