Friday 10 October 2014

Project: SubZero Update 1

Project Status
A used Norco Scrambler, blue in colour, to be used as my new ice bike project, Project Subzero.
Project SubZero
Things have been moving along well with Project: SubZero.  I've had a chance to pick out a lot of things I'll need on sale.  I've also had some time to think about all the upgrades the bike needs.  With everything I have so far, I'm just a tire change away from riding on ice.

While most of the items in question are exclusively for Project: SubZero, a few of them are seasonal hand-me-downs from my road bike.

I made several attempts at cleaning up the original chain.  But it hadn't really been maintained well.  After repeated attempts, wiping the chain would still leave a stain of corrosion.  A quick trip to my LBS got me a shiny new stainless steel chain.  Since I won't be near salt too often (mostly off road) and I'm ridiculously compulsive when it comes to cleaning bicycle chains, I expect this new one to last the winter.

Ding Ding!
Ding Ding!
Since it is a requirement in Ontario, I added a generic bell.  Ding ding!

I have a loud horn on the Valence that I might move over, once the Valence is on the trainer.  I don't expect a lot of people to hear Ding Ding through closed car windows, snowmobile helmets or pedestrian winter head wear.

I wanted to get a wider rim as I had heard it can improve traction in winter conditions by allowing lower pressure.  That being said, I want to keep things on the cheap.  So unless I run into a really good deal, I'll just run the wheels I have.

I was looking at several fenders out there and the Dave's Shovel line from Portland Design Works really stand out.  They're made for fat bikes but I think they'd work out well on this bike; they're thin, easily removed and will fit whatever tire/rim combo I want.  That being said, getting said fenders is a pain.  They're pretty cheap at MEC but the front one is back ordered.  We'll see what I end up using

Pogies on the handlebars with a smartphone mount for a large smartphone.
Everything fits nicely.

They're actually scooter pogies, which cost a fraction of the price of bicycle pogies.
Access to brakes and shifters
Pogies are a great idea.  They're like big mitts for your handlebars.  The only problem with cycling pogies are the price.  So I went looking for a bargain, something that would at least keep wind and water off my hands.  I would still need gloves but lighter gloves would do.

Front view of Project SubZero with pogies on.
Where's the ice?  Lets go!
I ended up trying out a pair of Kwik Tech Scooter Mitts.  I don't expect these will keep my hands super warm.  But as long as they keep the wind and moisture off my hands they'll be fine.

Click here to see Kwik Tek Scooter Hand Mitts at
Click here to see Kwik Tek ScootR Hand Mitts at

Lights continue to evade me.  I know I want something bright enough that any potential car or snowmobile can clearly see me.  I will be moving all my current lights to Project: SubZero at the end of the road bike season.  I also ordered a neat rear light that's also supposed to mark the ground with red lasers.  It is a slow shipping process from overseas so I'm not sure when it'll arrive.  In the meantime I have my eyes peeled for good deals on lights, either really reduced sale price or used.

They're 361 carbine studs worth of butt kicking.
If you look very closely, you'll notice the pattern in the tires
clearly spells.... BADASS. :D
I was shopping around for a studded tire.  There are several on the market.  I was able to eliminate a lot of them (winter commuter tires) by focusing on tires with off-road capability.

Originally I wanted to pick up a pair of Schwalbe Ice Spiker tires.  They have 304 studs and have a nice knobby pattern to them.  But then I ran into a deal on some used Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pros (even lighter and have 361 studs).  I won't be putting them on until we're close to freezing rain weather.

Click here to see Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro HS 379 at

I am picking up a used phone mount for the bike.  I will run this until it dips below -5C, then the phone will just live in my coat.  The pictures so far have my current mount, but the used one I am getting looks similar.

A Wahoo RFLKT+ mounted to my stem.
My head unit.  I cannot say that without smirking.
I have a head unit /display that connects to my phone wirelessly and displays the stats (distance speed etc).  I had an extra mount for it, which will live on this bike.  It has a quick release mechanism so its easy for me to use the head unit on this bike and on the indoor trainer.

I've been thinking about a helmet based mount which would resolve the problem.  Alternatively I may just seasonally hand-me-down the handlebar mount from the Valence.

An old bicycle saddlebag that's seen better days.
My saddlebag is looking flabby.

I tossed on an old saddle bag that wasn't being used.  To be honest I'm not crazy about it but its cheaper than buying a new one.  I may have to ditch it depending on the fender I end up using.

I also have other options.  I have a couple of backpacks that would work out well.  There's also handlebar bag I'm using on my road bike that I will also transfer on (once the Valence gets parked on a trainer).

Blue bottle cages for my winter bicycle.
Rear holds rum, front holds cola.
Bottle Cages
Threw 2 on.  I wasn't sure at first if I would use bottles or my hydration pack.  They don't have to be exclusive though; your pack can carry water and the bottles can carry hot liquids in a thermos, like coffee or soup.

I notice on this frame I can't use big 24oz Polar bottles in both holders so I'll need to steal liberate my wife's smaller 20oz Polar bottle.

I have been asking around for a good winter lubricant.  Someone recommended Fluid Film to me.  It is winter rated, non toxic and not a solvent.  It displaces water very well and it is also a rust inhibitor.  So for the duration of the winter, this will be both my lubricant and my frame protector.

Click here to see Fluid Film at Canadian Tire
These strips are necessary in the province of Ontario to ride when it's dark.
In order to obey
Ontario HTA 62 (17)

Reflective Strips
Again, to keep things legal in Ontario.  In Ontario any night riding (or 30 mins before/after dusk/dawn) requires these sticky strips be adhered to your forks.  I think they will ugly up my bike.  But I'd rather be ugly than squished by a snowmobile or car.  And the strips cost much less than a ticket does.

Click here to see Cycle Stripes at MEC

An Arctic view with lots of ice that has been broken up and pointed upwards.
Great for ice biking and ice for rum and cokes!

Ice, Snow, Winter, Rain?!
So now I just need some weather that is conducive to winter riding.  Until then its road biking on the tolerable days and this bike out on cold muddy days.  But for the first time in many years, I'm looking forward to lots of adverse weather.  Years of clearing snow and driving a car on icy roads has made me hate winter.  I'm really hope this bike changes how I feel about snow and ice!


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  2. I'm enjoying your blog, having found the link on

    We're in a similar position is some respects. This is my first season of biking. I too started to ride for health reasons, primarily. I've dropped a lot of weight and came off my blood pressure meds, so it's working out well.
    The problem for me is that I've been through various ups and downs of weight loss and I always crash in the winter and go back to old habits. So this year I've been determined to keep riding! (I live in WI). I've been picking up items of winter clothing for the last couple months, and 2 weeks ago bought my first fat tire bike.
    So I'm looking forward to seeing how the bike handles the snow and how my cold-weather gear works out.
    Though I can't say that I'm any more enthusiastic about the prospect of winter this year than I have been in any previous. We'll see.

    I've also found it helps to document my progress so like you I started my own little space on the Interwebs
    My space is a lot less civilized than yours is - my Britishness isn't always understood over here, lol.
    Anyway, great job with your blog, your good information and the impact it's all having on your health.
    Enjoy the snow!

    1. Hi Carl,

      I know how you feel, winter always seems to provide bad habits. I think it's specifically why I wanted to do several different things. One of them has got to stick!

      I had a look around your blog, looks great! I will stay tuned to see how your winter fat biking turns out. If things work out with my "icebike" I wanted to get a fat bike next.

      Stay healthy, take care and I wish you lots of awesome winter cycling! :D