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Gravel or fat bike for winter commute?
#1
Looking to commute this winter. There will be a lot of snow and a lot of wind.

Tought about the fat bike for the snow but the idea of a gravel bike for the wind does not seem bad since the handle bar is the same as a road bike.

With a gravel bike i would put bigger tires but with a fat bike could i put the same handle bar as a road bike?

I'm looking for something cheap since the mix of snow and salt will probably destroy it.

Let me know what you ride in the winter!
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#2
(06-20-2020, 09:38 AM)Renomachine Wrote:  Looking to commute this winter. There will be a lot of snow and a lot of wind.

I'm looking for something cheap since the mix of snow and salt will probably destroy it.

Let me know what you ride in the winter!

Welcome Renomachine!

I may not be much help here since I have ridden a road bike many times in the winter (New England area); of course on plowed roads, but still dealing with snow and ice. That was on 28mm tires. I'm not sure what you mean when referencing the handle bar. I only consider something a road bike if it has a drop bar or bullhorn/aero bars, which are going to help with the wind if you have them set up properly. As far I know, gravel and cross bikes pretty much use a fairly straight bar or something similar and do not give you as aerodynamic a profile as would get on a true road bike set up. If you expect to go through some "heavier snow" conditions then a gravel or cross bike might be the best choice (you can always convert to a drop bar when and if needed; summertime). Plus those bikes would give you a decent choice of tire width and again you could convert the bike to a road set up for better conditions with narrower tires during those times. If you already have a standard road bike then I would keep it set up for that general use, and get the alternate bike specifically for your winter use. If you are planning on riding fairly long distances in the wintertime I would not suggest the fat tire unless you want to get a really good workout at substantially slower speeds. I'm not a big fan of the fat tire bikes (they do have their place though) since a decent gravel/cross/mountain bike will generally suffice and give you more versatility on and off of the road. Even my "cross" bike is a road bike (older with downtube friction shifters and drop bar), but with the widest tires I could fit (30mm, even then too narrow). I think something with minimum size 35mm tires (yet still allowing for wider tires) would be appropriate for most winter road conditions unless you are riding trails which aren't maintained for winter use. I use an 80s rigid frame mountain bike for general use if doing a combination of road, but mostly dirt/single track trail riding with tires somewhat less aggressively designed for off-road, allowing me a better ride/speed on regular pavement and hard packed trails. I would have no idea what brand to suggest, but there is always something on Craigslist at a reasonable price ($150-$250) which should hold up to the abuse given proper care/maintenance without spending an arm and a leg ($500+). Look for something with decent components that has not been abused already; especially get something with decent tires already on it, since they will be a fairly big expense if you need to replace them upon purchasing ($75+) and want something of reasonable quality/performance.

Take care,
Jesper
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#3
A gravel bike has a drop bar. They are closely related to cyclocross bikes, but in general accept wider tyres.

What people seem to do is put a wide tyre on a 27.5 wheel. With disc brakes the change in rim diameter does not matter and the circumference of the wide 27.5 tyre is in fact similar to a narrow-ish 700c (also known as 29er by marketing). Not sure if that's wide enough for your use, but it is probably what I would do. Find a frame with good clearance!

I commuted on 35mm Schwalbe winter tyres in Western Norway. Main problem was ice, not snow. Roads were ploughed, mostly, but often not down to the asphalt - so a compact snow surface, not deep snow.

I did commute a few winters on a 30mm cx-pro (rear) and ice spiker 35mm (front) on an old French road bike when at university. Worked, but deep(ish) snow gives you quite a workout...
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#4
I have a Townie 8D which is good for pavement but now wish to ride rail trails. This bike has a 26" wheel with a 2.35" tire width. I took it on a rail trail last week and it slipped each time I had a larger than normal rock and would spin out when trying very slight inclines. Is it possible to put wider tires on this bike? Some sort of shock absorption would be nice as well, even if it is only a seat post. If not, I need to buy another bike. I am looking at a RadRover setp-through or a QuietKat villager.
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#5
(06-25-2020, 11:20 AM)Joe_W Wrote:  A gravel bike has a drop bar. They are closely related to cyclocross bikes, but in general accept wider tyres.

What people seem to do is put a wide tyre on a 27.5 wheel. With disc brakes the change in rim diameter does not matter and the circumference of the wide 27.5 tyre is in fact similar to a narrow-ish 700c (also known as 29er by marketing). Not sure if that's wide enough for your use, but it is probably what I would do. Find a frame with good clearance!

I commuted on 35mm Schwalbe winter tyres in Western Norway. Main problem was ice, not snow. Roads were ploughed, mostly, but often not down to the asphalt - so a compact snow surface, not deep snow.

I did commute a few winters on a 30mm cx-pro (rear) and ice spiker 35mm (front) on an old French road bike when at university. Worked, but deep(ish) snow gives you quite a workout...

Sorry I had not read your comments earlier when first posted. I went on a mixed terrain ride and most everyone had these bikes (except myself and a couple other "roadies", and mtb'ers) that they were calling "gravel" bikes, but no drop bars. I assumed (obviously wrong) that those bikes were of normal configuration to be used on rougher terrain given the bar set-up. They were definitely not mtb's. Now, I guess my bike was more of a "cross" bike than theirs. Their the tire widths (mine were 32mm, a little narrower than cross tires?) were mostly about 45mm (definitely wider than a cross bike). Is it primarily the geometry and the fact that they are designed for wider tires? I was thinking of tossing some sort of flat bar configuration on an old touring frame that I could fit up to about a 42mm tire on (practically squeezed in) and see the difference between drop bar riding. My stability with the drops on the gravel, lime rock, and soft sand terrains was not very good and I wasn't able to ride in the drops for very long except the smoothest portions or paved sections of the course. Very rough on the arms also (race course was 80% off-road). I can now only assume the lines between bike types have been further blurred with something that is not a road, not a mountain, and not a cross, and not a gravel bike; but a conglomeration of all three. I plan on asking those riding that style if they modified them or if were purchased as fitted the next event I do (if it happens again). Almost all of these had disc brakes and the like, but no suspension front or rear. There were the mtb's on the course also, but the differences were obvious. I have seen many cross bikes with drop bars, but it still seems like I see more flat style bars at these rides than not. What type of bike have I been seeing? They were all very decent bikes (not cheap!) from what I could tell and appeared to be "stock" set-ups. Those bikes definitely handled better on the terrain than mine, but were not anything I'd want to use on the road regularly (I don't need disc brakes, nor the more upright riding posture of these bikes) where I had an advantage riding my "modified" road bike with the narrower tires and more aerodynamic posture.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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