My Winter Bike

Custom Slingshot singlespeed

Custom Slingshot singlespeed

Between the snow, ice, and salt, winter can be pretty tough on a bike.  Rather than ride your best rig this time of year, many of us hobble together something a little more rugged, simple, and less expensive.

This year I built up an old Slingshot frame I had laying around.

I originally bought this bike as a demo bike.   It never really worked well for me as a mountain bike, so I rebuilt it as an urban cross bike.  That didn’t work, so I had Scott Quiring build a custom fork and replace the rear dropouts with horizontal ones.  We believe this was the second Slingshot with horizontal drops but the first to be built up.

I was a great singlespeed.  I raced it at the Iceman and won the MMBA CPS singlespeed series on it (back before the super fast guys started racing singlespeed.)

As a winter bike, it’s still a singlespeed with the following features:

  • 44mm extra wide SnowCats rims made in Fairbanks, Alaska
  • the front rim is custom drilled with half-inch holes (Thanks, Eric)
  • the rear rim is the SnowCat SL with one-inch drilled out holes
  • the front tire is a Nokian Extreme with steel carbide studs
  • the handlebar covers were made by Schroeder Sports
  • Cane Creek Direct Curve brakes which work well with wide rims
  • Softride suspension stem – the best suspension for winter riding

Many MTB front fenders attach to the downtube, which is really not an option on Slingshots.  I’m using a fender that uses a star nut in the bottom of the steerer tube.



Sparks were Flyin’!

img_1974The day started, or actually didn’t start well.

I don’t drive all my little VW diesel all that often.  All that sitting around doesn’t help the battery in these below zero temps.  Despite the battery being just a couple  months old, it didn’t have enough juice to get the engine started.

I quickly tried untangling some frozen extension cords (which should be a new Winter Olympic sport) and ran a battery charger to the car.  Not fun.

So after work I took a spin on my main transportation.  My bike.

We’re in the midst of the Winter Ride Challenge Series.  Riders get points for attendance.  The colder the windchill, the more points one gets.  And there are bonus points if it’s nighttime and if you ride a singlespeed bike.

With the windchill well below zero, tonight was a huge night for points!

The roads were icy and snow covered, which wasn’t too bad, though I did nearly wipe out in Royal Oak.

While navigating a turn, my rear tire started to slide out.  Eventually my front studded tire started to do the same.  I rode the two wheel drift long enough for the front tire’s stud to finally hook up.  According to the guy behind me, sparks were flying off the steel carbide studs as they skid across the pavement.

Whoo hoo!


Digging Deep for La Plata Grande

Leadville Trail 100It was 1998. I was racing across one of the flatter sections of the Leadville 100 when I caught a guy with a strange riding style. He would spin madly then coast, repeating this over and over again. “Weird,” I thought. But later I realized the rest of the story. He was one of those singlespeeders I’d read about. He proceeded to stand for 90-some minutes of climbing and put a half-minute on me. As I spun along in my granny gear I thought how insane he must be. (more…)


Racing Casual at Stony Creek

They said I was crazy, like I haven’t heard that before.

It was 95°F and fairly humid. I’m not a fan of hot weather, so I pulled on my Patagonia Puckerware shirt and pulled up to the starting line. Casual and cool, I didn’t overheat and actually I won the singlespeed category. (more…)


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