There’s currently no sign of snow. But a month or so ago, when it could have been just around the corner for all I knew, my winter cycling checklist looked something like this (and so I was a bit worried):

  • ☐ - Reliable functioning lights
  • ☐ - Lower gear ratio to help with the studded tyres and mushed up snow
  • ☐ - Heated gloves
  • ☑ - None of the above (even though you’ve had 9 months to prepare and last year’s experience to go on where you were so cold one night you felt like crying and got just a little bit scared about how you were going to make the remaining 6 miles cycle home. And so cold when you did get home that you couldn’t use your hands to undress yourself and had to rock gently in front of the fire whilst your fingers thawed trying not to cry too much so as not to scare the kids)

Fortunately it has improved somewhat and now looks like this:

  • ☑ - Reliable functioning lights
  • ☑ - Lower gear ratio to help with the studded tyres and mushed up snow
  • ☐ - Heated gloves

Smart Lunar 35 Lux Lights

My B&M Ixon IQ bit the dust. I cycled a month with it in a very dodgy state: road vibrations caused it to continually switch from high to low power, until it finally decided to add “OFF” into it’s newfound automatic mode selection routine. I tried fixing it quite a few times, but it wasn’t to be:

  • I’d fixed up the cracked lens cover with car headlamp lens repair tape.
  • It had a big screw through the back to hold it shut after I broke the plastic catch from opening it all the time to charge the batteries (and dropping it of course).
  • I’d broken a couple of battery contacts: after dropping the light on it’s end, the batteries squashing the spring contacts flat and then me trying to bend them out again, snap!
  • So at first I though the mode switching was due to the broken battery contacts that I’d tried to replace with picture hooks. However, then I twigged the switch (or something) was broken
  • To get to the innards you are meant to remove the hinge pin, but it’s easier just cut out the battery carrier instead. Then you can start disassembling it from behind. Also the rubber switch cover can be pried out with a knife, etc.
  • Turns out the switch was broken but attempting to mend/bypass it didn’t work, so I can only assume that the switch wasn’t the only broken bit.
  • All fair enough really. It had been completely abused: dropped plenty of times and then smashed into the floor a couple of times when the mount became dodgy.

Anyway, I was all for just getting another one and treating it better (charge through built-in charger to avoid fatiguing the plastic catch and use the camlock to remove, not the clip, to avoid the clip becoming loose over time and the light one day vibrating itself out of the clip and onto the floor) since it is a very good light, but I needed something quickly (so not from Europe) and so ended up getting two Smart Lunar’s for less than price of one Ixon IQ. And on that note, two are comparable to the Ixon IQ. One wouldn’t do it though; it can’t just be the 5 Lux difference, it must be to do with the Ixon’s much better reflector design. Also, they get the same battery life I got with the Ixon IQ (5hrs), but from 2AA batteries each (again, probably explains why one is seemingly much more than just 5 Lux less than the Ixon IQ).

60 Gear Inches for Winter

I’m so very glad I dropped my gear ratio down this year for winter and (primarily) my winter tyres (since I guess those were the issue here). Thinking back I really have no idea how I managed on the same 42/16 (~70 gear inch) ratio last winter. I guess I didn’t. And that’s why I had epic journeys into work and a lot of walking.

I couldn’t decide whether to go for a 18 or 19 tooth rear sprocket, as I was worried that 60 gear inches might result in too much spinning, but then a clearance offer on a 19 tooth made the decision for me. And I’m so glad I when for that option. There’s not nearly as much spin as I thought there would be and I was surprised that there is still one hill I can’t get all the way up without walking, and also that it isn’t too low a ratio to stand up in when hill climbing. I guess in really, really bad winds and snow that perhaps going as low as 2:1 would be better, but fixed gear is all about compromise (or the state of being “always in the wrong gear”).

But wow, it has already made the headwinds and winter tyre combination much more bearable and I’m also hopeful that when the snow eventually comes, I’ll be able to get through the churned up stuff a bit better than I did last year.

(Note: I used the rotafix method to stick this cog on the freewheel side of my hub. I sincerely doubt the 16 tooth is ever coming off, although would love to drop that to 17 for summer).

Heated Gloves

I may not have heated gloves, but I do have more pairs of gloves than last year (layers!) and I do have some emergency hand warmer things I can stick in if it gets really bad; perhaps next year for heated gloves.