Get Thee Behind Me …

February 10, 2019

Me a couple of days ago: I’ve got around 20 minutes on this fine, almost springlike day, before I need to set off into town. How can I be most productive?

*prepares batch of sourdough, sends an important email, orders a repeat prescription, leaves house with five minutes in hand, feeling almost like an organised person.*

Brain: don’t forget you need to swap the ice tyres back off your bike.

For yes, it has reached the time of the year when the ice tyres’ role is to be in the wrong place – either off the bike when it is icy, or on the bike when it is not. The latter wouldn’t matter that much – I quite like the rice crispy noise they make on the tarmac and it helps alert pedestrians to my presence behind them far more effectively than the bell-or-no-bell calculation – except that my hub dynamo is on my non-winterised front wheel so at this time of the year it’s a choice between grip or lights (this winter, I’ve been running my dynamo lights day and night because even during the day the sun is so low it’s bound to be in someone’s eyes).

snow-covered bike

What do you look for in a winter bike?

I could get a set of battery lights, but space on my handlebars is at a premium and charging them is a pain, especially when they’re only occasionally used. I could get a second dynamo for my winter wheels, but a nice hub dynamo costs How Much!? and – such are the quirks of the human brain – it seems somehow less wasteful to get a whole new winter bike with a dynamo to use on the icy days than it does to get just a new front wheel with a dynamo that will barely be used.

Obviously, any cyclist reading this will be muttering ‘N+1’ and urging me to go for the new bike, but I do feel any additional bike would have to earn its keep, beyond just spiky wheels, and fill a niche my current steeds aren’t currently filling. But I have to admit, I’m a tiny bit tempted by the thought of a new-to-me bike. Given I already have a comfy touring bike and a Brompton, and any new bike would still have to get me up our hill (so no heavy mountain bike), if you were in my shoes, what would you go for?

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