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I've commuted on a bike in winter for 13 years now, but never as far as now, that is 30 km daily. I have a problem which I never experienced before.

In temperatures close to 0C and on paths covered with thin layer of melting snow turning into loose ice particles, the front wheel picks up these particles and splats them over the lower parts of the bike. Some of them get caught between sprockets, which they turn into an ice cone, causing the chain to lose grip and slip over them (with continues cracking sound, just like when riding with extremely worn out chain). This concerns fast gears (sprockets 11-17T), which I use most often.

There's no other choice then but to shift to lighter gears and make a helicopter out of the cranks, but that's annoying over a long distance.

I saw this question: How to prevent my hub body from freezing?, but the author does not mention snow at all, so I don't know if the same advice applies.

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Are you using fenders? Are they even an option? –  Benzo Jan 11 '13 at 15:13
    
@Benzo But of course. 1/2 circumference on the rear wheel, 1/4 front. I don't believe there's a front fender that could reach that low to prevent the drivetrain from getting dirty. –  MaDa Jan 12 '13 at 6:57
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2 Answers

You could try to fashion some sort of mud/snow guard to cover the cassette, but I'm not sure how you would mount it and really you're just prolonging the inevitable. I don't think there's a great way to prevent the problem your experiencing in the conditions you're riding in with a geared bike. A singlespeed or an internally geared will eliminate the problem, but I would imagine that reconfiguring your commuter bike's drivetrain is probably not all that practical.

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Ice wax like in the linked post will most likely solve your problem. if not you can use WD-40. Put it on just before you go out but give it about 10-15 min to do its thing. Don't crank it around or anything just let it sit.

What you want to happen is for the lubricating elements to make it hard for the ice to form, thats pretty much what the wax does too.

But with WD you can use it to de-ice while your riding* as long as you give it a few to evaporate the penetrating elements.

Also, I would not use this on too old of a bike or like a cheap department store bike as the driving mechanisms of that type of bicycle are not built in a way that the WD40 would work best (things can come apart)

  • I use this method all the time for work. If its a problem you spray it on when you stop to make a delivery, in the few min it takes to do your thing, it does it's thing & your good to go.
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