Home Bike Stuff Winter Cycling on a Strida

Winter Cycling on a Strida

by bromptoning

If you read my “Brompton vs Strida” post, you’ll know I bought a Strida EVO to use as a winter bike because it’s basically rust-proof with its aluminum frame and kevlar belt drive. Plus, the disc brakes give it excellent stopping power in slushy conditions, and the internal gears mean no derailleur to get clogged with muck.

So how did the Strida fare this winter? Read on and/or watch the VIDEO at end of this post…

First, Toronto had an extremely mild winter this year. The snow didn’t accumulate until late December, and it came and went during the month of January and didn’t stick around until February. Unfortunately, that was the month we caught COVID-19, so I wasn’t able to do a test ride of the Strida in a proper snowstorm. However, I did ride the Strida in the first snowfall (always the slipperiest!) in late November, and on Christmas night which was snowy, windy and very cold. Here’s what I learned…

Strida in Fresh Snow

The first real snowfall of the year was November 22, the night before Toronto went into another Covid lockdown. I hadn’t meant to go for a ride, since I usually avoid the first snowfall—it’s always the slipperiest and most dangerous day of the year for cycling! But my hairdresser called saying she could fit me in for a quick bang trim that evening before the salon closed for lockdown, so I suited up and headed out on the Strida.

I admit I was very nervous. I’d only had the Strida for a couple weeks and still wasn’t totally comfortable on it. I was especially worried that the bike would slip out from under me as I leaned to the side to dismount. So on the quiet street outside my house, I tested starting and stopping in the snow, and was relieved to discover that the Strida’s slim tires cut through the wet snow and gripped firmly on the pavement. Whew! Still, I took it easy on the ride to the salon, turning corners slowly and getting used to how the Strida handled the messy fresh snow on the side streets and salty slush on the main roads.

The verdict? The Strida handles very well, a bit better than my big winter bike actually. My big bike has wider tires which means that sometimes the tires don’t cut through the snow to the pavement and instead slip and slide on top of the snow. I know that sounds counter-intuitive; most people believe wider tires are better in the snow, but in the city, narrow tires that can slice through snow to the grippy pavement below are best, in my opinion. 

Strida in Hard-Packed Snow

Christmas night was cold, windy and snowy—perfect test-riding conditions! The streets were a bit messy, with fresh snow covering hard-packed snow from days earlier. 

So how did the Strida fare?

CONDITIONSRATINGDETAILS
Slippery Patches GoodI was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Strida handles slippery patches (i.e. hard-packed snow and ice) very well. I think the narrow wheelbase helps. Often when cyclists go down on ice and snow, it’s because the front wheel slips out, causing a sideways skid/fall onto one’s hip. But the Strida’s front wheel isn’t far in front and therefore feels less prone to slipping out.   
HeadwindFairIf I was just talking about riding into the wind, I’d give the Strida a “poor” rating since its upright position is not ideal against headwinds. However, the Strida seems to do better with side gusts compared to my big bike. Perhaps this is because the Strida is smaller? Less bike for the wind to push sideways? 
CornersGoodAs I mentioned above, because the Strida’s front wheel isn’t as far away from my body as on a regular bike, there’s less chance of the front wheel slipping out from under me when going around corners. At least that’s how it feels. 
SnowDependsIn wet snow, the Strida EVO handles great. But in dry snow, I discovered a problem with the EVO gearbox…

Snow Clogs Strida EVO

About 20 minutes into our ride on Christmas night, I noticed the Strida began to feel stiff when pedalling. I checked the tires, brakes, fenders and crank; everything appeared to be working fine and there was no snow stuck in the parts. I kept riding, and for about ten minutes, it seemed to get better, but slowly over the next hour pedalling became stiffer and stiffer until a few blocks from home, the pedals wouldn’t turn at all and I had to walk the rest of the way. 

The problem was definitely pedalling. The wheels rolled fine forwards and backwards, the brakes weren’t jammed and worked perfectly, even the gearbox still shifted gears, but the pedals would no longer move. I worried that something inside the gearbox had frozen. It was -10 degrees Celsius, -20 with windchill. Had water gotten in somewhere? It kind of felt like that because of how pedalling became stiffer and stiffer the longer I rode, as if something was gradually freezing the pedals in place.

Tiny space between belt-wheel and gearbox.

A couple days later when the temperature went above zero, I took the Strida out for another ride… and it was fine! Something definitely froze! I emailed Bill at Strida to ask if there was any way water could have gotten inside the EVO gearbox. He replied that he didn’t think so and that the problem could be ice building up between the belt-wheel and the gearbox. He said it would be difficult to see, especially in the dark. See for yourself in the photo to the right…

On the left is the aluminium belt-wheel, and the black thing attached to red frame is the gearbox, and in between is about 2mm of space where snow gets stuck! Yep, that is hard to see. 

Final test was riding the Strida EVO on a very cold day on snow-free streets. It was fine. The next time it snowed, I pushed snow into that space between the belt-wheel and gearbox, and confirmed that is indeed the problem area.

The Verdict on Strida in the Snow

The Strida EVO isn’t ideal when riding through lots of dry snow because it jams the space between the gearbox and belt-wheel. I wanted to see if there was a simple solution for this, like using a piece of string or thin rope to clean out the area if it gets clogged mid-ride, but alas, snow season appears to be over and I won’t be able to test that theory until next winter. 

I suspect that if I got a single-speed Strida and put the Efneo gearbox on it, there wouldn’t be a problem.

Overall Feelings on the Strida

Now that I’ve been riding the Strida for a few months, I’m totally comfortable on it. It’s a fun, jaunty ride and perfect for running errands. Most significantly, I much prefer riding the Strida to my old winter bike, which feels so big and unwieldy in comparison. 

And now, the VIDEO:

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