Winter Bike Commuting


I’m planning to get back into bicycle commuting, after a rather long time of being a slacker and driving my car to and from work.

Winter is coming, so I’m reconfiguring my Cross-Check for frozen commuting duties. The build is inspired (more or less) by Doug’s “Belt-Check”.

It’s a 62cm Surly Cross-Check frame, with an all Sturmey-Archer drivetrain. The rear wheel is a Sturmey-Archer XL-RD5(W) laced to a Salsa Delgato Cross rim by Jim Thill of Hiawatha Cyclery.

Sturmey Archer XL-RD5(w)

This gives me 5 speeds and 90mm drum brakes. The whole works lives inside the hub shell, so it’s all kept out of the snow/ice/slush/salt/slop we tend to have around here in the winter time.

Power is transferred from the pedals to the hub by a Sturmey-Archer FCS73 crankset.

Sturmey-Archer Crank

The chainring has 44 teeth, and drives a 23-tooth sprocket in the rear, which gives gears from 85″ to 33″ – not really as low as I’d prefer, but that’s pretty much as low as I can safely take this hub.

It shifts with a snazzy little Sturmey Archer barcon. The cable is routed along the top tube, through an old-school S/A pulley, and then down the seat stay. Hopefully this will keep the cable up and out of the winter road slop as much as possible.

Sturmey Pulley

I really tried to make this bike work with Albatross bars, but I never really liked it that way, so now, she’s sporting a pair of Nitto dirt drops, which I like a whole lot better.


Yes, I know my cables are a mess. Maybe I’ll get around to tidying them up after I wrap the bars.

Winter commuting means riding in the dark. So I got a Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ Cyo-R headlight powered by a Sturmey Archer XL-FDD dyno hub.

Lumotec Cyo-R

This headlight rocks. The Dark is scared of it and gets the hell out of the way. The XL-FDD hub also has the same 90mm drum brakes as the back hub, so no worries about wearing out my rims with cruddy brake pads.

Commuting (for me, at least) also means hauling a bit of cargo. Usually, cargo is limited to a change of clothes, and my lunch. I mounted a Nitto Campee rack in the rear, and a little Nitto M-12 up front. I’m not really sure I’ll ever put anything on the front, but the rack is really cute, and it makes a nice place to mount the headlight.

I still need to come up with a better set of pedals. Those rubber platform pedals really suck if they’re wet. I’ve got a pair of 40mm marathon winter studded tires in the garage that I’ll probably mount in the next week or two, or whenever we start getting overnight lows below freezing on a regular basis.

My Cross-Check

Tada! There she is in all her glory. Other than pedals, tail light, and some handlebar tape, I think I’m ready for winter.

6 thoughts on “Winter Bike Commuting

  1. That’s my kind of bike! I really like how yours turned out. My Cross (Belt)Check and your Cross Check have something else in common. My back wheel also sports an IGH with a Salsa Delgado rim built by Jim Thill. I built the front wheel with Jim Thill essentially looking over my shoulder at one of his wheel building classes.

  2. Looks like a fantastic commuter, especially for winter. I’m jealous of the IGH and Dynohub. I’ll be commuting on my LHT this winter again, it’s a great winter commuter as well, although I have battery lights and normal gears. Still, it works well for me.

  3. I’m building up my dream utility/commuter bike, x-rd5 S/A 5 speed hub at the back, xl-fdd dynamo hub at the front, on a Surly Cross Check.
    Just found your blog and its good to see someone else with the same idea!
    I’m curious to know how how you attached the brake arm to the chain stays ?
    The angle of the crosscheck dropouts means the brake arm clip can’t reach the brake arm.

  4. I have an XL-FDD it is great. So smooth, although not overly powerful. I would loooove rear hub like that one of yours, but I will have to wait for something to brake before I can warrant a change. A great machine you have there.

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