There is a world of difference it would seem in the climates faced by Copenhagen’s cyclists and those in the Midwest.
Maybe the snow over there is less corrosive? I am not certain whether they actually use salt or not. I do know however that in Amsterdam the freezing of the canal is something of a rarity. Both Copenhagen and Amsterdam are next to large temperature moderating bodies of water. But so is Chicago.
Pamela has some interesting things to say about bikes ridden in winter. Of course the Boston area has been socked in by snowfall this year:
A decade or so ago, Pamela went down hard on a snowy, icy road and injured herself. She and her hubby decided to buy and ride a recumbent tandem. These days she is back on an upright bicycle and this time it appears it is a ‘fixed gear‘. Read here article to get an understanding of why she went in this direction.
My personal preference (for winter riding) would always be for three wheels. And were I to ride an upright it would most certainly be outfitted with a belt drive system as opposed to a chain drive system. The amount of salt used here in Chicago means that frames and metal parts take a real beating over time.
Personally, the idea of getting my bikes corroded (or any beater bike for that matter) is offensive. Heck, why are we so insistent on riding in winter if we know that there are perfectly useful buses and elevated trains just waiting to take us to and from work? I suppose some would respond that the chances of getting back and forth on mass transit is ‘iffy‘ at best. Plenty of trains have been delayed or rerouted because of frozen switches and such.
But when it comes to riding in the kinds of stuff we have here in Chicago, I am loathe to subject any bike to most of what passes as snow.
In addition to a belt drive the only kind of braking that makes any sense in this weather is disc braking. There is no good reason to ever use a rim braking system in bad weather. And perhaps in deference to the braking issue, folks like Pamela decide to forego brakes altogether, hence the fixed gear bike?
And if you are going to have a failsafe brake it should still be a disc brake.
As for lighting I always ride with a SON hub generator in the darker months. But the corrosive effects of salt make that difficult to consider. A removable rechargeable system makes a lot of sense. But that means you have to have access to an outlet during the day (to recharge the system if necessary).
For those using a geared system I would strongly recommend an internal gear hub. But again these things are expensive. They however are better suited for nasty weather. The very best internal hubs are costly. The cheaper ones less so.
The ideal bike for winter would be a fixed gear trike!