Friday, February 28, 2014

Nasty slush

Oslo just hasn't been a proper winter city this year.  After three weeks frozen, its been going back and forth between snow and rain.  Quite a mess on the way to the daycare, but the conditions were nearly perfect during the commute from the daycare to work.  On most days I chose to use the Nihola with less-impressive gearing and the Schwalbe Snow Stud, to benefit the commute part of the daily journey.

Harmless looking, but difficult.  That rut took some effort, but the hill was climbed.
Slope less than 10%, one kid, perhaps 6kg on the rear.
This was especially nasty, hard to drive on even when level, and it packed into the tread.
Spinning solved nothing here.  Having two kids in the box didn't make it easier.
It turns out that really dense snow, stuff which is transitioning into slush and ice via rain, is really a challenge on a hill.  It drags on the tires, and digging might never reach down to anything better.  It seems that bikes have an advantage here due to better weight distribution and more tire per unit of mass.

Parking lot slush.  I should have taken a picture of the ice that followed.
On level ground, slushy snowy crap can be much deeper and rutted without causing too much trouble.  But remember to rock the trike to "push" past the worst parts.

Looks like snow on top, but it transitions to dense slush.
It doesn't take a lot of dense snow underlain by slush and ice to cause a problem on a climb.  The stuff I encountered was really heavy, so just getting the tires through it was a challenge, but if the rear tire dug much it would just come to some sort of dense semi-slush ice.  On level ground it went well enough.

My son eagerly does a bit of cleanup.  This gate is kind of irritating in difficult conditions.
Slope is as much as 15% through here.
Picking up my son after a daytime snow flurry.  Clean snow isn't a problem.
This period has nicely illustrated to me that I am dependent on someone to do at least a halfassed job of snowplowing on the steeper sections of the climb to my son's daycare.


  1. Well, I'm pleasantly surprised to find another North American Nihola enthusiast in Oslo. All this time I thought I was the only one. I am riding around the city all the time with my kids, so it's surprising that we've never crossed paths. Fire me an email if you wanna trade some notes.

    1. Neat, how did you come to own a Nihola also? I've crossed paths with one or two guys on Bullits, a guy riding a bike, and one long tail owner. I have mostly stuck around Røa and the coastal path into Oslo sentrum, plus sporadic journeys here and there so if you aren't there, its no wonder we haven't seen each other. Once I saw another Nihola-er on the ferry to Copenhagen.

      Anyway I sort of hope that if I blog about it, I can help generate more slightly-crazy Nihola owners. Dunno about you, but I was really not sure how things would turn out when I laid down the plastic.

    2. I just posted a long reply to this, and it has magically disappeared. Perhaps pending approval?

    3. I don't see any other reply than this short one... has small tragedy occurred?

  2. Argh. Ok, the abbreviated version this time ;-)

    I bought the bike about 4 years ago through the only Norwegian dealer (Fredrikstad). It was our alternative to owning a car, so the price didn't phase me all that much. We use it a lot, and it's a real work horse for city living. As my kids grew like weeds (ages 5+7), the steep hills in the city became a huge obstacle. I found that the bike was becoming increasingly limited. After struggling with the idea, I finally decided to install an electric hub to assist. Best idea ever. I did lots of homework, and I found a great conversion provider in the Netherlands. If you ever consider do this, let me know. I've got lots of insights (benefits/challenges).

    BTW, I am 99% sure that was my family you saw on the ferry to CPH.

    Hopefully we cross paths one of these days. Keep up the blog. It's really cool.

    1. You should jump in on the comments anywhere you like! My intention is to avoid making this into a story of my life, and focus on things someone might like to know before making the rather considerable payment to get a cargo cycle. Actually if you'd like to write your story of the electric conversion (or anything else) I think there are various ways to put it on this blog, for example you could be a second author... or just copy & paste.

      I don't plan on an electric conversion yet myself, but I had some same problem more or less. We went for a Rohloff.

  3. Can the Nihola Family carry three children: 1,4 and 6?

    1. Certainly three fit easily enough for shorter distances with older kids that can sit in strange positions. (Without seatbelts.)

      Its quite possible to lay the 1-year-old on the floor while an older kid has his/her legs to the side. Probably would even work with two older kids if they cooperate a bit and if the 1-year-old is just laying on an mattress or something that leaves some space for legs and feet to go. However this could get crowded and you won't want anything else in the box. I can't see doing it if you want everyone to be belted in (but I've never been into that much myself).

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  5. One early spring afternoon in Oslo, I spotted a Nihola, or rather was spotted eyeballing a Nihola by its owner. Based on his accent, I asked if he was indeed Ray, thelonelyNiholaenthusiast. He wasn't. Turns out he is thedesignaddict. And now Ray is a bit less lonely.