Winter Cycling - Winter cycling with 20" (or smaller) wheels
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While I have a mountain bicycle with 26" wheels that I use exclusively for winter cycling (Saskatchewan, Canada, average snow fall > 100 centimetres), I am curious if others have ridden bicycles with 20" wheels in the winter. My observation riding a folder with 20" wheels is that on loose surfaces, like gravel, I tend to cut though the gravel instead of ride over top of it. For example, there is pea gravel where I park my bicycle at work. With 26" wheels, I easily ride on top of it. With 20" wheels, I sink and stop immediately. Will winter cycling be the same? Will I be cutting through the snow, constantly falling through soft spots, with 20" wheels? I know that tire width is a factor. I ride on 26"x1.9" Nokias in the winter, 26"x1.75" and 20"x1.50" in the summer. I think I might have just answered my own question. :/
07-12-08, 06:19 PM
All this past winter I rode on my Dahon Mu P8 with 20" wheels (406's). With the arrival of ice and snow, I changed tires from the almost-slick Schwalbe Marathon Racers (20 x 1.50) to knobby Schwalbe Marathon Winters (20 x 1.60) with plenty of carbide studs. The studded tires were on from early December through early April.
Winter riding is just a lot different in every way, but real winter tires made the ride possible in all kinds of conditions where otherwise it would have been too dangerous. I don't know how to compare riding in snow with what you get on gravel. There's a big difference there.
My riding is all on the streets, so I'd rather cut through the snow and make contact with the pavement, but I had no real problems with traction using the MW tires.
That's good to know. I'm thinking about doing the same with my folder this winter (Giant Halfway). At some point, I would like my Halfway to become my winter bike... and then I'll get another (better) folder for the nice months.
07-13-08, 06:53 PM
Are there 349/16" studded tires available?
07-13-08, 08:29 PM
Schwalbe hasn't brought out a 16-inch version. They just introduced the 20-inch MW this past year. I know that others have requested 16 and 24-inch versions, but they don't seem to exist yet.
Maybe another maker has something, but since it's kind of a special market I wouldn't expect to find much.
I ride a Dahon and Brompton in the warmer weather but revert to a mountain bike beater with studded tires in the winter (Maine). The disadvantage that I see for smaller wheels is the increased tendency to catch an icy rut and fall. Plus, I find that the icy, salty slush takes a beating on the drive train, and these are lower to the ground in a small wheel bike. I'd save your folder for nicer weather and outfit a larger wheel bike with Schwalbe or Nokian tires for the winter if you encounter a fair amount of ice.
07-15-08, 01:16 PM
I rode my 16Ē folder last winter and intend to go on. Hub-gears arenít problematic in slush. Unfortunately there are not many tyres to choose from in size 349. My rear tyre is Schwalbe Marathon Plus, which I can recommend. No flats so far.
One advantage I have found on small wheels is that if you are about to fall, itís easier to gain balance compared to a big tyre bike Ė you donít fall from so high.
Maranen, you mention hub gears. Is there any consensus that hub gears are better for winter riding? Just wondering... I've never actually done any winter riding.
07-27-08, 01:34 PM
I don’t think there is any consensus. I guess hub gears are rare in winter riding. But opinions have been expressed in favour of hub gears – mainly in that they don’t require so much attention in winter riding as derailleur gears. Moving parts are inside the hub hidden from slosh, dirt and freezing. I oil the hub using synthetic oil 0W-40.
Last winter I was foolish to use non synthetic 10W-40 – when the temperature went down enough, the oil got thick. I oil the hub because it seems to operate more smoothly then. I'm sure it would work ok with the original grease.
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