Winter Cycling - Night Ice
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10-09-12, 08:25 PM
This winter, I'm going to try riding in the dark. With the scarce daylight hours, there is simply no choice. But, at night, the assorted patches of ice are difficult to see. Will studded tires take care of ice that cannot be seen and (therefore) avoided?
10-09-12, 09:59 PM
Proper technique(no agressive tilts) is big. If it shines, avoid it as there is a minor sheen difference in the headlight glare. It is very subtle, but a good light will help. Some bike computers have thermometer functions(even my Kmart Schwinn does) which helps to determine if you are in a threshold zone. The toughest point to deal with is when you get into a thermal pocket or frontline around freezing where you get a zone of warm or cold that is out of the norm.
Studs may help, but I would still work on defining the difference in your mind(takes practice) to spot the ice patches.
Studded tires work great on ice, I ride on frozen ponds all the time. Think good carbide ones like schwalbe or nokians. What kind of bike are you trying to fit them on? You still have to be gentle on the brakes and turns though. I live north of Boston ,MA, would not pedal in the winter without them. Try a helmet and a bar light for better night vision.
10-11-12, 08:27 PM
Surly Karate Monkey. I bought some Nokian Extreme 294s. Also bought some lights.
10-11-12, 11:56 PM
Studded tires are amazing.
I can ride where I'd have trouble walking.
10-12-12, 10:28 AM
How are the studded tires on the rest of the ride, though? If there's mostly dry pavement but not much ice, is it worth it?
Studded tires are heavier, so there will be more drag on dry pavement. But those ice patches just show up when you aren't expecting them. Especially for commuters, as the weather conditions can change quickly for the ride home. So I put up with a little resistance to make sure I am not dealing with broken bones. So is it worth it? I say yes, so as to avoid any spills.
10-14-12, 08:05 AM
I don't use studded tires. Street lighting at night is decent enough to see ice on my route.
When there is uncleared snow, patches of ice under that have a good chance of getting me. I do fall a couple of times a winter, usually under difficult conditions at a slow speed. No broken bones or even a serious hurt from those falls.
Money is always an issue, so if I do go with studded tires (not likely) I'll try making my own. There is a lot of good info about that in the sticky near the top of this forum. The part I liked most was that you can put the studs at the outside edges of the tires. At full pressure they won't come into play, but if you hit icy conditions, you can let a little air out.
It might take a couple of tries to get that right, but it appeals to the handyman in me. :) (Jack of all trades, and master of toilet tank mechanics.)
10-14-12, 09:15 AM
studded tires are indeed the way to go. I was very very happy with my Marathon Winter tires. they are fine on dry pavement and sound like sizzling bacon. you'll miss the sound come spring. I used them as MAX pressure and only let out a pound or two depending on the snow cover. meaning when it was very snowy I aired down just a smidge but mostly rode at max pressure.
"Closed office", you only fall a couple of times a winter? I find pavement and and ice painful to fall on. I put studded tires on so I don't fall, isn't that the point? Seems penny wise and pound foolish. How much does a broken bone cost? rehab, time off work? hospitals and doctors? A $ 50.00 tire seems cheap to me, you can find them used too, I have 5 years on one of my sets. YRMV. I thought Alberta was kind of like 9 months of winter and 3 months of poor skiing.
Definitely studs. I use Nokian W106s, those are nice winter commutig tyres. There are other good choices, but I've only ridden the Nokians myself. If you ride on bare pavement too (I do), make sure you use a tyre with high quality carbide studs. You'll wear yourself out before the studs go.
10-15-12, 10:43 PM
I've never tried studded tires, though I think about it every year, so I can't say anything about them.
But I do agree with the poster who mentioned that a lot of ice riding success is in your own head. When you're riding in non-winter conditions you are looking at the path ahead, of course, keeping an eye on possibly treacherous 'footing' coming your way. But a rider with any experience is doing it practically on a sub-conscious level. Once we 'grok' our bikes and the terrain we're dealing with, it requires almost no thought.
In icy conditions, though, it simply requires more concentration. Not only are things more slippery, but the very road you ride every day might, and usually does, change its character day by day.
Just be content with a lower average speed and the need to watch, like a hawk, every single square millimeter of surface that is anywhere near your path. In words this almost sounds kinda difficult. But in practice it's part of the exhilaration of bicycling.
Knee and elbow pads are a big help, too. Get your mind 'set' on, when the bike does slip out from under you, "Knee down! Then bounce to the elbow, then roll onto your back". This might not work in every wipeout, but it'll have you come up smiling more often than not.
OP was referring to patches that cannot be seen. Telling him to find his inner hawk is not going to help much there. Also, if there's loose snow on top, you can stare at it until your eyes bleed and still be none the wiser of what's underneath - ice, hard packed snow, bare pavement, you name it. :D
Uh, "bluegoatwoods" why don't you buy studded tires and just enjoy your ride without knee and elbow pads. If you need them for a road ride, your doing something wrong. Try it , you'll like it. Here north of Boston, MA, studded tires are needed for 3-4 months every winter. Black ice, ice under water, and ice under snow, no concentration will help with that. Plus pedaling when all the walkers and cars are sliding around is fun.
10-16-12, 12:03 PM
Studded tires are amazing.
I can ride where I'd have trouble walking.
I can do that without studded tires! I was very much surprised how my bike with its slick skinny tires could handle slippery conditions better than me on my feet.
With that said, I did fall 5 times last winter in southern central Oregon- once was a pretty hard hit to my hip, and another sent me skidding backwards down the side of the road on my butt- sheering some plastic off off my sneaker grommets, bike pedal, and I lost leather off my outer glove palm (I was worried about how little fabric was between my butt and the pavement, so I figured using the glove to brake was better than the alternative!).
I will definitively be going with studded tires this year, whether I have to make them myself or we can afford real ones.
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