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Old 12-14-07, 05:36 PM   #1
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Studs no guarantee, helmets helpful

I was hurrying home from work today because of a little crisis. I have studded tires for winter, the kind with studs at the edges to aid in turns, but no studs down the middle for less rolling resistance. I was coming to a stop at a side street with some bare pavement and some packed snow, and BOOM, down I went. I landed on my side and felt the side of my helmet lightly tap the pavement.

I don't know what I ran into, but I would guess it was a little polished icy spot that I hit while going straight so no studs were in contact with the pavement. So one must not get overconfident with studs. As for the helmet, no damage, it was a very light tap, but it reminded me why I wear it.
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Old 12-14-07, 05:46 PM   #2
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I had some issue last night as well. I think the first day above 32 followed by a sudden and hard drop in temperature made for some nasty conditions. Personally, I got nabbed by the crust that had formed over the remaining snow on the streets from poor plowing. Didn't go over, but just barely.
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Old 12-14-07, 05:55 PM   #3
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I made a set of studded tires once. I put a half inch by #6 machine screw through each knobby. 252 in each tire. Then I discovered I need "Mr. Tuffy" tire liners. Then the screws wore down to the nuts. Then some of the studs ripped out . And there was a problem with the Mr. Tuffy pinching the tube.
And I did two tires, x 252 = 504 machine screws. But they are sold in boxes of 500, which was a problem at the hardware store.

I've been thinking about buying the studded tires from the bike shop, because the studs are hardened steel.
But I was worried the studs might be too far apart.

How many studs are in each tire?
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Old 12-14-07, 05:56 PM   #4
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It might not look like there's any damage, but you might want to look into getting a new skid lid. When my helmet hits pavement, that's it.

Congrats on your initiation to winter commuting, where you can't always keep the shiny side up. I've managed to stay upright so far this winter and last. My problems, curiously, always occur on warm, sunny days. Go figure.
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Old 12-14-07, 06:59 PM   #5
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How many studs are in each tire?
I'll try to go out and count them, and maybe see if I can upload a picture (never done it before), sometime soon when it's light outside.
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Old 12-14-07, 07:05 PM   #6
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As for the helmet, no damage, it was a very light tap, but it reminded me why I wear it.
That's not good enough. Go back and fall again tomorrow without the helmet so see exactly what the helmet accomplished
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Old 12-14-07, 07:28 PM   #7
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It might not look like there's any damage, but you might want to look into getting a new skid lid. ... My problems, curiously, always occur on warm, sunny days. Go figure.
Thank you, I have heard that a helmet can sustain damage that can't be seen, but this was a really light tap, no more, I think, than it would have gotten if I had fumbled it and dropped it on the floor at home. And there was snow cover on the street. So I think I'll chance it. However, I am familiar with the concept of the "error chain," a collection of seemingly unrelated and unimportant events that come together at some point and cause a disaster. So I can see the argument for replacing it. We should be watching for the formation of possible error chain links, and break them whenever we see them. I'm one to talk; I shouldn't have been hurrying.

I wonder if, on a sunny winter day, icy spots get a little sheen of water on them to make them extra slippery.
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Old 12-14-07, 07:45 PM   #8
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... no more, I think, than it would have gotten if I had fumbled it and dropped it on the floor at home.
That, too is something that would make me replace my helmet. But I buy cheap helmets, and I'm one who has had one save my brain from a real collision, so I'm biased.
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So I think I'll chance it.
Ain't my call. I'm just glad nothing's hurt but your pride (and perhaps your faith in studded tires)
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Old 12-14-07, 08:12 PM   #9
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I just bought a set of these and I love them. There are just enough studs down the middle to give me traction through ice for stopping and even standing up out of my seat and peddling.

The first couple of rides on dry were a bit dodgy, but the studs have worn down a little and there isn't much friction any more.

I highly recommend these tires:

http://www.schwalbetires.com/node/1788
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Old 12-14-07, 11:13 PM   #10
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I was hurrying home from work today because of a little crisis. I have studded tires for winter, the kind with studs at the edges to aid in turns, but no studs down the middle for less rolling resistance. I was coming to a stop at a side street with some bare pavement and some packed snow, and BOOM, down I went. I landed on my side and felt the side of my helmet lightly tap the pavement.

I don't know what I ran into, but I would guess it was a little polished icy spot that I hit while going straight so no studs were in contact with the pavement. So one must not get overconfident with studs. As for the helmet, no damage, it was a very light tap, but it reminded me why I wear it.
Thanks for the reminder. I just got my first set of studdeds tonight. I will say, though, that I do alot of trail riding and I don't know how many times I've ate it, fell, then let my head fall back in exasperation only to hit it on a small tree or limb that I didn't know was there. Probably wouldn't have caused any permanent damage, but I'm sure glad I had my helmet on. My bald head would be alot lumpier if I hadn't.
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Old 12-14-07, 11:21 PM   #11
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I wonder if, on a sunny winter day, icy spots get a little sheen of water on them to make them extra slippery.
Someone told me once that ice skates don't really skate on ice. The friction from the very front of the blade actually melts the ice immediately around it and the rest of the blade rides on a super-thin film of water.
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Old 12-15-07, 02:20 AM   #12
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How many studs are in each tire?
Nokian makes tires with up to 150 studs, I believe, probably more. And some of their tires have a stud pattern down the middle, so you don't just feel them when you are cornering. Also, they are carbide-tipped which is badass. Mine are into their second winter with no signs of wear.
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Old 12-15-07, 08:41 AM   #13
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Someone told me once that ice skates don't really skate on ice. The friction from the very front of the blade actually melts the ice immediately around it and the rest of the blade rides on a super-thin film of water.
It's called the triple point...the same thing happens with skis. It isn't actually the friction, per say, but the leading portion of the blade/ski breaking the asperites (tiny ice crystals) which releases enough energy to create a quasi-liquid like layer beneath the rest of the running surface of the blade/ski.

Anyways, this isn't what happens with powder skiing OR studded tires. Yes, I used to work as a snow hydrologist.

Water on ice can and will lead to hydroplaning on ice just as easily as on pavement...it takes 1/8 th of an inch. The popular magic number for cars is 1/4th, but bikes and walking people are severely lighter.

Also, while water isn't the best lubricant in the world it's better than just about anything that's dry. Truly cold, cold ice can be amazingly grippy with embedded debris and even some snow over the top. Just a little bit of melting and you now have a lubricant that destroys what used to be a large coefficient of friction. It isn't the triple point, but the resultant effect is the same.

I don't have studs, but I went down once on Tuesday. Rounding a corner at about 5 mph I wasn't thinking and thought I could get away with leaning...nope. Went down and slid an additional five feet real slowly on my side. It was hilarious. And now I think studs in Colorado are warranted whereas before I would have said they were overkill for our usually dry winters.

Last edited by climbhoser; 12-15-07 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 12-15-07, 08:58 AM   #14
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It's a good reminder when you take a small fall to remember you can take a really serious one if you're over confident or are not concentrating when riding in sketchy conditions.

Coincidentally, I rode 12 miles on really icy lumpy snowy trails to work Friday morning. I averaged about 10 mph. As I approached the parking lot of my office, the dumpster was being emptied by this enormous trash truck. It was pitch black and the driver was sitting up pretty high focused on the task at hand. Since I arrive at work at 6:00 am, the driver was not expecting anyone around although I am lit up pretty well. I slowed and turned quickly to distance myself from his backing radius. Whamm My front wheel caught in a deep rut and down I went. I didn't have time to unclip. I just got up and walked to the front door. First fall of the season and probably not the last. My head did not hit the ground, just my pride.
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Old 12-15-07, 09:19 AM   #15
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Yeah, studs are only an assistance, not a guarantee. Some ice is very smooth and hard, and the studs just don't grip on it.
Cold dry snow actually grips pretty well. It's when the stuff gets near the melting point that it packs down into miserable stuff.
Still, studs make riding possible at times. Several times I've ridden my bike to work over roads that I would not have liked to have driven on, and were treacherous to walk on.

Rutted up frozen slush is the worst though; it will grab your tires and fling you to the ground. When the shoulders are covered with rutted crap on the high speed 2 lane that I ride on for the last mile of my commute, that's the only time that I pull over every few hundred yards and let traffic behind me clear. I'm NOT riding on the shoulder in those conditions, but when I take the lane for 300 yards, I've got about 80 cars behind me.
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Old 12-15-07, 10:01 AM   #16
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It's called the triple point...the same thing happens with skis. It isn't actually the friction, per say, but the leading portion of the blade/ski breaking the asperites (tiny ice crystals) which releases enough energy to create a quasi-liquid like layer beneath the rest of the running surface of the blade/ski.

Science rocks!
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Old 12-15-07, 10:32 AM   #17
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I have the Nokian 294 (294 studs) extreme tire on. A carbide tipped stud in every knob on the tire.

They are awesome! The rolling resistance is higher, but I will choose that over crashing.

As with any tire, deep snow is not your friend. I did crash on mine going slowly through a plow furow...

Glad to hear you are ok!
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Old 12-15-07, 11:46 AM   #18
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I think you'll want to lower the air pressure on tires with spikes on the outside so they make contact... if you are riding on 100% clear pavement, you can increase the PSI to speed up your ride, but to make use of that stud traction you need low pressure. Low and slow.
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Old 12-15-07, 12:09 PM   #19
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I don't use either here in Canada.I never found the need for studs.I can acheive the same effect with air pressure and I've never worn a helmet.I was riding for 20 years before they became a mass produced product available to the average cyclist.
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Old 12-15-07, 12:51 PM   #20
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I use both here in Canada. I often find the need for studs. There's no way I could achieve the same effect with air pressure and I always wear a helmet. I've been riding for 30 years, and if I didn't wear a helmet I would have 2-3 severe brain injuries by now.
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Old 12-15-07, 01:01 PM   #21
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I have seen many people start using studded tires and find that they can't believe they went this long without using them.

I run a home-brewed studded tire on the front of my winter bike finding that with reduced tire pressure I get enough traction and appreciate the better cornering ability the studded tire offers.

There are 52 studs per side to aid in off camber maneuvers while I like leaving the centre free to reduce rolling resistance as much of my winter riding is done on hard frozen pavement and where centre studs become a detriment.

bikeguy - You mentioned that yo have had a few falls on black ice and I can only think that you might have avoided these if you had been running studs.

It's worth considering as I have not had a fall in the last two winters.
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Old 12-15-07, 02:21 PM   #22
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I use both here in Canada. I often find the need for studs. There's no way I could achieve the same effect with air pressure and I always wear a helmet. I've been riding for 30 years, and if I didn't wear a helmet I would have 2-3 severe brain injuries by now.
+1 - I think studded tires & low tire pressure is the ticket!...for the great white north - having said that I always get passed by some guy on a road bike with 23mm tires ripping it up and seemingly having no problems...lol...if I tried that I'd be in the hospital pretty quick - to each his own I guess....

As for helmets I usually don't wear one for casual riding around town..., but winter biking is an activity that I'll 100% put one on for - much higher chance I'll end up on the ground... Skateboarding/snowboarding helmets are both tougher and warmer than typical bike helmets...
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Old 12-15-07, 05:59 PM   #23
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Old 12-16-07, 09:38 AM   #24
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I wear a helmet and ride slower
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Old 12-16-07, 10:00 PM   #25
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This is my fifth winter of riding, and I am currently less confident in studded tires than ever at any point during that time. This is mainly the result of recent rides where the ice rendered my Mount and Grounds nearly useless. I crashed for the first time last week and have felt more give on the ice than in any other year.

But i don't know if it's just the conditions, my perception, or a combination of the two. But I have lost a lot of faith in my studded tires. Maybe it's kind of an "ignorance is bliss" sort of deal, where i have been riding on the edge of a crash for five years and didn't know it, but it is odd to be at this point and feeling like such a noob.
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