700x23 on snow and ice? Piece of cake.
I wanted to describe my commuting experience this winter as a counterpoint to all the threads about winter riding with fat studded tires. I'm not trying to contradict anyone or convince anyone. I just want to mention what's possible and contrast it to what people usually assume is possible. This is just one more data point for your own winter tire decision making process.
Last winter I rode on 700x35 knobby cyclocross tires. This winter I rode on 700x23 road slicks. I rode through snow, slush, freezing rain, hail, and every other known form of solid/liquid water abomination. I rode on fresh powder and packed snow. I rode during snow storms and I rode long after the snow had melted and refrozen in to sheets and shards of ice. The summary of both winters' experiences is that I had zero mishaps.
I'm not saying that the wider tires with knobs didn't help. They did help. I'm only saying that this winter I rode just as far, in just as bad of conditions, at higher speeds, and the narrow tire choice didn't negatively impact my safety.*
What did I gain from this experiment? Aside from slightly shorter commute times, I now have the ability to control a bicycle much more precisely than ever before. When 10cm^2 of smooth rubber is decelerating on black ice, you learn how to better distribute body weight and make infinitesimal braking adjustments to keep going in a straight line. I've commuted every day for many years, but after this one winter experience, all of my cornering, braking, and accelerating is more refined.
Anyone else using the same smooth skinny tire all year? Pros? Cons?
*Old safety grouches may now commence lambasting me and blaming me for the skull fractures incurred by their impressionable children. :50:
I`m guessing snow and ice must be different where you are ....
Yeah - I guess I`m one of those riders that uses studded tires. Which is not to say that I was chomping at the bit to go out and spend the completely ridiculous amout that these tires cost me. Quite the opposite in fact - I tried evrything possible to avoid it.
Originally Posted by daveizdum
So yeah - I tried the 700 x 23c road slicks that I run with ocassionally.The first time in snow cured that! THERE IS NO TRACTION! I could spin out the rear wheel in any gear at any speed just by coming onto the pedals hard. And unfortunately their braking performance was just as dismal.
OK - so I also have a bike with 700 x 33c city slicks so figured that maybe those would do better.Nope! Same issues!
So next I tried some 700 x 30c cyclocross tires and they actually worked fairly well. Partly because of the aggressive tread and partly because of the softer rubber compound.
But eventually I bit the bullet and went for studded winter tires because they have a compound designed for the temperatures and nothing can come close to their braking performance on hardpacked snow and ice.
Driving a bike in conditions and on the same roads which most car drivers have issues controlling their veichles is already a little risky. I like to give myself as much chance as possible.