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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 01-19-05, 06:02 PM   #1
oknups
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dealing with snow, ice...

Snowed today in Baltimore. I know 1 1/4" snow is no big deal, nor is 27 degree temps.
But I had a problem today, B town is not known for clearing streets quickly, if at all if it is a back one.
So I FOB'ed (fell off bike), stopping at a 4 way stop, I saw it coming, as the suv in front of me had trouble stopping on what turned out to be ice.

Doing 0 mph I started to clip out left side, and bang bike went right, I went down.
Actually had trouble standing up it was that slippery.

Questions:
Are studded tires any good?
How to deal with tire float in snow.
Braking, today I never used my rear brake at all and it seemed to work, any pointers?
Icing on drive train and rear derailer, anyway to prevent?

But hey it was fun. Did not hurt anything but my pride. Got up and rode home. Car behind me sat and spun.
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Old 01-19-05, 06:42 PM   #2
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It takes a lot of experimenting to control the bike in snow. You need to learn away from cars. You steer into the skid just like a car. But, at the same time you need to keep the bike straight up at all times. Not like pavement where you can bank the bike a little and skid. Sometimes you can bank a bike a little in the snow but it's hard to recover fast enough. When just riding, you need to turn the bike carefully without tipping it.

Studded tires are amazing. On an ice rink I have as much traction as on the grass. On flat ice one has very good traction. There is almost never flat ice on the road. Bumpy ice can be ridden over if you still keep the bike straight up. You can ride over places you can't walk over when you get used to studded tires. It's easier with low tire pressure. It still takes practice, an experienced rider to show you is even better.
Unfortunately Lousy studded tires that wear out in a year are $50 each. Ones that don't are close to $100 each... And you have lousy traction on the pavement. And the pavement wears out the studs.

However........you are likely to find ruts in ice going almost the same direction you are going, but not quite. These will toss you down right in front of a car instantly. if the ice is deep and rutted, do not ride in traffic.

You are better not using the front brake, and just using the back if you need to use one. The best is learn to be gentle with both. If you lock the front wheel by accident you fall. If you lock the back you have a chance of recovering. (if you are good)

If you don't have a lot of experience controlling your bike on a slippery surface, you need to learn away from cars. It takes a lot of practice. Don't ride alongside cars if you don't know how. It's as much to learn as it was to learn to ride a bike in the first place.

Icing on the drive train happens when it is below freezing, your bike is below freezing, but the road is wet because the cars keep the road from freezing. It happens all the time. As soon as the water gets off the road and onto your bike, it turns to ice. The best thing is high clearance, motocross (motorcycle) full coverage style fenders. I had to make mine, you really can't buy these.
You still get ice on the braking surface and then you have no brakes until you wear it off. It's not an easy thing to deal with. There is a learning period for all this stuff. Is there an off road path or some place where you can experiment away from cars? You will be falling. Be careful.
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Old 01-19-05, 07:17 PM   #3
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Thank you for the advice. I will practice, and probably buy an inexpensives set of studdeds if the lbs can provide.
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Old 01-19-05, 07:22 PM   #4
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I agree with everything that 2manybikes said. I would like to add that if you can't afford 2 studded tires, you can do ok with one on the front only. I ride a 16 mile round trip commute in Vermont/upstate NY and fnd the rolling resistance of 2 studded tires to be too much. So, I ride studded up front and a cyclocross tire on the back.
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Old 01-19-05, 07:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
I agree with everything that 2manybikes said. I would like to add that if you can't afford 2 studded tires, you can do ok with one on the front only. I ride a 16 mile round trip commute in Vermont/upstate NY and fnd the rolling resistance of 2 studded tires to be too much. So, I ride studded up front and a cyclocross tire on the back.
This is true too. In fact if it's not too icy and just snowy, you can ride in the snow with knobbies. Studded tires do not make much difference in the snow unless there is ice under the snow.

Good point Mars. No need to spend any more than absolutely needed. If it's super Icy everywhere two studded tires are easier, but not needed for everything.
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Old 01-19-05, 08:04 PM   #6
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I am riding on 700 conti top touring wide ones (38mm?), but basically they are a slick. Riding on a hybrid so width is not an issue. Any make recommended?
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Old 01-19-05, 08:19 PM   #7
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Go to the Nokian web sight they have a few good options. Then you can get a lot of details. Then google what you like. Also check Bike Nashbar. The cheap ones wear out quickly. The more studs the better. Unfortunatly the Nokian studs are much longer lasting so the tires are priced accordingly (They are tungsten carbide). I wasted money on a pair of $50 tires that wore out in a year. Now I have $85 tires that so far have gone 4 years. The operating cost is a lot less. Oh well..

For studded tires, Nokian are much better than the rest!

Or if you mean knobbies, a lot of the website mail order places have tread pictures. Get really knobby!
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Old 01-20-05, 12:41 AM   #8
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Again, 2many and I are on the same page. Buy Nokians if you are going to buy studded tires. They really are the best tire and are amazing on the ice.
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Old 01-20-05, 12:45 AM   #9
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Just one more word

I find that, with the right equipment, riding my bike in winter is one of my greatest pleasures. You are a better cyclist than you think you are and your body will quickly learn how to ride in those conditions. I especially like riding in freshly fallen snow, or when big fat flakes are floating down. I congratulate you on expanding your cycling horizons this way!
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Old 01-20-05, 07:57 AM   #10
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This morning I was riding across a bridge that is closed at about 14mph. I stopped to take a photo and immediately fell on my @ss upon my feet hitting the pavement. Had no idea it was that icy. Nokian Extremes are amazing!
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Old 01-20-05, 08:27 AM   #11
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I ride the Nokians on my hybrid. They are great on ice and hard packed snow... Any bike tire studs or not don't do well in loose snow. The Nokians dropped my average speed by 2mph... they are heavy! (This is in addition to the 2mph lost due to the added clothing, etc. of winter riding.)

IMHO Full fenders are a must! They keep the slush off your drive chain and feet!
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Old 01-20-05, 09:04 AM   #12
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Studded tires are great, but if you're careful you can ride icy roads without them. Just ride slowly, pedal, brake, and turn very gently. And as others have said, keep the bike upright.

How often do you get icy roads in Baltimore? I'm in the Boston area, and in 3 winters of bike commuting there have been maybe half a dozen days when I would have wanted studs. Given that, I decided they weren't worth the money, or the hassle of switching them on when needed.
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Old 01-20-05, 09:33 AM   #13
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Hmmm...it just occurred to me I should buy a (relatively) cheap extra front wheel and put a studded tire on it. Then on those handful of days when it's really icey and I wish I had studs (like today) I could just flip the new wheel on to my (relatively) cheap winter bike in the morning in a minute or two. That must be preferrable to riding all winter on studs even when the roads are dry - or to swapping tires several times on one wheel. I bet a bunch of you people are doing this already. Any thoughts?
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Old 01-20-05, 09:36 AM   #14
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I'm going to be making first tracks in fresh powder in an hour. I am bringing the digicam. I'll post picturres later, This is so much fun and so nice, it is hard to explain.

Here's a picture from last year. Who else has winter riding pictures? I'm interested to see them. Maybe we can convert a few more riders. This is from a lake I ride on.
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Old 01-20-05, 09:42 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmacrider
Hmmm...it just occurred to me I should buy a (relatively) cheap extra front wheel and put a studded tire on it. Then on those handful of days when it's really icey and I wish I had studs (like today) I could just flip the new wheel on to my (relatively) cheap winter bike in the morning in a minute or two. That must be preferrable to riding all winter on studs even when the roads are dry - or to swapping tires several times on one wheel. I bet a bunch of you people are doing this already. Any thoughts?
That's an excellent idea. If you start getting hooked you might want to do what I do, and just take the bike with studded tires that day, instead of the one without studs. It's easy in the morining!
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Old 01-20-05, 11:29 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmacrider
I should buy a (relatively) cheap extra front wheel and put a studded tire on it.
That’s what I do. I bought the rear as well.
Since I keep my bike in my repair stand at night and all 4 rims are the same, I can swap over to the Nokians in just a few minutes
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Old 01-20-05, 11:45 AM   #17
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If just one studded tire in front is better than none on ice, and knobby tires are good in snow, is just one knobby on the front better than none for snow? Or would that make the ride too uneven? Or maybe not helpful because most of the traction is really needed on the rear driving wheel?

Last edited by JohnBrooking; 01-20-05 at 11:46 AM. Reason: Corrected typo
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Old 01-20-05, 01:02 PM   #18
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If just one studded tire in front is better than none on ice, and knobby tires are good in snow, is just one knobby on the front better than none for snow? Or would that make the ride too uneven? Or maybe not helpful because most of the traction is really needed on the rear driving wheel?
I believe the traction is really needed on the FRONT wheel. If you lose control of your back wheel you might be able to recover, but if you lose control of your front wheel you'll be kissing pavement. I think it's fairly common for winter bikers to have bigger knobs or studs on the front than on the back. I've never noticed anything "uneven" about the ride.
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Old 01-20-05, 01:24 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by elbows
Studded tires are great, but if you're careful you can ride icy roads without them. Just ride slowly, pedal, brake, and turn very gently. And as others have said, keep the bike upright.

How often do you get icy roads in Baltimore? I'm in the Boston area, and in 3 winters of bike commuting there have been maybe half a dozen days when I would have wanted studs. Given that, I decided they weren't worth the money, or the hassle of switching them on when needed.
The main roads get plowed and salted here, not all that quickly, but they do get done. The roads I travel to get to work, three of them never get plowed or salted. The big snow we had last year turned into ice in about a day from motor vehicles, and places that were plowed black ice would pop up.
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Old 01-20-05, 02:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oknups
Questions:
Are studded tires any good?
How to deal with tire float in snow.
Braking, today I never used my rear brake at all and it seemed to work, any pointers?
Icing on drive train and rear derailer, anyway to prevent?

But hey it was fun. Did not hurt anything but my pride. Got up and rode home. Car behind me sat and spun.
The Baltimore-Washington area is known for persistant ice during the winter. Nokians are great. I was able to commute at normal speeds yesterday.

Float? They sink into the snow in this area. If the snow is so compressed that you don't sink, your studs will dig in nicely. What's bad is having to plow through heavy wet snow -- cars are actually better than bikes at this.

Don't use the front brake at all, unless you have studs. Even then, rely on the rear one.

Fenders are essential; single speed or hub gears a great benefit. The only real answer is a full chaincase.

I woundn't want anything but platform pedals for a ride on ice. Lower the seat a bit so you can slide a foot or two, dirt track motorcycle style.

Isn't it fun! It's even more fun with proper equipment -- check out the Icebike list and the Winter Cycling part of this forum.

Paul
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Old 01-20-05, 03:05 PM   #21
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JohnBrooking:

My fixed gear is set up that way. More rolling resistance comes from the back wheel, so I ride a slick back there and a cyclocross on the front. That is my favorite winter weapon. In icy conditions, though, I ride my cyclocross bike with a Nokian front tire.
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Old 01-20-05, 10:23 PM   #22
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These photos are from today. It was perfect. About 3" fresh powder.
30 degrees at the start about 1:00 pm, 18 degrees at the end about 6:30 pm.
About 20 miles mainly in first and second gear with a little bit of third gear. If anyone wants to see a Nokian extreme 296 (296 studs) I took a close up of a tire.
This is Rhode Island.

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/dad029...LdyZCBkzKrc__c

p.s. If you ride across hard slick glare ice, or very hard bumpy ice fast, with just a studded front tire, you will fall down. Same for very slippery snow with just a front knobby, you just fall. You need traction to push the bike too. One tire only works in some not too slippery conditions. I can introduce you to a couple of injured guys that found out the hard way. Ouch! Conditions vary a lot, Ice goes from rideable with no studs to impossible without two studded tires. We don't get to know what nature is going to give us except where roads are sanded or treated in some way.
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Old 01-21-05, 04:17 AM   #23
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Nokian's were not available from LBS, so I ordered a pair of Schwalbe 700 x 38 Snow Studs instead. Anyone seen these. They were cheaper than the Nokians, does not look like they have as many studs.
I will post a report after I have tried them, probably next week sometime as we are expecting more snow this weekend.
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Old 01-21-05, 02:10 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oknups
Nokian's were not available from LBS, so I ordered a pair of Schwalbe 700 x 38 Snow Studs instead. Anyone seen these. They were cheaper than the Nokians, does not look like they have as many studs.
I will post a report after I have tried them, probably next week sometime as we are expecting more snow this weekend.
This is an on line source for Nokians. I actually bought studs from them too. They know about winter, they are in Alaska, they support the Iiditabike race on the Idtarod trail.This is the tire page.

http://www.allweathersports.com/winter/nokia.html
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Old 01-21-05, 02:49 PM   #25
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Does All Westher Sports still exist?

Anyway, right in New England, your best source would be :

http://peterwhitecycles.com (best page of information on it)
http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/
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