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  1. #1
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Zip Ties as DIY Snow Tires

    Last Friday, seeing in the morning that the snow had overcome my studded tire's ability to grab something solid, I set out to make a DIY zip tie snow tire for my back wheel. I read about how you can do this on the internet. I had been skeptical, but I had a package of 11" zip ties so plenty to get the job done and I figured I had nothing to lose.

    The ride to work was difficult, even with the back wheel done up. By the time I got there, I was thinking that I'd found the answer to my question about how someone with rim brakes could possibly work zip ties on the front wheel. (I ride a fixed gear and only have a front brake). Simple. The going is too slow to need a brakes. So I was ready to do up the front tire just like the back, and all I had to do was open the front brake so as to let the ZTs pass through.

    Do you think I could find a zip tie anywhere in the building? Nope.

    So I bemoaned the fact that I had all the rest of them back home, when it would have been so simple to have carried the unused with me. On the way to work, it was like wrestling a bear. One minute I was on solid ice doing just fine, the next the front tire was turning unpredictably, having run over a soft patch and slipping against some invisible rut below.

    At lunch I went downstairs to see how my back tire had fared, worried that I might have lost a zip tie or two. It was still snowing so the ride home would not be any easier. And now that I had no chance to replace any, I was curious to see how many I could have carried as back up to at least have set up the back tire like I had it when I left home.

    I was surprised to find that not a single zip tie was still on the tire. Somewhere along the route are all those zip ties. It could have been within the first block. Maybe when the snow melts I'll find them all at the end of my driveway.

    When you think about it, is it surprising that plastic would break in the cold?

    An Epic Fail. Dumber even than I originally thought.
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  2. #2
    Mmm hm! agent pombero's Avatar
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    Thank you for the delightful research for all of us I was rooting for ya the whole way, hoping those ties had help up...Maybe next time double or triple up the ties, spaced 3'' apart?

  3. #3
    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your experience. You learned from it, and so do we from sharing.

    I wouldn't call it an epic fail - you successfully made the commute, and there was little lost other than a few zip ties. I salute your spirit in trying something new.

  4. #4
    Daily Rider Robert C's Avatar
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    I have no idea who made them; but, in my "bike box" I have a set of tire chains for a bicycle. They are cable chains with beads to adjust them and fit a 26" tire.

    I tried them a few times in snow and they worked pretty well. I mention this to point out that tire chains for bicycles do exist. If this (riding in snow) really is a concern they may be worth investing in.
    As a nation we still continue to enjoy a literally unprecedented prosperity; and it is probable that only reckless speculation and disregard of legitimate business methods on the part of the business world can materially mar this prosperity. – Theodore Roosevelt, Sixth Annual Message, December 3, 1906

  5. #5
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    I'm really hoping you have disc/drum brakes...
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    I'm really hoping you have disc/drum brakes...
    Skipped the second paragraph?

    OP - What about small rope. It wouldn't get brittle in the cold like plastic.
    I have used it on pickups to get out of a ditch before.
    KHS Flite 500. Redline Metro Sport. 90s Schwinn Sidewinder SS.

  7. #7
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    This has been suggested several times over the last few years, and when tried, always has the same results. Another issue, is what happens if you puncture, if the zip ties have survived, it adds another thing to remove before getting the tire off.

    As with all things, if you don't try, you won't know if it will work or not.

  8. #8
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    While I'm sure it'd still get brittle and fall off, I wonder if someone could make an actual honest to God tire chain out of zip ties and size it to their tire by tightening them as needed. Would at least pass the rim brake test.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  9. #9
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PartsMan View Post
    Skipped the second paragraph?
    Skipped, no. Missed pertinent details, yes.
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  10. #10
    ouate de phoque dramiscram's Avatar
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    You should try again as you don't know if one of your collegue didn't just took them off after your parked the bike.
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  11. #11
    Collector of Useless Info
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    I tried to put roofing nails in my MTB tire to use as studs, but the tire went flat when I hammered in the first nail.

  12. #12
    Señior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I really don't think they broke in the cold. I think they wore through on the pavement. I have many zip ties on my bike, some in positions where they flex a bit, and have ridden in temps well below zero and have never had one break due to cold. They either get abraded through or they are broken by too much force.

    I'd be surprised if they lasted more than a mile or two, especially if you used the brakes.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  13. #13
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    I have to agree with ItsJustMe. They probably broke from the stress of contacting the ground.

    Now for the really pertinent details, what color were the zip ties? Next time, try a different color.

  14. #14
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
    ... what happens if you puncture, if the zip ties have survived, it adds another thing to remove before getting the tire off...
    You are absolutely correct and that was a concern of mine, but I thought there was no way I'd make it on just the studded tires I have. Besides, my car doesn't have the proper tires for these condtions, so I figure I'm safer on the bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
    ...Maybe next time double or triple up the ties, spaced 3'' apart?
    I don't plan on trying it again. Unless you are suggesting that more zip ties would provide some kind of heard warmth, I think they'd all fail in the cold. I'd just lose more zip ties.

    Quote Originally Posted by dramiscram View Post
    You should try again as you don't know if one of your collegue didn't just took them off after your parked the bike.
    Ha Ha. Now I'm wondering... maybe I did in fact get to work with all the zip ties... where were you when I was upstairs working?

    Quote Originally Posted by cycle_maven View Post
    I tried to put roofing nails in my MTB tire to use as studs, but the tire went flat when I hammered in the first nail.
    I had a similar experience with roofing nails when I tried to make a pair of tap dancing shoes.

    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    I really don't think they broke in the cold. I think they wore through on the pavement. I'd be surprised if they lasted more than a mile or two, especially if you used the brakes.
    You might be right, that they didn't break due to cold. But I've had bad luck with plastic in the cold before. Either way, at the end of the ride they were all gone, so I think zip ties just don't work.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffpoulin View Post
    Now for the really pertinent details, what color were the zip ties? Next time, try a different color.
    They were black. Can you suggest a better color?
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  15. #15
    GATC
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    Pink, definitely pink. Good job and thanks for reporting your results!

  16. #16
    Senior Member tergal's Avatar
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    What type of zip ties did you use ? there are automotive ones that are a lot stronger than you standard zip tie.

    That being said it would defeat the purpose of being a quick easy solution if you had to buy a special type.
    Tact is for people who aren’t witty enough to use sarcasm.

    Early helplessness is the price we pay for later brilliance. Or, at least our later capacity for non-idiocy

  17. #17
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scroca View Post

    They were black. Can you suggest a better color?
    Gotta go yellow on this one. That way they stand out in the snow...unless you're riding in the wrong kind of snow - you better have fenders in that case.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  18. #18
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tergal View Post
    What type of zip ties did you use ? there are automotive ones that are a lot stronger than you standard zip tie.

    That being said it would defeat the purpose of being a quick easy solution if you had to buy a special type.


    I used what I had on hand (it was 4:30am when I put them on).

    Here's a photo of one of the culprits sticking his nasty little head up out of the package. I can just about hear them all laughing at me.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member tergal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scroca View Post
    I can just about hear them all laughing at me.
    take more meds.... or less i am not sure
    Tact is for people who aren’t witty enough to use sarcasm.

    Early helplessness is the price we pay for later brilliance. Or, at least our later capacity for non-idiocy

  20. #20
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    Get a bigger tire or a bigger studded tire.

  21. #21
    Senior Member ka0use's Avatar
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    dude, what a creative idea! too bad it didn't work.

    maybe super glue short sections of cheap bracelets to the treads? maybe not.

    waaaaaay back in the last century i had commercially made chains for my mo-ped (drum brakes f/r). this was waaaaay before velcro, so one buckled each one on. 4 for each tire.
    another innovation for mo-peds was windshields with a hand operated wiper. there was a non-moving base for
    your left index finger and a spring-loaded stud attached to the wiper that you squeezed over with the thumb on the same hand. squeeze, let off, repeat as necessary.

    a laugh- when camping i used the exhaust to fill the air mattress the army issued me. the muffler tip fit
    perfectly and i'd have it on the stand and hit the throttle. only took a minute and saved me getting high from
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    first star on the right and straight on 'til morning
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  22. #22
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Now that the snow has melted enough to see the ground in a lot of places I am starting to find my broken zip ties. One lasted only about 10 feet from where I started out. The second made it another 20 or 30 feet, not even beyond the sidewalk in my apartment complex. I doubt the rest lasted even a mile and a half.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    I have some metal cable ties. Pretty sure those won't break. But that's also a problem if you have a flat tire
    You'll probably need to carry a little cutter
    http://www.cableorganizer.com/cablet...cable-ties.htm
    Last edited by erig007; 11-17-12 at 12:55 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member bluegoatwoods's Avatar
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    Still....it was a good idea. Too bad it didn't work.

    But those of us who aren't ashamed of being 'Mickey Mouse Engineers' approve.

    And now we know one more thing not to try. So thanks.

  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    Looks like others did this with success:
    http://gizmodo.com/5719594/zip-tie-s...roof-your-bike

    Maybe check the brand/quality of your zip ties?

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