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  1. #1
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Tyres for the Seattle winter?

    Hi.

    I've been commuting from Pinehurst (between Northgate and Lake City) to DT Seattle 3-4 times a week. So far, the weather has been relatively co-operative. I've ridden through some serious rain a few times, but my rides have been mostly okay, if not pleasant.

    Now as the temperatures often dip into the low 30s in the morning, I'm somewhat concerned about the road condition. I wouldn't be surprised to run into some icy pavement pretty soon, if not this week.

    So my fellow Seattleites, what kind of tyres do you have for the winter commute? I have the Bontrager All-Weather tyres (700x28s) that came with the bike. They have about 1,200 miles on them, and as far as I can tell, they still work well. I wonder how those "all-weather" tyres can handle incremental weather. Should I invest into a pair of snow tyres? If so, which brands do you guys recommend?

    TIA!
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

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    It's been a while since I've lived there (left in 1987), but I don't remember seeing much ice ever in Seattle proper. We'd have one or two days with cold temps, but mostly not cold enough to freeze.

  3. #3
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    It's been a while since I've lived there (left in 1987), but I don't remember seeing much ice ever in Seattle proper. We'd have one or two days with cold temps, but mostly not cold enough to freeze.
    I don't anticipate too many icy days, either, but I plan on riding my bike as much as possible through the winter and don't want to bail out because of ice.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  4. #4
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    The Top Contact Winters are great tires for the dark season commute. They are a little hard to find and I am not sure if they are much different than standard Top Contacts. They don't really do much for black ice. You have to watch out in the mornings this time of year if we have clear nights. (Do a google search for "Cliff Mass black ice" for the weather explanation from a UW Atmospheric Science professor.) Last year we had a couple of weeks where studded tires were good to have on the backup bike for the ride from Seattle to Everett.

  6. #6
    Junior Member Greasybike's Avatar
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    I'll be mounting my Nokian Mount and Ground studded tires here soon. This will be its 3rd season and the studs still look great.

    Be safe out there!

  7. #7
    Senior Member percy kittens's Avatar
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    Whatever Bothell Ski and Bike put on. I think the front one was $40. If I get off this bed I may go out to the shed and take a look. My answer is found in the spirit of the opening lines: no special tires for winter. I commute from Shoreline to downtown and joyrides take me everywhere from Everett to Issaquah to West Seattle. On icy mornings I avoid steep down hills, like Perkins/24th into Lake Forest Park, and gravitate more toward streets than paths. The morning commuter cars melt the ice on the roads.
    My worst ice fall also taught me a valuable lesson: watch for secret ice pockets such as found in a weird tiny corner of the Fred Meyer parking lot where the building blocks any sun til mid-day.
    When in doubt, like yesterday morning down Perkins, I pause and slide my shoe over the surface to see if it is slick.
    Mainly, watch for areas that are shaded from the sun's passing, like those with heavy tree cover.
    Hope that helped a little.
    I have never switched out my tires and only had that one slide in Freddies parking lot.

  8. #8
    Senior Member lonesomesteve's Avatar
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    Personally I think special "winter tires" and especially studded tires are overkill in Seattle. I commute all year on Panaracer Paselas. They're a good compromise between comfort, performance and durability, and are very reasonably priced. Yes, there are a few days where frost or ice on the road can be an issue. Use caution and avoid braking and quick turns on frosty and icy spots and you'll be fine.

    On the rare snowy days I usually take the bus. Not because I'm worried about my bike having traction. I'm more concerned about cars sliding into me.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by allan6344 View Post
    The Top Contact Winters are great tires for the dark season commute. They are a little hard to find and I am not sure if they are much different than standard Top Contacts. They don't really do much for black ice. You have to watch out in the mornings this time of year if we have clear nights. (Do a google search for "Cliff Mass black ice" for the weather explanation from a UW Atmospheric Science professor.) Last year we had a couple of weeks where studded tires were good to have on the backup bike for the ride from Seattle to Everett.
    Thanks guys. I looked around but couldn't find an LSB that carries Top Contacts or TC Winters near where I live. I did find Top Contacts on Amazon, but they don't have my size (700x28). That leads me to wonder if I should consider getting wider tyres for the winter?
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  10. #10
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    I run conti GP4000s year-round. Have never felt the need to switch to something else in the winter.

  11. #11
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    Daihard,
    Since I have a low post count, I cant PM you. But what kind of rain gear do you use? I am starting a commute this coming quarter, in a rural area.
    I cant decide what jacket, pants, etc. to use. Thanks!

  12. #12
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamAlaRag View Post
    Daihard,
    Since I have a low post count, I cant PM you. But what kind of rain gear do you use? I am starting a commute this coming quarter, in a rural area.
    I cant decide what jacket, pants, etc. to use. Thanks!
    Hi! I have the following gear for the winter/rain commute.

    Jacket
    I have a Shower's Pass Elite 2.1 rain jacket. It is lightweight and works very well to keep me warm and dry. It is breathable with a big back opening and two additional zippered side openings.

    Pants
    I have 2 pairs of Novara Headwind rain pants. They are very comfortable. The front panels are windproof and water-resistant. The back panels are breathable. I wear these all the time, not just in the rain.

    Gloves
    I have a pair of Pearl Izumi Cyclone Gel gloves. They work relatively well, though I wonder if they are warm enough if the temperature dips into the 20s, or for a longer ride. My commute is 10 miles one way. If you have a longer commute, you might want to consider thicker gloves. A co-worker has shown me his Castelli "Estremo" gloves, which he says keep him warm in extreme conditions.

    Shoe Cover
    I bought a Sugoi Resistor Booties. I haven't gotten to use them yet, but it's probably time that I did. My toes are freezing at the end of the commute these days!

    That's pretty much all I have. I usually wear a merino-mix inner shirt underneath the Elite jacket for an additional layer.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to let me know if you have any further questions.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  13. #13
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    Thanks so much! This is very helpful.

  14. #14
    Member lastostrogoth's Avatar
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    I have Continental GP4000s on both of my road bikes. As others have pointed out, they are the best. The best price on them is at Wiggle.com. I paid about $37.50 apiece for two. I paid double that from Performance for the first set I bought. They are wonderful tires. Check out the continental site to see the independent testing that was done on them. I live south of Seattle in Pierce county where there is almost nothing but chip sealed roads. These tires make it much more pleasant to ride.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    .

    I have yet to need special tires, much to my chagrin, as I bought a pair of Hakkapellitta's (studded tires) before last winter and am itching to try them out. I run Panaracer T-Serv Protex's up front and Vittoria Randonneur Pros in the rear and these have done just fine year-round so far. Although I run both of these in their 26" version, they come in 700c's as well.

    I enjoy the snow generally, and always seem frustrated here, as in Seattle we never seem to have the cold temps at the same time as we have precipitation. Like the forecast for the next week or so, rain ends just as it gets cold enough to snow, temps raise up to just above freezing once we start getting precipitation again. That's very typical in my experience of living in Seattle for the last 20 years.

    Much of the time any snow we get doesn't really stick and you can ride right through it. The only time I've encountered ice was when I rolled out onto one of the piers to take some photos one morning. I took it very slowly, and when I turned around at the end, I took advantage of the very large space to make my turn very wide and didn't go down. It was supposedly 37 degrees out, but the end of the pier was mostly covered in ice. Beware bridges when it is close to freezing! They may well be just cold enough to be icy when everything else isn't.

    I don't like to rely on the bus, so in a couple of weeks when I have my new commuter bike completed, I'll be putting the Hakkapeliitta's on my current commuter on the off chance the ground actually ends up frozen for a few days. Having a spare bike to take instead should greatly simplify the choice of whether or not to ride on true winter tires. If it looks like it is actually going to be icy in the meantime I'll go to the trouble to mount them, but I suspect the conditions aren't quite going to warrant it. Probably real close for several days, but not quite.
    Everyone hates your lights. Throw them away & buy something civilized.

  16. #16
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    I've been using the continental winter contact ii tires for a few weeks now. I live in the midwest but I bought them for the same reasons that the OP is thinking about different tires which is that I wanted something that can handle pavement and ice/snow well. So far so good with the new tires. They handle ice/snow well (but they are not quite as good as studded tires) and handle pavement very well. Great tires.

    If I were riding somewhere that had as much rain as Seattle, I'd think about a bit wider (and lower pressure) tire than a 700 x 28c. Anything that improves the tire's contact with the road is a plus I think in the rain. A 700 x 32c continental top contact would be a fine choice for all weather commuting.

  17. #17
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    If I were riding somewhere that had as much rain as Seattle, I'd think about a bit wider (and lower pressure) tire than a 700 x 28c. Anything that improves the tire's contact with the road is a plus I think in the rain. A 700 x 32c continental top contact would be a fine choice for all weather commuting.
    My GP4000s are 700x25c and I have never had any wet traction issues.

  18. #18
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodway View Post
    My GP4000s are 700x25c and I have never had any wet traction issues.
    I used to commute on a regular basis is a city that has a higher annual rainfall than Seattle on 700 x 28c tires (and sometimes 25c as well) and never had any issues either. But, everything else being equal, a little wider tire with a little lower PSI helps both with slick surfaces and at night when you can't see the road as well.
    Last edited by bikemig; 12-01-13 at 10:23 AM.

  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I dont ride my skinny tire road bike in the Winter .. problem solved..

    Nokian Mount and Ground studded tires here soon. This will be its 3rd season and the studs still look great.
    I'm still using the pair I got in 91, [shipped direct import from Finland, then ]

    spare wheelset, (or a just pump up the tires on a spare bike, now) saved wear and tear remounting..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 12-16-13 at 10:04 AM.

  20. #20
    John Wayne Toilet Paper nhluhr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonesomesteve View Post
    Personally I think special "winter tires" and especially studded tires are overkill in Seattle.
    This is the truth. There are multiple racing teams that train year-round in Seattle on little more than standard road bike tires. Some of us run gatorskins in the next wider size for additional flat protection but that's it. You don't need special tires as much as you need awareness of conditions and how it affects stability.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodway View Post
    I run conti GP4000s year-round. Have never felt the need to switch to something else in the winter.
    This is what works for me, too.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  22. #22
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Thanks all!

    Looks like a lot of people are very happy with the GP4000s. I met an old friend who's been into cycling for nearly 10 years yesterday. He said he had GP4000s on his two road bikes. I'm pretty sure now which tyres I will buy next.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Today... snow tires !

  24. #24
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    Thanks all!

    Looks like a lot of people are very happy with the GP4000s. I met an old friend who's been into cycling for nearly 10 years yesterday. He said he had GP4000s on his two road bikes. I'm pretty sure now which tyres I will buy next.
    If you go to REI or Speedy Reedy, they'll set you back $75 per tire. If you order them online from a shop in UK, they'll cost about $35 apiece. For the same tires. You won't have to deal with customs, and it'll be like anything you've ordered on the internet before, but maybe less expensive shipping.

    You said you worry about your gloves being warm enough for serious cold. You can get a pair of merino liners, they'll add warmth and wick any sweat away.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  25. #25
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    If you go to REI or Speedy Reedy, they'll set you back $75 per tire. If you order them online from a shop in UK, they'll cost about $35 apiece. For the same tires. You won't have to deal with customs, and it'll be like anything you've ordered on the internet before, but maybe less expensive shipping.

    You said you worry about your gloves being warm enough for serious cold. You can get a pair of merino liners, they'll add warmth and wick any sweat away.
    Thanks for the advice on both items. I thought it was weird that it cost less to get Conti tyres from the U.K. than from REI here until I realized that Continental is a European company. I have their Sport Contact tyres on my car. They work great.

    As for the gloves, I just got a pair of Giro gloves that's rated for 30 degrees. I do plan on returning them as I got them for immediate necessity. I'm wondering about how the glove liners work, though. My regular gloves fit pretty tight and may not have enough room for liners.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

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