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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 12-08-05, 05:13 PM   #1
Jamtastic
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Riding on snow. Or falling on snow.

OK. Im in oklahoma so snow is pretty rare. Like 3 times a winter. But it snowed yesterday and i attempted to ride to class. I slipped off my bike about 7 times. I eventually just walked it half way.

How do you guys ride on snow and ice. I know my 700x23 tires had a lot to do with it but hesus christus...

there has to be more tricks....
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Old 12-08-05, 05:19 PM   #2
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smoooooooothly. Especially with road tires on. If the rear wheel slips try to keep your pedal rotation smooth and ride it out like you are on rollers. Try to avoid situations that might allow the front to slip. If it does balance and smoothness amy allow you to ride it out, but chances are once the front slips you're going down. I rode half the winter with baldies, slipped busted a pedal, and decided it was time for a cheap set of knobbies. Knobbies make a huge difference.
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Old 12-08-05, 05:21 PM   #3
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i tried to ride today in 6 inches of snow and it sucked... traction in staying up wasn't so bad, but i just kept spinning on my back wheel
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Old 12-08-05, 05:23 PM   #4
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I get to have my first ride of the winter in some serious snow (probably about 5-6 inches) the majority of it has accumlated while I was at work today.....glad I got those knobbies a while back. im actually excited about riding home in the snow skidding should be the shizznit
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Old 12-08-05, 05:32 PM   #5
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I like to think of riding in the snow as riding "quietly". No sudden body movements, keep yourself upright, and as mattface suggested, riding smoothly helps as well.

Of course, tires larger that 700x23 would probably help as well.
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Old 12-08-05, 05:41 PM   #6
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i'm horrified of riding in the snow. it snowed here (richmond) this week and there was a full day where i just didn't ride (and it made me sad). now there is ice everywhere and i am still learning to ride fixed and it's just really scary. i don't think i'll be able to take her out in pouring rain/snow for a while. glad to see other people have problems with it too... i see bike tracks and i'm like "are these kids psycho or what?"
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Old 12-08-05, 05:54 PM   #7
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I just rode 700x23 slicks home in 6" of fresh snow and it was awesome. First time to ride in snow and I loved it. Agree with all of the above about riding style ("smoothness, upright etc.) but I'm not so sure I'm sold on the idea of knobbies. I mean those knobbies are just going to pack up with snow right, and then you've got a big slick whose surface is now about 50% rubber (tips of the knobs) and 50% packed snow and ice, which seems ungood to me. Whereas a larger slick, like a 26 or bigger seems like it would provide that much more surface area, all of which would be rubber.

But I guess also you would have to ask the question of whether it's better to cut through the snow and try to reach pavement or just say forget it and try to ride big fat knobbies on TOP of the snow and ice.

On the way home I stopped at Upgrade (LBS) and asked about snow tires and they had a 700x25-26(?) it looked like, I'm not really sure, that had kinda knobby scoops on the side, but the center was relativly slick, but I can't remember who made it. And then at Rapid Transit I saw some knobbies that actually had metal spikes in them but I think they were 26" or maybe even 23", sorry I can't remember who mokes those either. But it's good to know they're out there I guess.

Last edited by Brian; 12-09-05 at 04:00 AM. Reason: quote has been edited to reflect removal of profanity
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Old 12-08-05, 06:12 PM   #8
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snow hasnt give me much trouble, but ice isnt very fun; just like in my truck.
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Old 12-08-05, 06:14 PM   #9
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Besides feeling the road, like floating, remember to gear it down a bit. Nothing like finding a nice patch of pavement and dropping the hammer until you realized that you are going full steam. That is when the ice reaches out and bites you. Same can be said for snow hiding the ice monster.
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Old 12-08-05, 06:24 PM   #10
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i was so happy when it snowed a few days ago in rva, cuz i love riding fixed in the snow with my slicks. man oh man is it fun. the secret is to ride in fresh snow, not the packed lanes where the cars drive. as for ice, its tough. dont turn the front wheel when on an ice patch, wait for snow or pavement to turn. and just go slow and dont get out of the saddle or push hard on the pedals. and avoid skidding too, just keep it a smooth motion without rapid changes in force applied to the pedals.

yoyo
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Old 12-08-05, 07:01 PM   #11
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you only slide when you accelerate. so take it easy on the power and if you can, go through fresh snow. Snow with tracks in it tends to throw the front wheel side to side and also it switches friction levels too fast to compensate. Whereas clean snow, it is harder going than packed but it is consistent so you can adjust.

Oh yeah and in the morning, I take a couple minutes to warm/wake up and then I try to make it skid a little to get the feel for the day's road. When you know the limit you can stay relaxed--especially your upper body. That's key: most slips happen when you sieze up and overcompensate.
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Old 12-08-05, 07:03 PM   #12
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Yeah it got better. I just got back from the store. Had my bag full of milk and a few boxes of hamburger helper and i didnt fall once. I rode like 1mph though. haha
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Old 12-08-05, 07:18 PM   #13
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riding on snow and ice has really helped my form in a lot of ways...

like others say, you gotta ride smoothly...

also, I'm less inclined to get up out of the saddle to make it up a hill because standing up takes the power out of my drive train (the rear wheel) and puts more weight on the front wheel...causing spin out

I ride on 700 x 23c slicks and do decently in ice, sleet, powder, slushy ice...I think the key is just to keep rolling and rolling smooooooothly (no jerky motions or even jerky pedaling)
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Old 12-08-05, 07:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orange
Oh yeah and in the morning, I take a couple minutes to warm/wake up and then I try to make it skid a little to get the feel for the day's road. When you know the limit you can stay relaxed--especially your upper body. That's key: most slips happen when you sieze up and overcompensate.

YES...that is key....get a feel for the road EVERY RIDE when it is nasty out so that you know more or less what your limits are in terms of handling, taking corners, etc.

skid intentionally undercontrol so that you don't skid and bust your ass out of control
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Old 12-08-05, 10:32 PM   #15
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Tei's got it right (along with the rest): smooth riding is the key. No drastic movements, brake softly well before you turn. Practice stopping on whatever the surface of the day is before you really get up to speed. Good luck.

- eyefloater

Ps. The only thing that kills me is snowflakes in my eyes ... I really need to get some glasses or something. Riding blind halfway to work chews.
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Old 12-08-05, 10:46 PM   #16
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i think most people crash when riding in the snow because they are scared and hesitate too much, which causes loss of traction and faces in the snow. you can ride on 23C slicks on anything but hard pack, and, even then, if you are smart about your acceleration and slowing, you can be alright. turns suck, though.

i noticed this when i saw my roommate riding in the snow tonight. it might help with acceleration issues. people tend to get out of the saddle to pedal when they feel like they aren't starting quickly. normally, you can get more power, but, in the snow, when you take weight off of the rear, you go into a skid without effort. keep your ass on the saddle and weight over the rear wheel the whole time -- it'll also make for less front wheel slipping and will allow you to recover from it more easily when it happens.

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Old 12-09-05, 01:54 AM   #17
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More than one bike. I keep one just for winter with an aluminum frame and 2.1 inch knobbies and full fenders. Plus with all the salt they throw on the roads i dont want my lugged steel bike anywhere near winter.
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Old 12-09-05, 02:02 AM   #18
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it's funny, the snow's gone here, but there's plenty of ice. yet, i can't think of any advice to give. i just sort of...do it. like it's zen or something.
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Old 12-09-05, 02:06 AM   #19
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I went out with friends tonight in 5" of snow, me on my fixed with 35mm knobbies and my friends on 16" BMX. We rode down a huge ramp into a snowbank. I flipped head over heels. You should too. It's the new pink.
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Old 12-09-05, 02:18 AM   #20
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fresh snow is no problem
packed snow is no problem
but the time between the snowfall and the hardening of it is pretty sketchy. try to remember where you see manholes on your commute. snow will harden differently on areas of pavement with tunneling below because of the temperature difference on the surface of the road. same thing with bridges. riding in snow is so fun. don't worry about wiping out because it won't hurt. unless you keep your lock in your backpocket and keep landing on it
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Old 12-09-05, 02:31 AM   #21
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I'm a firm believer in skinny tires for snow. they cut right through everything. This makes riding tons easier. Skinny knobblies would probably be best, but I don't have the cash for 'em now, so they can easily wait. Otherwise, as stated above, keep the riding smooth, don't freak out when your tire catches a rut-- go with it.
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Old 12-09-05, 02:44 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grandcrewno2
Agree with all of the above about riding style ("smoothness, upright etc.) but I'm not so sure I'm sold on the idea of knobbies. I mean those knobbies are just going to pack up with snow right, and then you've got a big slick whose surface is now about 50% rubber (tips of the knobs) and 50% packed snow and ice, which seems ungood to me. Whereas a larger slick, like a 26 or bigger seems like it would provide that much more surface area, all of which would be rubber.

But I guess also you would have to ask the question of whether it's better to cut through the snow and try to reach pavement or just say forget it and try to ride big fat knobbies on TOP of the snow and ice.
Re: Knobbies and snow: yep. It's just all Sheldon and Jobst yet again probably, but in my experience, knobbies are totally useless unless riding on packed snow that doesn't have a frozen layer - otherwise, you're just giving up surface area, and surface area = friction and friction = traction. I ride a wide knobby on the front and a narrow slick in the back on the back on the winter bike because there's enough packed snow here to make a difference, being able to dig into something with any kind of sideways motion = the difference.

Re: the second part, well, that's the big difference. Unpacked snow that's less than a few inches, you're hoping to cut through to the pavement. Couple inches or more, you're floating, but unless you're a flyweight or the snow's really heavy, you're not floating on anything in the city, knobbies or not.

Sometimes you can cut through the snow, sometimes you can't, depending on how far north your are and how close your are to an ocean or a great lake. In all seriousness, I actually have a use for my front knobby on the winter bike maybe 1/20th of the time in the winter in Montreal, and it's mostly in cases where it started snowing overnight and the city isn't sending out plows until the forecast snow is supposed to end tomorrow night, so you end up with a crust of snowpack everywhere but the busiest streets. Unless you're in Alaska, NY or VT, or not riding in a city at all, a rear knobby works just because you think it does, if you do. But, you know, sometimes it starts snowing a while before you leave.

Smoothness and upright is the way to go, ditto with the above posters. And don't get out of the saddle and pedal unless you don't throw the bike back and forth at all. I know I do, even a tiny bit, so I don't do it ever in the snow. I often pedal while using the front brake to have better control on a geared bike, which is why I initially thought a fixed would be better in the winter. In fact, why not just stay seated and concentrate on your stroke? It's not like you're going to set a world speed record or anything, not in the snow.

Anyone who says they ride a track bike, with no handbrake, in snow and testifies that it's as reasonable or better or safer than another bike with one, especially one that can take wider tires (for massively increased rolling resistance - 2" vs 25s isn't twice as much resistance, it's like ten times, though I can't do the math), well, look on icebike.com and see how many of the bikes are road bikes, conversions or track bikes.

ymmv probably, but not much I would suspect.

Last edited by Brian; 12-09-05 at 03:59 AM. Reason: fukc is still not acceptable
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Old 12-09-05, 04:02 AM   #23
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I've edited some words, and I'll do it again. If anyone has issues with having their comments edited, don't use inappropriate language. Simple as that.

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Old 12-09-05, 05:08 AM   #24
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Old 12-09-05, 05:14 AM   #25
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I've edited some words, and I'll do it again. If anyone has issues with having their comments edited, don't use inappropriate language. Simple as that.

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uhm..."knob (ies)" are meant in this case to refer studded tyres. And "skinnies" is, once again, a referrence to how wide one's knobbies are.. -fyi
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