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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 11-19-08, 05:30 PM   #1
jhaber
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Winter biking Day 1 - Falls 1 - what is up?

The snow has finally started to collect here and today was the first day where there was a fair bit of snow and I was out on my beater/winter bike. This was my test run you could say. Heading to school that wasn't much of anything on the roads and everything was fine. Coming home was a whole other issue.

About 2-3 cm of snow and slush was on the ground and I could tell right away I had very poor traction. I was going super slow, running about 63 gear inches and I was sliding on gentle curves. So on the final hill to my house I am being very cautious careful and going really slow. I figure lets see how much traction I have and I pull up the tiniest bit on my pedal as I would to start a skid but before I would even be able to start a skid in rainy conditions my back wheel had already locked up. I am right on top of the bike and balanced and begin to pedal to unlock the wheel but my bike wheel is still skidding and sliding from left to right and it even seems as if my front wheel is skidding. I tried to correct but the whole back end of the bike sweeps out from underneath me and I go down into the middle of the road on the hill.

I was lucky. I wasnt wearing a helmet but came down on my side and hit my arm. It is not too bad and it will be ok soonish but there was a car not so far behind me. Luckly the car was a bit behind me and going slow. The driver pulled over the to the side of the rode to ask me if I was ok and said she was so happy she didnt hit me and was happy she was going slowly too.

Here is the bike:


I was advised to use skinny tires to sink through the snow and get contact with the road but these tires didn't do ****. I had no traction at all. What is up? One day into winter riding and I am already considering giving it up. Do I tried some studded tires? Do I say screw it and just walk (which is totally doable for where I go)? I don't trust this set up now. Hopefully someone can shed some light on this situation for me.

Last edited by jhaber; 11-19-08 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 11-19-08, 05:32 PM   #2
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I ate ***** once during the first big rains of the season a few weeks ago. You just gotta go slow and be hypervigilant of everything around you.

Sorry you laid it down. Ride safe!
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Old 11-19-08, 05:37 PM   #3
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Make sure you keep your weight over the back wheel when climbing in snow, at all costs - especially when climbing, because it doesn't take much to skid, which puts you off balance, which often puts you down.
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Old 11-19-08, 05:50 PM   #4
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Ya now that I think about it my weight was off my back wheel. Hmmm maybe that is the major problem.
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Old 11-19-08, 05:54 PM   #5
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i ate it during the first snow of the season the other night. Snow wasn't sticking but it was making everything really wet so the leaves were real wet on the ground.
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Old 11-19-08, 05:56 PM   #6
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Back tire sliding everywhere shouldnt be a problem, its the front you have to worry about, saving a front tire skid is almost impossible. Just keep at it you'll get use to it, I always fall on the first winter ride of the season just from not being used to it= well not today, my 4th season underway i guess I finally learned to be overly cautious the first few times till im used to it again, then on its pretty much second nature, you;ll know how fast you can go and how far you can lean on turns and what not!
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Old 11-19-08, 05:56 PM   #7
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We had a random downpour in LA several weeks ago. Since it never rains here it turns the streets into one giant oil slick. I was on my way back from the farmers market and got caught in said downpour. Needless to say, my wimpy tires slid right out from under me and I ate it hard in the street. I'm still recovering.
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Old 11-19-08, 06:29 PM   #8
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20 mins from me theres foot of snow. here its sunny and no snow at all.
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Old 11-19-08, 06:33 PM   #9
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I got messed up due to a pile of leaves last week too. Kid running across the path, jammed on my front brake, skidded, and I ate pavement _hard_ luckily only a few scrapes, wasn't bleeding too badly.
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Old 11-19-08, 06:41 PM   #10
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i hit a pebble going about 25 today in 19 degree weather, it sounded like i broke one of my spokes
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Old 11-19-08, 07:09 PM   #11
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are you running slicks because thats what it looks like. if thats the case get some cross tires
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Old 11-19-08, 07:20 PM   #12
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I use studded tires in the winter. We don't get crazy snow, and I really only need the snow bike 5-10 times a year, but when it's icy out I'm glad I have it cause I can ride with confidence which is really important with a long commute. In my experience, skinny tires only work ok with fresh, light snow. Once it's packed down or more than a couple inches deep, they suck. Before I had the studded tires I used my mountain bike and never had any problems.
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Old 11-19-08, 07:46 PM   #13
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my experience from riding in snow (all winter going on 3 this year, even in the 1.5-2ft dump we got) my 23 gatorskins were best for cutting through the snow.

dont ride the first major dump if you can avoid it (drivers aren't use to the snow yet and drive too fast).
Dont skid if there are cars anywhere in sight. Skids are fun but scaring the drivers of cars isnt smart, especially when they cant stop fast.
ICE, not so bad really, here are my rules. Dont turn, dont stop, keep going at the same pace. just like when you ride over garbage goop, or oil, or a dropped sandwhich, or banana peel, if you ride straight your good.
the skinny tires are amazing for the powder (as kemmer says) i run them all winter because im lazy. they are amazing for the powder snow, and ice isnt so bad once you get the hang of it and know where too ride (salted roads).



and just ride slow and dont do anything too stupid.


and crashes happen, learn to fall (into snow banks not traffic). Or don't ride, not to be mean, but dont ride like a prick and end up under a car (or snow plow)
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Old 11-19-08, 09:23 PM   #14
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are slicks or studded better for winter? I don't get much snow here but I'm trying to live car free so I'll end up riding in what little snow we do get.

I was thinking of using my ss mtb for those crappy weather days(assuming I get around to buying a chain and brake cable for it). Would that be better than slicks on 23mm tires? I rode a decent amount last winter on my IRO but never in crappy weather because i lived on campus.
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Old 11-20-08, 07:20 AM   #15
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slicks aren't the best in the snow season. get some cross country tires. you will get traction and you can be a little more relaxed. the idea of slicks being good for snow is really only useful for urban places where the city tries not to keep the snow on the ground for long so that's why there's not a need for cx tires since roads are cleared. In NYC, Manhattan is spoiled because snow gets shoveled so quickly and a bit more thoroughly, whereas in the Bronx, things take a little longer. I find I don't need cx tires very much in the city, but once the Bronx comes I find it's needed much more.
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Old 11-20-08, 07:44 AM   #16
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Maybe you psyched yourself out and were too over cautious and stiff.
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Old 11-20-08, 08:21 AM   #17
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Skinny tires are great for cutting through fresh snow down to the pavement, but they are terrible for packed in snow old snow, slush, or when there is ice under the snow. In my opinion, nothing beats some knobby 2" mtb tires for general winter conditions. Real fenders are god's gift to cyclists in the slush, though you might have to stop and clear them out in the real nasty stuff.

Studded tires are great for people who are riding on ice all the time, but if you ride on city streets that are usually salted, or you live somewhere where it snows 4 times a year, they are pointless.

Don't skid on ice, because when you fishtail you'll often cause your front wheel to slide out, unlike on normal pavement. Like Stuart said, basically don't do anything other than keep riding straight when you know you are on ice, or you'll often go down faster than you can blink.
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Old 11-20-08, 09:59 AM   #18
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Like others have said skinny tires work great in fresh snow with clean, ice free, pavement beneath. Anything else and they have serious drawbacks.

Knobby tires (CX, ATB, whatever) are good on fresh snow and packed, but not iced over, snow.

Studded tires are good for everything.

Yes, it is possible to ride all winter on 23c or knobbies if you're careful and ride slow when conditions get sketchy. But, if you want to ride with complete confidence, nothing is going to beat studs!
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Old 11-20-08, 11:16 AM   #19
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I laid my bike down on monday in one of our first bike snows. There was a ton of black ice and I wouldn't going fast at all. The things I learned from that were: a) bring a change of pants b) keep the speed low and c) fatter tires grip way better
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