I recently searched across the web to read about the experiences of other track-bikers who have tried to winterize their bikes, but I came across surprisingly few posts. I hope this post will prove useful to those of you seeking to do something similar. Riding a bike with no gears or brakes, and with feet fixed to the pedals is probably not the smartest thing to do in the Montreal winter. But if you've reconciled to persevere through those dangers, read on.
I wanted to put studded tires on my track bike for the winter. I have a cheap steel track frame and knew that I would need small studded tires - as small as they come.
Peter White Cycles deserves some praise here. His post on studded tires is fantastic: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp. Read it, and then you'll know what to look for and what you're up against.
Peter White says that there are no studded tires made for road bikes, and he seems to be right.
Among the smallest studded tires available are a Schwalbe (@700x35c) and a Nokian (@700x32c). I ended up buying an Innova tire 700x35c at my local shoppe. I bought only one because I wasn't sure if my experiment was going to work. I mounted the tire on the wheel and pumped it to full PSI to measure its fit in the frame. The innova didn't fit in the front or the back. Damn.
In the front, the radius from the hub to the fork was simply too short. So I used 2 files (a flat bastard and a Nicholson file) to file the 'genital' area of the front fork. It was a lot of work - about 3 hours of filing (with many breaks for beer and to relieve my tired filing arms). I'm not sure not sure which file was more effective - the flat bastard had a coarser grain, the Nicholson one was finer. I simply alternated files until I got the clearance I needed at the apex of the fork (which should be a good 5 mm to be safe). Voila! I fit a 700x35c studded tire on the front wheel of my track bike. Having studs on the front wheel is more important than having them on the back.
Now onto the back wheel. It was a no-go. The problem for my frame was width. The 700x35c was simply too wide, and was rubbing against the chainstay tubes close to the seat tube. The radius was OK in the back, but there is nothing I can do about the width (filing the chainstay tubes is probably a no-no since it makes up part of the structural integrity of the frame, whereas the extra metal I filed off of the front fork was just occupying space...) I suppose I could try the Nokian a10 which is 30 or 32c in size, but after reading reviews and checking out pics online, the a10 appears to be nearly treadless and has many poor reviews, and so I decided to not even try. I found a 700x28c tire with nice chuncky rubber, and will use that on the back instead.
So this is how I winterized my track bike. Would welcome comments, feedback, and suggestions.
Happy holiday riding.