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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 12-05-07, 06:47 AM   #1
mulchie
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I gotta admit: I am afraid of black ICE

I really want to keep up my commute this winter but I live on rural roads with some pretty decent hills and I took a summertime fall that taught me and my knee not to want to fall again. So how can I gauge whether or not there is black ice? We had snow this week and then it got super cold and in my area they don't use salt since we're a watershed. I tend to ride at night. And, well, of course "night" starts around 4 p.m. in these parts right now. I'm frustrated with my sense of fear on this! But going 20 or so downhill how could you POSSIBLY know?
I'm going to switch to my mtb for sure. But I don't have special tires. I've been fine riding in the cold (20 F with a good wind) but that has been on dry roads and now it's the ice that's got me freaked and off the bike
????
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Old 12-05-07, 08:02 AM   #2
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Anticipate where ice might be. Where ever a puddle might exist is where the ice hides so don't ride in the low areas. I find the fear of falling is worse than the fall itself. Go out in the backyard and fall in the snow a few times. That might help you relax on the road.

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Old 12-05-07, 08:22 AM   #3
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I must admit I found the fall much worse than the fear (I had little!). I ended up at various medical units and with a knee the size of a watermelon. I guess that is what I haven't quite worked through yet regarding the ice. But I appreciate your comment about the puddles. I think the trick might be to start slowly in daylight when I can and then work up to my evening outings.
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Old 12-05-07, 08:24 AM   #4
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didn't you notice the 4000 threads around here about studded tires???
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Old 12-05-07, 08:25 AM   #5
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The only way to ride across black ice safely is to use studded tires. They work great on black ice.
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Old 12-05-07, 09:36 AM   #6
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The only way to ride across black ice safely is to use studded tires. They work great on black ice.
Or ice of any color.

Studs take all the drama out of winter riding. Besides letting your ride safely on ice, the also let you stop and steer on it.

I was riding mid-pack on a group ride last night (26 riders, snowing, temps in the lower 20s). Pulling up to a stop sign, the front riders began calling out "Ice, right". I saw snow, but not ice. Then I put my foot down after stopping. I had stopped on the (white) ice which was hidden under the snow. My foot slid a little when I put it down, but holding the brakes kept me in place. Then two (studless) riders behind me slid into the back of my bike. Ooopsie!

The point here is that the studs work so well, I needed my foot and other riders to know I was even on ice.
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Old 12-05-07, 10:17 AM   #7
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Yikes! 4000 posts!
And I just thought studs were for snow and muck.
You guys really having confidence with studs on roadways (not off) with ICE!!!????

tsl what kind of studs are you using? I saw that danged thing with the 396 screws coming out of but whoa.
Mostly this will be roadway with the occassional patch. Forgive my ignorance!
(please)
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Old 12-05-07, 10:52 AM   #8
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You guys really having confidence with studs on roadways (not off) with ICE!!!????

tsl what kind of studs are you using?
I ride roads almost exclusively. That Tuesday night ride is the only one where occassionally we venture off-road through parks and stuff. 98% of my winter miles are road. I commute by bike, I shop by bike, and I play by bike, in all four seasons. Only the combination of winds >35mph and slippery conditions keeps me off the road.

My winter tires are Nokian Hakkapeliitta W106 in size 700x35. Like three-season tires, winter tires come in varieties designed more towards road use or trail use. The W106 is more towards road use. (Although the MTBers last night were very surprised that an old guy on a drop-bar road bike with skinny tires could go almost everywhere they did.)

Best price I've seen on them so far this year is $37 each at ebikestop.com.

BTW, knobbies are for loose surfaces, like dirt, gravel, mud and snow. Studs are for ice. Homebrew winter tires with screws are for riding on lakes and ponds. They're downright dangerous on roads.

Last edited by tsl; 12-05-07 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 12-05-07, 10:58 AM   #9
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Those look good. My bikeshop suggests Nokians but they are $100 each which is pretty big for a commitment. I think the Nokian 294. Seems like overkill since mostly I'll be on pavement with the occas slush pushed out from driveways and whatnot and that evil lurking patch of the slippery invisible. DO you think the Hakkapeliita would do the job under the conditions I describe? Fact is, I'll probably wimp out for the worst of it, sorry to say. I do have a cage... but I would like to cycle all winter in a pretty wide range of conditions short of pure hell.
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Old 12-05-07, 11:06 AM   #10
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Yikes! 4000 posts!
And I just thought studs were for snow and muck.
You guys really having confidence with studs on roadways (not off) with ICE!!!????
I must've posted this 3900+ times already, greatly contributing to the volume of 4000 threads on the subject. Anyways, studs perform at their BEST on ice and hard packed snow. Try riding over a frozen lake, it's a blast! If you had just thick layer of soft fresh snow (muck, whatever) but the surface below had good traction, you would not need studs. Problem is, you cannot tell from the surface whether a specific spot under snow has ice or dry pavement. If it's the former, you'll definitely need studded tyres.

Nokian W106s here as well.

--J
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Old 12-05-07, 11:08 AM   #11
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Depends on the size you need for your bike. That will eliminate many choices right there.

Then, let the tread (not the number of studs) be your guide. Knobbies, like the Extreme 294, work best off-road. In the same 26" size, there's the Mount and Ground 160, which has a tread better suited for road.
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Old 12-05-07, 11:20 AM   #12
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I could not justify the expense of the Nokias so I went with the much cheaper Innova Tundra Wolf from BikeTiresDirect out of Portland. These were only $24.95 each for the 700C x 35. These fit my Garry Fischer Hybrid nicely and have been amazing. We just had a real winter storm rolling through the other day and these tires realy worked. The wind was sweaping accross the road causing a nice layer of ice to form under about an inch of snow. With the studds the tires just moved along without any problems. My coworker realized that he HAD to get snow tires and ordered the Nokias this past Monday. I am interested to see how the Nokia W106 compares to my much cheaper Innovas. From the pictures I've see the tires look pretty similar. As time goes on this winter if I see any clear differences in how either one holds up I'll post the information so that others can make a more informed buying descision.

So far I've ridden through snow either during the morning or evening commute for the last few days and I am LOVING my studded snow tires. I do ride a little slower on these tires, but not whiping out on the slick roads is well worth a little extra effort.

Happy riding,
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Old 12-05-07, 11:22 AM   #13
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Those look good. My bikeshop suggests Nokians but they are $100 each which is pretty big for a commitment.

What's your knee worth? And if you knew that you could seriously reduce the odds of landing on it how much it that worth to you? To me it's WAY more than the $80 I spent on a set of studded tires.

Look, Studded tires aren't perfect, but damn, they are as close as you can get for ice. I swear by them, I hate falling, and they make it possible for me to ride all winter. From your descriptions I think they are exactly what you are looking for.

I ride the Nokian W106 on my cross bike. And as seen above, you can find them for around $40 a wheel if your lucky. I think they are worth it at full price. Carbide studs are better but more expensive.
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Old 12-05-07, 11:27 AM   #14
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It's worth mentioning too that technique is just as important as equipment in winter riding. Perhaps even more important than equipment.

Good technique can keep a studless rider upright, and poor technique can make a studded rider fall.

Two things that are very important: First, slow down before turning and don't lean in the turns. If you brake in a turn it's sure-fire way to go down. Leaning like you do in the dry will also take you down, which is why you turn at a much slower speed in the slippery stuff.

Second, ride loose and relaxed. This is the exact opposite of what your reflexes tell you to do. With a loose grip on the bars, relaxed arms, shoulders and back, you'll be able to ride out most anything. Death grip on the bars and stiff arms, shoulders and back, and it's much more difficult to maintain control, and certainly a lot less fun. (Note: You'll also stay warmer if you stay loose.)

I have to re-learn this every year, and sometimes every ride. Resisting the death grip, stiff and tense reflex is the hardest part of my winter riding.
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Old 12-05-07, 11:34 AM   #15
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So how can I gauge whether or not there is black ice?
Sadly, one CANNOT judge where the black ice is - or none of us would fall on it! Seriously, you need at least a front studded tire. Black ice hides everywhere. Don't be the guy who crashes on it and ends his winter cycling season early.

... Brad
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Old 12-05-07, 02:13 PM   #16
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It's worth mentioning too that technique is just as important as equipment in winter riding. Perhaps even more important than equipment.

Good technique can keep a studless rider upright, and poor technique can make a studded rider fall.

Two things that are very important: First, slow down before turning and don't lean in the turns. If you brake in a turn it's sure-fire way to go down. Leaning like you do in the dry will also take you down, which is why you turn at a much slower speed in the slippery stuff.

Second, ride loose and relaxed. This is the exact opposite of what your reflexes tell you to do. With a loose grip on the bars, relaxed arms, shoulders and back, you'll be able to ride out most anything. Death grip on the bars and stiff arms, shoulders and back, and it's much more difficult to maintain control, and certainly a lot less fun. (Note: You'll also stay warmer if you stay loose.)

I have to re-learn this every year, and sometimes every ride. Resisting the death grip, stiff and tense reflex is the hardest part of my winter riding
.
Pretty much the same as driving a car when it's icy. Wheels is wheels.
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Old 12-05-07, 03:02 PM   #17
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In my neighborhood, a lot of folks own horses and ride 'em on the road.

I gotta watch out for that brown ice!
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Old 12-05-07, 03:15 PM   #18
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I love ice. With the Nokians on I can ride on it like concrete. It's a lot easier than chugging through snow, and I have never slipped on it. Buy the Nokians.
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Old 12-05-07, 05:24 PM   #19
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3900 posts on black ice. You the man!
I think I'll look into the 106s.
As to the worth of my knee. Um, good point. I value it much more after August and that is not because of the medical bills.
My sister keeps telling me to quit till April. But I can NOT see that! So... thanks you guys. This is not only very useful information but a good shot of support.
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Old 12-05-07, 07:40 PM   #20
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The main difference between the Innovas and the Nokians are the type of stud. The Innovas are steel, the Nokians are carbide. They will probably be about the same for the first year, but the Nokians (carbide) will last a second year, maybe even a third. I don't commute anymore (I work from home now), but when I did, and lived in DC, I had Innovas because I could not find any Nokians--I waited too long and everyone up there already bought them. Some of the studs popped out after a few ice storms, but we only had a few, so it worked for me.

I do miss my commute.
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Old 12-05-07, 09:32 PM   #21
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I just got a pair of Nokian Mount and Ground 160's today. Luckily my landlord keeps the driveway like a skating rink, and I was able to test them. Absolutley amazing! I was riding over spots I couldn't walk on. Can't wait for the ride tomorrow.

And what about riding 30 miles to set the studs in? My commute is on nothing but roads, so I should be fine right?
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Old 12-05-07, 10:30 PM   #22
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I've bashed my knees too many times riding in the winter.What I did was get a set of used hockey elbow and knee-pads at PlayItAgainSports(used sporting goods)for $8.I wear them under a pair of sweat pants so I'm not nearly as concerned at taking a fall.During the winter you're pretty well padded up top anyway.I smacked my elbow really good once(hence the elbow pads).It may not make a fashion statement but that 's not where I'm at anyway.
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Old 12-05-07, 10:55 PM   #23
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Homebrew winter tires with screws are for riding on lakes and ponds. They're downright dangerous on roads.


Strangely enough...my home-brewed studded tires seem to work just fine on the road as that's where they get all their use.

There are no studs running down the centre of my tires as that makes riding on dry pavement a very sketchy affair.
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Old 12-06-07, 01:41 AM   #24
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Homebrew winter tires with screws are for riding on lakes and ponds. They're downright dangerous on roads.


Strangely enough...my home-brewed studded tires seem to work just fine on the road as that's where they get all their use.

There are no studs running down the centre of my tires as that makes riding on dry pavement a very sketchy affair.
Same here. I'm entering my third winter on the same set of homebrews and I've yet to accidentally slip. It's an MTB fixie and I can make the rear skid on only the slickest of sections.
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Old 12-06-07, 02:57 AM   #25
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with a good headlight, or urban street lights it should be pretty easy to spot the black the ice from the glare off it. On a bike you see so much more than in a car, and a relatively slow speed allows much more time to react. I think as long as you don't touch the brakes you can drift across the black ice pretty smoothly. It really sucks to fall off (messed up my elbow in some Marin county dust last summer) but if you get into a controlled skid and lay the bike down you should be able to avoid serious injury, or I might not know what I'm talking about but that's my plan for now.
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