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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 10-18-03, 10:33 AM   #1
claire
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winter cycling dangers

Hi everyone,
I live in Toronto, so it gets pretty snowy and icy in the winter. I usually use my bike to commute and go around the city in the winter, I don't mind the cold so much, but there is one thing that really freaks me out. My biggest fear is slipping on snow or a piece of ice, falling, and having the car behid me rolling me over. It's never happened to me, but I can't stop thinking about it when I ride on snow. Am I just paranoid, or is there something I could do make sure it never happens?
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Old 10-18-03, 12:26 PM   #2
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Claire,

Studded tires for your bike. Nokkians from Peter White are the best. The down side to studded tires are the weight, cost, and people can ride beyond the studs ability to stick. Check the Ice Biker website for all the comments on studded tires.
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Old 10-18-03, 07:22 PM   #3
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Hi Claire, MEC sells studded tires and other winter cycling gear. Most of my winter cycling in Toronto was along the lakeshore, Toronto Islands and Leslie Spit, but I do remember having problems with streetcar tracks and going down some of the hills. I have seen many people riding in the winter, but mostly in the city centre, not sure if I would do it during rush hour though.
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Old 10-18-03, 10:06 PM   #4
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I would suggest that you take corners slowly and find an outdoors skating ring where you could practice your skids in a safe environment. That way, you will know how far you can go before tempting fate. Then assume you always ride on ice.

Regards,
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Old 10-18-03, 11:26 PM   #5
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You'll find lots of advice online. Check out this site, where they dispell some of the myths, and give advice on winter biking. icebike.com. It's fun!
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Old 10-19-03, 09:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by claire
Hi everyone,
Am I just paranoid, or is there something I could do make sure it never happens?
I commuted most days last winter and found that there were surprisingly few days where this was a concern. I rode mainly on through routes, with high traffic volumes, the roads have usually been salted and bare off quickly. With snow banks the roads are a little narrower, therefore you may have to "take the lane" more frequently in the winter. If you allow traffic to squeeze you over into the slush/ice/crud along the snowbanks, you could indeed experience the problem you described.
My worst spills last winter were on the road in front of my house (snow on top of glare ice) and crossing a sidewalk through a parking lot shortcut (freezing drizzle on sidewalk, not on road). I had one stormy ride where the roads weren't done very well, built up ice and slush on the roads combined with slicks makes for very tricky handling. I had to ride very slowly, but traffic was sparse and moving very slowly anyway - I stayed to the side of the road, trying to ensure I would fall to the curb if I did capsize.
Like regular weather commuting, being visible and intelligent, defensive riding are the most important things to think about.
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Old 10-19-03, 03:36 PM   #7
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I understand your concern completely. I had the same concern. You are thinking too hard. Relax.

Not every day in winter has black ice on the roads. In fact, I bet that fewer than 10% of the days have any real ice on the roads.

2" mountain bike tires will keep you on the road through most of the winter. You can go with studded tires which are good on icy days, but you won't need them for most days.

Once you actually get out there in the winter, you won't be so spooked.
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Old 10-27-03, 10:38 AM   #8
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avoiding wintery death

Hi Claire,

Yeah, get the Nokkian studded tires. I've got them (two) and am VERY VERY VERY happy.

Passed about 500 cars last winter-start (freezing ice) after I mounted them after falling on pure black ice. Great stuff.

Having crashed out (w/o the Nokkians) in front of a car in snow, I must say that people are usually aware of what is going on and will slow before they run you over. Then again, I ride to work in Switzerland, your km-age may vary.

Be careful, eh!

Tom

P.S. had my first winter ride this morning...studded tires helped reduce the pucker factor of icy bridges in the morning, and will help me get home safely in a few minutes!
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Old 10-27-03, 11:07 PM   #9
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Winter is very hard on bikes, so you may want to consider getting a semijunker
bike and converting it to your winter bike. One writer, perhaps on the Icebike
site, suggested yard sale bikes as a good source for winter bikes. Performance
is not a problem as winter snow/ice make a Trek 5900 act just like a Walmart
special. If you make it through this winter and retain your zest for winter riding you might start looking around next spring/summer for next winters bike. Steve
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Old 10-29-03, 08:32 AM   #10
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Thanks all for your answers. There is one thing I'm wondering about studded tires though: is it OK to ride them when there isn't any snow? Or would I have to change tires depending on whether there is enough snow on the road?
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Old 10-29-03, 08:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by claire
Thanks all for your answers. There is one thing I'm wondering about studded tires though: is it OK to ride them when there isn't any snow? Or would I have to change tires depending on whether there is enough snow on the road?
The most important thing to know about studded tires is what the studs are made of. Generally there are 2 types:
1) steel - these suck, if you ride them on pavement alot expect them to wear down to nothing in about 1 winter. With these types of studs you should swap them out any time the conditions improve.
2) tungsten/carbide - these rule, even if you ride them on pavement all of the time they will last several (up to 8 say) seasons. You could leave these on all winter, but I would still swap them out if you get periods when the roads are dry. These used to be only found on high end tires like Nokians, however, they are now starting to filter down to cheapies. For example, my LBS would sell me a set of 4 row tungsten studded Inova's for $50 a piece.

Another type of tire to consider is those with 2 rows of studs down the sides, like the Nokian Mount and Ground 160. With this type of tire if you run high pressure the studs will not contact the ground while the tire is straight vertical, allowing you to run them on dry pavement without any wear to your studs. When the conditions get icy, lower the pressure so that the two rows of studs contact the ground when the tire is straight vertical giving traction on ice. MEC sells a tire like this, although I think they are just steel studs while the Nokians are tungsten/carbide. I'd get the Nokian 160's if I didn't already have a set of studded tires.

Hope this helps.

PS - one thing to consider about winter riding... it's damn fun! Just do it!
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Old 10-29-03, 10:18 AM   #12
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lasting at least one season of daily use...

I ride my Nokkians pretty much no matter what...I hate sliding on the ground when I don't have to, and they are lasting pretty nicely (second season starting...)

have fun!
Tom
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Old 10-29-03, 04:47 PM   #13
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If you have Nokian studded tires, you don't need to worry about dry roads. Any other brand, though, and you will need to avoid dry roads.
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Old 10-30-03, 12:19 AM   #14
Michel Gagnon
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We have more snow in Montréal than in Toronto, but we don't have streetcars. I have tried a studded tire once, but felt I didn't like the noise, vibrations and resistance I got from a studded tire. I ride with knobbies all Winter, but ride very conservatively.

So far, many km ridden in quite a few Winters. No problems yet.
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Old 11-02-03, 10:56 PM   #15
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I didn't notice if you mentioned your tire size. If your looking at studs I have found sizes to be very limited. If you have smaller wheels they are easy to make and work very well. I have made them for years but here is a site to help you out.
http://www.ecmtb.com/howto/stud.shtml

Hope this helps.

Gary D.
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Old 11-06-03, 11:09 AM   #16
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If it has not already been mentioned...

A lot of drivers have to re-learn what it is like to drive on snow. The first few weeks of snow covered roads are when you see most cars sliding through intersections, off the road, and into each other.

Be careful out there!
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