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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 07-12-08, 11:33 AM   #1
babo
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Winter cycling with 20" (or smaller) wheels

While I have a mountain bicycle with 26" wheels that I use exclusively for winter cycling (Saskatchewan, Canada, average snow fall > 100 centimetres), I am curious if others have ridden bicycles with 20" wheels in the winter. My observation riding a folder with 20" wheels is that on loose surfaces, like gravel, I tend to cut though the gravel instead of ride over top of it. For example, there is pea gravel where I park my bicycle at work. With 26" wheels, I easily ride on top of it. With 20" wheels, I sink and stop immediately. Will winter cycling be the same? Will I be cutting through the snow, constantly falling through soft spots, with 20" wheels? I know that tire width is a factor. I ride on 26"x1.9" Nokias in the winter, 26"x1.75" and 20"x1.50" in the summer. I think I might have just answered my own question. :/
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Old 07-12-08, 05:19 PM   #2
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All this past winter I rode on my Dahon Mu P8 with 20" wheels (406's). With the arrival of ice and snow, I changed tires from the almost-slick Schwalbe Marathon Racers (20 x 1.50) to knobby Schwalbe Marathon Winters (20 x 1.60) with plenty of carbide studs. The studded tires were on from early December through early April.

Winter riding is just a lot different in every way, but real winter tires made the ride possible in all kinds of conditions where otherwise it would have been too dangerous. I don't know how to compare riding in snow with what you get on gravel. There's a big difference there.

My riding is all on the streets, so I'd rather cut through the snow and make contact with the pavement, but I had no real problems with traction using the MW tires.
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Old 07-13-08, 12:55 PM   #3
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That's good to know. I'm thinking about doing the same with my folder this winter (Giant Halfway). At some point, I would like my Halfway to become my winter bike... and then I'll get another (better) folder for the nice months.
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Old 07-13-08, 05:53 PM   #4
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Are there 349/16" studded tires available?
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Old 07-13-08, 07:29 PM   #5
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Schwalbe hasn't brought out a 16-inch version. They just introduced the 20-inch MW this past year. I know that others have requested 16 and 24-inch versions, but they don't seem to exist yet.

Maybe another maker has something, but since it's kind of a special market I wouldn't expect to find much.
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Old 07-14-08, 02:58 PM   #6
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I ride a Dahon and Brompton in the warmer weather but revert to a mountain bike beater with studded tires in the winter (Maine). The disadvantage that I see for smaller wheels is the increased tendency to catch an icy rut and fall. Plus, I find that the icy, salty slush takes a beating on the drive train, and these are lower to the ground in a small wheel bike. I'd save your folder for nicer weather and outfit a larger wheel bike with Schwalbe or Nokian tires for the winter if you encounter a fair amount of ice.
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Old 07-15-08, 12:16 PM   #7
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I rode my 16Ē folder last winter and intend to go on. Hub-gears arenít problematic in slush. Unfortunately there are not many tyres to choose from in size 349. My rear tyre is Schwalbe Marathon Plus, which I can recommend. No flats so far.
One advantage I have found on small wheels is that if you are about to fall, itís easier to gain balance compared to a big tyre bike Ė you donít fall from so high.
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Old 07-27-08, 09:49 AM   #8
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Maranen, you mention hub gears. Is there any consensus that hub gears are better for winter riding? Just wondering... I've never actually done any winter riding.

--sam
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Old 07-27-08, 12:34 PM   #9
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I don’t think there is any consensus. I guess hub gears are rare in winter riding. But opinions have been expressed in favour of hub gears – mainly in that they don’t require so much attention in winter riding as derailleur gears. Moving parts are inside the hub hidden from slosh, dirt and freezing. I oil the hub using synthetic oil 0W-40.
Last winter I was foolish to use non synthetic 10W-40 – when the temperature went down enough, the oil got thick. I oil the hub because it seems to operate more smoothly then. I'm sure it would work ok with the original grease.
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