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  1. #1
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    Studded tires for occasional winter commuting in Denver

    First of all, I have read the recent Do I need studded tires post. But my situation is a little different, hopefully you can give me some advice.

    I commute often to work by bike. This will be my first winter in Denver. I came from Ohio and occasionally commuted in winter, but only on relatively warm and clear days. It'll still be mostly the same in Denver, but I'd like to extend that further. I used to ride only in above freezing temps. I'd like to extend that down to 20 to 25 degrees. I won't be riding in snow, but I'm worried about occasional ice. I sometimes ride on residential streets and trails. Here in Aurora they never plow minor residential streets, so the main roads could be great, except for a few stretches. All it takes is one ice patch to fall!

    But I also know that in Denver we may get a lot of snow but we also have a lot of clear, sunny days in between. I'm just not sure how much more will studded tires allow me to commute? I'd definitely opt for the Nokian A10's, or something like it (not for snow, just ice). Any advice?

  2. #2
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    On studded tires, I can corner, accelerate, and brake on wet ice and black ice that is too slippery to walk on.

  3. #3
    Senior Member striegel's Avatar
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    If you can build up a second set of wheels, switching between studs and non-studded tires could be quick.

    There is more effort and vibration riding on studs but they really keep you upright on ice. If you see a stretch of dry clear weather, it sure would be nice to get smoother riding back, even temporarily.

    Then again, there's still the spectre of black ice. I kept my studded tires on the bike from early December through early April.
    If something doesn't ache, I could be trying harder.

  4. #4
    Commuter fenny's Avatar
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    I'm going to try commuting this winter in Denver (Parker) without studs. You'll have to learn your own commute, but I'm betting you won't need them.

    Most of the winter the roads will be clear, as it snows every week or two but generally melts off within a day or so. Of course you never know when we're going to have another "Winter of 06/07" but if that happens I suppose I'll be able to find studded tires somewhere.

  5. #5
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    I have commuted the last few winters without studded tires. You can survive without them just fine most of the time. That being said I am pondering an extra set of wheels with studded tires for those times they would be helpful.
    Also, regular winter lows are around 15F so I would lower my temperature tolerance a tad.

    Weather records:
    http://www.crh.noaa.gov/bou/cli/climo.php

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
    Also, regular winter lows are around 15F so I would lower my temperature tolerance a tad.
    I can try to, but that 10 degrees makes a big difference. I came up with 25 as that's about when I start to get too cold based on my current gear. I think it would be more of a hassle to go those last 10 degrees. That was also kind of the point to my question, I'm not preparing myself to commute all of the time over winter, just a little bit more than in the past. Given the criteria, that probably means during warm spells and nice days. But I'll give it some thought, I'm enjoying commuting so much maybe I will try to extend it some more.

    I agree that two wheelsets would be ideal, I just don't have the funds this year.

  7. #7
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    You could always ride home only. That would bring up the number of commute days a bit.
    How you would get the bike to work is another story. Bus or drive it in one day and ride home the next perhaps.
    If one can make it down to 25F it really should not be that difficult to get it a bit lower. Wool can be had for cheap at thrift stores. Then again it is ultimately up to you. My number of days that I skip riding simply due to the fact that I do not want to increases dramatically in winter. I have to set goals to keep myself motivated.

  8. #8
    Nerd girljen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooleric1234 View Post
    I can try to, but that 10 degrees makes a big difference. I came up with 25 as that's about when I start to get too cold based on my current gear. I think it would be more of a hassle to go those last 10 degrees. That was also kind of the point to my question, I'm not preparing myself to commute all of the time over winter, just a little bit more than in the past. Given the criteria, that probably means during warm spells and nice days. But I'll give it some thought, I'm enjoying commuting so much maybe I will try to extend it some more.

    I agree that two wheelsets would be ideal, I just don't have the funds this year.
    There are a LOT of warm spells and nice days in the Denver area during the winter.

  9. #9
    Commuter fenny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by girljen View Post
    There are a LOT of warm spells and nice days in the Denver area during the winter.
    Very true. You definitely don't need studded tires in Denver unless you're going to ride in every single day. It's sunny something like 1/2 of the days through winter, most years.

  10. #10
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooleric1234 View Post
    First of all, I have read the recent Do I need studded tires post. But my situation is a little different, hopefully you can give me some advice.

    I commute often to work by bike. This will be my first winter in Denver. I came from Ohio and occasionally commuted in winter, but only on relatively warm and clear days. It'll still be mostly the same in Denver, but I'd like to extend that further. I used to ride only in above freezing temps. I'd like to extend that down to 20 to 25 degrees. I won't be riding in snow, but I'm worried about occasional ice. I sometimes ride on residential streets and trails. Here in Aurora they never plow minor residential streets, so the main roads could be great, except for a few stretches. All it takes is one ice patch to fall!

    But I also know that in Denver we may get a lot of snow but we also have a lot of clear, sunny days in between. I'm just not sure how much more will studded tires allow me to commute? I'd definitely opt for the Nokian A10's, or something like it (not for snow, just ice). Any advice?
    I've commuted in the Denver area on a regular basis since the late 70s/early 80s. I built a studded tire once but never used it. That's about how necessary they are here. Even in the 2006/07 winter with 60 days of snow on the ground and glaciers in my Denver neighborhood (worse the Aurora), I didn't run studs. I did use a mountain bike almost exclusively that winter...as I do most winters...with aggressive knobbies. I slipped a bit on some of the ice but never crashed, although I have crashed on ice a few times in the past. I did, however, consider studs that winter but figured that the need wasn't great enough to order them.

    For most normal Denver winters, I'd say that studs are not a worthwhile investment. Luckily we only get winters like 2006 every 20 years so you probably won't need them until 2026
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  11. #11
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    Thanks, this is very useful advice. I suppose another option is to do the following: drive in early to work with my bike, ride home while it's still light out and warm. Then ride in later the following day when it's light out and a tad warmer and drive home the next day. It's not commuting every day, but it could work. I have a somewhat flexible schedule so that shouldn't be a problem.

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