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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 09-22-09, 07:16 PM   #1
xxguitarist
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700c tire for occasional mild slush

Would you guys ride anything different than usual on a road bike that will see commuting use & some spots of slushy melt after the roads have been *mostly* plowed?
Right now I'm on 700x25 on that bike, and it could take a little wider if need be, but I'm more used to 700x23, and I don't want to give up much speed.
Should I consider something with a little tread maybe? My road bikes have always had smooth tires.
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Old 09-22-09, 07:55 PM   #2
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IMO slush would be fine.

But one question: Are you talking about biking through winter, or spring biking? If you bike through winter a big concern is running into some ice that you don't see... either under the slush or black ice.
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Old 09-22-09, 08:12 PM   #3
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Winter too. I live in Rhode Island. I've biked on the nice days past winters on michelin pro race's without issue, but this winter I'm likely to be biking for commuting purposes rather than just the exercise rides.

I'll still have a car with proper snow tires to drive, but when I'm not going too far ( <10 mi) I'd just as soon bike if the roads are clear enough that cars won't be spinning out at me.

Is there a good option between race tires & studded tires? There seem to be some with a little bit of tread through the center & on the sides.
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Old 09-23-09, 07:18 PM   #4
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Anyone?
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Old 09-23-09, 08:40 PM   #5
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Anyone?
<crickets>

See, the problem is just as Jason stated. If it's cold enough for slush on the roads, it's cold enough for ice to lurk beneath it. At least where I live, there's always some patch of ice that mysteriously doesn't get salted away.

Speaking only for myself: Given the choice of pushing heavy studded tires through the slush, or falling on hidden ice in traffic, risking at minimum broken bones, I'll ride the studs. I learned the hard way two years ago what it's like to have the wrong tires on the bike. I'm glad it didn't happen in traffic.

Judging from the resounding silence on your question,

<more crickets>

I'm guessing others feel the same.

There are plenty enough dry road days in the winter for riding road tires. It happens with enough frequency that I have two wheelsets--one for studs, one for my road tires.

FWIW, tread doesn't seem to make any difference at all in slush that's juicy enough to be squished out of the way. Something like cyclocross tires will help on hardpack, but not really in slush. Tread makes no difference whatsoever on ice--you still fall down. So the compromise you seek, doesn't exist.

Last edited by tsl; 09-23-09 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 09-23-09, 08:55 PM   #6
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tsl, thanks for the reply.
Does mild tread help at all with wet roads? I've never ridden any kind of treaded road tire.


This one claims better performance in wet wintry conditions- any validity here?
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Old 09-23-09, 09:05 PM   #7
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Tread makes no difference in wet on a bike tire. Its not like a car tire that way.

Tread sort of makes a difference in snow.

Only studs make a difference on ice.

I suppose it could be possible that some rubber formulations could be better than others in wet, but really I would guess it would be marginal.

So, I judge the advertising claims of that tire to be hooey at worst, or overblown at best.

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Old 09-28-09, 03:30 PM   #8
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Tread makes no difference in wet on a bike tire. Its not like a car tire that way.

Tread sort of makes a difference in snow.

Only studs make a difference on ice.

I suppose it could be possible that some rubber formulations could be better than others in wet, but really I would guess it would be marginal.

So, I judge the advertising claims of that tire to be hooey at worst, or overblown at best.

jim
Yes, exactly.

Within the realm of studded tires though, there are vast differences in rolling resistance. There's everything from the Nokian Extremes which are like riding a tractor tire around on the one end. Then there's the much lighter rolling resistance on the other end. The Nokian A10 tire is the smallest, least rolling resistance tire they make (32c), though it's not great for any real snow or ice. I prefer my Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires - at 70psi I cannot tell the speed difference (looking at my speedometer) between riding the same bike with them, or with my 28c tires. I'm sure there's some difference, but it's not huge. Up from that is the Nokian 106's, more rolling resistance but better traction in snow...

I don't know that any of these tires would fit on your bike, from the sounds of it. 32c is the absolute lowest size I've seen a studded tire come in - and decent ones come in 35c.

The only compromise I know of is that some people ride with just a front studded tire. I don't recommend it if you aren't willing to deal with falling over (2 people I personally know have tried it, then changed their mind after wiping out). If you do this in regular winter conditions, you will eventually fall over. When the back tire loses traction it's typically less disastrous than when the front one does, though, as you have more time to react and put a foot down or something (I had a front tire go out from under me - one minute I was up, the next I was on the ground). If you're have a high enough tolerance for risk that you are willing to try riding without studs, and you're only going out when it's "mostly clear", it's not a bad solution though - you can even buy an extra cheap wheel to put the studded tire on and swap tires when the weather warrants it.

You are aware though, that the winter sand and salt they put on the road will eat your drive train, right? A lot of people have a dedicated winter bike just because of that. People say that without regular cleaning, the drivetrain (cassette, derailler, chain, all front and back) will last about 1 winter before being completely destroyed.

No matter what you do though, you will bike slower in winter -
1. Even when there's no snow on the ground your bike will go slower. There's conscensus that is happens, though no one seems to be sure why. Theories range from that colder air is denser (wind resistance) to that the grease in the bearings gets thicker when it's colder.
2. When there is stuff on the ground, you will go slower because your tires don't have as nice and grippy (but solid) of a surface to hold onto
3. And slush is just going to slow you way the hell down no matter what tire you're using
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Old 09-28-09, 07:14 PM   #9
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where can i find a 32c studded tire?

would cyclocross tires work in mild slush/snow?
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Old 09-28-09, 08:16 PM   #10
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<crickets>

Speaking only for myself: Given the choice of pushing heavy studded tires through the slush, or falling on hidden ice in traffic, risking at minimum broken bones, I'll ride the studs. I learned the hard way two years ago what it's like to have the wrong tires on the bike. I'm glad it didn't happen in traffic.
Very sound advice. Even on really nice warmish winter days, you can still run into a patch of ice that the salt truck missed.

Last winter, I took my non-studded tire bike out on a nice 45F day, was heading downhill at a nice clip, when I said to myself, "That looks like a solid patch of ice ahead. How could that be on such a nice day?" Jam the brakes, skidded, fell. That sort of thing.

Never happen with studded tires.
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Old 09-29-09, 03:47 AM   #11
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Short of a studded winter tire, I'll throw in the option of a cyclocross tire with "mud" style treads. After having used both, I've found that non-studded knobby tires are much more efficient and comfortable to ride. I cant stand the rolling resistance of studs.

However, most road bikes wont fit tires wider than 28 mm, so you might not have many options here. Usually the limiting factor is either the narrow style calliper brakes that most road bikes use, or the narrow clearance at the chainstays.

Your 25 mm tires will do okay in slush or light snow up to 1 inch deep, but forget it on anything deeper.

Time to by a beater mountain bike for winter! Every cyclist should have a $25 Craigslist Mtn Bike for winter commutes
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Old 09-29-09, 09:55 AM   #12
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Short of a studded winter tire, I'll throw in the option of a cyclocross tire with "mud" style treads. After having used both, I've found that non-studded knobby tires are much more efficient and comfortable to ride. I cant stand the rolling resistance of studs.

However, most road bikes wont fit tires wider than 28 mm, so you might not have many options here. Usually the limiting factor is either the narrow style calliper brakes that most road bikes use, or the narrow clearance at the chainstays.

Your 25 mm tires will do okay in slush or light snow up to 1 inch deep, but forget it on anything deeper.

Time to by a beater mountain bike for winter! Every cyclist should have a $25 Craigslist Mtn Bike for winter commutes
Well, as several people have stated, it still won't give you any grip on black ice.

What studded tires did you try? I find it (based purely on my personal experience) difficult to believe that cyclocross tires would have any less rolling resistance than the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires I've been running.
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Old 09-29-09, 11:30 AM   #13
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Well, as several people have stated, it still won't give you any grip on black ice.

What studded tires did you try? I find it (based purely on my personal experience) difficult to believe that cyclocross tires would have any less rolling resistance than the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires I've been running.
I have a set of Nokian studded 'cross tires. Of course they're the best on black ice, and they provide a security blanket when you're commuting and just aren't sure if there will be ice. However, I don't use them much. On anything but black ice there is no question that a good set of non-studded cyclocross race tires (such as Michelin Mud) roll more easily and comfortably. And they're way cheaper to replace.

I have a feeling that if the OP has a road bike, this discussion is off topic because he can't use either anyway.
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