Winter riding and weight distribution
Last winter I rode 3x/week 3.5 miles to the gym and did errands around town here in slushy-snowy-icey southern Michigan on a Trek 930 mtb with city tires and also on a woman's Schwinn Collegiate. The Schwinn was much more stable than the Trek, and I have the impression that less weight on the front wheel was the main difference. I felt much safer sitting up straight on the Schwinn with minimal weight on the handlebars than on the Trek which requires me to lean forward and put more weight to the front tire. I rarely fell down on the Schwinn and flopped a few times on the Trek. Is it a known fact at the college of winter biking knowledge that a long wheelbase with a sit up straight geometry is easier to control? This is my impression. What is your experience?
I'm north of you, in the Upper Peninsula. Plenty fo snow and slush up here to ride through. I do find that it helps to get some of the weight off of the front wheel, especially when going downhill in snow and/or slush. last winter I built up my winter bike -- a 26er -- using a 29er fork and a headset made to add an extra 5mm of stack height. My purpose was to raise the front-end, slacken out the head angle, and shift my weight back a bit. This year, I plan to go up one frame size in order to reduce the seat-to-bar drop.
Good on you, btw, for biking all winter long. Isn't it cool to be out riding in the snow? Some days, when conditions are right, winter riding is just fantastic.
Do you run studs on either of your bikes? Maybe you don't get enough ice down there to make studs worth the bother.
JG, Yes, riding in the snow is a hoot and it keeps my like new 2004 truck out of the salt. Never seen studs down here but I just saw the thread on make-your-own studs and will try it with the knobbies I don't use. I'm surprised that more winter riders don't have facts/opinions/ideas about getting weight to the back tire. I got rid of my trusty Schwinn Collegiate (mistake) and am not confident on the mtb after the Black Ice Big Flop last winter. Maybe the studs on the edges of the tread will make the key improvement.
Vic, I wouldn't go down the path of studding your own tires, especially not for riding on pavement. Buy something from Schwalbe or Nokian instead. Both those brands have excellent lines of pre-studded tires.
Up here, I run Nokian's nobbiest studded tire -- the Freddies Revenze Lite. I do that because I'm frequently on hard-packed snow, and the nobs help a lot in those conditions. The studs then save me from the occasional patch of ice that I hit.
Where you are at, I'd probably look for a more pavement-friendly, studded tire. Both Schwalbe and Nokian have good offerings.
JG, Sounds good - I'll check them out.
+1 to moving weight off of your front wheel. Especially in any snow (>1"), a light front wheel will 'float' over the snow and you'll have better traction with your driven rear wheel.
This is like the tenth thread I've posted on today and I am just all jazzed for my ride home, it's something like 3F outside and we got about 3" of snow and I am just ready to go.
Hi Vic, riding your mountain bike on snow is a lot like riding it on sand... you want a bicycle with a slack head-angle and a slack seat-tube... the trek 930 really has neither of those(it is mid range), your schwinn, i guess, is a hybrid.. some of these particularly womens models for some reason are designed with slack head-angles and seat-tubes. This makes them steer slowly and lets the rider sit up-right and towards the rear of the bicycle - a better setup for snowy roads. Though these slack hybrids aren't good for making power and wouldn't be great to commute long-distances.
Originally Posted by VicM
A cheap way to improve your trek might be to buy the cheapest, shortest and tallest stem you can find... this will put you up and back more.
electrick, I got a new handlebar that raises and brings my hands back. With a shorter stem I think it will feel and be a lot more stable. The Nokian M&G studs haven't had a good test yet, but folks rave about them and I'm sure they will help me stay up. Thanks for the tip about the stem.