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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 10-23-09, 03:15 PM   #1
chucky
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foot travel better in winter?

I'm talking about really deep snow, ice etc.

In my experience rain is infinitely better on a bike than on foot because you're up above the puddles. However, the increased rolling resistance and slippage makes me think that maybe its easier to go on foot when things get really bad in winter. What say you guys: is it better (albiet slower) to be on foot in the worst winter conditions?

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Old 10-23-09, 03:23 PM   #2
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I am far more stable on my bike in the worst of conditions and there is no way I'd walk 10-15 km a day in the dead of winter.

When people are struggling to walk on ice covered walks and drive on icy roads I just keep zipping along.
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Old 10-23-09, 03:27 PM   #3
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I am far more stable on my bike in the worst of conditions and there is no way I'd walk 10-15 km a day in the dead of winter.
Do you put your feet down when your bike slips?

I wouldn't walk 10-15km per day in winter either, but the question is if it might be preferable for shorter trips.
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Old 10-23-09, 03:40 PM   #4
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It depends on the conditions. If there is lots of ice, studded tires make riding on ice about the same as pavement. If the snow starts getting so deep your pedals hit the snow, it gets easier to walk.
But that also depends on the density of the snow. 3" of cold fresh powder is fun. 3" of heavy slush is a lot of work. If there is no ice around, studded tires grab about the same as any tire of the same tread will. There are so many variables it's almost too much to list. In over a foot of snow it's probably easier to walk a long way, but a short distance might be OK on the bike, it depends on your fitness, the snow conditions, the bike, the tires, the temperature, etc.......

I've been riding motorcycles and bicycles on ice and snow since 1968. If the back tire slips on ice and I am riding on ice with studded tires, I can usually just countersteer and keep pedaling. The continued pedaling straightens out the bike. Same for the right kind of snow. Like most people it's hard to control the bike if the front tire slips.

BUT, slips on what? What tires? What bike, etc etc.
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Old 10-23-09, 03:41 PM   #5
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Do you put your feet down when your bike slips?
This is half of a pair of new winter tires I am putting together... iIshould be able to ride on glare ice with no worries.

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Old 10-23-09, 03:49 PM   #6
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This is half of a pair of new winter tires I am putting together... iIshould be able to ride on glare ice with no worries.

It will for a while. Screws wear down very quickly and get useless faster than good carbide studded tires.
The carbide studs don't get shorter, eventually the tire casing lets the stud sink in too far. The carbide studs do round off the edge of the cylinder shape that they are when brand new, but the difference is almost not noticable.
You would do better if a short screw tip just barely stuck out of the middle knobs too. .020 -.030" height is plenty. That also gives better traction on the pavement (a little).
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Old 10-23-09, 04:17 PM   #7
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I don't think SixtyFiver owns snow boots. From the sound of it I suspect he just cycles out in his slippers to take in the empty trash cans without dismounting (no doubt steering no handed with one can in each arm).

Ok I'll fess up, reason I made this thread is because I'm mulling over whether I should buy some snow boots (and what sort of quality I need). I gave away the ones I had because they didn't fit well and at the time I was living in a warmer climate where it was easy to bike in winter.
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Old 10-23-09, 04:23 PM   #8
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I don't think SixtyFiver owns snow boots. From the sound of it I suspect he just cycles out in his slippers to take in the empty trash cans without dismounting (no doubt steering no handed with one can in each arm).

Ok I'll fess up, reason I made this thread is because I'm mulling over whether I should buy some snow boots (and what sort of quality I need). I gave away the ones I had because they didn't fit well and at the time I was living in a warmer climate where it was easy to bike in winter.
Picturing SixtyFiver cycling in slippers in the snow holding two trash cans is a lot more interesting than what boots to get!
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Old 10-23-09, 04:48 PM   #9
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It will for a while. Screws wear down very quickly and get useless faster than good carbide studded tires.

The carbide studs don't get shorter, eventually the tire casing lets the stud sink in too far. The carbide studs do round off the edge of the cylinder shape that they are when brand new, but the difference is almost not noticable.

You would do better if a short screw tip just barely stuck out of the middle knobs too. .020 -.030" height is plenty. That also gives better traction on the pavement (a little).
There is so much fail here...

My last tire went over 18,000 km before I retired it due to casing wear and not because the studs wore out... I could probably still use it but would have to add a lot of reinforcement to the inside of the tire.

Centre studs don't help on dry pavement... they wear out and make the tire skitter. If you do run centre studs carbide is essential but with off camber studding metal screws are fine as they are not subjected to constant wear.

I ride year round and have crashed once while winter riding... and that was a minor.

P.S. - I have winter boots and yak trax for when it gets really icy but don't need those to take out the trash.
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Old 10-23-09, 04:51 PM   #10
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On snow boots -

Just like bicycle tyres you want a boot with soles that stay supple when it gets really cold with a temperature rating that meets or exceeds your local conditions.

I have Sorel felt pack boots with a -60C rating (with upgraded liners) and as good as they are, they suck on ice unless they have spikes added via yak trax.
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Old 10-23-09, 06:20 PM   #11
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In Manitoba I was able to cycle year round because they were pretty good about clearing the roads. So for my 13.5 rt commute, I usually opted to cycle.

But there were a few occasions when a blizzard would roll in overnight and they wouldn't have been able to get out and clear it all by morning. On those occasions, I either took the bus all the way to work ... or took the bus partway to work and walked the rest ... or walked the whole thing. Riding through 2-3 feet of snow would have been just as slow for me as walking through it.
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Old 10-23-09, 06:41 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by chucky View Post
I'm talking about really deep snow, ice etc.

In my experience rain is infinitely better on a bike than on foot because you're up above the puddles. However, the increased rolling resistance and slippage makes me think that maybe its easier to go on foot when things get really bad in winter. What say you guys: is it better (albiet slower) to be on foot in the worst winter conditions?
Yes, sometimes it isn't worth it... when enough snow falls of a certain consistency it will pack up in your spokes when you roll through it and make you work like you're cycling through a sticky muddy bog. Otherwise, no issues with rolling resistance or slippage. Mostly snow falling in the spokes is what can really bog you down. Well that and there just too much snow to push through 15cm+ i mean. Time to break out the x-country skis or snow shoes.

Really big Aero wheels might help
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Old 10-24-09, 09:22 AM   #13
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There is so much fail here...

My last tire went over 18,000 km before I retired it due to casing wear and not because the studs wore out... I could probably still use it but would have to add a lot of reinforcement to the inside of the tire.

Centre studs don't help on dry pavement... they wear out and make the tire skitter. If you do run centre studs carbide is essential but with off camber studding metal screws are fine as they are not subjected to constant wear.

I ride year round and have crashed once while winter riding... and that was a minor.

P.S. - I have winter boots and yak trax for when it gets really icy but don't need those to take out the trash.
I wore plenty of plain steel screws out very quickly. They were off center about like the photo. They were still there but lost a lot of grab, they became smaller quickly. The shorter carbide studs off center stayed about the same for much longer, and the don't hurt the traction on pavement as much.
Of course center studs don't help on pavement, compared to no studs, duh. But short studs in the center allow a little of the rubber to touch as opposed to a taller stud in the center this gives a little better traction on the pavement compared to taller studs. A higher stud count with small studs works better on things like angled ice formed from frozen footsteps etc.
So does adding center studs compared to no center studs. Duh!
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Old 10-24-09, 09:30 AM   #14
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I'm with Sixty Fiver. I love winter cycling, and in many conditions you're more stable on wheels than on foot. With practice, you can roll right over patches of ice without any problems (just don't try to change your direction) that you're quite likely to slip on when on foot. Plus if your concern is exposure, you can move much faster on bike that on foot.

I commuted by bike in Chicago for about 10 winters, literally missing maybe 5 days a year when the snow was both deep and fresh. Deep snow is a much bigger problem than ice. If the snow is only a few inches deep, it's like riding on wet grass.

PS: While I've always had a "winter bike" that's more of a beater, I've never needed studded tires or anything like that. Moderately fat, knobby tires, maybe a little under-inflated, seem to work fine for me (but I'm not doing cross country style riding or anything like that--I'm on streets and paths.)

Last edited by spokely; 10-24-09 at 09:32 AM. Reason: adding ps
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Old 10-24-09, 09:37 AM   #15
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This is half of a pair of new winter tires I am putting together... iIshould be able to ride on glare ice with no worries.
I keep meaning to ask you, Sixty, how you make your studded tires. Do you have a how-to somewhere?
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Old 10-24-09, 02:57 PM   #16
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If you're talking about ice, then that all depends on your tires and/or shoe choice. You can get studded tires for the bike but you can also get studded shoes that work great. For me personally I'd rather be on a bike.

Now if you're talking about untracked snow deeper than 8-12 inches, then there's just no way a bike will compare with the mobility you'll get with snowshoes or skis with "skins".

I think the answer to your question all depends on the situation you're talking about.
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Old 10-24-09, 08:22 PM   #17
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I keep meaning to ask you, Sixty, how you make your studded tires. Do you have a how-to somewhere?
There is a sticky in the winter cycling forum...you canna miss it.
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