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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 02-22-10, 06:50 PM   #1
chico1st
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which tires when?

some people use skinny tires in the winter some use wide ones... is there a certain situation for each? I dont off road but i do try to keep riding all winter in snow up to say 3" before it gets ploughed usually. I ride in a poorly ploughed city (not toronto)

I always find the hardest part it the fact that there are tire tracks everywhere leaving crazy variance in snow density/characteristics.

What are the arguments for and against each?

And yes I know I can get studded in both and studded makes ice nice.

Last edited by chico1st; 02-22-10 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 02-22-10, 09:54 PM   #2
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If the snow is such that a skinny tire can cut through to pavement without getting pushed around too much, or at least through to something firm and not too slippery then it can work well. If there's a lot of frozen ruts of varying widths or if the snow is too deep to cut through then skinny tires aren't as good a choice.

I've taken a middle ground and use 35 and 40 mm tires.
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Old 02-22-10, 10:42 PM   #3
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I use 35mm studded tires and so far this winter they have been unstoppable.
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Old 02-22-10, 10:50 PM   #4
chico1st
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If there's a lot of frozen ruts of varying widths or if the snow is too deep to cut through
ok so in your experience what would be too deep to cut through?

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I use 35mm studded tires and so far this winter they have been unstoppable.
I see you live more or less where I do (hamilton). Where/what do you ride in? streets/ploughed/salted/icy?
Also we barely had any winter this year... so were they good the last few years?

If skinnies are so good, then why do most commuters have fat MTB tires? are they confuzed? or just becuase they are available?
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Old 02-22-10, 11:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by chico1st View Post
I see you live more or less where I do (hamilton). Where/what do you ride in? streets/ploughed/salted/icy?
Also we barely had any winter this year... so were they good the last few years?

If skinnies are so good, then why do most commuters have fat MTB tires? are they confuzed? or just becuase they are available?
I live in London and we have pretty much the same road conditions that you do (I know - I used to be a truck driver and Hamilton was on my regular route.) I use Schwalbe Marathon Winters and the great thing is that they work well in both wintery conditions and on bare pavement. I put them on at the first sign of snow/ice and I will leave them on until spring is in full swing. This is my first winter commuting so it's the only experience that I can share. We had a big dump of snow today and they got me home without incident, although at a much slower speed than usual.

As for skinny vs. fat tires - I have a MTB but it is equipped with slicks so it stays parked for the winter. Therefore I have no comparison.
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Old 02-22-10, 11:50 PM   #6
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yeah ill probably message you in a few weeks to see how you're doing..
Any one else have experiences?
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Old 02-23-10, 01:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by chico1st View Post
some people use skinny tires in the winter some use wide ones... is there a certain situation for each? I dont off road but i do try to keep riding all winter in snow up to say 3" before it gets ploughed usually. I ride in a poorly ploughed city (not toronto)

I always find the hardest part it the fact that there are tire tracks everywhere leaving crazy variance in snow density/characteristics.

What are the arguments for and against each?

And yes I know I can get studded in both and studded makes ice nice.
Skinny tires can cut through certain amounts of snow and slush... once the snow becomes deep enough skinny tires are nay useless. This happens somewhere near 5cm of fresh snow. Skinny tires definitely don't handle as well on loose car tracks, they also get deflected and skid when going through snowy humps and what not on the road. It ain't stylish but, you can hack it mostly.

The wider tires are easier to balance on but will tend to float over stuff which is good in deeper/loose snow but so-so in lesser snowfalls. They also have more rolling resistance.
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Old 02-23-10, 01:25 AM   #8
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ok so in your experience what would be too deep to cut through?
It depends more on the constitution of the snow and the temperature of the ground below it. On warm ground and fresh snow, a narrow tyre will reach the ground even through a foot of snow. When the ground is cold, snow freezes tight to it, and even if there's only an inch of the stuff, no tyre is going to reach the ground.
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Old 02-23-10, 04:26 AM   #9
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i run freeride tires.

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Old 02-23-10, 09:35 AM   #10
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so would MTB tires be the safer bet? like they always sorta work...whereas skinnies work great or dont work at all.

Also saying that I had skinnies (32-38 ish) I guess I would only have issues during heavy snow storms... as soon as its ploughed i'de be fine.
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Old 02-23-10, 11:37 AM   #11
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I prefer a wider (2") studded tire in most snow conditions, since I won't be "cutting down to the pavement" in snow that has been previously traversed by tractor-trailers.

When the snow is slushy and not too deep (common urban scenario), a narrow tire will displace it and usually grip the salted underlying pavement just fine.

But in such conditions I use narrow slicks (28c) for decreased rolling resistance, not because they actually give me better traction.
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Old 02-23-10, 01:08 PM   #12
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I split the difference. For my main ride, I use the nokian mount and ground studded tire. It is a 26x1.95 with 160 studs and some deep tread. It works on ice ,slush and snow, up to 4" deep, if not too heavy.
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Old 02-23-10, 04:19 PM   #13
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ok so in your experience what would be too deep to cut through?
I don't think there's a fixed amount. It depends on the type of snow, how cold it is, whether it's been driven over or is relatively fresh. As someone else said in an urban scenario where it's often more slush than snow, I think skinnies are a good choice.
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Old 02-23-10, 04:47 PM   #14
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I run 23c's all year round in Chicago, you just gotta be careful when you lean turn in to corner and you learn what kind of crap your tire can cut through while cornering vs straight line riding. Where I live there are always tire tracks to follow, so its mostly mushy melting slush and snow at the worst, hardly any hard pack or undodge-able ice chunks. I'd say if your city is decent at plowing and uses ice melter you could maybe get away with it. If you city uses sand its best to find an alternative to skinny tires.
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Old 02-23-10, 07:58 PM   #15
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sounds like i just have to try and see how i like it.... :S
damn... and I would just be using studs too so thats an investment
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Old 02-23-10, 08:13 PM   #16
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sounds like i just have to try and see how i like it.... :S
damn... and I would just be using studs too so thats an investment
Well you only need one set, usually studs on a narrower tire get you more bang for buck around here - and they're cheaper too. Go read through peterwhitecycles.com information on the various studded tires. It is a bit late in the season anyways. Usually come fall there are some used ones on craigslist and what not.. the tires last a really long time if the're carbide studs
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Old 02-24-10, 02:18 AM   #17
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It seems to me that if the road conditions are such that the tire will push the crap away and make contact with the ground, you want higher pressure for more traction. Am I right or am I off base?
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