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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 10-02-04, 05:51 PM   #1
BenyBen
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Thin or fat tires?

So I'm trying to prep up for a winter of cycling, but I have no experience on the subject.

I just went looking for a winter bike @ this recycled bike shop, and the owner told me that thin tires were best in the snow because they cut through it and get to the pavement, while the fat tires would just float above and provide poor steering..

I was under the impression that it was better to have fatter tires since most winter tires don't seem to be thin. Someone has a hands on opinion? Thanks
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Old 10-02-04, 06:01 PM   #2
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http://www.nokiantyres.com/bike/winter/index.html
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Old 10-02-04, 06:34 PM   #3
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I prefer thinner tires, but with some knobbies. Typically it's a tire with little ribs down the center, and knobs on the edges. This year I'll probably be running slicks, though. It seems like the knobby tires like to accumulate snow, which puts you pretty much riding on ice.
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Old 10-02-04, 10:46 PM   #4
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There are many theories, and it depends a bit on whether you want to cycle all winter or only most of it.

The best all-weather is studded tires. Peter White has a good description of the pros and cons of various Nokians. In terms of studs, I would suggest:
- Avoid Innovas at any cost: slippery rubber and non-lasting studs;
I had bought one 2 or 3 years ago and kept it on the bike less than 1 week. Induces a lot of vibrations in the handlebars and very slippery in front (more than a simple knobby); decent on the rear wheel for added traction, though (not worth the expense unless you already have it).
- Schwalbes are good (from listmembers' comments): available at MEC and a few other places; only in 26" AFAIK. Good tread, good grippy rubber, but it seems the studs don't last that long. Still half the price of Nokians, so a good buy.
- Nokians. I broke down and bought 2 Nokian Hakkapeliittas 106 last year. For city rides, the 106 (or 160) are more than enough. The tread is aggressive enough to eat well in snow, hard snow, ice... and the studs are made from carbide. Last year, I had a Nokian in front and and Innova behind; no studs left on the Innova and the Nokian still looks brand new. Some have reported 8-9 year use out of them. Problem: $80. Another problem: availability. Last year, the only shop who wanted to order them was Le Yéti, on Saint-Laurent Blvd (corner Fairmount). Still, IMHO, if you decide to ride with studs, it's either Nokian (or Schwalbe) or nothing.
As they say on http://icebike.org, if you have only one studded tire, install it in front. Not as effective as 2 studs, but it keeps your front wheel under control in icy ruts.

Knobby Cyclocross Tires. I find that almost as good as studs. It's also much less expensive and more useful for all-around cycling. The knobs eat snow fairly well and give very decent traction. Two places where that doesn't work:
- On blare/black ice, where only studs work to a point. Basically ride conservatively, don't lean, don't brake hard... Still less intimidating than driving on ice.
- On snow/ice that was packed unevenly and froze in place; frozen tire ruts, for example. If you can ride in the melted stuff or further away, you are OK. I find such conditions happen 1-3 weeks per winter max. and careful/slower riding helps.

Slicks. The key point is: they have to be narrow to cut through the snow.
Slicks work only when asphalt is wet/warm rather than frozen, and when the snow is light enough or liquid enough to be chased away by your tires. In Montréal, it works with fresh snow, before cars pile it (i.e. riding at midnight in flurries)... or 3-4 days after the snow, when they pick it up. (the snow spread on the road is above so much salt that you still have a grip on pavement).
It also depends a lot on the rubber compound; I have no problem with Continental Top Touring tires (in "decent" winter conditions), but I have learned to stay away from very slippery IRC Tandem tires.

Last Winters, I had:
- My touring bike used year round for long distances and for pulling the kids; usually not in the worst conditions: Top Touring 700x32 front; Vittoria Cyclocross 700x37 rear (more thread helps me climb when I pull the kids);
- My commuter bike has been with Specialised Cyclocross knobbies 700x37 for 3-4 winters. In December 2003, I installed 1 Nokian Hakkapeliitta and 1 Innova.
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Old 10-02-04, 10:50 PM   #5
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I live in Florida, can't help. I don't have a clue of what you guys are talking about.

Yes, but we do have hurricane's to deal with!

I can explain to you how to connect a generator.

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Old 10-02-04, 11:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
There are many theories, and it depends a bit on whether you want to cycle all winter or only most of it.

The best all-weather is studded tires. Peter White has a good description of the pros and cons of various Nokians. In terms of studs, I would suggest:
- Avoid Innovas at any cost: slippery rubber and non-lasting studs;
<snip>
I'll chime in here, I ove my Nokians, but I don't ride them every day of the winter, and they aren't real effective on like lake ice, I tried crossing a lake last year and went down. But other conditions, they are worth the Ka-Ching!
<snip>
Last Winters, I had:
- My touring bike used year round for long distances and for pulling the kids; usually not in the worst conditions: Top Touring 700x32 front; Vittoria Cyclocross 700x37 rear (more thread helps me climb when I pull the kids);
- My commuter bike has been with Specialised Cyclocross knobbies 700x37 for 3-4 winters. In December 2003, I installed 1 Nokian Hakkapeliitta and 1 Innova.
I picked up a set of Vitorias last year, and rode them all winter, what a nice tire! I have two winter bikes set up, both fixies, and was swapping the wheel sets all winter. I do go with a slightly larger tire in winter 25-28cm, it gives a bigger foot print, and like Gagnon says, unless the pavement is realitivly warm or clear of snow and ice, slicks aren't safe.
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Old 10-05-04, 01:24 AM   #7
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just from experience

my old sears mtb with very thick tires worked well for trudging through thicker snow and going over medium ruts. suspension helped too but the bike broke down due to wear and tear.

the cannnondale cyclocross on the other hand with thin knobby tires fares well through snow. for commuting they work nicely...but when the paths become extremely icy and rutty i often just turn onto the grass and pedal through high unspoiled snow..tires cut through well and fast. as for icy roads, the tires work alright just dont make sharp speedy turns...the same with any tire i guess. ive pedalled across shiny lakes with those tires too, although any medium/hard turns woulda flipped me.

dont expect to go cross-country riding with any cyclo tires though.
still though..i think thick tires with studs would be the safest, but not the most efficient

Last edited by Skullder; 10-05-04 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 10-05-04, 07:19 AM   #8
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Define "fat" and "thin." The narrowest Mokian W-106 size is a 622-35, which is either thin or fat depending upon what you are used to. I've found that these work well on dry pavement, snow, and ice. Here in the DC area, there is always an ice layer beneath any snow, so studs help a lot. If the snow is either fresh or partially melted, thin (less than 35 mm) tires bite down through it very well.

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Old 10-06-04, 07:33 PM   #9
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I had good luck last season with the studded nashbar tires. I put about 400 miles on them with no visible wear. I paid about $35 each.
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