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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 09-05-11, 11:47 AM   #1
no1mad
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Totally noob questions about winter tire selection

Though I've been a multi-modal commuter the last 2 years or so, this is shaping up to be the first Winter that I'll be forced to make it home on my own via the bike*. So unless I either become unemployed or find another job closer to home, I figure I need to start researching/shopping now for some tires.

1. This is my one and only rig at the moment, but I believe that it has plenty of clearance for some larger tires- what's the standard on determining if something will fit other than trial and error?
2. What about determining how big/wide of tire that the rims can handle?

Historically, the precip we get around here is generally either a dusting of snow or some freezing rain. After last Winter with it's two blizzards that shut the entire State down for a week and the record setting hottest Summer on record (Death Valley was cooler than we were!), I'm not sure what to expect. Is there some kind of compromise between traction on packed snow/ice and loose powder?

*When my wife was unemployed, she would pick me up at a predetermined spot. She is now working and unable to act as a SAG wagon should the need arise...
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Old 09-05-11, 01:30 PM   #2
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1) trial and error works, or careful measurements

2) See table towards the bottom of this page http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html
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Old 09-05-11, 01:45 PM   #3
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The place to start is information about your bike.

According to your profile, you ride a 2006 Kona Smoke. It this right?

According to BikePedia, the 2006 Kona Smoke came with 26" x 1.5" tires. Is this what you have? I found other specs for this bike with 26" x 1.95" tires and 700c x 47mm tires. Which to you have?

Most 26" studded snow tires come in 1.9" to 2.2". So measure carefully.

Will another eighth-inch (if you have 1.95") or three-eighths of an inch (if you have 1.5") on each side fit between the fork legs and rear stays?
Will another quarter-inch taller (if you have 1.95") or three-quarters of an inch (if you have 1.5") fit under the fender?

If so, you can go with 2.2" tires. If not, stick with 1.9" ones.

Don't worry about the rims. Either size will fit just fine.
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Old 09-05-11, 02:41 PM   #4
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It sounds as if your bike has 26 inch wheels. Nokian Extremes 294's might fit they come in 26x2.1.. but in reality measure closer to 1.9. Not worth it, unless you are hardcore winter rider and , you get lots of snow/ice. Nokian also has Mount and Ground in a 26x1.9 and Hakka W106, which are more suitable for commuting. You may also look at Schwalbe Marathon Winter which comes in 26x1.75. They're all good tires for winter riding, proven by lot's of winter riders who use them. Please stay away from cheap POS tires such as Innovas and Kendas.
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Old 09-05-11, 03:16 PM   #5
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tsl, your research-fu is strong! I forgot to include the link (I had the tab open and all- just forgot to cut and paste) to my bike. From the manufacturer's archives: http://klassickona.com/oldgold/2006/smoke.htm.

I'll see if I can find a tape measure...
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Old 09-05-11, 04:01 PM   #6
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Here is what many consider the 'Bible' on studded tires:

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp

FWIW I use the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires and they are a good compromise between traction on icy/snow-covered roads and reduced rolling resistance. They are effective for 95% of my winter commutes.
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Old 09-05-11, 05:17 PM   #7
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tsl, your research-fu is strong!
It's an occupational hazard…
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Old 09-05-11, 06:14 PM   #8
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Okay, I just measured using my daughter's wooden ruler. The front has roughly 1.5" between the top of the tire and the where the fork legs meets at the top. There is also roughly 1.5" between the tire and the fork leg. So tons of room up front. The rear is a bit tighter- roughly 3/4" in any direction.

I'm tempted by the Mount and Ground W160's, due to the relatively low price and it's a decent all around performer, but looking at the pic on PW's site, it may not fit in the rear...
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Old 09-05-11, 06:22 PM   #9
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I do recall perusing this thread about Conti TopContact Winter tires. They're available in 26x1.95 and since they aren't studded, I would have an easier time of mounting in the rear and still be able to use the fender.
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Old 09-05-11, 07:26 PM   #10
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Another question- other than Peter White, what are some of the better online sources for winter tires? The LBS' in my area would probably think I was insane for asking; they tend to push rollers/trainers as the temps fall...
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Old 09-07-11, 07:56 AM   #11
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I rode through a couple western PA winters with nothing more than a fat old MTB tire on the front and a semi agressive 1.5 or 1.75 on the rear. That and a whole lot of caution. Once again as I start breaking out the gear for cool wet wornings my thoughts turn to the coming winter. And once again I'm thinking about finally getting some studded tires. As such I've done a fair amount of looking around and haven't really found anywhere offering a much better selection or much better pricing than Peter White. So for all the information he has made available I'll probably just order from him. Unless of course I decide that I'm tired of making a project out of getting to work and just drive when the weather is bad.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:15 PM   #12
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Here is what many consider the 'Bible' on studded tires:

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp

FWIW I use the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires and they are a good compromise between traction on icy/snow-covered roads and reduced rolling resistance. They are effective for 95% of my winter commutes.
My sentiments exactly as a year round urban commuter on usually well-plowed roads; nicely stated.
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Old 09-08-11, 08:47 PM   #13
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Another question- other than Peter White, what are some of the better online sources for winter tires? The LBS' in my area would probably think I was insane for asking; they tend to push rollers/trainers as the temps fall...
Aebike.com sells most of the stuff that's in the Quality Bicycle Products distributor catalog. If you wanted a used set of Schwalbe Marathon Winters, I happen to have a pair I'm going to sell offedit: they're now sold ... decided to go back to Nokian Extremes, which do better in deep and chewed-up snow.

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Old 09-08-11, 09:35 PM   #14
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I do recall perusing this thread about Conti TopContact Winter tires. They're available in 26x1.95 and since they aren't studded, I would have an easier time of mounting in the rear and still be able to use the fender.
The more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards the Conti's. The reason being is that in my multimodal commute, my bike gets transported 2x daily in the back of vehicles- no rack is used. While I could care less about the company cargo van, I don't think my wife would appreciate studded tires chewing up the interior of her Jeep...
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Old 09-08-11, 10:28 PM   #15
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I don't think my wife would appreciate studded tires chewing up the interior of her Jeep...
Rather than deciding for her what she wants, you might want to ask her first. Given the choice of broken bones (or worse) for you, or a scratched interior of the Jeep, which would she prefer? She may surprise you and say, "Eff the jeep".

Because really, that's what it boils down to with studs. Or at least as winter presents itself around here. Your winter may be different.

I got cocky one spring. I decided that since I'd been riding on ice all winter, that I could handle it, so I didn't put the studs back on for a one-day freeze in the forecast. I went down that day--hard. And instantly too.
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Old 09-09-11, 12:08 PM   #16
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A piece of used rug will guard the floor of the jeep. I commute year round in the Boston area. I run 3 sets of studded tires, mandatory for me and my riding area and comfort. Don't set down the rear wheel when it is spinning on the kitchen floor, not good.
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Old 09-09-11, 06:27 PM   #17
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I already have an old wool blanket that covers the seat back of the folded rear seat and the cargo area carpet. However my loading method in her Jeep (an '03 Liberty) is kinda tricky- and it's a really tight fit back there.

The back end of the Jeep has a glass hatch that swings upwards, but the lower half swings out like a door (opens to where traffic side if parked at a curb would be blocked) and it only opens up a little past 90 degrees. So I have to pick the bike up, place the front wheel in, re-position my hands where I'm grabbing the seat tube with my left hand and squeeze the rear fender and wheel together with my right hand and shove as far it will go. Then I have to walk around, open up the rear passenger on the driver's side, then wedge the front wheel between the rear seat and the front seat backs. Close that door (after making sure that my handlebar isn't caught in the rear driver seat belt), then close the rear hatch- sometimes nudging the bike further.

So I can minimize the damage to the interior in the rear, but I'm not sure how to minimize/prevent towards the front- or how to keep my skin intact during the load/unload process. My front fender already has tasted my blood on numerous occasions, not sure if I really want the tires to join in the feeding frenzy.

It's all about compromises and working with what one has at hand. I would just get a spare tire rack and put the bike on that- would make life sooo much easier- but she bought the Jeep used and neglected to inspect the tires; she's going to need a full set before snow flies, and they ain't cheap.
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Old 09-10-11, 03:28 PM   #18
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she's going to need a full set before snow flies, and they ain't cheap.
Schwalbe Marathon Winters are what I'm looking at for the bike.

Goodyear Fortera TripleTred are my #1 recommendation for all-seasons; but Continental DWS have surprising ratings (I haven't had the pleasure of trying them), especially on snow (remember: they handle like dry land, but when you hit the brakes they WILL turn into skis. Slow early, coast to a stop... don't try to sudden brake, even on excellent snow tires). Dunlop WinterSports have been recommended to me if you want a true snow tire.

Do yourself a favor and don't hold back on tires. Check out DiscountTire for ordering (free shipping) and TireRack for comparison, and pay a shop $20 to mount and balance 'em. In the end you might save $20-$40 a wheel on some high-end tires. Do not mount cheap Yokohamas; any car with Yokohama tires is a disabled vehicle.
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Old 09-10-11, 03:53 PM   #19
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@bluefoxicy- My wife learned how to drive while in the Navy. She was stationed up at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in IL during the Winter time, so she knows how to deal with the white stuff. But we're not in the 'snow belt' here in OK- we tend to see more ice than snow- so dedicated snow tires aren't needed. She wants some 'dual sports' tires so she can do light off roading (I'm wanting road tires to maximize fuel economy). I'll check out the online sources and compare prices.
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Old 09-10-11, 09:38 PM   #20
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REI carries the Nokian M&G at a good price. I've been using them for a couple of Colorado winters and I'm happy with them.

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