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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 12-27-11, 03:51 PM   #1
Tall Cool One
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Can you effectively ride a mountain bike with knobbies with snow on the ground?

I am a roadie. I have a circa 1997 hardtail mountain bike that I had before I became a roadie. Can I use my knobbies on my mountain bike to ride in the snow? Is there a limit is to the depth of snow I can ride in? I am just looking for options to get an outdoor workout in during the winter.
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Old 12-27-11, 05:56 PM   #2
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yes it's possible.
It's best if they are mud specific.
Generally, most tires can only go up to around 1" of powder or compacted and about 2" of sticky or slush.

The only advantage studded tires have are the studs that can bite into ice. Regular knobbies can't do that. Studded tires are very close in design to mud specific knobby tires.

The other types are not ideal, but not undoable.
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Old 12-27-11, 06:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tall Cool One View Post
I am a roadie. I have a circa 1997 hardtail mountain bike that I had before I became a roadie. Can I use my knobbies on my mountain bike to ride in the snow? Is there a limit is to the depth of snow I can ride in? I am just looking for options to get an outdoor workout in during the winter.
Yes, absolutely. I've done it many times when I lived in Winnipeg ... on everything from light skiffs of snow up to about 6 or 8 inches deep. The deeper the snow, the more of a workout it is.

I've never got into mountain biking ... but put a few inches of snow over the trails and I loved riding them.


A tip ... flatten the tires. If they normally require 50 psi or something like that, bring it down to 30 psi. And go and enjoy.
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Old 12-27-11, 07:13 PM   #4
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YES.

Every winter, when the weatherman predicts the first snow, I break out my "winter tires" -- aggressive knobbies that don't otherwise roll well on pavement. But they tend to EAT snow that's 5 inches or less. I've had trouble with the heavier plowed stuff thrown onto my paths, but these babies WILL NOT SLIP!

My tires are DMR Redshift 26x2.25; Maxxis Ignitors are close in tread pattern.

My all-purpose Michelins roll best at 55-60psi (I'm a big guy); the Redshifts do well for me at about 42-46.
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Old 12-27-11, 10:32 PM   #5
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Snow, yes. ice? meh...

And yes, you will get a workout.....
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Old 12-28-11, 09:56 AM   #6
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Absolutely You can indeed ride in snow with knobby tires.
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Old 12-28-11, 02:24 PM   #7
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Proof if you like:,we were riding 6 to 8 inches of snow on this ride.
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File Type: jpg Winter ride.jpg (86.7 KB, 56 views)
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Old 12-28-11, 05:40 PM   #8
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Proof if you like:,we were riding 6 to 8 inches of snow on this ride.
looks like 6 to 8in deep where you ride, or just around?
to me, it looks like you're only digging in 2in.
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Old 12-28-11, 06:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tall Cool One View Post
I am a roadie. I have a circa 1997 hardtail mountain bike that I had before I became a roadie. Can I use my knobbies on my mountain bike to ride in the snow? Is there a limit is to the depth of snow I can ride in? I am just looking for options to get an outdoor workout in during the winter.
Yes, mountain bike tires do a good job in the snow. The depth of the snow you can ride in depends, largely, on your strength and endurance. One to two inches of snow is actually quite fun. 3" to 4" is more work and the fun starts to be the challenge of riding. 5" to 8" is almost too much work to be fun. Anything over 10" is beyond fun.

I use Panaracer Darts for the front and Panaracer Smokes or FirePros. In our dry Colorado snows, we don't have to worry too much about the snow sticking to the tires.
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Old 12-28-11, 07:49 PM   #10
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looks like 6 to 8in deep where you ride, or just around?
to me, it looks like you're only digging in 2in.
The section in the picture was one of the more traveled spots, so it was only a couple inches deep there. Most of the other sections were in the much deeper snow.
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Old 12-28-11, 09:01 PM   #11
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Exercise is just a part of it for me, so I use 700 - 32 tires for the commute. It is a lot easier to get through the snow with narrower tires.

I use the same tire pressure winter and summer. Lower it and you will get more exercise if that is the only thing you are out for. Personally I don't understand any advantage to it. The only times I've ever started to spin were on ice. I've never had a traction problem in snow.

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I've done it many times when I lived in Winnipeg
But I thought it was spelled Winterpeg.

Last edited by Closed Office; 12-28-11 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 12-28-11, 10:39 PM   #12
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The section in the picture was one of the more traveled spots, so it was only a couple inches deep there. Most of the other sections were in the much deeper snow.
ah, interesting.
I've always found that it's pretty hard to bike if the tire sunk in more than 2in into the snow.
you must have better snow for riding where you are. Here, it's mostly powder that doesn't compact very well. It always crumbles even with 2.1in ice spikers.
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Old 12-28-11, 11:43 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Yes, mountain bike tires do a good job in the snow. The depth of the snow you can ride in depends, largely, on your strength and endurance. One to two inches of snow is actually quite fun. 3" to 4" is more work and the fun starts to be the challenge of riding. 5" to 8" is almost too much work to be fun. Anything over 10" is beyond fun.

I use Panaracer Darts for the front and Panaracer Smokes or FirePros. In our dry Colorado snows, we don't have to worry too much about the snow sticking to the tires.
Yup, forgot about that point; dry snow is about a THOUSAND times easier to ride through than the wet stuff we frequently get in NE IN; the plowed stuff I referred to is like OATMEAL to plow through.

We've had two small snow events; neither one was as bad as predicted, nor did it cause me a bit of trouble. I'm looking for mid-January to be hellish.
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Old 12-28-11, 11:51 PM   #14
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The heavy snow 'round here is lovingly referred to as Cascade Cement. You need to be a burly tree trunk legged sprinter to get through 6 inches of the stuff.
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Old 12-29-11, 02:02 AM   #15
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But I thought it was spelled Winterpeg.
That's one spelling.

But I lived there for 13 years and in Alberta for more years than that, and I discovered that the summers in Winnipeg were much longer and hotter and more humid than Alberta summers. It can get very cold and snowy in Winnipeg, but it can also get very hot.
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Old 12-29-11, 10:06 AM   #16
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Yup, forgot about that point; dry snow is about a THOUSAND times easier to ride through than the wet stuff we frequently get in NE IN; the plowed stuff I referred to is like OATMEAL to plow through.

We've had two small snow events; neither one was as bad as predicted, nor did it cause me a bit of trouble. I'm looking for mid-January to be hellish.
Deep snow is also easier to ride if you don't have to deal with irregularities like car tracks. Riding through 6" of untracked snow in the park is much easier than 6" of snow that has even a few car tire tracks through it. If you are riding on a road where cars have driven, you are traveling with the tracks and tend to slip off to the side constantly which makes riding much more difficult. If you are trying to follow the car tracks, lower your pressure so that you don't slide off to the side all the time.

Suspension also helps because it lets the wheels climb up the side of the car tracks rather than be trapped against them. You can't counter steer to climb back up on the tracks with a rigid bike.
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Old 01-04-12, 11:48 AM   #17
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Yes, I ride my mt bikes year round on the trails. Easier on packed snow, ski mobile trails.
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Old 01-06-12, 08:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tall Cool One View Post
I am a roadie. I have a circa 1997 hardtail mountain bike that I had before I became a roadie. Can I use my knobbies on my mountain bike to ride in the snow? Is there a limit is to the depth of snow I can ride in? I am just looking for options to get an outdoor workout in during the winter.


And you can have fun doing it too! The limits are determined by the snow than the tires. You'll get pedal strike in anything more than a few inches of snow and although several inches of dry, light snow aren't a problem, a few inches of heavy wet stuff could force you to walk. Yup! It's a good wookout! In fact you'll have to be careful not to overdress cause you'll be working up a sweat!
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Old 01-07-12, 09:04 AM   #19
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take it for a soin and get your workout. it might be your last if you don't like it, but it will be interesting enough for at least one ride

where there's snow, compacted snow, there's a benefit from studs. I wouldn't buy studded tires for just one ride though
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Old 01-07-12, 09:54 AM   #20
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I've found that mounting the tires with the tread reversed helps them shed snow easier.

I went on a group mtb ride last winter on a trail packed with snow. I was the only one with studded tires and I still fell just as much as everyone else; some guys were even using tires that I'd expect would be good for hard packed dirt and they were fine.
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