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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 11-12-12, 08:57 AM   #1
aquateen
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Do I need studded tires? (DC/MD/VA)

I live in the DC metro area and this will be my first winter commuting. My commute is mostly on MUPs and some road riding. Currently I ride a road bike with 28s but I will soon be getting a single speed cyclocross bike to handle my commutes. Most people I see post about studded tires live in areas that get lots of snow but DC is relatively mild on that front. My main concern is ICE, especially since I am commuting around 6 am. I'd love to hear from people either in DC or other areas with similar winters.
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Old 11-12-12, 10:06 AM   #2
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In the UK we get the occasional Big Freeze lasting a week or 2 (more further north) with snow, ice, freeze/thaw/freeze action.
I have ridden with 32mm touring tyres without mishap but I didn't like commuting in these conditions. I made some studded tyres (DIY instructions all over the web) and they give me a lot of confidence on the slickest ice.
The commercial versions are not really worthwhile for a week or 2 of extra riding, where there are public transport alternatives. The DIY version costs about $20-30 per pair and takes 2-4hrs of construction. Mine are on their 3rd year of use.
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Old 11-12-12, 02:21 PM   #3
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Well if you have Public transit to use when Riding is harsh, maybe Not.

i have a pair of 26" Nokian studded tires , now in their 20th season..
The Tungsten steel alloy studs are not tall and there are just 2 rows of them
on the tread contact patch edges, but when the Road Ices Up
they are more secure than trying to walk on the stuff.

So buying a pair that you can put on your wheels overnight ,
when the forecast is for Icy Roads , I'd say, is a Good investment.

Because they last so long , in places where you dont have freeze ups for 90 days
and are out there riding on them consistently.

Columbia River cuts thru the Cascades, on shore winds
keep the cold air on the east side usually ,
but can change, then when the Gorge winds from the east
are blowing that cold air mass out to the Coast

things get slick., and Icy.. and springs that flow across the roads
freeze up even if it is not snowing.

Last edited by fietsbob; 11-12-12 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 11-12-12, 03:02 PM   #4
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You'll know you need studded tires if you find yourself slipping and falling over on the ice.
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Old 11-12-12, 03:40 PM   #5
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i decided to have a pair on hand "just in case". winters here have been unpredictable.
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Old 11-12-12, 06:01 PM   #6
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You'll know you need studded tires if you find yourself slipping and falling over on the ice.
Or frost. Most of my 5 falls last year were on very thin nearly unnoticeable layers of frost on the road pavement. Only 2 falls were on the days I brazenly rode to work (and had a blast doing it!) with compacted snow resembling ice.
It took me 3 times to learn that temperature can vary wildly from what the thermometer says over even a short 3 miles commute, so just because the mercury is above freezing (even a long way above) that doesn't mean you're in the clear. In slippery conditions be careful when you set a foot down because the bike has better traction than your sneakers. That's true even of skinny slick tires, which I had.

Falling hurts, but I'm more worried about the landing than the actual fall itself. I'm very happy to have not seen the inside of a hospital from a patient's perspective, I'd like to keep it that way. Plus, having your bike skidding like that down the asphalt really hurts my feelings- poor Zoomie has battle scars from our first winter, successful though it was.


I went ahead and re-installed the screws I tried last year- they just got me to work and back over several icy rutted bridges without a single problem. They made my bike feel a little bit "funny". As if maybe my front wheel really preferred to stay straight upright instead of turning, perhaps? I got used to it quickly. It was also harder to pedal from the slight added resistance of the studs. My tires are normally slick, so that result was expected for the added texture. The sound doesn't bother me at all- it's better than studded care tires, I think.
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Old 11-13-12, 05:05 AM   #7
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If you make use of the local trails (W&OD, Mt Vernon, CCT etc.) note that they often contain frozen solid icy patches long after the roads are clear of ice. I personally don't use studs, but if I had to commute on those trails in those conditions, I think they would be pretty much mandatory. I stick to the roads when I can.
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Old 11-13-12, 05:58 AM   #8
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The nice thing about quality studded tyres (Nokian Schwalbe, possibly others) is, the carbide studs won't disintegrate if you ride on bare pavement. It's not ideal, but you can do it. This enables me to err on the safe side. If in doubt, I'll just grab the dedicated winter bike with Nokian W106 Hakkapeliittas.

PS: I know and make note of 3 spots in my commute that have black ice earlier than everything else, when the freeze-thaw cycles start. When the route otherwise is just cold and wet, these 3 spots will already have black ice. It's some kind of combination of conditions in those places, but it happens year after year. Moral of this story is, ice conditions may vary greatly within just a few hundred meters, and you know your route and conditions the best.
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Old 11-13-12, 06:20 AM   #9
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Sometimes morning ice can be quite daunting

If you can afford then and are at all concerned, get a set. Even better, mount them on a spare set of wheels with cogset installed, so swapouts on icy mornings are easy.
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Old 11-13-12, 10:53 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
You'll know you need studded tires if you find yourself slipping and falling over on the ice.
Yeah, the most concise indication for the need for studded tires, is your bike and body slapping the pavement due to a tire slipping on the ice. By that time it could be a bit late to make the decision to purchase. I run studs anytime there is ice around, whether that means that it snowed a week ago or today. Snow melts and turns to ice around here and I am not fond of smacking frozen pavement with my body.
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Old 11-13-12, 11:06 AM   #11
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Yeah, the most concise indication for the need for studded tires, is your bike and body slapping the pavement due to a tire slipping on the ice. By that time it could be a bit late to make the decision to purchase. I run studs anytime there is ice around, whether that means that it snowed a week ago or today. Snow melts and turns to ice around here and I am not fond of smacking frozen pavement with my body.
Same here. The perennial question "Do I need studs?" is hard to answer because we don't know if the OP will need them or not -- some people can maintain their balance on ice, others can't. Often, I think the real undertone is "Man, those tires are expensive -- I don't want to pay that much!" or "They sound miserable to ride, maybe I can get away with not using them."

I personally don't **** around -- the studded tires go on before the snow falls here, and they don't come off until there's almost no chance of a refreeze in the spring. I do not want to slip and fall over in front of a car, and studded tires are not that horrible to ride once you get used to them.
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Old 11-13-12, 01:52 PM   #12
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You'll know you need studded tires if you find yourself slipping and falling over on the ice.
Some people seem to like the piece of mind them for peice of mind. But i am young, poor and okay with the occasional tumble.

But Imagine as i got older and/or have children i'll, and my cash flow improves they'll look more attractive if I stay where I am.

Snow and Ice aren't as scary as they seem, Take it from me I'm Canadian.


Does anyone have experience with street car car tracks and studded tires?

Last edited by Kol.klink; 11-13-12 at 01:58 PM.
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