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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 11-09-13, 12:24 PM   #1
Bluish Green
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A couple of things I'm doing differently for Winter #2 Bicycle Commuting

Last year was my first as a winter bicycle commuter. I'm in Springfield, IL, which has central-Midwest USA winters with wind, cold, moderate snow and ice (enough to require studded tires but not nearly as bad as points much farther north). My route is city streets that are usually plowed. I learned a lot last winter, through experience and also through this Forum (thanks to all who helped answer questions).

I decided to change a couple of things for this winter and thought I'd share:

1. I changed over to studded winter tires EARLY.

One of the big lessons I learned was the increased rolling resistance not only makes the commute take longer, but it is physically more demanding. I have to use an easier gear and be careful to pace myself. Last year when I started, I waited until it was nasty cold and icy out to switch, then I rode harder on the studded tires trying to stay closer to my normal commute times. Big mistake, which led to tight hamstrings in my case. I learned to stretch better beforehand, leave earlier, and spin in an easier gear to avoid repeating that. This year, I took it the next logical step and switched over to studded tires in late October, intentionally during good weather so that my first week of commuting on studs would be an easier transition. My first day on studs this year was wearing shorts on a day with light and variable winds. Two weeks in now, I'm feeling good that I didn't wait until it was a sloppy mess commute day for my first time on studs. My body has adjusted to the increased workload, and the harsher weather to come won't be as big a shock as last year to the system, I think.

2. I have stashed three full changes of business casual clothes at work in a file drawer. If we get a few days of bad headwinds in a row, I can skip carrying one pannier those days to lighten the load a little. Who knows, I might not need these clothes this winter, but they are there just in case. I gave my car to charity over a year ago, so it is bicycling or nothing for me.

3. I've saved a couple of vacation days specifically for eliminating the worst of the worst headwinds days. I told my boss that a couple of days of vacation would be selected based on forecasted wind speed and direction, and he is cool with that.

I realize these approaches don't work for everybody, but I thought I would share just in case anyone can benefit from them.

Winter bicycle commuting is extra satisfying to me because I truly take pleasure in beating bad weather and being an all-weather cyclist.
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Old 11-09-13, 05:33 PM   #2
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Im going from a Surly LTH 700c to Trek 930 26 with studded tires for the winter weather. Aren't you affaird of wearing down your studs before you need them? Seems like a set of knobbes you be a better option before the snow/ ice hits.
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Old 11-09-13, 11:35 PM   #3
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I thought I was going to have a heart attack the first time I hit the road with studs. Good idea to start early, and carbide-tipped studs will take a long time to wear down.
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Old 11-10-13, 03:47 PM   #4
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Mounted up my studded tires on spare wheels, ready to swap when the weather requires. I don't need them regularly, so I check conditions and only use when ice is present or in the forecast.
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Old 11-10-13, 04:13 PM   #5
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I like the sounds of studs on pavement. kinda like sizzling bacon
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Old 11-15-13, 06:37 PM   #6
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Mounted up my studded tires on spare wheels, ready to swap when the weather requires. I don't need them regularly, so I check conditions and only use when ice is present or in the forecast.
Same here. It takes me less than 10 minutes to switch the wheels. Lots of times the roads are clean and dry after they've been plowed. I only use the studs when its necessary. less wear and tear that way.

my winter tip. I use gaitors when the temp drops into the twenties. They keep the cold air and snow from getting into the top of my boot. Outdoor Research has a nice pair under $25.

Last edited by scoatw; 11-15-13 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 11-15-13, 08:03 PM   #7
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The carbide studs in the tires I used on my Trek 520 are holding up very well. I've done a lot of bare pavement riding on them as I'll sometimes ride out of the ice covered roads in town to enjoy the bare pavement of the highways. They make a great sound when you get up to 45kph with a nice tailwind.
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Old 11-16-13, 06:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluish Green View Post

I realize these approaches don't work for everybody, but I thought I would share just in case anyone can benefit from them.

Winter bicycle commuting is extra satisfying to me because I truly take pleasure in beating bad weather and being an all-weather cyclist.
This is it.
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Old 11-16-13, 08:25 AM   #9
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the black ice is what started me w studs. once we get snow that sticks around its the thaw - melt - refreeze that makes the black ice pop up where it wasn't yesterday and can surprise you
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Old 11-16-13, 10:14 AM   #10
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I put my carbide studded tires on in November and leave them on until April.
The carbide studs are very durable and even if the roads look clear and no ice is in sight there is that sneaky
black ice that will get you.
In the Dakotas the temps can change rapidly, best to be safe than sorry.

I also agree with the OP that it is best to get used to the extra effort early.
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Old 11-18-13, 09:57 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idkutet View Post
Im going from a Surly LTH 700c to Trek 930 26 with studded tires for the winter weather. Aren't you afraid of wearing down your studs before you need them? Seems like a set of knobbies you be a better option before the snow/ ice hits.
Tungsten/carbide last a long time. The rubber will probably give out before the studs will. 6, 5 and 4 years on 3 different pairs so far.
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Old 12-02-13, 11:21 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by scoatw View Post
Same here. It takes me less than 10 minutes to switch the wheels. Lots of times the roads are clean and dry after they've been plowed. I only use the studs when its necessary. less wear and tear that way.

my winter tip. I use gaitors when the temp drops into the twenties. They keep the cold air and snow from getting into the top of my boot. Outdoor Research has a nice pair under $25.
Me three. For some reason this year the studs were bugging the crap outta me, particularly the noise. I don't know why (this is the first year). So I picked up a set of inexpensive wheels and now have two sets. The jury's still out about how big of a deal it will be to swap but since I generally check the forecast the night before so I'm thinking I'll have time to address any issues that might come up. I keep thinking I've got this winter thing figured out but as OP says, things I'm doing differently!
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Old 12-02-13, 11:29 AM   #13
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I've been running continental winter contact II tires so I could roll on them even when there is no snow or ice, http://www.biketiresdirect.com/produ...Fa9aMgod7i4Atg. I don't have a lot of experience yet with them on snow/ice but so far so good. I may eventually switch to a studded tire in the front but this is a really good tire for the mixed road conditions I see in my part of the midwest (IA).
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Old 12-02-13, 02:49 PM   #14
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I put the studded tires on late in November and they stay on until April. I can still use my non studded road bike when the weather is dry enough and above freezing with no chance of ice. Things I'm doing different this year to help alleviate the pain and added effort needed to push these studded tires along is pacing myself and taking more time also as others have mentioned. Another experiment I'm trying is a pair of winter specific insulated cycling boots that take the spd cleats and this should help my pedaling efficiency and reduce some of the weight of insulsated hiking boots and platform pedals. I tried to keep using my cleats with shoe cover booties but it wasn't enough for when it got into the teens. Time will tell on the outcome.
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