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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 01-03-14, 10:17 AM   #1
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riding frozen ruts

I commute daily on an mup that rarely gets plowed but does get salted. Problem with that is unless they salt before I leave in the a.m. (rarely) it's 10 miles of frozen ruts. I run Nokkian w106's this time of year but the ruts scare the crap outta me. I'm enamored with fat tire bikes but really don't have the money or space for another bike. Any suggestions?
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Old 01-03-14, 11:09 AM   #2
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Hi,

The Nokkian w106 lacks studs near the shoulder of the tire. Studs on the shoulder are required to climb out of ruts. You might use a Schwalbe Marathon Winter on the front tire. It has more studs including a row of studs on the outer row of knobs. This will help in climbing out of icy ruts.
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Old 01-03-14, 11:45 AM   #3
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Do rubber knobs (like MTB tyres) help climing out of ruts at all? Or is it the bite of the metal that really does it?

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Old 01-03-14, 11:46 AM   #4
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Hi,

The Nokkian w106 lacks studs near the shoulder of the tire. Studs on the shoulder are required to climb out of ruts. You might use a Schwalbe Marathon Winter on the front tire. It has more studs including a row of studs on the outer row of knobs. This will help in climbing out of icy ruts.
Damn, you're right - never noticed that. Crap, these 106's are only 2 years old
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Old 01-03-14, 12:24 PM   #5
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Damn, you're right - never noticed that. Crap, these 106's are only 2 years old
On the plus side, you'll only *need* to replace the front tire -- I think that's what Michael was driving at. The rear wheel just follows the front after you've climbed out of the rut.
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Old 01-03-14, 12:27 PM   #6
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On the plus side, you'll only *need* to replace the front tire -- I think that's what Michael was driving at. The rear wheel just follows the front after you've climbed out of the rut.
yeah, but then they're mismatched like my non studded tires! I look forward to the studs because the tires are the same. Ah well
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Old 01-03-14, 12:32 PM   #7
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Do rubber knobs (like MTB tyres) help climing out of ruts at all? Or is it the bite of the metal that really does it?

M.
No, not really. Back in the bad old days of mountain biking, a rut was almost a guarantee that you were going to be eating dirt. Once the front wheel is in the rut, you can't countersteer to turn and climb out of the rut. The front wheel even with knobbies still just ground along the edge of the rut and eventually slammed you to the ground.

Front suspension was a god-send to mountain biking. The front suspension doesn't just offer comfort...that's actually a minor point of using it...it offered more control, especially with ruts. The side of the tire could find something to bite and the shock let the wheel climb out of ruts without having to steer out of them. You could also "pogo" the wheel out of the rut to the surface above it and climb out that way. If you are going to ride anything that is rutted, a front shock will help with control.

Fat bikes probably aren't going to get trapped in a rut the same way since their tires are so much wider but I doubt that they can climb out of a rut once in one.
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Old 01-03-14, 01:01 PM   #8
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Icy ruts are one of the banes of winter cycling IMO. You need studs on the front to "climb out of them" or otherwise allow your tire to keep tracking straight without following the rut where it goes. I am also of the opinion that your back tire needs studs for the same reason. On the one hand, if your rear tire finds the same rut as the front tire successfully got over your rear tire will sit in there and move your bike out from under you. On the other hand, your rear tire might not find the rut your front found, but might find another ending up with the same result. The best way that I can describe the sensation is a hand reaching up from under the road and pulling my tire hard in one direction.

If you do not have the side studs to grab the rut you need to turn your wheel hard in the direction you want the bike to go in order to get the studs you do have to contact the ice. Other than that - wheelies and bunny hops.
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Old 01-03-14, 01:12 PM   #9
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The best way that I can describe the sensation is a hand reaching up from under the road and pulling my tire hard in one direction.
Here's another description - the week before xmas I was riding on busy city street (because the mup was a mess), coming downhill off of a bridge, front tire went into a rut between two ice mountains (that's what they looked like), front wheel pointed left into traffic sliding straight ahead - I was sure I was going down with a line of cars behind me. Whether divine providence or studs catching at the last moment the front straightened and I rode through. Sphincter factor 10 for me and I'm sure the car directly behind me messed him or herself. I'm ordering a Schwalbe for the front
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Old 01-03-14, 05:11 PM   #10
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Here's another description - the week before xmas I was riding on busy city street (because the mup was a mess), coming downhill off of a bridge, front tire went into a rut between two ice mountains (that's what they looked like), front wheel pointed left into traffic sliding straight ahead - I was sure I was going down with a line of cars behind me. Whether divine providence or studs catching at the last moment the front straightened and I rode through. Sphincter factor 10 for me and I'm sure the car directly behind me messed him or herself. I'm ordering a Schwalbe for the front
Scary.

Sounds like you have some pretty extreme conditions. Might I suggest a Nokian Gazza Extreme 294 2.1 for the front (if you can fit it, of course). The thing is pretty much overkill for anything other than straight out sheer ice and ruts. The 2.3" 45 North studded 29er tire also looks pretty great for the kind of **** that you have to ride. Probably all you need on the back is one of your older studded tires. (I'm assuming you are riding your h400 with 700C wheels?) Sometimes a path or road that is covered by ruts has less rutty parts further to the sides. I'm talking the extreme edge where folks haven't been riding. Of course, then you might just be plowing through packed snow, which is no good.

Anyhow, good luck! Like I said, I've had good experiences riding with a gazza extreme on the front and a standard knobby on the back. When it was really ****ty earlier this year I put a 35mm studded tire on my rear end. In crappy rutted ice, I'm half crouching with my elbows bent for maximum shock absorption. That usually USUALLY gets me through with no broken bones.
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Old 01-03-14, 07:38 PM   #11
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Sounds like you have some pretty extreme conditions.
Certainly worse this year but now that I think about it I'm not sure the weather's much worse, but the road care seems to be. I thought those extreme tires were for you real northerners in Minnesota and Canada!
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Old 01-03-14, 10:38 PM   #12
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Certainly worse this year but now that I think about it I'm not sure the weather's much worse, but the road care seems to be. I thought those extreme tires were for you real northerners in Minnesota and Canada!
My grandparents used to live in Indianapolis, and I spent some time in Indiana when I was a kid. I think the difference is, when we have snow and ice here we've got a ****load of equipment and workers who are very experienced at trying to clear streets and our network of bike paths. Sure, sometimes things suck for a while, but generally stuff gets to be minimally driveable/rideable fairly quickly. In Indiana when snow and ice comes, the roads can be ****ed up for quite a while. There's just not as much equipment and know-how. I shudder to think what your greenways/bike paths are like!
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Old 01-04-14, 11:21 AM   #13
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My grandparents used to live in Indianapolis, and I spent some time in Indiana when I was a kid. I think the difference is, when we have snow and ice here we've got a ****load of equipment and workers who are very experienced at trying to clear streets and our network of bike paths. Sure, sometimes things suck for a while, but generally stuff gets to be minimally driveable/rideable fairly quickly. In Indiana when snow and ice comes, the roads can be ****ed up for quite a while. There's just not as much equipment and know-how. I shudder to think what your greenways/bike paths are like!
Apparently things haven't progressed much! To our credit, we have a really bike-friendly mayor and the major trails get salted. What they don't realize is that if they don't plow the next day it's a maze of icy ruts... until they salt again. So, rides home are generally ok - rides in the morning make me wake up fast!
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Old 01-04-14, 03:11 PM   #14
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I'm in a similar climate as Indy. Smaller city, though (Springfield is 115k).

I have two short segments of bike path that I ride that are adjacent to streets on my route anyway, so when weather is good, I ride 'em. When the snow hits, it's like you described on those paths - the first ride is okay when the snow is wet, then once the tire ruts and footprints have frozen the next day, forget it. So snow events generally shut down those paths as options for me for awhile. That's okay, because they are short segments for me, and I can ride with traffic anyways.

Snow and ice can affect the streets I ride too, though. The city prioritizes the higher-traffic arterial streets for first snow removal and better treatment. Sometimes my options are basically ride the highest traffic arterials, fight it out on unplowed miscellaneous crap streets, or not ride. In those cases, I usually will ride the major arterials. It's not a great situation, but I'm a road user too and gotta get from A to B. I wouldn't recommend that to anyone else in a different city without knowing a lot more info about your traffic options... just sharing what works here in Springpatch.

I like my normal bicycle commute route - it is mostly 30 mph city streets with wide lanes and moderate traffic. Snow can really mess with that.

It sounds like the MUP is pretty important to you as a commute route. Upgrading one or both tires to handle the ruts might be a better option for you than getting out in higher traffic or not riding at all. It's a judgment you have to make. Just thought I would share my experience since we are in similar climates.... Good luck, I hope you find a good solution.
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Old 01-05-14, 12:58 PM   #15
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I realize the OP said no to a fat bike, but it wasn't a totally firm no . . . I find that my Moonlander is brilliant at riding the rutted, frozen MUP that I frequent. The rut edges provide enough traction and the 5" tires roll over everything. I'm not going to say I enjoy that kind of surface, but a fat bike will get you through it.
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Old 01-05-14, 12:58 PM   #16
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It sounds like the MUP is pretty important to you as a commute route. Upgrading one or both tires to handle the ruts might be a better option for you than getting out in higher traffic or not riding at all. It's a judgment you have to make. Just thought I would share my experience since we are in similar climates.... Good luck, I hope you find a good solution.
Yes, I'm really dependent on this MUP for at least 40% of my commute. If I can't use the trail for that 40% I'm on multi lane, urban roads because (especially closer to downtown) the secondary streets aren't touched. I went ahead and pulled the trigger on 1 Schwalbe which I'll try up front. The forum is great for reminding me this is my primary mode of transportation - my other option is the bus and our bus system sucks MUCH more than our street clearing!
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Old 01-05-14, 01:12 PM   #17
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Maybe drop the tire pressure?

I'm using the same,26-1.9" Nokian w106's for a long time , just may be slower than you wish.

when lower PSI, tire bead may slip around the rim, then use sew up glue, on one bead.

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Old 01-06-14, 02:53 PM   #18
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Maybe drop the tire pressure?

I'm using the same,26-1.9" Nokian w106's for a long time , just may be slower than you wish.

when lower PSI, tire bead may slip around the rim, then use sew up glue, on one bead.
Yeah, always drop pressures with ice. I'm running 700 x 35 so yours are much wider which I imagine helps a lot.
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Old 01-06-14, 03:13 PM   #19
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& I got wide 'Snow Cat' rims [All Weather Sports, a Bike shop in Fairbanks AK sells them]

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Old 01-06-14, 03:41 PM   #20
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Riding in frozen ruts are tough and arduous at best.
Studded snow tires are great but it all comes down to balance.
Heavy feet and light hands.
There is no formula and a lot of great tips from this forum.
Balance, nothing will teach you this like riding in the elements.

http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/

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Old 01-06-14, 03:56 PM   #21
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& I got wide 'Snow Cat' rims [Bike shop in Fairbanks AK sells them]
Nice! How wide are your rims? And do you like them? I'd like to hear more.
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Old 01-06-14, 04:14 PM   #22
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about 45mm, tire profile is D shaped , then... Got them 25 years ago, laced in a drum brake Hub set.

they're on a semi Beater MTB.. Here I only need the bike for a few weeks an occasional year..

It's not like MN .

Now they drill them Off center when requested ..

That would be better , with my Drum -freewheel hub ... S-A has a Drum Cassette hub now too ..
and 3 different IGH 3, 5 & 8 speed.

Here , the local use the 3 speed would do.

NB all Weather Sports , they also use the same extrusion in 29er diameters too ..
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Old 01-07-14, 09:23 AM   #23
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& I got wide 'Snow Cat' rims [Bike shop in Fairbanks AK sells them]
know the name of the shop? If nothing else I'd like to see pics!
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Old 01-07-14, 09:31 AM   #24
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Riding in frozen ruts are tough and arduous at best.
Studded snow tires are great but it all comes down to balance.
Heavy feet and light hands.
There is no formula and a lot of great tips from this forum.
Balance, nothing will teach you this like riding in the elements.

http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/

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yeah man! I like that: Rule #9 If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.

I consider myself a fairly decent rider - mountain biking, motorcycle enduro, etc. but riding a fairly skinny tired (700x35) road bike with panniers and gear is (for me) a whole 'nother ball game. The rules are the same but my confidence isn't. Nobody like falling, but falling in the street has potentially deadly consequences. Plus, older I get the less pliable I am - things hurt exponentially more for every year old passed 50!
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Old 01-07-14, 10:14 AM   #25
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Get a used mt bike and run 26x2.1 to 2.3 studded tires. Get them to plow it. They do in the Boston MA area.
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