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Snow

Old 12-30-21, 06:33 AM
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Noonievut
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Snow

Iíve ridden on snow in one of two ways: first, renting fat bikes and getting out on mtb trails; second, on my gravel bike, on paved/gravel when it starts snowing and you hope you make it home safely.

I would like to try my gravel bike on snow, but Iím guessing everything has to be just right; I wanted to see if folks with more experience riding gravel bikes on snow have tips (including, donít do it ).

I have all the winter riding gear and ride regularly when the roads are dry/safe.

Here are some things Iíve been thinking of:
- treaded tires with low pressure (I have Rene Herse Pumpkin Ridge, tubeless)
- maybe 1-2Ē of fresh snow, hopefully no ice anywhere
- get out before others so as to avoid riding over bumpy footprints and other Ďcratersí that make for a jarring experience
- where to ride, hmm, I have two rail trails I can drive to, though both are well used, so I would have to get there early after a fresh snowfall
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Old 12-30-21, 07:39 AM
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You have good ideas.

Getting out when it is fresh is best (I love going during a storm).
Old snow that has been walked on (or ridden on) is a pain.
Several trails around here are groomed for fat bikes). Not something I'd take a gravel bike on though.
I do like skinnier tires as they slice through the snow (were a fat tire acts as a snow plow, and you have to push the snow away).
Ice can be a problem - I've sprained an ankle and been off the bike for 6 weeks. Its the "clear" patches during freeze/thaw cycles that make the worst glare ice. Its actually better when things stay cold and don't thaw. Do be aware of flat surfaces in depression - these can be puddles that have frozen over with ice then covered with snow. You can't see the ice under the snow, but you will go down fast.

I like Schwalbe G-One, as they don't shed the snow and have surprising traction. snow sticks to itself better than it sticks to rubber.
Keep those feet warm. I use over boots, and there are some pretty effective heated shoe inserts (one time use kinda thing).
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Old 12-30-21, 07:48 AM
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Old 12-30-21, 08:11 AM
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Noonievut
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Thanks, chas58 . While that photo is pretty, I wouldnít fee comfortable riding on that road...
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Old 12-30-21, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
Iíve ridden on snow in one of two ways: first, renting fat bikes and getting out on mtb trails; second, on my gravel bike, on paved/gravel when it starts snowing and you hope you make it home safely.

I would like to try my gravel bike on snow, but Iím guessing everything has to be just right; I wanted to see if folks with more experience riding gravel bikes on snow have tips (including, donít do it ).

I have all the winter riding gear and ride regularly when the roads are dry/safe.

Here are some things Iíve been thinking of:
- treaded tires with low pressure (I have Rene Herse Pumpkin Ridge, tubeless)
- maybe 1-2Ē of fresh snow, hopefully no ice anywhere
- get out before others so as to avoid riding over bumpy footprints and other Ďcratersí that make for a jarring experience
- where to ride, hmm, I have two rail trails I can drive to, though both are well used, so I would have to get there early after a fresh snowfall
As far as just riding regular gravel tires (like the Pumpkin Ridge) on snowy roads.... it can work great or it can be a slippery mess, and it can change at any point in time.

But "snow" can mean a whole lot of different things. Snowy roads like the one pictured above some studded winter tire would be nice. I have a set of studded Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires that do great in just a inch or two of snow, be it fluff, packed down, or icy. Once the snow has any depth, I want my fat bikeÖ but Thatís more trail riding than on the road.

Last edited by Kapusta; 12-30-21 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 12-30-21, 09:08 AM
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Lots of good advice here. I ride my fatbike a lot in the snow, in fact I did so yesterday.
2"-4" of fresh snow is the best.
Fatbikes are marginally better in snow, but you can do almost as much on a regular mountain, cross or gravel bike.
Ice is a much bigger problem than snow. Freeze/thaw cycles are a killer, especially on pavement as the water can't drain away as easily and will quickly refreeze.
Studded tires are a really good idea if you plan on riding a lot in the snow. The Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires are really durable, relatively affordable compared to other studded options and offer great grip.
Take care of your bike after any ride in the snow, especially if you ride on salty roads. Use a heavy waterproof lube (I like Finish Line Wet) on the chain and put some of it in all bolts to prevent them from rusting. T9 works great as a rust protectant as well. I like to use a garden sprayer filled with hot water to spray down the bike after each ride and then wipe everything down with a rag and some WD40.
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Old 12-30-21, 09:22 AM
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I’ve been riding dirt roads in winter for years, but don’t have a lot of experience, particularly for the fact that I’d choose to go out on those roads when the conditions were pretty good, which is to say below freezing and with a good layer of car formed hardpack snow. Like chas58 , I found the Schwalbe S-One / G-One Allround to be pretty good for that kind of stuff in relatively narrow 30c, which is what my bike, the Kinesis Racelight 4S, would fit at max. I could see that in some conditions I was getting outclassed by those with wider, knobbier rubber, but I managed pretty well. I was a winter commuter, on pavement, for 25 years, so I developed good handling and surface reading skills, which helped out on winter dirt roads. The Kenda Kwick K879 was my go-to winter pavement tire for about 15 years, and what a tire, but that’s another story…

Fast forward to spring of ‘21, when I pick up my first proper gravel bike, primarily so that I could fit wider rubber. This is my first winter, then, on 42c— yeah, I’m still skewing towards dry, hardpack conditions; we seem to get less snow every year!— and I’ve only ridden in dirt road snow twice now, both times quite fresh over a thin layer of mud. I decided to run the Ultradynamico Rosť JFF, and so far, it has handled those conditions just fine, offering more sure-footedness than I remember from the Schwalbe, so I’m happy.

I’d closely considered the American Classic Krumbein before choosing the Ultradynamico, which I did largely for lower weight, but also for that supple casing; I run Herse Bon Jon Extralights for summer gravel, and Switchback on the gravel cruiser, so I’m pretty addicted. However, at just $35/tire, the American Classic rubber is really attractive and makes experimenting with tread patterns and sizes as affordable as it gets for a quality tire. They’re on sale at their AmClassic.com site for $31.50 right now! I guess I gotta go buy something…
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Old 12-30-21, 09:48 AM
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check the winter subforum, bunch-o-nutz over there ... ;-)
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Old 12-30-21, 08:32 PM
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Hah, we were just on a snowy gravel bike ride 3 days ago in N Central PA; it was wet slushy stuff. IMHO, riding on a gravel bike in snow is best when early in the season and the surfaces underneath are still a bit warm so no ice has formed and your tires can get down to the traction underneath. Best to avoid ice and deep snow on the gravel bike. You cannot get tires on a gravel bike that are wide enough to stay on top of the snow so better to have a 35 - 40 mm tire that cuts down to the better traction easily, and probably ride a well-treaded cross mud tire with decent cleats. The best thing is you will be the only gravel bike out there most likely and you can dust any fat bikes lurking about!
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Old 12-30-21, 10:12 PM
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I've taken to studded only; transitioning from a partially clear/partially slushy small uphill in the sun to just over the top, out of the sun, and a complete sheet of ice that took the bike out from under me and caused my head to just brush the guard rail convinced me. If there's snow there's ice somewhere and you go down fast when its black ice you can't see. Studded Hakkas changed everything for winter riding. Though fat bike and low pressure might be different.
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Old 12-31-21, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
my head to just brush the guard rail
yikes! the human body doesn't mix well w/ guard rails
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Old 12-31-21, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
I've taken to studded only; transitioning from a partially clear/partially slushy small uphill in the sun to just over the top, out of the sun, and a complete sheet of ice that took the bike out from under me and caused my head to just brush the guard rail convinced me. If there's snow there's ice somewhere and you go down fast when its black ice you can't see. Studded Hakkas changed everything for winter riding. Though fat bike and low pressure might be different.
In my experience, if the ice is rough it does help a little, but on a smooth iceÖ nope.
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Old 12-31-21, 12:22 PM
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Once there's frozen water of any kind on the ground, I'm on studded tires exclusively.

Since it only recently snowed in my area, yesterday's ride was good for recalibrating expectations... sections of heavy snow 3-4" deep brought my 1.9" tires to a halt and I couldn't get going again. A fat bike would probably have worked there. Other sections of 1-2" deep heavy snow were doable with some effort.

It's hard to get as many outdoor miles in the winter, but they can really count!
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Old 12-31-21, 06:19 PM
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Iíve contemplated a fat bike over the years, but here in Ontario (just outside Toronto) we donít get a lot of snow.

I got out tonight, with lights as it was dark, and it was 5C and the roads were wet, not slippery. It was perfect, and is like half the reason I bought such a bike with wider tires (I wouldnít have done this ride on my road bike with 25ís). These conditions this time of year are far more frequent than ideal snow conditions.
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Old 12-31-21, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
Iíve contemplated a fat bike over the years, but here in Ontario (just outside Toronto) we donít get a lot of snow.
That doesn't stop some folks in my area from riding them all year.
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Old 01-01-22, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
I’ve contemplated a fat bike over the years, but here in Ontario (just outside Toronto) we don’t get a lot of snow.
.
I love my Fat Bike for a lot of reasons, but I would not get one if it were just for riding on snowy roads. Far better of with standard sized winter tires with studs, IMO.

Sure, if you are getting out when it is 4+" deep fresh stuff a fat bike is great, but most of the time I'm on roads, they are plowed or packed down before they get that deep.

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Old 01-01-22, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
yikes! the human body doesn't mix well w/ guard rails
Nope, and it was so close I was seriously shaken envisioning what being 1-2" closer to the rail would have meant. Ordered studded the next day.
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Old 01-01-22, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
You cannot get tires on a gravel bike that are wide enough to stay on top of the snow so better to have a 35 - 40 mm tire that cuts down to the better traction easily, and probably ride a well-treaded cross mud tire with decent cleats.
I found this to be true with my bikes--one has 650bx47 Senderos--very knobby for a "gravel" tire, tubeless, low psi. My bike with 700cx40 Nanos seems to do better!
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Old 01-02-22, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by pbass View Post
I found this to be true with my bikes--one has 650bx47 Senderos--very knobby for a "gravel" tire, tubeless, low psi. My bike with 700cx40 Nanos seems to do better!
If there is a decent surface underneath to grab then a narrower tire that will cut down to it more easily can often be a better answer. in sand or mud where there is not a good layer to grab easily close under the surface then you want to go the other way and use wider tires...
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Old 01-03-22, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
I've taken to studded only; transitioning from a partially clear/partially slushy small uphill in the sun to just over the top, out of the sun, and a complete sheet of ice that took the bike out from under me and caused my head to just brush the guard rail convinced me. If there's snow there's ice somewhere and you go down fast when its black ice you can't see. Studded Hakkas changed everything for winter riding. Though fat bike and low pressure might be different.
Yeah, I checked the radar once, everything was clear for the next hour. I went out and it started drizzling. No problem, just made the roads wet. But a wet road and black ice look the same. I was JRA "just riding along" and suddenly I was on the ground (painfully). One of the problems with "gravel/dirt" is they freeze a bit diffently than paved roads. The pave roads were ice free, but gravel/dirt tends to hold onto the ice longer.

I rode home thinking I had bent my pedal or something - but on checking it out at home I realized that my pedal wasn't out of whack, my knee was. Oooof!

So yeah, studded tires.
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Old 01-03-22, 04:54 PM
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Since it only recently snowed in my area, yesterday's ride was good for recalibrating expectations... sections of heavy snow 3-4" deep brought my 1.9" tires to a halt and I couldn't get going again. A fat bike would probably have worked there. Other sections of 1-2" deep heavy snow were doable with some effort.
I find skinnier tires work a lot better in deep heavy snow, as they slice right through it. wide tires mean more snow has to be pushed out of the way.

Fat tires work on hard packed bumpy stuff where I need the flotation, but not in softer fresh snow. Skinny tires really don't work at all when the snow has been packed down with car's driving on in or pedestrians walking on it.
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Old 01-10-22, 10:00 AM
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33mm tires:

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