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Studded tires in brown slop?

Old 02-07-20, 08:53 AM
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Miele Man
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Studded tires in brown slop?

We have some snow and sure enough once again the city in its infinite wisdom salted some of the side roads but didn't plow them which means the sale turned the snow and other crap to a lovely thick brown slop that has no traction as it's very much like a thick grease to ride on.

I've read elsewhere that studded tires are NOT much help in snow. Does this also hold true fro this greasy brown slop?

My technique thus far for dealing with this slop is just to reducee the air pressure in my tires some. I use knobby 26" x 2.125" tires.

Thanks and cheers
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Old 02-07-20, 10:25 AM
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It probably depends highly on what's underneath it. If it's ice underneath (probably not if it's salted) then the studs would definitely help. If your tires are 'cutting through' the slop to the asphalt, then your strategy of just lowering the pressure and going slow is likely the best.
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Old 02-07-20, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post
It probably depends highly on what's underneath it. If it's ice underneath (probably not if it's salted) then the studs would definitely help. If your tires are 'cutting through' the slop to the asphalt, then your strategy of just lowering the pressure and going slow is likely the best.
No ice under or at least the tires aren't reaching it. What it's like is a thick grease that sits on top of the pavement. This salted deep brown slop is actually worse than riding on ice with the same tires with reduced air pressure. This brown slop just moves around under the tires and can make steering rather interesting.
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Old 02-07-20, 10:40 AM
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That "brown sugar" snow is tough to ride in. Fat bikes are probably the best for it.
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Old 02-07-20, 10:48 AM
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studs are good on hard stuff, like ice. I think they might be helpful if your tires can make it down to the pavement


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Old 02-07-20, 11:29 AM
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Miele Man
I only have experience with 26x1.65 Suomi Nokian W-106 studded snow tires, and only the last three winters, and my experience is the studs only help on ice. Deep tread and lower tire pressure help in snow, and lower tire pressure and the softer, grippier compound help with cold, greasy pavement...up to a point.

And for me, commuting in Colorado Springs, the main issue is ice, that lingers in the shadows. I had to think hard as to where I encounter "brown slop", but I know of at least one 90 corner and it is slick even with low pressure and sticky winter tires.

And now that I think about it, it is a perfect storm of crud. Dips and potholes almost ensure many cars bottom out spilling grease and oil. Lower income apartments with fleets of oil-leaking beaters, and an auto repair shop a block away, plus a school two blocks past ensure sanding and plenty of traffic to melt the snow and ice, but it's shady, so not enough sun to evaporate the moisture.

A quarter mile away is an always icy alley on a hill where the studs shine, especially when I pass stuck cars going uphill!
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Old 02-07-20, 12:23 PM
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It's possible in those conditions that a thin winter tire (similar to a Conti Top Contact Winter) might be the best, but unless you're willing to always swap tires in and out, or have a lot of bikes, you're probably just better off going slow until it melts away.

I ride a 3 wheeler in the winter, so I can handle a lot more sliding and spinning.
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Old 02-07-20, 02:52 PM
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700x40mm studded tire run at lower pressure would be fine for the conditions you describe. That's what I used early this morning on my commute to work.
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Old 02-07-20, 06:27 PM
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The studs themselves do not help unless there is an ice layer beneath the brown sugar. However, studded tires have aggressive tread, unlike summer slicks. That's why they are good in winter.
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Old 02-07-20, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post
It's possible in those conditions that a thin winter tire (similar to a Conti Top Contact Winter) might be the best, but unless you're willing to always swap tires in and out, or have a lot of bikes, you're probably just better off going slow until it melts away.

I ride a 3 wheeler in the winter, so I can handle a lot more sliding and spinning.
I was thinking along the lines of a thinner tire to cut through as well. If there is no ice the Continentals could be just about as good.

I used to have a set of the 26in. Schwabe studs and seem to remember they floated on top of the snow which caused slipping.

I now run 700c tires with inner Continental Winters. And set of 35c Schwalbe Winters. Only ridden the Schwalbes in a dusting, so dont know how well they cut through.
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Old 02-07-20, 08:20 PM
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Where I am (Ottawa, Canada), there usually is a layer of ice under the "brown sugar". I use studs, but nothing I've tried makes it easy.
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Old 02-07-20, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post
It's possible in those conditions that a thin winter tire (similar to a Conti Top Contact Winter) might be the best, but unless you're willing to always swap tires in and out, or have a lot of bikes, you're probably just better off going slow until it melts away.

I ride a 3 wheeler in the winter, so I can handle a lot more sliding and spinning.
what would that be? One wheel drive?
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Old 02-08-20, 03:46 PM
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It's winter. There's going to be slush and ice and snow and mud and any combination of these that will try to make you fall. No type of tire will be perfect for every one or combination of these conditions. Cycle carefully.
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Old 02-09-20, 06:07 AM
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Iíve encountered ice under snow, slush, sugar mush and puddle crossings. I use studs and donít worry about it. Winter rides arenít about going fast, theyíre just about going out. I ride W240ís and Mount & Grounds, the tread patterns seem to help.
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Old 02-09-20, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by veloz View Post
Iíve encountered ice under snow, slush, sugar mush and puddle crossings. I use studs and donít worry about it. Winter rides arenít about going fast, theyíre just about going out. I ride W240ís and Mount & Grounds, the tread patterns seem to help.
What he said! Winter rides are seldom one type of snow at all times. Even packed powder isnít the same at all times. There are hard spots, soft spots, clear spots and icy spots all on the same road and often within just a few feet of each other. Studs arenít fun to ride but they do just fine in almost all conditions than plain dry pavement. And even there, they work well enough to get you down the road.

That said, Iím not one of the ďcut through to pavementĒ crowd. The times when my wide(er) tires cut through to the pavement donít result in better control or traction or stability. Rolling over the snow or ice or slush is better than digging down into it. Digging into it bogs down momentum and that makes control, traction, and stability worse not better.

Rolling over the snow and having a suspension system does wonders for that control, traction and stability for the same reasons it makes mountain biking easier for all three of those. A front shock...at a minimum...allows the wheel to roll up and out of ruts rather than be trapped in them. With a rigid fork, the wheel has to counter-steer into the rut but it canít until the rut changes enough. The suspension fork allows the fork to counter-steer by allowing to climb the sides of the rut. Add in rear suspension and the rear traction is greatly improved because the bike squats down on the wheel and presses it into the snow (or trail).
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Old 02-10-20, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes View Post
what would that be? One wheel drive?
Yes. Tadpole configuration velomobile. I'm just running Marathon+s on all three wheels, but I have the luxury of driving if it gets really bad (only 4 days so far this winter).

I would like to eventually get a full offroad capable trike that I can ride on those days.
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Old 02-10-20, 01:32 PM
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Not all studded tires are equal. Schwalbe Marathon Winter has a rather tame tread and donít do well in soft ĒsnowĒ of any color.
Nokian/Suomityres W106 are only a tad better.
Nokian/Suomityres w240 has a more ĒopenĒ tread and do reasonably well on soft snow.
Whether to try to cut through or float on top can be endlessly debated.
IME, you need some degree of firmness under compression for FOT to work. And some of the nastier kinds of brown slop can be as inclined to try to get away from out under your tires like stepping on wet soaps.
For bad slop conditions I prefer the 32mm wide over the 47mm.
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Old 02-12-20, 04:19 PM
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My studded 35mm tires do nothing in the mashed potatoes the OP described. They just founder and fishtail.

Without my Pugsley, Iíd be stuck.
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Old 02-12-20, 05:15 PM
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In my experience there is NOTHING that really helps with brown slushy snirt, especially when the temperature is juuust warm enough for it to be greasy and/or it is more than about 4" deep. Ten degrees colder, it'll crisp up enough to get SOME grip (ish), but mostly I just curse and find a different route (including the sidewalk if that's the only choice), or take the bus.

Twelve years in Calgary - I have used four different bikes with multiple tire combinations trying to find the Holy Grail; 26", 700c, and 29" wheels, Schwalbe Winter and Marathon Winter in several different widths (30mm to 2"), Continental Top Contact Winter (37mm), Schwalbe Ice Spiker in a 2.5" width, borrowed a fatbike for half a day... they all handled ice, packed snow, and moderate amounts of fresh snow pretty well, but six inches of churned up snirt defeated all of them. February is a bad month for it; thanks to chinook cycles we currently have a lot of that crap layered over very lumpy ice, topped off with yesterday's inch of fresh snow. FUN.

My e-bike (with a Marathon Winter 29 x 2" on the front) has actually been handling amazingly well - the extra weight and long wheelbase really seem to help in loose slush/snirt, but I'm not brave enough to really push it in deeper stuff. And today I just hated everything.
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Old 02-12-20, 06:48 PM
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Old 09-05-20, 07:10 PM
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Marathon Winter tires on 20" wheels work well for me in the "mashed potatoes".

Riding in the "Mashed Potatoes"
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Old 09-14-20, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
My studded 35mm tires do nothing in the mashed potatoes the OP described. They just founder and fishtail.

Without my Pugsley, Iíd be stuck.
Fortunately it's usually too cold in the Twin Cities for that kind of slop.
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Old 09-15-20, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
My studded 35mm tires do nothing in the mashed potatoes the OP described. They just founder and fishtail.

Without my Pugsley, Iíd be stuck.
Yeah, I have 700X30C and they do a lot of fish-tailing in these conditions
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