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Riding during the winter is easy, as long as you don't use a skinny-tired road bike.

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Riding during the winter is easy, as long as you don't use a skinny-tired road bike.

Old 02-03-12, 10:56 AM
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Barrettscv 
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Riding during the winter is easy, as long as you don't use a skinny-tired road bike.

It's been a mild winter, but I've seen enough snow and ice to feel 100% confident to ride during any normal winter day. I'm using knobby or studded tires this winter, and the road bike is only used on mild days with shoulder-to-shoulder dry pavement.

My biggest surprise this winter is my ability to cover most snow and ice on my Schwalbe Marathon Cross tires.



Yes, I have to be careful on ice, or where there may be ice. However, traveling on icy & flat ground can be done with a little care. Snow, up to 3 inched deep is not a problem. The roads get plowed here, it's hard to find snow deeper than 3 inches.

Studded tires are needed only on the days when ice covers more than 1/3 of the road and crossing icy sections every 1/4 mile is inevitable. Studded tires are not only safer, but faster in these conditions.

All of this is impossible on a modern road bike with caliper brakes. I would not want to use a tire smaller than 700x35 in winter when the roads have some ice and snow covering them. No way.
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Old 02-03-12, 05:18 PM
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I enjoy running skinny cross tires (700x30) on my MTB, as long as there isn't too much ice. Skinny cross tires take less effort to ride on the roads through slush and snow , they just cut through an grip really well...unlike fat tires which float and slide all over the place. But if there is a deep freeze with lot's of ice then I like my 700x38 schwalbe snow studs. For everyday commuting I prefer narrower tires.. for riding frozen trails I prefer fatter tires The winter of 2011-2012, has been Joke... so far no need for studs.
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Old 02-03-12, 07:30 PM
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Yeah - cyclocross tires work well everywhere except for braking on ice. It's been a funny winter in Montreal with melting temperatures followed by deep freezes and snow followed by rain. As a result there have been too many days where I've had to deal with frozen rutted slush and even with Nokian 240 studded tires, straight line tracking has been a problem. I'm thinking next year I'll look into some wide studded 26 inchers instead.
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Old 02-03-12, 09:31 PM
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So far this year, I have 227 miles on the skinny tire bikes, and only 78 on the studded tire/disc brake road bike. (And 20 of those were on a dry road training ride.)

The 14-day forecast looks like this:



I'm thinking of taking the studs off this weekend. Listening to the brakes grind away at the rims riding the other skinny tire bikes in the wet makes me want to ride the disc brake one. But having to push the studs for no good reason keeps it on its hook at home.
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Old 02-04-12, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
So far this year, I have 227 miles on the skinny tire bikes, and only 78 on the studded tire/disc brake road bike. (And 20 of those were on a dry road training ride.)


I'm thinking of taking the studs off this weekend. Listening to the brakes grind away at the rims riding the other skinny tire bikes in the wet makes me want to ride the disc brake one. But having to push the studs for no good reason keeps it on its hook at home.
That’s the benefit of a 4 season tire like the Marathon Cross. It provides 90% of the speed of a 700x25 training tire but is stable enough for some snow and ice.
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Old 02-04-12, 07:22 AM
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tsl: this is worth saying... i have you beat so far on miles so fat to day at 370. I can safely say this is probably the only time I will be able to say this
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Old 02-04-12, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
That’s the benefit of a 4 season tire like the Marathon Cross. It provides 90% of the speed of a 700x25 training tire but is stable enough for some snow and ice.
Sorry, not interested. My 25mm tires are just fine in light snow. IME no non-studded tire is good enough on ice. Bear in mind, my bikes are my only transportation. I don't have a automotive fallback position. So a 90% tire is 10% short of what I need when it gets icy.
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Old 02-04-12, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
tsl: this is worth saying... i have you beat so far on miles so fat to day at 370. I can safely say this is probably the only time I will be able to say this
I knew taking the four-day MLK weekend off the bike would come back to haunt me.
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Old 02-04-12, 07:42 AM
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What is "skinny" ? I ride on 700c X 28 tires all year without problems. I see other folks running what appear to be 23-25's without problems either.
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Old 02-04-12, 11:03 AM
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Last winter and this winter both I've ridden nothing bigger than 700x25 road tires. Granted I'm only road riding and last winter I was watching, like a whimp, when I was riding. This winter I've been out in snow...after dark, freezing rain a couple of times and have found myself intentionally riding on the shoulders when the shoulders were covered in snow. Given the conditions I knew the shoulders only had snow on them and no ice. I have fallen once, simply because I didn't think about the possibilty of their being ice right in front of my house since the highways had all been wet, but free of ice all day long. My road isn't all that heavily travelled and it didn't even cross my mind that their might be ice present until I was going down. After stopping I started laughing. Talk about being stupid enough to forget about the possibility.

I have to agree with tsl that this winter I could have ridden on studs, but most of the time it would have been with clean roads. Winter hasn't existed very much around here so far this year. Heck I've been on the bike all but one day since the start of winter. Most of those days last year I would have been on the bike other than for the fact I was being a whimp and staying home when it was cold...even if the roads were in good shape.
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Old 02-04-12, 11:13 AM
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I found that 28mm tyres get stuck into the frozen ruts made by other riders much more easily than fatter tyres.
We are due for our first dump of snow so I was out in the cold this morning, replacing my fat slicks with DIY studded/knobbly tyres. Fat slicks (Big Apple) are worse than narrow tyres on snow, they just skitter around the surface, never digging in.
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Old 02-05-12, 09:41 AM
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It’s important to remember that tire choice is driven by long term seasonal trends and daily factors.

For Chicago;

• A slick skinny tire can be used about 10 days a month during a normal winter, but provides no real advantages over a wider touring/trekking or Cyclocross tire.

• A trekking & touring tire, like the Schwalbe Marathon Cross, can be used 20 days a month, but are risky to use when the snow is deeper than an inch and/or ice is a constant and unavoidable possibility.

• A studded tire needs to be available to the cyclist who rides 5 days a week during the winter. Studded tires improve safety and are essential for crossing rutted streets and paths. I don't ride everyday, but a studded tire gets used between 3 and 10 days a month, depending on the severity of the weather.

I'm using a three-bike strategy during winter:

• The road bike with 700x24 tires when roads are warm and dry.

• The Monster-cross bike with 700x38 Schwalbe Marathon Cross tires when roads are damp or when when some snow and ice are present, but easy to cross.

• The Cyclocross bike 700x35 Schwalbe Marathon Winters when ice covers more than 1/3 of the road and crossing icy sections every 1/4 mile is inevitable.

I enjoyed a little early season trekking this week, the Schalbe Marathon Cross tires take me where no skinny tire ever will.


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When I ride my bike I feel free and happy and strong. I'm liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life. Solid, dependable, silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter jet, my island, my friend. Together we will conquer that hill and thereafter the world.

Last edited by Barrettscv; 02-06-12 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 02-05-12, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
So far this year, I have 227 miles on the skinny tire bikes, and only 78 on the studded tire/disc brake road bike. (And 20 of those were on a dry road training ride.)

The 14-day forecast looks like this:


I'm thinking of taking the studs off this weekend. Listening to the brakes grind away at the rims riding the other skinny tire bikes in the wet makes me want to ride the disc brake one. But having to push the studs for no good reason keeps it on its hook at home.
Looks great! Hope your weather guys are better then the ones making the Montreal forecasts! So far this year they've been mostly ... Wrong !
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