View Full Version : It's too icy to ride.... Or is it???

11-10-2010, 07:44 PM
Okay... it has been well established that I do NOT like to leave the bike at home. I built a unicycle designed for snow riding (http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4054/4319060762_23a41b5ece_b.jpg).

What to do when it gets icy? Studded tires are awesome. They work much better than you might think. You can't corner like you're on dry pavement, but they're more secure than most normal road tires are on wet pavement. They love ice. They do great in hard pack snow. They even deal pretty well in soft snow. Best of all, they make a super cool sound when you ride them on dry pavement.


Continental, Nokian, Innova, Schwalbe and Kenda all make great ones. I'm sure I'm forgetting some brands there. I bought my Nokians from The Bike Lane in Burke, VA. They're 700x40c and fit on my cross bike perfectly. They've got 240 carbide studs. They weigh a ton and grab snow and ice perfectly.

Problem 1: These things are expensive. They are built to last, but that durability costs. I paid $70 each for the tires.

Problem 2: Pedestrian Ice is awful. 2 days after a good storm... especially if there's been a thaw and refreeze, the trails in our area are not smooth and icy, they're bumpy as heck and icy. Be prepared for a very bumpy ride on this stuff. I'm going to buy some fatter studded tires for my mountain bike to deal with this. Good quality studded tires come in widths up to 2.1" and I think that will help out a lot with the bumps.

I guess that's it for today's winter riding tip. Please let me know what you ride in the winter.

See you out there!


Joe Chapline
11-10-2010, 08:04 PM
I'm going to give some thought to winter tires. I've said in other threads that in most winters there isn't snow on the roads very many days. That's true as far as it goes. But I still have trouble with ice patches in the morning, all winter. If there's snow on the ground, even though the roads are clear, snowmelt runs into the street and freezes. There are a lot of home water supply failures, not to mention water main breaks. And all you might see is a dark spot. Even though I don't tinker with my bike a lot, I can change a tire... and putting on winter tires might be a good idea.

11-11-2010, 07:16 AM
My Nokians are starting their third season. I use them if there are icy patches. That means there are days where they get ridden 28 miles on pavement and 100ft on ice. They're still going strong.

I've done some home-made ice tires with mountain bike tires, wood screws and duct tape. They were okay in the snow and ice, but pretty much disintigrated when I rode them on pavement.

Mark Blacknell
11-11-2010, 10:23 AM
I went down a couple of times - hard - on ice this winter. I don't suppose my Conti 4000s were helping. (Or following Pat on his CX bike . . . ).

Not really interested in repeating the experience. So either it's going to be avoiding ice entirely, or finally paying attention to these things.

11-11-2010, 11:17 AM
I blame pat. He's nothng but trouble. ;)

11-16-2010, 11:49 AM
+1 for the Nokians. I purchased the Nokian Hakkapeliitta W106 35mm from Peter White Cycles last year. They are great tires, I agree with everything Pete says above regarding studded tires in general.


Joe Chapline
11-16-2010, 06:19 PM
I'm sold... shopping for Nokian 700 x 40 240 studs. Seeing "out of stock" everywhere. Didn't try Peter White because you have to pick up the phone and call the guy. If it was a Baltimore business, I'd do it (I live in Baltimore), but he's in New Hampshire. Amazon.com, the source of most of my worldly goods, has them, but they're $84 each. Another place, treefortbikes.com, lists them at only $55 dollars each (?) but the page says "May go to backorder." I have an email in to them to see if they have the tires or not. I'll give them a day, then bite the bullet and order from Amazon.

11-16-2010, 06:34 PM
Bikeman is just starting to get their Nokians in stock. Bikeman has them at about $70.

I believe they're supplied by QBP, so you can have your local shop should be able to order them. You might check and see.

Bikeman just got the 29x2.1" Extreme 294s in stock. I think they arrived yesterday.

Good luck. You're looking for the exact tires I use.

Joe Chapline
12-06-2010, 03:40 PM
Tires arrived today. Nokian Hakkapelitta 700x40 240 studs. Only $55 each from Tree Fort Bikes (www.treefortbikes.com). Everyplace else I've looked, they're $70-$85 each. Shipping is free over $125. Two tires are not quite that much, so to save $9 on shipping, I also bought an insulated water bottle. I wondered how they would ship these; here's a picture. The tires are twisted into a figure 8 so they'll fit into a manageable box.


12-07-2010, 07:26 AM
Very cool info, Joe. Kennedy Center is preparing a test ground for you to give them a workout. ;)

Tim Kelley
12-14-2010, 12:47 PM
Easy DIY snow tires!


What do you guys think of this??

12-14-2010, 01:07 PM
Probably would work decently for snow. I can't imagine it doing anything to help with ice though. Bet it looks cool when you get up to speed. It would look better with pink zip ties though. ;)

Joe Chapline
12-14-2010, 01:10 PM
It goes around the rim -- how does that not affect the brakes? Unless he has disc or coaster brakes. Or am I looking at it wrong? I do love those ties. I've been thinking of using them to attach my bike basket, rather than bolts. Then I can cut the ties when I don't want it, and attach the basket again in two seconds when I want it. So far, I've decided to just leave the basket on all the time, because I actually don't know when I'm going to want it.

12-14-2010, 02:21 PM
Zip ties would work wonderfully to hold your basket on. I've used them for tons of things and they do very well. That said, I always just leave my basket on. The pretty flowers on it make me happy.

As for the brakes, the bike they pictured has disc brakes, thus no rim issues.

I imagine that zip ties would be very slippery on wet pavement. Or dry pavement even. That's great in a skidding contest. Not so good for a mixed surface ride home.

Joe Chapline
12-16-2010, 12:37 PM
I'm working from home (as I do most days now) but took the snow-tire-equipped bike out for a short test ride in the 1/4" of fresh snow we have in Baltimore. No problems. I'll keep taking it out as conditions change and try to get a good feel for the tires, hopefully without hitting the pavement. I would not have thought about doing this a year ago, so thanks, forum.

12-16-2010, 12:48 PM
Cool that we expanded your view on when you can ride.

Since the snow is pretty much either fluffy or packed and the ice hasn't really kicked in yet, I chose a fairly aggressive mountain tire today, over the studs. Continental Mountain Kings seem to do really well in this kind of stuff. I thought about riding my fixie with Cross tires, but noticed after riding home last night (with Tim for part of it) that the back tire was a little more bald than I'm comfy with and I didn't feel like changing the gearing to a slightly less leg-busting gear. Grabbed the MTB and the problem is solved. :D

Have fun out there, y'all. This is the fun stuff. If you're riding near traffic, be REALLY careful. They've got nominal control of their vehicles at best.

Joe Chapline
12-16-2010, 05:56 PM
@Dirt: my "regular" tires, that came with my Specialized bike, have a smooth rolling surface -- no tread at all. The outside edges are knobby, so they provide traction on curves. I think they're great, but OF COURSE they don't do well on ice. I just never thought about getting different tires for winter, whether studded or something else. A separate set of tires is an expense, but compared to the cost of car maintenance, it's not much. Thanks for the tips.

12-17-2010, 09:23 AM
Vittoria Cross XN Pros work great, too. Enough tread for snow and mud and fast on hard surfaces. Can be inflated to 6 bar. You can ride these year-round, frankly.

12-27-2010, 02:11 PM
Hello --

My question is more basic -- what kind of bicycle is best for snow/ice cycling? My bicycle fleet is very small -- I usually commute on a basic road bike -- and I'm wondering if I need to get a new bike before I investigate studded tires. I have missed bicycling in these last couple of weeks. Thanks.


12-27-2010, 05:14 PM
If you are on a road bike, the first thing you have to look at is how wide a tire can you fit on your current bike. I believe the narrowest studded tire is a 700X32. A wider tire with a knobbier profile works better in snow. A studded tire is best on ice. I believe Dirt had some good comments. If you are interested, look at the studded tire discussion at http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp.

Joe Chapline
12-27-2010, 05:44 PM
Following up on consularrider's comment, OneEight commented below about a tire designed for cyclocross, which is done with road bikes. BikeArlington also mentions cyclocross tires on their Winter Cycling (http://www.bikearlington.com/pages/biking-in-arlington/winter-cycling/) page. As long as you have wheels that can accommodate a wide-enough tire, you have choices that could make the road bike you have now also your winter bike, with a change of tires.