Author Topic: biking in winter and when to use studded tires  (Read 10970 times)

AspiringMustachian

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biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« on: November 10, 2015, 02:01:44 PM »
I have a Fuji Absolute 2.1 http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/absolute-21- that I am trying to ride year round. I live in Utah - so relatively dry conditions but we do get some snow.

I bought a set of studded tires when I got my bike; we had our first major snowfall today. Does it make sense to use the studded tires for the length of the winter season, or only on bad days? Our plowing around here leaves something to be desired and I don't want to get myself hurt.

jda1984

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2015, 02:54:22 PM »
I only have one set of wheels for my bike, so once the studded tires are on I keep them on for the season.  Unless your normal tires are smooth tires without much traction (mine are), you are probably fine in moderate amounts of snow.  Ice is a different story.  Studded tires (particularly on the front) make a HUGE difference in controlling your bike on icy or snow covered ice roads/paths. 

I'd wait unless you expect this snow will stay and the paths won't be cleared for the rest of the season.  If you have a second set of wheels, go ahead and throw them on and off as you so choose.  Running studded tires on dry pavement will just consume the life of the tire a bit faster and you may lose spokes studs more quickly.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 02:57:32 PM by jda1984 »

AspiringMustachian

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2015, 02:59:06 PM »
I don't have a second set of wheels; I don't expect the snow to stick in general yet but am concerned about icy patches in the shade or on/under bridges lingering, for example. My default tires are fairly narrow road-style tires with a decent tread on them; but they aren't big knobbies or anything.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2015, 02:59:29 PM »
Most (if not all) studded tires are carbide and hold up very well even when running on bare pavement. I usually switch over whenever the first storm comes and then switch back in April depending on how spring goes.

I have Schwalbe Marathon Winters. Full speed on ice, slightly slower on dry or slushy snow. Only snow they struggled with was multi-inch wet snow that hadn't slushed up yet.

They are slower by at least 2-3mph for the same effort level.

vhalros

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2015, 08:15:47 PM »
I generally leave them on all winter. If there is any point in the day that it drops below freezing, it is hard to a guarantee there won't be some black ice lurking somewhere. Plus it would be a pain in the butt to take the tires on and off all the time.

I do, however, adjust the tire pressure based on conditions. When the roads are bad I lower it to about 60 PSI (80 is the standard for my tire) to get a little more traction.

PindyStache

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2015, 08:17:25 PM »
If you leave them on all winter, you feel like a total badass in the spring when you take them off and everyone else is just dusting off their bike from hibernation.

lsaurus

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2015, 10:12:51 PM »
I live in Utah too and I bike commute year round. We didn't really have a winter last year and that was my first season of winter riding so my snow skills aren't tested. It got cold and icy some last winter and my normal commuter tires were fine. My plan is to just use the same tires until it causes an issue. Studded tires seem like a pain to deal with.

Syonyk

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2015, 11:00:36 PM »
Put them on when it first gets crappy and take them off when it's dry in the spring.  I ran studded snow tires for a few winters in Iowa (basically starting with when I learned you could get these for a bike), and they were fine.

You'll lose a stud or two a winter, but it's a lot better than sliding on your ass because of black ice (been there, done that, not fun).  The cheap tires are good for 2-3 winters at best, but the more expensive ones are good for 4-5, maybe more.  Get the expensive ones.  They usually have better studs that hold up longer.

The thing to be careful of is that the studded tires do NOT have the dry pavement traction of your summer tires.

The way I described it is that you have about 40% of summer traction on ice - but only about 60% on dry pavement.  Be careful.

I didn't bother changing them out except in spring & fall.  Too much trouble.  And every now and then, on a dry day, you'll be cruising along, listening to the roar of your studs on the pavement, and all of a sudden everything gets dead silent.  That's the sound of black ice on pavement.  It hurts like hell without studs.

That said, they're seriously magic.  "Stoppie on a sheet of ice" level magic.

vhalros

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2015, 02:51:19 PM »
You'll lose a stud or two a winter, but it's a lot better than sliding on your ass because of black ice (been there, done that, not fun). 

The way I described it is that you have about 40% of summer traction on ice - but only about 60% on dry pavement.  Be careful.

It depends a lot on the tire; I use Scwalbe Marathon Winters and definitely don't loose that much traction on dry pavement. But there is a trade off in that the ones that have a lot of studs will hold better to ice, but worse to pavement.

Also worth noting that, at least with many brands, the studs themselves are replaceable.

hyla

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2015, 03:24:35 PM »
I put mine on at the first snow (last week this year!) and leave them on all winter.  Changing tires every time the weather changes would be a pain.  Also I like the peace of mind that I won't skid if I hit an icy patch in the shade on an otherwise clear day.  If you have carbide studs (most schwalbes and nokians have carbide studs, cheaper tires probably not) the studs won't wear much even if you have long dry spells and are biking on clear pavement. 

Slightly off topic, but if you are new to winter biking I also highly recommend fenders, bar mitts/hand warmers, and really good lights. 

Jack

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2015, 05:30:46 PM »
It depends a lot on the tire; I use Scwalbe Marathon Winters and definitely don't loose that much traction on dry pavement.

In Soviet Russia, traction on dry pavement looses you!

m8547

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2015, 09:05:49 PM »
I put my studded tire on recently. They don't salt the bike paths, so they melt in the day and freeze overnight most of the time. It would almost be better if they didn't even plow them.

I have a Schwalbe Winter tire, and I haven't noticed any wear on the studs from leaving them on all last winter. 90% of the time it's dry pavement, but leaving them on is worth it to avoid switching tires or wheels. I noticed a little rust on the studs after sitting all summer, but no big deal.

They are definitely slower, and they are heavy tires. Mine has just two rows of studs. Ones with more are available, but more expensive. I just have to be a little careful about not taking turns too sharp, but otherwise I can ride almost normally, even on ice.

I use a cyclocross tire for the rear because I already had it, so it's cheaper than another studded tire, and it helps grip if they don't get around to clearing the snow off the bike paths for some reason. It slides a bit on ice, but I can usually control a rear wheel skid, so I don't mind. If you are not as confident balancing bikes, I would suggest two studded tires if you expect ice.

Syonyk

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2015, 11:32:13 AM »
I was fine with two rows of studs - if you're biking in the winter, keep your lean angles to something sane and reasonable for the conditions, and it'll be fine.

I went with two studded tires because I wanted good traction for getting up some of the hills on campus.

AspiringMustachian

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2015, 12:37:43 PM »
I took my studded tires out yesterday and did 12 miles in about 30 degrees. The reaction I got at work was priceless. So many people think it's impossible to ride a bike under 60 degrees.

Syonyk

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2015, 01:24:41 PM »
I took my studded tires out yesterday and did 12 miles in about 30 degrees. The reaction I got at work was priceless. So many people think it's impossible to ride a bike under 60 degrees.

Well, duh.  You probably died, like, 10 or 15 times on the way to work.  I mean, it could have been icy out!  You clearly need a very large 4WD SUV to do 12 whole miles in 30 degree conditions!

*sigh*  Recreational bike culture pisses me off to no end because it leads to a lot of people thinking things like, "You cannot possibly ride in the rain, cold, snow, dark, or anything that doesn't resemble a sunny Sunday afternoon."

bortman

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2015, 09:12:14 AM »
Late to the party, but I'll add my 2 cents ...

I always thought that studded tires were overrated. I commute on a 26"-wheeled frankenbike, swap my "narrow" street tires for knobbies in winter, and adjust the way I ride. I'm lucky that in my city they clear bike lanes and paths throughout the winter. Nevertheless, I'd see other bike commuters on studded tires started to think they'd be a benefit.

I was too cheap/poor to buy studded tires, so I ended up making one studded tire. I bought a pair of returned 2.2" knobby tires at the REI sale for $5, then made my one studded tire in a similar manner to this instructable.

It was a lot of work to make one, so I stopped there. I run the studs tire on the front, vanilla knobby on the rear.

The nice thing about the DIY studs is that you can "tune" them to your needs. I tuned mine in same vein as semi-slick MTB tires that have knobs on the side and more minimal tread down the middle. I placed my studs further out and none on the middle running surface of the tire. This means that I still get pretty good traction for starts/stops while upright, but when I lean the bike (which, IMO, is when you really need traction), the studs bite and help keep me from sliding.

Regarding running the studded tire on the front, I turned to bike saint, Sheldon Brown, for advice.  Here's his article on tire rotation. Loosing the back wheel is manageable; loosing the front wheel is at, at best, painful, and at worst, catastrophic.

Finally, here's another page about winter riding, in general.

Syonyk

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2015, 11:11:11 AM »
Ice tires with metal sticking out are not the same as studded tires.

The studs sink into the rubber slightly as you go over surfaces, so they dig into ice but still get you rubber on the road for pavement.  They also have a radically higher stud density than that instructable.

I ran something similar to this: http://www.wiggle.com/schwalbe-winter-kevlar-guard-rigid-spiked-road-tire/

I get the whole being cheap thing, but if it's in the context of studded tires that let you safely ride a bicycle all winter, just spend the money on a good set.  They'll last 3-5 winters, depending on how much you ride & how long they're on.

powersuitrecall

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2015, 01:04:41 PM »
Ice tires with metal sticking out are not the same as studded tires.

The studs sink into the rubber slightly as you go over surfaces, so they dig into ice but still get you rubber on the road for pavement.  They also have a radically higher stud density than that instructable.

I ran something similar to this: http://www.wiggle.com/schwalbe-winter-kevlar-guard-rigid-spiked-road-tire/

I get the whole being cheap thing, but if it's in the context of studded tires that let you safely ride a bicycle all winter, just spend the money on a good set.  They'll last 3-5 winters, depending on how much you ride & how long they're on.

I second this.  My pair of schwalbe winter marathons have been working well for the past 6 seasons.  Well worth the $85 (CAD) per tire in my opinion.

Winter cycling is FUN.

GuitarStv

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2015, 01:17:53 PM »
My only advice would be to try cycling through a winter before getting studded tires.  You might not need them.

I'm heading into my fourth year of bike commuting with standard bike tires.  I don't bike if there has been freezing rain the night before, or if there is more than six inches of snow on the road.  Toronto's pretty good about clearing the roads off though, and they salt the living hell out of everything so most of the winter we get bare tarmac.  Bike lanes and cycle paths don't get cleared though.

powersuitrecall

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2015, 01:39:37 PM »
My only advice would be to try cycling through a winter before getting studded tires.  You might not need them.

I'm heading into my fourth year of bike commuting with standard bike tires.  I don't bike if there has been freezing rain the night before, or if there is more than six inches of snow on the road.  Toronto's pretty good about clearing the roads off though, and they salt the living hell out of everything so most of the winter we get bare tarmac.  Bike lanes and cycle paths don't get cleared though.

They don't plow the bike lanes in Toronto?  That's terrible.  I suppose the salt and eventual warm spell takes care of most of it for you.  In Ottawa, we don't have many bike lanes, but we do usually have an extra bit of room on the right.  That's where they like to put the snowbanks.

GuitarStv

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2015, 05:21:10 AM »
They actually plow the snow off of the road and directly into the bike lanes.  They also plow snow off of the sidewalk and into the bike lanes.  At least in the area where I live this is common practice.  It's why I'm glad that we don't usually get extended cold spells . . . usually the crap they pile up will melt in short order.

Eric222

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2015, 05:45:53 AM »
My only advice would be to try cycling through a winter before getting studded tires.  You might not need them.

I'm heading into my fourth year of bike commuting with standard bike tires.  I don't bike if there has been freezing rain the night before, or if there is more than six inches of snow on the road.  Toronto's pretty good about clearing the roads off though, and they salt the living hell out of everything so most of the winter we get bare tarmac.  Bike lanes and cycle paths don't get cleared though.

Do you ride a road bike?  This is what I'm going to try, as long as it isn't icy, and I'm curious how it is going to go.

GuitarStv

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2015, 05:54:38 AM »
Yep.  My winter bike has drop bars and bar end shifters because the STI paddles aren't compatible with very thick/heavy ski gloves (I find I'm always getting them snagged) . . . and I need heavy gloves when it gets below -10.

I've found myself on patches of glare ice a few times, and you probably will too.  Don't turn.  Don't brake.  Those will cause you to wipe out.  Just glide through until you're back on something that gives a bit of traction again.  It's also very important to know your route . . . you'll eventually remember where melt/freeze tends to coat the road with ice and know to be extra careful in those sections.

bortman

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2015, 06:13:33 AM »
@Syonyk
Regarding the implication that DIY studded tires are less safe than off-the-shelf options, I can think of several winter-riding situations where, IMO, my DIY setup is safer than Schwalbes. For that matter, there's a range of studded tires out there and one should choose tires that best meets their needs.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2015, 06:15:04 AM »
I've found myself on patches of glare ice a few times, and you probably will too.  Don't turn.  Don't brake.  Those will cause you to wipe out.  Just glide through until you're back on something that gives a bit of traction again.  It's also very important to know your route . . . you'll eventually remember where melt/freeze tends to coat the road with ice and know to be extra careful in those sections.

I found that the peace of mind while riding was WELL worth the price of the tires. Had way too many falls and close calls that got my adrenaline jacked to the sky on the winter I tried to get through with standard tires.

GuitarStv

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2015, 07:41:44 AM »
Adrenalin is cheaper than coffee in the morning.  :P

Nancy

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #26 on: November 19, 2015, 08:22:05 AM »
I rode through snowpocalypse with regular tires. I did as GuitarStv suggested: don't brake, go slowly, know your route. I'm hoping my luck holds out again this year. Last year, they salted the roads so quickly and thoroughly that ice wasn't an issue...We'll see.

GuitarStv

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #27 on: November 19, 2015, 08:33:27 AM »
Biked to the library a couple years ago without winter tires after our big ice storm:



It was a blast.  Not sure I'd commute in it though.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2015, 02:44:56 PM »
I left mine on all last winter. Didn't lose any studs.

I only use a studded tire on the front wheel. I find it harder to pedal with the studs, so for me that's the right balance of safety vs. reaching my destination in a timely fashion.

Eric222

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #29 on: November 19, 2015, 06:12:45 PM »
Yep.  My winter bike has drop bars and bar end shifters because the STI paddles aren't compatible with very thick/heavy ski gloves (I find I'm always getting them snagged) . . . and I need heavy gloves when it gets below -10.

I've found myself on patches of glare ice a few times, and you probably will too.  Don't turn.  Don't brake.  Those will cause you to wipe out.  Just glide through until you're back on something that gives a bit of traction again.  It's also very important to know your route . . . you'll eventually remember where melt/freeze tends to coat the road with ice and know to be extra careful in those sections.

Thanks for the advice!  I'll try to keep that in mind after yelling "Oh Shit!" when I hit an ice patch. :D

Nancy

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #30 on: November 20, 2015, 08:10:49 AM »
GuitarStv, those pictures are beautiful and terrifying!

Zman

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #31 on: November 20, 2015, 08:21:03 AM »
Put a zip tie around your inflated tire between each spoke... ride that through the bad weather and then deflate tire and take them off when the weather gets better.

GuitarStv

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #32 on: November 20, 2015, 08:26:45 AM »
The zip tie method will certainly be exciting if you use rim brakes. . .

Zman

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #33 on: November 20, 2015, 11:40:00 AM »
The zip tie method will certainly be exciting if you use rim brakes. . .

Ha, yes!

So will riding in snow and ice at all with rim brakes actually! ;-P

Syonyk

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #34 on: November 20, 2015, 01:14:34 PM »
It's fine if you've got a flat area with no hills...

Seriously, the cost of proper studded tires works out to something like $20/winter.  They last an incredibly long time.

GuitarStv

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Re: biking in winter and when to use studded tires
« Reply #35 on: November 20, 2015, 01:41:09 PM »
Paying 20$/winter for noisy tires that make cycling miserable the whole time they're on, when you only really need them 5-10 days a year at best is not a very good value.  If you need 'em, get 'em.  Just check if you need them or not before getting 'em.