Author Topic: Winter Bike Commute Tires  (Read 2250 times)


  • Bristles
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  • Age: 40
  • Location: The best state in the Union (MT)
Winter Bike Commute Tires
« on: September 29, 2014, 10:13:18 AM »
I've saved such ridiculous amounts of dough biking to work since April I want to extend that into winter as far as practicable.   I have the winter clothing and most of the gear settled but need to know about tires.

I have a 2 mile commute that features a steep hill and some gradual hills.  I stick to city streets which are usually plowed early and don't have bike lanes.

Ice is expected since we have a lot of freeze/thaw where it can go from 45F to -30F and back to 45F in a couple days.

Do I need studded tires or can I get by with just regular winter tires?

Also any tips for stopping on the downhill in winter.  I have to stop dead at the base of 8% grade hill and would appreciate tips on how to actually stop rather than sliding, rolling, tumbling or flailing though the intersection.



  • Pencil Stache
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  • Location: Portland of the Gulf Coast
Re: Winter Bike Commute Tires
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2014, 10:49:03 AM »
what kind of bike are you riding? i've seen studded tires for mountain bikes that i think would work for commuting. i've also seen a diy on instructables on making your own studded tires. if you want to spend some money you could get one of those fat bikes with the 4" wide tires. they are made for snow and ice.


  • Senior Mustachian
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  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Winter Bike Commute Tires
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2014, 11:37:04 AM »
Around here ice is rarely an issue, and the roads are heavily salted enough that it's typically slush and not snow that you're pedaling through.  I've done two years quite comfortably on 700C x 32 mm tires.  The ones with a little tread on them work better in heavy snow  . . . bald tires just spin in my experience (although are fine for pretty much all other road conditions).

For icy conditions, you can make due by radically altering your cycling habits, but really need studded winter tires for control.  Nothing else will grip at all.

Cycling on ice is similar to cycling in deep slush and packed snow . . .
- slow down
- don't lean the bike much when turning
- don't turn and brake
- don't turn and accelerate
- when braking, only brake in a straight line
- leave plenty of room in front of you to brake
- Use your front brake sparingly (I use it alone about 90% of the time . . . but it's more like 30-70 front to back when very slippery) because if your front wheel starts to slide you're going to wipe out
- use flat pedals (I like studded ones that grip your boots really well) so you can put a foot down quickly if you start to fall
- put your seat a bit lower than you normally would so you can get a food down quickly if you start to fall
- shift gears often (helps to prevent ice from forming on your cables/derailleur and getting you stuck in one gear)
- brake early (you need to clear the crap off the rims before your brakes start to work) and often (same issue as with the shifters, sometimes the brake cables get frozen in place if you don't work them often).
- really get to know your bike route.  This way you can anticipate where the icy spots will be and plan your speed well ahead.

If your city uses as much salt as we do in the winter, you need a VERY regular cleaning schedule for the bike.  (Like daily rinse off and lube, bi-weekly checking the brake pads and pivots, greasing every screw that goes into the bike before the winter, using some waterproof grease in the wheel bearings, etc.)  It really is a lot of fun to bike in the winter despite all the extra work it ends up being!


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