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Anyone commute in the winter? Biggest challenge? Necessary gear? Bike maintenance issues?

I am determined to do some commuting this winter.

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One the notion of keeping fingers warm...

i swear by these!
Easy. 1) get dutch bike 2) wear normal winter clothes + extra warm wool gloves 3) experience winter cycling bliss.
I think it's be easier without dropping +$1000 on a dutch bike.

Scott said:
Easy. 1) get dutch bike 2) wear normal winter clothes + extra warm wool gloves 3) experience winter cycling bliss.
Are they worth it? I ride year-round, including most (but not all) snowy days. In the winter I ride Schwalbe Marathon Supremes and I am trying to figure out whether studded tires are worth the upgrade, given the fact that Chicago has a pretty good snow clearing record.
Your advice is appreciated
Frank

Brian Kennedy said:
I used that article to decide on Schwalbe studded tires.

Alan Ortiz said:
I haven't checked out the rest of the entries, but here's a link to studded bike tires:
http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp
I rode about 2/3 of last winter on studded Nokians, and I'd say they're not necessary the large majority of the time, but the peace of mind is nice to have, and if you are committed to riding no matter what the weather, they are nice to have for the 10% of the time that they really help. In this way I'd put them in the same category as snow tires on your car - you can do fine without them, but they're nice to have.

My Nokians were the more road-friendly ones (I don't remember the model number), and my regular tires at the time were Michelin TransWorld Citys. The Michelins (700c x 35) did just fine in light-to-medium snow, and were surprisingly good on light ice - the kind that you can still walk on, that fills in the texture of the pavement but doesn't cover it. The Nokians were somewhat better in the snow (no inverted tread that helps pack in snow) and lots better on iciness.

They are expensive, though. I got mine new-but-cheap. If you get them, get tires with carbide studs - regular steel studs wear out fairly quickly.

David
David, thanks for the review. Do you ride over the steel grated bridge in downtown? Do they help there? That is about the worst part of the commute. Usually slush has builld up on the tires by then and they slip all over the place.
Frank

David A. Pertuz said:
I rode about 2/3 of last winter on studded Nokians, and I'd say they're not necessary the large majority of the time, but the peace of mind is nice to have, and if you are committed to riding no matter what the weather, they are nice to have for the 10% of the time that they really help. In this way I'd put them in the same category as snow tires on your car - you can do fine without them, but they're nice to have.

My Nokians were the more road-friendly ones (I don't remember the model number), and my regular tires at the time were Michelin TransWorld Citys. The Michelins (700c x 35) did just fine in light-to-medium snow, and were surprisingly good on light ice - the kind that you can still walk on, that fills in the texture of the pavement but doesn't cover it. The Nokians were somewhat better in the snow (no inverted tread that helps pack in snow) and lots better on iciness.

They are expensive, though. I got mine new-but-cheap. If you get them, get tires with carbide studs - regular steel studs wear out fairly quickly.

David
I also rode last year on studded Nokians (700c Nokian A10s), and they are very helpful when there is ice on the ground. Most of my commute is on the Lake Front Path, which is plowed fairly regularly. I come across ice patches there fairly frequently, and the Nokians were helpful, much more so when run at a low psi (e.g. 40 psi). For ice, the studs are life savers. Two years ago, after busting my ass hard on ice several times, I got these Nokians, and after learning that I needed to run them at a lower psi (running them at 80 psi did not allow the studs to really work), I avoided serious falls.

I don't know that studs were all that helpful with just regular snow. The knob pattern on the tire was OK, and didn't get crazy clogged.

The studded Nokians did not seem to help when I was dealing with old crusted snow that had re-frozen into ruts. Perhaps a more mountain bike appropriate studded tire would help, but I was just not wanting to ride such fat tires to address small sections of a ride where most of the ride involved fairly clean streets / path.

There was also a pretty good discussion of different studded tires on the Bike Winter site, along with some tips for riding on ice.

I know of other people that swear by the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires.

David A. Pertuz said:
I rode about 2/3 of last winter on studded Nokians, and I'd say they're not necessary the large majority of the time, but the peace of mind is nice to have, and if you are committed to riding no matter what the weather, they are nice to have for the 10% of the time that they really help. In this way I'd put them in the same category as snow tires on your car - you can do fine without them, but they're nice to have.

My Nokians were the more road-friendly ones (I don't remember the model number), and my regular tires at the time were Michelin TransWorld Citys. The Michelins (700c x 35) did just fine in light-to-medium snow, and were surprisingly good on light ice - the kind that you can still walk on, that fills in the texture of the pavement but doesn't cover it. The Nokians were somewhat better in the snow (no inverted tread that helps pack in snow) and lots better on iciness.

They are expensive, though. I got mine new-but-cheap. If you get them, get tires with carbide studs - regular steel studs wear out fairly quickly.

David
I second that swear, especially if you pair these with some thin glove liners.

iggi said:
One the notion of keeping fingers warm...

i swear by these!
At one point, I believe that J at Tati Cycles in Hyde Park had gotten a deal where Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires were priced at the merely exhorbitant level.

h3 said:
I think I'm going to do studded on at least one bike this year.
Anyone know how to get some sort of group-buy thing happening to get the cost down from ridiculous to exhorbitant?
Yes, I ride over various of the steel-grate bridges. I don't know what you mean by 'help,' though, so you'll have to better explain the problem you have. They feel squirrelly (the front end nibbles a bit), but not particularly more so than normal tires, and this is a function of the interaction between vehicle and decking anyway - you'll feel it in the steering in a car, too. But if you're talking about ice, I dunno. Since there is so little surface area for ice to form on compared to the open space you're rolling over, I don't think much anything is going to be able to get a grip on any ice that forms. I always just slowed down and stayed loose. I didn't have any aprticular problems with slush building up and sticking on my tires, either with the Michelins or with the Nokians.

My experience matches Joe's when it comes to krusty ruts. Not much of anything is good there except really big tires at low pressure. Generally they suck. Studded tires (the fact that they are studded, that is) do not do anything for you in snow - whatever benefit you get over your normal tires comes from the tread pattern.

When I got mine they were in short supply, but someone on a mailing list I'm on was selling a new pair that his wife bought in the wrong size.

I still have them, though the bike they go on got stolen in April. My everyday ride now is 650b, so I'll either build a cheap 700c beater for winter or winterize my MB-4 and get 26" ice tires.

David

Duppie said:
David, thanks for the review. Do you ride over the steel grated bridge in downtown? Do they help there? That is about the worst part of the commute. Usually slush has builld up on the tires by then and they slip all over the place.
Frank

David A. Pertuz said:
I rode about 2/3 of last winter on studded Nokians, and I'd say they're not necessary the large majority of the time, but the peace of mind is nice to have, and if you are committed to riding no matter what the weather, they are nice to have for the 10% of the time that they really help. In this way I'd put them in the same category as snow tires on your car - you can do fine without them, but they're nice to have.

My Nokians were the more road-friendly ones (I don't remember the model number), and my regular tires at the time were Michelin TransWorld Citys. The Michelins (700c x 35) did just fine in light-to-medium snow, and were surprisingly good on light ice - the kind that you can still walk on, that fills in the texture of the pavement but doesn't cover it. The Nokians were somewhat better in the snow (no inverted tread that helps pack in snow) and lots better on iciness.

They are expensive, though. I got mine new-but-cheap. If you get them, get tires with carbide studs - regular steel studs wear out fairly quickly.

David
David, you actually did answer my question. Thanks for that!
While the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme is a great year round tire, on a dozen or so days last winter, after the plows had cleared the snow, but with the bike lane on Halsted not all clear, slush would build up on the tires. Those were the only days I would walk or ride my bike across the bridge on the sidewalk.
Reading from your comments, I guess they do not help per se, although you didn't have the slush build up. Ah!....decisions, decisions......

David A. Pertuz said:
Yes, I ride over various of the steel-grate bridges. I don't know what you mean by 'help,' though, so you'll have to better explain the problem you have. They feel squirrelly (the front end nibbles a bit), but not particularly more so than normal tires, and this is a function of the interaction between vehicle and decking anyway - you'll feel it in the steering in a car, too. But if you're talking about ice, I dunno. Since there is so little surface area for ice to form on compared to the open space you're rolling over, I don't think much anything is going to be able to get a grip on any ice that forms. I always just slowed down and stayed loose. I didn't have any aprticular problems with slush building up and sticking on my tires, either with the Michelins or with the Nokians.

My experience matches Joe's when it comes to krusty ruts. Not much of anything is good there except really big tires at low pressure. Generally they suck. Studded tires (the fact that they are studded, that is) do not do anything for you in snow - whatever benefit you get over your normal tires comes from the tread pattern.

When I got mine they were in short supply, but someone on a mailing list I'm on was selling a new pair that his wife bought in the wrong size.

I still have them, though the bike they go on got stolen in April. My everyday ride now is 650b, so I'll either build a cheap 700c beater for winter or winterize my MB-4 and get 26" ice tires.

David

Duppie said:
David, thanks for the review. Do you ride over the steel grated bridge in downtown? Do they help there? That is about the worst part of the commute. Usually slush has builld up on the tires by then and they slip all over the place.
Frank

David A. Pertuz said:
I rode about 2/3 of last winter on studded Nokians, and I'd say they're not necessary the large majority of the time, but the peace of mind is nice to have, and if you are committed to riding no matter what the weather, they are nice to have for the 10% of the time that they really help. In this way I'd put them in the same category as snow tires on your car - you can do fine without them, but they're nice to have.

My Nokians were the more road-friendly ones (I don't remember the model number), and my regular tires at the time were Michelin TransWorld Citys. The Michelins (700c x 35) did just fine in light-to-medium snow, and were surprisingly good on light ice - the kind that you can still walk on, that fills in the texture of the pavement but doesn't cover it. The Nokians were somewhat better in the snow (no inverted tread that helps pack in snow) and lots better on iciness.

They are expensive, though. I got mine new-but-cheap. If you get them, get tires with carbide studs - regular steel studs wear out fairly quickly.

David
I've had the Nokians for the last three winters and David is right about that most of the time you don't need them, but when you do you really do. Never went down except when the show was really deep (studs don't help in deep snow, just ice). The carbide tips last, especially if you do not leave the tire on for months past the ice season.


David A. Pertuz said:
I rode about 2/3 of last winter on studded Nokians, and I'd say they're not necessary the large majority of the time, but the peace of mind is nice to have, and if you are committed to riding no matter what the weather, they are nice to have for the 10% of the time that they really help. In this way I'd put them in the same category as snow tires on your car - you can do fine without them, but they're nice to have.

My Nokians were the more road-friendly ones (I don't remember the model number), and my regular tires at the time were Michelin TransWorld Citys. The Michelins (700c x 35) did just fine in light-to-medium snow, and were surprisingly good on light ice - the kind that you can still walk on, that fills in the texture of the pavement but doesn't cover it. The Nokians were somewhat better in the snow (no inverted tread that helps pack in snow) and lots better on iciness.

They are expensive, though. I got mine new-but-cheap. If you get them, get tires with carbide studs - regular steel studs wear out fairly quickly.

David

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