Technical > Wheels, Tyres and Brakes

Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days

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--- Quote from: steve216c on November 17, 2021, 10:12:31 AM ---I have a pair of spiked Schwalbe Winter tyres, but I am wondering how much of a compromise it would be if I just fitted the front wheel with spikes to cut the overall spike friction by a fraction, but to ensure increase road holding when steering on frozen or muddy bike paths when the conditions are variable (e.g. frosty start, but mild later).
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I've never bothered, not even when I had a commute of 22 km each way. But I always had a choice of bikes, one with studded tyres and the others with normal tyres. If I reckoned there was a risk of ice I took the bike with studs, otherwise one without.

I reckoned it was better to take a few minutes extra rather than risk a fall.

John Saxby:
Hi Steve,

I don't ride on our icy winter roads here in Eastern Ontario, but by my reckoning, you'd need as much traction as you can get on both the steering wheel and the driving wheel.

Envy you the option of riding over the winter.  In the past two decades-plus, we've had more and more icy conditions on roads and paths. Our standard-issue winter-weather pattern is now snow-thaw-freeze, covering maybe a week. When I first came to Ottawa to live nearly 45 years ago (yikes!!), we could reliably expect long-ish spells of clear cold weather, with highs of -15 and lows of -30 or lower.  Not any more - can't recall when we last had a nighttime low of -30. The competitive cross-country season has moved further north up the Ottawa. In mid-February a couple of years ago, in the PPE (Pre-Pandemic Era), Canada held its national X-country ski championships in the Gatineau Park across the river, where there are 200-plus kms of trails.  It was a disaster: only the handful of international-level elite skiers could handle the ice.

Safe riding, John.


--- Quote from: steve216c on November 17, 2021, 10:12:31 AM ---...
Anyone with experience or thoughts of riding just on one spiked tyre?


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I have nothing to add to my previous comment (from above on page one):

--- Quote from: mickeg on January 15, 2021, 01:26:07 AM ---...
My Nomad Mk II gets studs front and rear in winter.   I do not regularly run studs on my Lynskey, occasionally use that in winter too.
I have talked to commuters that did not want to pay the high cost of two studded tires, they bought one and only put it on the front tire.  They felt that the front was the most important wheel to have studs on.  I bought a used studded tire that I put on a spare wheel.  I can put that wheel with the studs on the front of the Lynskey if I suspect I might encounter rare occasional ice but there is not enough ice to require my Nomad that has two studded tires.  I have not tried it yet, but I think on some days I might feel more confident with studs on the front.

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Since I wrote that, I have not tried studs on only one wheel, the conditions were never such that I felt that it was appropriate. 

But, I still have that one front wheel with a studded tire on it, so I might try that sometime this winter if I don't want to use studs on both front and rear, but would like to have an extra measure of safety just in case I encounter a few ice patches.

To clarify some of what I said here, my Nomad Mk II uses 26 inch wheels, my Lynskey is 700c, thus the wheels are not interchangeable between the two.  I have Schwalbe Marathon Winters on the Nomad Mk II, the wheel for my Lynskey has a Nokian W106, 37mm wide.


--- Quote from: steve216c on November 17, 2021, 10:12:31 AM ---Anyone with experience or thoughts of riding just on one spiked tyre?

--- End quote ---
Not me, neither do I expect to gain any such experience.
I've always considered the difference between losing traction on the front or rear wasn't so much the likelihood but the chance of recovery.  Those few times I've been down on ice, there's been no chance of recovery, upright to painful in less time than it takes me to process what's happening.

I trawled the interweb and found a few brave souls who reported that the front wheel only option is a fair compromise to at least keep you upright for many slippery circumstances.

I have a spare dynohub wheel which I'll mount the front spike tyre to at the weekend. Next week we are expecting some frosty mornings, so I can see how a single spiked tyre rides. I can always mount the rear should I find it necessary. With just the front wheel, and because I have a spare, it is not a huge chore to swap the wheels over at short notice and have the appropriate tyre mounded for the expected conditions whatever they might be.

I'll report back my findings.

During my search I found this interesting prototype Further research looks like they never found funds to bring the product to the market. But I do like the idea as an alternative one could wear on the tyre on a frost morning, and remove before riding home when the weather has improved.


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