We are starting to feel the effects of winter in the northeastern U.S. and that has me both excited and depressed. I actually do not mind riding when it is cold, I find it invigorating. Plus, not as many people run, walk, ride, rollerblade, etc. when it's cold so I have much less traffic to deal with.
I am depressed because when it snows I rarely ride. Being in an urban environment makes it challenging. Many will perhaps call me a wimp and tell me to suck it up, but when snow piles up it has a crowding effect and there is less space and many of those that drive in cars either have no patience or no skill to deal with driving in slick conditions. Thus I do not want to take my chances with all of the variables involved.
There are those however that do not let any weather condition stop them from riding. We documented many of the ways that people ride in the snow in our Eight Solutions for Riding a Bike in the Snow post. Reader Magnus, who rides a bike in REALLY cold weather in Sweden, even came up with a shield for his water bottle to keep his liquid refreshment from freezing on cold rides.
Reader Leo took up the challenge of making snow tires for his bike and sent us the following text and pictures. If readers have cold weather hacks now is the season to send them to us.
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After reading about studded bicycle tires I was directed to www.icebike.org that described and reviewed the major studded bicycle tires, brands and they also posted instructions for how to make your own studded tires. Basically you obtain a mountain bike tire and go to work . . .
Pre-drill ( I used an awl) a pilot hole from the inside of the tire out through the material of a lug on the tire.
You want to place the holes towards the outside lugs of the tire, not on the center contact patch.
You do not want to place studs on every lug. Depending on the tire, every 3 or 4 lugs should be sufficient for traction.
I used self drilling pan headed Phillips screws. Size 8-18 x ½” They were too long, I had to use a neighbor’s bench grinder to leave less material exposed. On dry pavement, ONE studded tire originally DOUBLED my time traveling a measured distance on dry pavement! It slows you down having 1/8” to ¼” exposed, but not to an unacceptable amount.
I suggest, depending on your tire choice, a 3/8” or ¼” screw would be adequate. Consider how much stud is exposed on a car tire and use that as a reference for your tire.
After predrilling the hole placed by the awl or punch (because the lug is so small, you will be more successful lining up the screw in the lug with a pilot hole), place the screw and power it in the tire and through.
To line the tire, I cut an old inner tube so that it fit inside the whole tire and protected the working inner tube.
It’s a tedious process, whatever you need to do to make the time pass, have at it!! ;-)
The website advised that studding one or both tires is a personal preference. If you do only stud one tire (and that is considered to be adequate for most situations) stud the FRONT tire for control while steering. The back tire will generally be weighted enough to keep traction. I have found this to be the case personally. You CAN stud both tires if you wish.
Be aware of frame and fender clearance. I had to alter my front fender due to both the mountain bike tread and the width from the tire studs. A studded tire in snow does not cause much spray, but when you have a studded tire in partly melted conditions, you will have a lot of water to deal with: however you can make a fender work will make your snow tire a completely successful winter tool.