Thursday, November 18, 2010

A studly post

You've maybe chosen a bike without shocks and you've tried some winter cycling only to discover that it gets really slippery out there.  As though you're riding on banana peels!  So it's time to discuss tires for winter pedalling.

One group thinks that having slick, skinny road tires is the way to go as they will cut through snow and get you some traction on pavement.  I only have to look at bicycle couriers who ride year round - they for the most part have road tires on their bikes and yet they continue to zip around our streets and sidewalks.  (Naughty naughty).

The other group (studs?) maintain that the way to go in winter is with studded tires - either store bought or homemade.  The hardcore types hold that only one studded tire is needed and that is on the front wheel.  Myself, I think that for the nominal extra cost, two studded tires are best.  Even on my automobile which is front wheel drive I mount four snow tires for the extra gripping power.

It is true that when you lose control of your front tire you're a goner.  Two years ago I hit a patch of ice hiding under a skiff of snow and BLAM!  Down I went, smashing the back of my head into the pavement and breaking my helmet.  I was seeing stars and felt shi**y.  So I continued on in a reckless manner.  Probably a mild concussion accounted for the star - scape during daylight hours.

Just like snow tires on a car, the studs on the tires will wear out but given the amount of snow we get here in the frozen north, you won't be doing much riding on bare pavement.  Two studded tires will increase the odds that you will have an accident free winter cycling season.


  1. I rode with one Schwalbe Snow Stud on the front wheel, and a knobby MTB tire on the back wheel last year, and it was pretty safe, but my back wheel did skid out on me a few times, leading to me tumbling onto the street. I think this year I'll try to stud my own rear tire, or just buy another pre-studded one.

    Have you tried tires with different amounts of studs? The Schwalbe Snow Stud has 100 studs, while the Ice Spiker has 300, including some that are pointed are little more off towards the sides, which would be nice for icy ruts that one can slip into.

  2. If you're interested, the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society is giving a class on studding bike tires....check out their website:

  3. Corey, if your back wheel starts slipping, pedal! It may seem counter intuitive but it's way easier to stay up when you're putting some torque on the gyroscope under your seat.

    That being said, the last few days have left me considering, for the first time ever, putting on a second studded tire.