Question about riding in snow esp. for those with the proper tyres

Discussion in 'General Cycling Discussions' started by KneesUp, 1 Mar 2018.

  1. KneesUp

    KneesUp Veteran

    I've cycled to and from work today - there is about 8 inches of snow on the shed roof at home, but out and about there is less and on the roads it's been compacted. It's generally been quite fun, althoguh I need thicker gloves.

    I've been on 2" knobblies and it's been fine - I've not fallen off or anything, so all's good.

    However, it feels to me as though although traction is ace going in a straight line - better than walking boots if my 'test' on the steep footpath near home is valid - the steering feels madly skittish, like whenever I steer it's trying to slide away from me, and indeed in the bits of snow on the road where it's starting to break into compacted chunks where some cars have been, the wheel will dig in like on sand and try and pull you one way or the other, all of which combined makes it feel all the time like I have too much weight on the 'bars - which maybe I have: I've not ridden this frame very much; I've only just swapped the running gear off my other bike on to it, and it's a little shorter in the top tube and head tube than the old one, so I lean foward a touch more.

    Is my experience of riding on snow using knobblies designed for mud typical, and if so, do proper ice / snow tyres make much difference? As I say, straight line grip is fine, it's just when the tyre digs in to the compacted stuff that's breaking up, and when going around corners.
    Illaveago likes this.
  2. Brandane

    Brandane Fair weather cyclist.

    I use Schwalbe Marathon winter tyres on my MTB.. 26" x 1.75" with the metal spikes. They are good, but they don't perform miracles. They are fine on fresh snow or ice, but how often does that happen? Once you hit frozen ruts left by vehicle (or even bicycle!) tyres, you will still struggle to control the bike. You might remain upright for longer than you would if riding on non winter tyres, but it's still fraught with danger!
    I find I need to keep the speed low, and if climbing a hill you need to remain seated to keep the weight on the rear wheel otherwise you just spin the wheel when pedaling. Are they worth it for the few occasions when they get used? For me, yes. If I didn't have them the last few days, I would have been walking to work; and the same applies for the few other icy/snowy spells we've had this winter.
  3. Heltor Chasca

    Heltor Chasca Out-Riding the Black Dog

    I have Kenda Klondikes which one YouTube review rated better than the Schwalbe ones. Genuinely I went for them because they have 4 rows of spikes and were cheap at the time. I drop my psi when it is horrible. They are immeasurably slow on dry roads. Noisy and they send micro vibrations through the bike which results in a fizzy bum. Still I prefer them to normal tyres in this weather. In all honesty I have used them so infrequently I couldn’t really offer any ‘expert’ advice. Practice through use.
    Last edited: 1 Mar 2018
    KneesUp likes this.
  4. biggs682

    biggs682 Smile a mile bike provider

    I have been using this URL=""]Raleigh m trax 2000 ti[/URL][ for the last few weeks , it sits on Maxxis knobblies and it has been fine the last few days on the soft snow , but when i came home yesterday night and a lot of it had turned to ice which made for tricky going .

    So i am thinking of buying some studded tyres in preperation for next year as hopefully this will all go soon and we can start on spring
    Illaveago likes this.
  5. I don’t like riding on snow or ice, but when I have had to, I’ve gone for studded knoblies, and they have worked very well, okay you have to make allowances, but it’s no worse than slicks on wet surfaces. There’s no ‘wrong conditions’ just the wrong kit. Given I’m in the South of England, I’d rather not risk riding on snow / ice, as it’s not normally more than a couple of days, so really no big deal.
  6. raleighnut

    raleighnut Guru

    On 3 Wheels
    I've got 1 bike set up for snow/ice, ultra aggressive tread on the front tyre (more 'gaps' than rubber) but I drop the pressure down to about 35psi when it's slippery (or ride the trike now)
    Illaveago and Brandane like this.
  7. smutchin

    smutchin Cat 6 Racer

    The Red Enclave
    I stick a pair of 35c Marathon Winters on my cross bike for riding on the road when there's a risk of ice. They're really good for this.

    If I'm riding in deep rutted snow, I find they perform better if I let the pressure down as low as I dare.
    Stephenite, Pat "5mph", mjr and 3 others like this.
  8. jayonabike

    jayonabike Powered by caffeine & whisky

    I rode to work and back today on 25c tyres on compacted snow on the side roads (main roads were clear) did some wicked skids on the corners as well!
    Illaveago likes this.
  9. Tim Hall

    Tim Hall Guest

    I've got spiky tyres on a slighty too small Spesh rigid mtb. When I first used it I had the pressures up too high and had trouble with ruts in compacted snow. Lesson quickly learnt and I dropped the pressures down to what, coming from a road background, i thought was stupidly low. They work well on ice in my experience too. Having spanged my leg a couple of years ago, i won't risk normal tyres on snow now.
    Pat "5mph", raleighnut and Brandane like this.
  10. smutchin

    smutchin Cat 6 Racer

    The Red Enclave
    This was a real mental stumbling block for me too.
  11. Brandane

    Brandane Fair weather cyclist.

    There seems to be a theme developing here! Maybe I need to drop my pressures a bit, as they are probably about 50 psi just now. Will drop them to 35/40 and see if I get on better with hard packed rutted surfaces.
  12. smutchin

    smutchin Cat 6 Racer

    The Red Enclave
    If they’re 2” tyres, 50psi is way too high.
  13. Rickshaw Phil

    Rickshaw Phil Overconfidentii Vulgaris Moderator

    I've got a set of Marathon winter and a set of Snow Studs. I was really disappointed with the Marathons in the snow as they didn't seem to have any lateral grip when the snow was rutted. They are however excellent on sheet ice and I've done rides at near normal speeds on surfaces I could hardly stand up on.

    The Snow Studs do well (surprise) in the snow but still need a bit of care when it's been rutted and frozen hard. Both tyres do best on the slippy stuff when run near their minimum recommended pressure.

    Before I got the winter tyres I used a set of cheap knobblys with a tread pattern similar to Schwalbe Land Cruiser - these did really well and had good steering feel in snow. Obviously not too good on sheet ice though. I'd quite like a snow tyre with this tread pattern and a good set of studs in.
  14. OP

    KneesUp Veteran

    Thanks all. The tyres I have on are Michelin Country Mud (just read the sidewall) and it would seem I need to drop the pressure a lot! Will try that tomorrow.
    Rickshaw Phil likes this.
  15. User19783

    User19783 Guest

    I've got a set of Marathon winter on my s/s mtb and they let me down yesterday,
    Unfortunately I was cycling to work last night, and the inner tube expanded and blow the tyre of the rim, tried to refit the tyre but with no joy, had to call for a rescue :angry:.
    Not happy, as now the nearly new tyre is for the bin.
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