Winter cycling tips and tricks β„πŸš²

If you regularly cycle in snow and ice, Winter/Studded tyres are amazing and are pretty much always the best option but they are pricy and not available for all tyre sizes. As a unicyclist (yes I ride in the winter) and footbiker, I have various cycles with tyre sizes from 16” to 36” (Ok… I also have a penny farthing with a solid rubber 54” tyre πŸ˜†).

If you cannot get tyres in your size or cannot justify the cost for very limited usage, here are a few quick tips.

Cycling on regular/unstudded tyres

Riding on ice with normal tyres is entirely possible in much the same way that walking on ice is, so long as you are careful. The key is to avoid sudden movements, such as changes in direction and speed. With that in mind, here is a quick summary of some tips.

β„Ή The above is also handy if you find yourself caught off guard, with weather you did not expect. πŸ‘

Studding your own types

Option one: Buy tyre studs

There are products which you screw into the tyre from the outside in. Try and find ones designed for bicycles specifically. They tend to be shorter and are therefore much less likely to go completely through the tread and puncture your inner tube. You normally need a special dedicated tool to screw these in, remember to buy that at the same time.

Bestgrip screw in studs (Norwegian site)

Tool to screw in tyre studs (Norwegian site)

Unicycle with Duro Wildlife 26”x3” tyre, studded with Bestgrip screw in studs



β„Ή Spend some time thinking about your pattern. The edges are better than the centre line, which would have a higher wear rate and increase your rolling resistance. Also, you do not want to overly stud because it adds weight and is simply unnecessary. Commercial winter tyres are heavily studded because a high stud count gives a 'selling point' to the buying public.

Option two: Use short screws (yes… really)

If purpose built tyre studs make no sense because your tyre does not have a suitably thick tread or you just bulk at the cost, you can self-stud tyres with screws. It sounds weird and scary but it can work well. The only downsides are the time it takes and the fact that unlike Tungsten carbide, steel wears much faster on a tarmac surface, so you may need to re-stud from time to time.

I have self-studded a 16”x1.9” (47-305) Schwalbe "Black Jack" using this method (there are no commercial studded tyres for a 305mm rim) with small, steel screws. I would have preferred to use screw in studs but the tread was not deep enough. On the plus side it is very cheap. A Schwalbe "Black Jack" tyre only cost me Β€89πŸ‡³πŸ‡΄ (€8.60, $10.30πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ, Β£7.60) and I bought a box of 250 screws for Β€35 (€3.40, $4, Β£3) of which I only used a fraction. That works out at just Β€124 (€12, $14.30, Β£10.60) total for one tyre. Granted it would have been more if I also bought a dedicated tyre liner, which many people would need (or want) to do.

Mr. Tuffy (a popular, high performance tyre liner for bikes)

Schwalbe "Black Jack" 16”x1.9” tyre, manually studded with steel screws

The basic process works like this.

Self-studding a tyre in more detail (a longer guide)

Footbike with Schwalbe "Marathon Winter Plus" front, back self-studded "Black Jack"

β„Ή Ideally the 'studs' should only stick out 2-3mm. Keep an eye on them during the course of the season. When they start to get too short, take off the tyre, and re-stud it.

Enjoy your winter riding! β„πŸš²πŸ‘


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