Yesterday was time for the first mountain bike ride of 2013 in Stockholm. I was much more committed to Sunday winter rides last year and I have to admit it took me a while before I found the motivation to take the Coilair out in the woods this year.
I put it on the warm and sunny ride in Réunion last month which kind of biased my weather expectations to a level not attainable in snowy Sweden. I was kind of stuck between the two options I had : either deal with ice and studded tires or wait another month (two months maybe?) before the snow melts.
Then the phone rings and Yoann asks me out on a date: “You’ve been off the trails for too long! Should we go for a ride and test one of the demo Kona Tanuki I have in the shop?” (Yoann is the owner of Fix My Bike in Hammarby Sjöstad and has a couple of demo Kona bikes one can borrow and test ride: read about the different bikes and conditions – in Swedish).
I put the Continental Spike Claw 240 on the Coilair (love the bike for how easy it is to maintain) and off we are for a 3 hour ride in Nackareservatet (the nature reserve of Nacka). It was slippery, the trails covered with packed snow or ice, but sunny and it made me realized how much I missed riding around Hellasgården.
What about you? How was your Sunday ride? Did you need studded tires and a big dose of motivation or do you live in a warmer part of the world?
I obviously chose the latter.
A week ago I was mounting Schwalbe CX Pro tires on my commuting bike a few hours before the first snow falls hit Stockholm. Not sure it really was a wise choice at the time I’ve now been riding them for over 100 kilometers and I’m still in one piece.
I took it very easy during the first ride on snow as to get used to the tires and deflated them a bit for a softer steering (it was really bumpy and a bit slippery at 6.5 bars, no kidding!) and better grip after a couple of kilometers. I think I now have a pretty good setup and I’ve not found myself in a delicate situation so far.
Those tires sure do a very good job on fresh and packed snow (no difference whatsoever with summer tires on asphalt even when breaking hard) and are pretty stable on an icier surface (but I’m more careful then as one should be riding studded tires or not).
All in all a very positive first impression and I’m looking forward to the 30 centimeters of fresh snow promised for tomorrow (according to TheLocal). Please stay tuned for more feedback on those tires later.
According to the weather forecast I will soon know whether I took the right decision or not but I finally decided to go for cyclo-cross tires (non-studded) to commute to work during winter.
I’m sure riding non-studded tires might not seem as safe as riding studded tires during the days when roads and bicycle lanes are covered with a thin layer of black ice but non-studded tires will do most of the time.
First of all there are usually only a few days with ice as the streets are cleaned pretty quickly in the city and most of the winter rides will be either on asphalt, fresh or compacted snow. Secondly, studded tires are heavier and harder to drag. I commute by bike because it’s faster and funnier and this would be kind of a “fun killer”. And last but not least I am not really sure studded tires are safer than non-studded tires. Even on ice.
Riding studded tires (would that be on a bike or on a motor vehicle) gives a feeling of safety that lowers the attention one would pay to the road. Studies have shown that there are as many accidents involving studded vehicles than with non-studded vehicles the only difference being the speed (higher for the studded vehicles). Sure I am referring to motor vehicles here but let me tell you something: the first and only time I broke a rib was last winter on a mountain bike… with studded tires.
I put the Schwalbe CX Pro (700×30) on last Monday (I bought them at Fix My Bike in Hammarby Sjöstad and can really recommend the place if you’re after good advice and service). Let’s ride them and be careful on ice then.
This morning was the perfect mix of these little things that make me glad I ride my bike to work instead of going underground: blue sky, dry air, clean & not overcrowded paths. Sure it was -2 ℃ when I left home but it’s not that bad for mid-November up here.
Even though the weather forecast looks alright for the coming days I know it will get worse sooner or later. I probably won’t make it alive if I keep on riding slick summer tires so I got myself a second pair of wheels (I can’t be bothered to swap tires now and then through the winter, I’d rather have two sets ready and just swap wheels). I haven’t made my mind whether I’ll go for studded or non-studded cyclo-cross tires on the winter rims though. Any suggestions?