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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Without studded tires and the local trails frozen solid with ice in spots, just wondering if any of you had any tips to not only stay upright, but to regain traction on icier climbs. I do think the 29er platform helped and today was my first day with the Mooto-X on dirt. The softtail and bigger tires make for a very comfortable ride.

Also, without buying "winter" shoes, how the hell do I keep my toes warm. My hands and head I can deal with being cold, but the numb toes at the ends of rides must stop!

Thanks in advance!
 

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I look for the "grittiest" line, or line most likely to have the most friction. Rough ice, not glass-smooth ice. Bits of dirt in the ice. Snow on the ice. Air bubbles on the ice. Like that.

I still anticipate slipping and falling once in awhile though, so I try to stay relaxed so I don't break a bone or tear a tendon or something.

Nothing works as well as winter shoes and Kashmirs are relatively inexpensive.
 

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gray hair in my shammy
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Rontele said:
Also, without buying "winter" shoes, how the hell do I keep my toes warm. My hands and head I can deal with being cold, but the numb toes at the ends of rides must stop!

Thanks in advance!
I use booties over my riding shoes and put toe warmers, the disposable ones that work for 5-6 hours in my shoe. I've also used the disposable hand warmers over the top of my shoe's toes tucked in under the bootie.
 

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Slow down. That is the best advice I can give. Sure... some areas are nice to fly over... no time to slide. But doing that will bite sooner or later. I have ice on my daily ride that is damn near impossible to ride on without studs. It is quite comical to watch it attempted, but it can take a high price in injury.

Watch out for areas that were slushy and walked on, and then have frozen overnight. They can be deadly, and the pocked out ice will bruise your body raw if your front wheel decides it can't take the angles and weight, and slides out from under you like a rocket. In one section I rarely ride, the ice was so slick, that after slamming to the ground, I had to walk the bike.... I could hardly stand, and the bike was not having me on it. I don't walk my bike... pffft. Climbing? Sure, but on ice... level ground? I had to walk it that day.

Keep the front light. Don't bear down on it.

People are all over the paths when they walk in the winter. They walk on cement if possible, and it doesn't matter what side of the trail it is on. They expect a fast moving bike even less than they do in the warm months. A bell works well.

Those are issues that I had when riding several 26" wheeled bikes in the ice. I then started using 240 stud Innova tires on a 26" bike. Studs are glorious. I now am using a 29er... no studs. No wrecks. Hardly a slide. I'm still careful... have to be... but the 29er does it all 100% better in the ice.... Other than dealing with the people I suppose. I was going to buy some studded tires immediately, but I have been holding off. I have pretty good performance as it is, and I do have some pavement mixed in, so I like to keep the rubber side out if possible.
 

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I was out riding on ice today with nothing but Exiwolfs. However most of the ice was the "sandpaper" variety where snow an melt cycles produces LOTS of ice crystals prodrucing from the surface. This stuff is no problem to ride.

I did run into some of the "polished" variety. I went straight down. At that point, I really missed my Nokian 296s. Alas, I am also on a 29er and no one has stepped forward with studded 29er rubber yet. The best we have is a really big cyclocross tire from Nokian. We really need a 29x2.3" Nokian tire. I'd take two.
 

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Biker Beau
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Studs, boots and keepin' it even (& upright!)

Great advice in the previous responses about traction differential in the various "icy" surfaces you might encounter. I've found that by keeping your weight as centered as possible between the ends will allow you to vary the traction as necessary depending on conditions. Also...don't make the mistake of stopping pedalling and sitting through the dicy stretch, even though it's the natural reaction. You'll end up with your center of gravity waaaay to high and will more than likely be tense, a horrible combo on ice. Keep a gear that you can spin through it and focus on placing weight on the pedals, lowering that old CG.

Booties are a good option and one I've used for years. They have their drawbacks, snow/mud packing, being torn up when walking and such, but better than cold toes. Smartwool socks are one of the best investements for cold, snowy days (or any wool sock!). I've been running the Lake MX series of winter shoe/boot for a few years now and they absolutely transform winter riding. I believe there might still be a few of the older MX300's to be had online (MX301's have new closure mechanism). My toes have been happy on multi-hour, single digit forays but it's truly the "just near freezing" days that they save your bacon, the slush covers them but doesn't get inside.

Studded tires. A good set of knobbies will do very well on the snow but if your route/trails are very icy, then studs are a good investment. Nokians are my absolute favorite and I'm on my 4th set (26&29). Absolutely stunning traction, you'll ride across things that you wouldn't even be able to stand on safely. For a great education on several types available, visit www.peterwhitecycles.com He carries both Nokian and Schwalbe (Schwalbe now has carbide studs). I can't speak highly enough about the studded tires if you ride mixed terrain and conditions. 99% of your ride might be do-able on a knobbie but once you hit a slick spot and go down hard, the original purchase price won't even be a bother. We ride to several trails here in Colorado Springs and it's truly the time before and after the actual "snow riding" that is the most dangerous! Additionally, due to their heavy weight construction and limited seasonal use, you'll probably get many years out of a set.

Any way you end up doing it...enjoy your time in the snow & ice. It's a season that most spend indoors dreamnig about riding and wishing they had your guts and determination. I love riding the trails during a nice snow storm, especially at night...I feel like I'm getting away with something so fun, it should be illegal!

Oh, the only "real" studded alternative for the 29'er set is the Nokian W240. It's mighty narrow (700X40) but has a full compliment of 240 studs nicely arrayed across it's surface. If you subscribe to the "narrow tires are best for snow" then it's the cats meow but obviously if the conditions allow for a bit of float, you'll be at a disadvantage. However, for icy & rutted trails, the studs from center to edge will give you mucho bite. Hopefully by next year they will come out with a proper sized aggresively studded tire/s for the Big Revolution!
 

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Out there
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I have only two tips for ice:

1. Keep the wheels upright and keep lateral pressure to a minimum

2. Buy studded tires (the Nokians or Schwalbes are good).'


That's it.
 

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for keeping feet warm, winter shoes are really the way to go. outside of that, a really thin liner type sock under a thicker wool sock works great, with a bootie around the outside of the shoe of course. if you can afford it, but some cheaper shoes on blowout a size bigger than you normally wear. i did that and found a pair of old specialized shoes a size too big for $30 a few years ago. I run thin liner sock, thicker wool sock, seal skin water proof bootie, shoe, bootie over outside of shoe. my feet stay pretty warm and most importantly dry. this system has worked through the windy and slushy iowa winters, at least when it's been above 0F.
 

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Agreed with all of the above: watch for the roughest or dirtiest ice, take it slow, no sudden movements. Once that front wheel starts to slip and your front end is closer to the ground than when upright, you are done. Prepare to fall and wear lots of padding, because you will.

Or even better, get studded tires. I'm with willtsmith, and would buy a "true" 29" studder in a heartbeat, despite the price. Of course the W240s are going to be the ultimate in ice traction, but even the W106s are many times better than no studs at all. Even on glare wet ice, a W106 will have as much grip as a knobby tire on mushy snow. Not a ton of grip mind you, but a very respectable amount and more than enough to keep you upright and have some decent braking ability in the majority of situations.

The W106 is available in a 700x45 from peterwhitecycles.com. I have one and ride it almost daily in the winter. That's narrow by MTB standards, but substantially wider than 700x40. It floats and tracks through packed snow as well as a 26x2.0, and I've run it as low as 10 psi on snowmobile tracks. It has a very loose fitting bead though, so it doesn't work very well with certain rims. Despite many attempts, I cannot get it to mount up on my 38mm Kris Holm unicycle rim, which would have spread it out nicely. Does fit on a Delgado Disc just fine if you're reasonably patient.
 

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Surprised that no one as mentioned the advantages of body armor in the snow and ice. Sure, it helps loads when you go splat. But it really helps to keep the knees and elbows much warmer and can save you from needing to pile on more layers which might cause you to overheat once you warm up.
 

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Glad this thread came up, since I rode 14 miles in Tillamook Forest today with about a third of the ride mileage frozen, and a good 5-10% covered in crusty ice. Numerous crossings of gravel roads, all of which were glare ice in the wheel ruts. Thanks to this thread I stuck to the white ice a lot more than I might otherwise have thought to, and didn't fall once.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
29erchico said:
Surprised that no one as mentioned the advantages of body armor in the snow and ice. Sure, it helps loads when you go splat. But it really helps to keep the knees and elbows much warmer and can save you from needing to pile on more layers which might cause you to overheat once you warm up.
I wear my neoprene shin guards for this very purpose!
 

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Que je suis bete!
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Is this just stupid?

I'm sure someone has tried something like this somewhere, so basically, I'm just satisfying my curiosity. Any experience with inflating an old tire, glopping it with shoe goo or neoprene repair goo or something of the like and rolling it in the old sandbox?
 

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Stay perpendicular to the ice as much a possible, apply power very carefully with no abrupt surges, forget about your front brake, and turn in little bits......been doing it for many years on all sorts of two wheeled rigs with success. Also try lowering your tire pressure, I will run 15 - 20 psi on my tubeless setup which helps a bit. BTW, when you master ice riding, you will become a much better rider in poor traction conditions.
 
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