Monday, January 15, 2007

Studded tires...the poor man's alternative

The ice in Tulsa is expected to remain until at least Thursday if not later. As I said yesterday, there's 4 to 6 inches of ice on the ground. This stuff is solid enough that our Blazer drove on top of it without breaking through when my daughter got the truck off the driveway. Actually, you can't tell where the driveway ends and the yard begins.

I entertain some fleeting thoughts about riding in these conditions. The ice is cold enough to offer some traction. But I'm put off by local motorists who still don't know how to drive on ice and snow, even after last month's extended practice session. I think it would be fun to try some studded bicycle tires in these conditions.

The Icebike site has an excellet discussion of studded bicycle tires:

The Nokians are very nice, and very expensive. But since I'm, ah, frugal, I'd never spend that much money for tires I could use just once or twice each winter. Years ago, I read that it was possible to make your own studded tires using sheet metal screws and some old, worn-out tires as boots. Supposedly you could take a large diameter road tire, say a 32 or 35 mm, and put sheet metal screws through it from the inside. Then you booted the tire by removing the wire bead from two old tires, probably smaller ones than the studded tires. You cut away the wire bead and put the boot inside the studded tires to protect the inner tube from the screw heads. This would probably be easier to do with mountain bike tires, but I'm a dyed-in-the-wool roadie, and that's just the way I think. In fact, the Icebike page up above has instructions for these “roll your own” studded tires.

Truthfully, I'm skeptical about the idea. Screws are usually made of relatively soft steel. They'd wear very quickly if they encountered concrete or asphalt. So their use would be limited to hard-packed snow and ice. We don't get enough of that here in Oklahoma to justify making up a set of tires. But there's a wonderful street theater image in my head. Imagine a 'Mad Max' machine with long, pointy screws protruding from the tires, ridden by a black-clad cyclist, his black helmet atop a black balaclava. His eyes are covered with black goggles and icicles hang from his beard and mustache. Motorists would stare while stopped at red lights, open-mouthed at such a display of sheer lunacy!

That's why I find the whole idea so appealing.


Blogger Paul Tay said...

Go for it. Might as well entertain the cagers. Better than fightin' them.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Warren T said...

I've got the same dilemma up in K.C. , except we only got about two inches of solid ice topped with a half inch of power. It got me to thinking about the old tire chains my dad used to put on the car -- the kind that you laid out behind the tires and backed over them just enough to be able to hook the two ends together. I wonder if there is something someone industrious could come up with for those of us who would only need that solution a couple times a winter...

9:18 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Warren - over on the left side of that IceBike page there's this link:

Tire chains! Apparently some folks market and sell them, but cyclist ingenuity came up with some home-brew chains too.

Now, I wonder if I have a suitable wheelset out in the garage? Hmmmm.....

9:36 PM  
Blogger Daniel B. said...

You really have a poodle with a mohawk? Mr T would be proud. At least that could be assumed, anyway.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Coelecanth said...

Here in northish Canada it's fairly common for people to stud their own tyres. Your thought about the softness of screws is bang on. They'll last a single season at best. Mind you, a freshly done one is a fearsome thing to behold. They radiate malice in the same way dental tools and blender blades do.

I've used a mid-level Nokian for years and it helps. But the truth is the studs only give you a extra fraction of a second to get your foot down. If you pay attention and plan your line so you don't have to turn, slow, or change your velocity in any way you can ride across anything even on slicks. Which of course isn't an option when absolutely everything is covered in ice.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I liked those tires that were studded with sheet metal screws on Icebike! They had a true "Mad Max" look about them. And while we had that ice covering the ground here, I could have ridden anywhere - roads, sidewalks, trails, yards - it was all the same, hard sheet of ice. Even the Chevy didn't break through it. If the slick rock area of Moab is like that, I can understand the appeal.

9:23 PM  

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