View Full Version : winter tires for my little road bike

12-08-2003, 09:40 AM
hey all. i'm trying to get back on my bike after a month off. (i do love the biking, but commuting mixes the joy of biking with the ick of rush hour and the ugh of hauling myself in to work. it's an odd feeling: "yes!! i'm on my bike-- wind in my hair, legs working like mad, heart pumping... But the faster i pedal the sooner i'm at work:( ")

so, up here in the deep arctic of toronto;) the snow is soon going to become a concern. (please don't mock the torontonian-- i know many of you are waist deep already!) . i asked my lbs about winter tires and took my bike in. (it's a louis garneau 2.1 --extra small apparently--i'm 5'1" when i hold my breath.) i was very excited, as one of the shop guys showed me semi-slicks as an option if i was planning to ride through winter. (this after they took back my first bike because i got four flats in a week with the skinny tires that came with that bike -- 650s apparently.) when i called on sunday to check on my baby (my two-wheeled baby) i was told that semi-slick (ar anything else for that matter) won't fit under my brake system, and neither will fenders (unless i do the half a pop-bottle thing). my tires originally came with 700x23 (i think) and they upgraded to 700x28 to solve the flat problem. the shop guy also said that biking with only slicks in thewinter is not a problem-- in fact he prefers it because the snow doesn't get caught in the knobby bits.

so i guess i have a bunch of questions about this:
--is this a common problem with road bikes? (no room under the brakes, i mean) or is it just bacause it's an xsmall? (i suspect they are feeding me b.s., especilly after the old thread i read while looking for an answer in the old posts-- it was entitled 'lies bike shops tell you'. my lbs is a chain store:eek:
--is riding on the street on slicks as bad as i make it out to be? i picture myself sliding everywhere. could i get along without fenders too? i wouldn't ride with too much snow on the ground -maybe 1/2 at most. and they clear the streets pretty quickly too.
--he mentoned studded tires and i didn't follow up on it because i was p.o.'ed. would studded tires fit? do they make studded tires this small?

thanks for the help, ladies, i really appreciate it. damn the man!! especially the condescending bike shop man who sold me the @#$% unsuitable bike in the first place!! :D

12-08-2003, 12:31 PM
Errrr, first I think we need to clarify some terminology here.

700c and 650c refer to WHEEL (or rim) size(diameter), not tire width. 700c is the most common for road bikes, although you will see 650s on smaller (women's) bikes and some tri-specific bikes. Wheel size has nothing to do with flats.

Tires come sized for both 700 and 650 wheels, in a range of widths. It sounds like your bike shop switched your standard(for road bikes) 23's (that number referes to width) for some wider, beefier 28s. 700X28s are great tires for touring, tandems and hybrids, so you should be able to find a fairly wide selection. Personally, I don't think that tire width (or narrowness) causes flats either. Usually when a rider comes in with "terminal flat-tire-itis" it is due to tires being run at too-low pressure.

As far as fitting tires in your bike frame...I do see certain frames (of all sizes) that will only accept certain tire-sizes. Without seeing your bike, it seems to me that your bike already has pretty good clearance if you were able to stuff 28s in there! I *think* (and I could be wrong) is that your bike shop is saying you won't be able to stuff 28s with slight knobs or tread (aka "semislicks") in your frame. So here is the tricky part...finding 700c tires in a narrower size with knobs/tread. Most 700X23 (or 700X25) are slick road tires.

The fender clearance issue a whole new can of worms......

So while I was typing this I started to think that perhaps the easiest, best, solution for you would be to start looking for a winter beater/commuter. An old mtb would be ideal and it will save your nice road bike from getting destroyed (it's steel if I'm not mistaken) by the water and salt on the road.

Sorry, I couldn't be of more help :( ...check out icebike (http://users.rcn.com/icebike/) for more winter riding/commuting advice.

12-09-2003, 07:12 AM
yes, i probably gave the impression i know less than i do--don't get me wrong, i don't know much. but when i got the newer bike with 700s in june, i had only been on the bike for about a month, so i knew even less than i do now. all i can remember is that they were 650s. i think we upgraded to 700s because they were: 1) more readily available (the shop didn't even stock 650s); 2) available in more widths; 3) more suitable for what i was doing. i had a pinch flat on both tires at the same time because of a sewer grate i had to bike over (rather than swerve into a bus). the theory was that wider tires wouldn't have slid into the grate, which is how the @#$% flats happened. i had four flats in a month with the skinny 650s. in the four months with the 700x28s i had no flats.

the shop guy also said to get a beater bike for winter. but soon i'll be upgrading from my current bike anyway-- so my current road bike which should eventually become my old beater bike won't be suitable for winter. erg! this can be a very expensive activity, especially the first year. -- good thing i love it :D

I *think* (and I could be wrong) is that your bike shop is saying you won't be able to stuff 28s with slight knobs or tread (aka "semislicks") in your frame.

yeah, that's what they meant. i don't explain vey well-- not enough knowledge. after further research on-line, i find skinny tires are okay for loose snow. packed snow is better with knobby ties. who knew?:) thanks, pedalfaster. all replies are helpful for the newbies :D

12-13-2003, 03:30 PM
I've run Continentals for the last ten years. A little pricey, but worth it. A few months ago, got some new ones - the sidewall says "duraskin - max grip silica" & they're supposed to be good for wet weather. They're the best tires I've ever owned. I easily have 700 miles on them & the little rubber strip in the middle of a new tire (does it even have a name?) hasn't worn off the front tire!

They aren't knobbies, but they do have a tread pattern. I road over some icy bridges this morning - no problem. I can't tell you about snow :D - isn't that that white stuff that falls from the sky in the winter? I've seen it on TV....

12-16-2003, 09:48 AM
OK, I'll preface this by saying I think all people who ride outside in the wintertime are crazy ;) No, really- I think they're crazy! ;) It's not my thing at all--I'd rather do spin class 10 times in one day than go out in the snow and ice, but to each their own...with that said, I should also say that I am a novice when it comes to most things bike...However, I will also say that my friend who is not a novice will ride anytime it is above 10 degrees, and he'd never do it without his cyclocross bike or mountain bike. I know cyclocross tires range from about 28-32s, and I'm guessing the bigger the better traction in deep snow, but 28s might be fine if you were just dealing with wet weather. I've also heard people in different discussions give a big thumbs up to mountain bikes in the snow. As a matter of fact when it's cold out, it's no benefit to be speeding along and making it even colder. I don't know the other differences between road and cyclocross bikes (something doing with brakes and clearance?) and if they'd be of benefit in snowy riding. Anyway, maybe someone out there knows... It gets very snowy and slushy here in Minnesota in the wintertime (so I'm not coming from the perspective of just a little ice or a few snowflakes) especially on the shoulders of the roads (where you'd probably be riding), and i would think quite dangerous if you weren't prepared. I guess I'd be the one to go with a beater bike as well, as the crap they put on the streets here couldn't possibly be good for your bike (and who want's to wash their bike everytime you ride when it's 10 degrees out?!) and you might be able to get larger width tires which might lend themselves to safety-- and I guess that's what I'd look at first-- safety! And i guess that what's safe for you all depends on the climate and amount of snow where you are... good luck you crazy outdoor winter rider ;)