cycling in winter conditions - a thought

Discussion in 'General Cycling' started by Adam Lea, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. Adam Lea

    Adam Lea Guest

    Had a random thought earlier this week thinking about last December's
    fun and games in the snow.

    I found that cycling in icy and snowy conditions scary much of the time
    as I was constantly thinking of the consequences of a fall and was
    hearing of people who had fallen on ice and were off the bike for weeks
    on end. I was wondering whether it would be theoretically possible to
    attach stabilizers onto the rear axle, like on a childs bike, for use in
    icy conditions to greatly reduce the chances of a nasty fall. Thought it
    might be a cheap alternative to a recumbent trike :)

    Would this work in theory?
    Adam Lea, Sep 14, 2011
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  2. Adam Lea

    Tosspot Guest

    Tried, tested and recommended. But if you *want* to look like an 8 year
    old... :)
    Tosspot, Sep 15, 2011
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  3. Adam Lea

    Phil W Lee Guest

    Not as well as studded tyres.
    Phil W Lee, Sep 15, 2011
  4. Adam Lea

    Peter Clinch Guest

    Up to a point, Lord Copper.

    As anyone who's ridden a trike since they learned to buy a bike
    will have found, steering on bikes and trikes works /very/
    differently. With a bike most of it's leaning, but (exotic
    lean-to-steers excepted) trikes are steered purely through the
    'bars, and it is thus actually quite hard for bike riders to ride
    trikes without a bit of practice. And a stabilised bike has
    similar issues (one reason why stabilisers are increasingly
    deprecated as a good way to learn to ride a bike).

    So the likely result is that rather than fall off through slipping
    on the ice you have the far more comedic accident potential of
    simply failing to take the bends at all, or (as I did on my first
    go on a 'bent trike) just drift inexorably down camber into the
    kerb and crash...

    Peter Clinch, Sep 15, 2011
  5. Adam Lea

    Simon Mason Guest

    I cycled all through last December and used normal road tyres, but I
    had to stick to treated roads. Average speed was reduced by about
    half, so had to allow about twice as much time for the commute. As
    long as I kept upright and made no silly turns, I managed OK, more or
    less. It was definitely the toughest winter I have had to handle
    Simon Mason, Sep 15, 2011
  6. Adam Lea

    Ian Jackson Guest

    I don't think that would work at all. Stabilisers mean that you have
    to cycle so slowly that the natural lean angle for a curve is within
    the range permitted by the stabilisers. The range permitted by the
    stabilisers needs to be very narrow because the horizontal wheelbase
    is narrow and the whole centre of mass needs to stay well within it
    (or the stabilisers won't be able to stop a fall and are pointless).

    I agree with everyone who's recommending studded tyres.
    Ian Jackson, Sep 15, 2011
  7. Adam Lea

    Tim Downie Guest

    +1. Did exactly as you did when having a go on an adult trike. Rolled down
    the camber inexorably into the verge, leaning over like mad trying to make
    it go the right way.

    Tim Downie, Sep 15, 2011
  8. Adam Lea

    Paul - xxx Guest

    I doubt it.

    I'd guess that you'd still need studded or grippy tyres as you're
    asking them to turn and grip rather than just lean over to get round a
    corner. I suspect stabilisers might even make you fall more heavily
    than without, you'll go over them rather than simply sliding off .. ;)
    Paul - xxx, Sep 15, 2011
  9. Adam Lea

    kimble Guest

    Hmm, not having ridden one for quite a while, I assume a bike with
    stabilisers switches between bike-handling and trike-handling according
    to whether the stabilisers touch the ground. No wonder they're a work
    of Stan.

    To the OP: In the absence of a recumbent trike (which really are a
    completely different badger to uprights in terms of stability and
    control) I suggest that your efforts would be better spent on studded
    tyres and/or additional protective clothing.

    kimble, Sep 15, 2011
  10. You can solve that by scaling up the stabilizers and wheels. Then you have
    the problem that the original wheel loses traction when the weight is on
    the stabilisers, which you can solve by removing the original wheel and
    making (at least one of) the stabilizer wheels driven :)

    DIY version:

    That leaves only the problems that (as other people have said) tricycle
    steering can be difficult for someone used to the feel of a bicycle, and
    that it's not really a cheap alternative. I did see a tricycle conversion
    on eBay not long ago for less than I've ever seen recumbent trikes though.
    Alan Braggins, Sep 15, 2011
  11. Adam Lea

    Tim Downie Guest

    I've ridden a 20" wheel shopper all through an Aberdeen winter on treated
    and untreated roads. Whilst it's trickier, it's usually not impossible. I'd
    say take your time, take care and/or try the studded tyres.

    Tim Downie, Sep 15, 2011
  12. Adam Lea

    thirty-six Guest

    I used them as a child, my experience with them could have led me to
    believe that protective headgear is suitable attire for regular
    cyclng. Make sure your hips are well padded, lower your saddle and
    use wellies. This is not really a time to be clipped in. Get your
    foot down early like a speedway rider or go slower.
    thirty-six, Sep 15, 2011
  13. Adam Lea

    Ben C Guest

    I don't see why not, but it is treating the symptom rather than the

    How about some of these things:

    Not the antilock brakes, but those stabilizer things.
    Ben C, Sep 15, 2011
  14. Adam Lea

    Adam Lea Guest

    Thanks everyone for your opinions.

    I do have studded tyres (Marathon Winters) and used them last December
    but I found that at best they made cycling barely possible rather than
    totally impossible, I still had to get off and walk plenty of times and
    the bike was still squirming around often, even with the tyre pressure
    reduced. I was just trying to think of a quick cheap addition which may
    help, but given what people have said so far it probably wouldn't.

    The only other thing I can think of is clothing to protect in the event
    of a fall - would a leather jacket work here? Elbow pads?
    Adam Lea, Sep 15, 2011
  15. Adam Lea

    Tosspot Guest

    Actually, for winter work, I've often wondered if a light armoured
    motorcycle jacket would do a reasonable job.


    Even the light stuff is heavy in a cycling sense, they are cut for
    riding, long arms, low back, and the armour fits in them. Have a peruse
    of the Hein-Gericke site and see what else. Summer touring jackets
    would be the order of the day.

    Fwiw, I wear leather motorbike gloves in the winter for all the above
    reasons. Heavy duty, thick, warm, already cut for gripping handlebars etc.
    Tosspot, Sep 16, 2011
  16. Adam Lea

    Simon Mason Guest

    Far too heavy.
    Even below 0 deg C, once you get warmed up you find that you may need
    to take off your hat and maybe open your jacket zip to shed heat.
    Wearing a leather jacket would leave you sweaty and uncomfortable - I
    use a Castelli Radiation jacket that has a removable foil space
    blanket inner.
    Simon Mason, Sep 16, 2011
  17. Adam Lea

    Rob Morley Guest

    MTB body armour, hip pads being top of my list because I know from
    experience how easy hips are to break, followed by wrist (ditto, but
    not such a big deal), also shoulder, elbow and knee, not sure what
    order they come in.
    Rob Morley, Sep 16, 2011
  18. Adam Lea

    Phil W Lee Guest

    The only problem with motorcycle kit is that it is designed to be worn
    while sitting still in a 70mph gale, not for vigorous exercise in a
    12mph breeze.
    This tends to mean that even using summer motorcycling kit for winter
    cycling leads to "boil in the bag" syndrome.
    Phil W Lee, Sep 16, 2011
  19. If he's having to get off and walk plenty of times, maybe he's not
    going to get that warmed up.
    Alan Braggins, Sep 16, 2011
  20. Adam Lea

    Simon Mason Guest

    Except in the ambulance ;-)
    Simon Mason, Sep 16, 2011
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