How to Cycle on Snow and Ice

cycling in snow
Cycling in Snow photo by Copenhagen Cycle Chic

People often think you’re crazy to even consider cycling in the ice and snow.

They see cars skidding, and pedestrians falling over, and assume that a bike is just as dangerous. But if you’re prepared for the weather, then there’s no need to leave the bike at home.

Cycling in the snow is relatively easy and can be a lot of fun. Newly fallen snow is not, in itself, very slippery – but to ensure you get a good grip, you need to change from slick to nobly tyres. You need to have as much tread as possible to maintain your grip, and so you might want to think about leaving your road bike at home and using your mountain bike instead (or just swap the tires on your bike). Also lower the pressure in the tyres a bit, so that more of the tyre is in contact with the ground, as this will help with the grip.

Cycling on ice is another matter entirely, and at temperatures hovering around freezing point, fallen snow can quickly melt and re-freeze as slush and ice. Nobly tires alone will not help you against ice – for that you need specialist winter tyres with studs on them – something like the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tyres. These will give modest grip on icy ground, and enable you to keep riding. You’ll need to be careful, particularly when going around corners, but the grip is pretty good – and the tires will also work on cleared roads too.

The other thing to remember, of course, is to keep warm and dress in layers (so that’s it’s easier to regulate your temperature). Also have a good waterproof top layer, because, even if it’s not snowing when you’re on the bike, there’ll probably be a lot of spray from the roads.

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog

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