Friday, January 21, 2022

What Model of Studded Tires are the Best?

Last winter I used the 1.75" studded tires on the right and fell in love with snow travel on plowed bike paths. There was adequate traction except when rolling through deep slush. The tires had sat unused for many years, but once purchased for our son's middle school commutes. A couple months ago he reclaimed the tires to use for cold weather transportation. No problem, I thought, I'll just get new ones for myself!

Buoyed by Schwalbe's reputation and my own experience with their tires, I figured I couldn't go wrong with their Marathon Winter Plus model (left in above photo), also available in 1.75". Ideally I'd prefer wider tires, but fender clearance would then be an issue. The new tires seemed to work well until maneuvering through an inch of snow. The front has purchase but the rear tire frequently fishtails as I struggle to move forward, keeping momentum. I could ride my son's full suspension bike, equipped with the previous studs for comparison (brand unavailable), but his bicycle would obviously feel quite different.

The primary difference, visually, is his tires sport a deeper tread. Does that alone provide more purchase? Or does tread pattern? Air pressure? Does the weight of a bike also matter? I'm sure there are a lot of factors at play, but I only mention this because there are a wealth of studded tire options. Had I done better research, at the very least, I would've investigated another Schwalbe offering - the Ice Spiker Pro.

Using any model of studded tires for winter riding is better than none at all. I may experiment with air pressure. Next time I'm in the market for new winter tires, I'll make an informed choice. Enjoy January's sunshine and lengthening daylight. Dress for the weather and get out there!

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Ideas for 2022

While plans could change in an instant, I expect 2022 to be similar to 2021, so it's important to roll with whatever situation arises. But that doesn't mean we'll be stagnant. On the contrary, there are plenty of ideas to be creative, get outdoors, and ride!

I have a few fun bike projects on the agenda, focusing on further fine-tuning bike setups and go on more bike overnights, whether close to home or planning mini-vacations. Amtrak is set to roll into Burlington sometime in 2022, so close proximity for a one-way adventure is always a possibility!

  • Replace rear panniers on my commuter bike. I appreciate smaller panniers for shorter rides, reserving large capacity bags for touring. While the Delta panniers have held up well for low-cost storage  for 10+ years, they're falling apart. I'm interested in trying Vincita's economical roll top version. The bags are offered in a variety of colors and include a rain cover.
  • My goal with my folding bikes is figuring out a solution to carry additional gear on the handle post. I'm limited to bags attached in this manner (without a frame block), so I'll need to pay attention to upfront weight. I'm considering a bag with Klickfix handle post adapter setup in addition to my purple bag. At present, I'm interested in the thoughtfully designed Head Tube Bag by Downtube Nova. As a fallback, there's always the option to carry a small backpack. For rear loads, I'm attracted to Downtube Nova's low cost rear Coconut Bag with foldout pockets. While I currently use the retrofitted sling bag converted panniers, the trunk bag may offer larger capacity at a nominal cost plus consolidate rear bags into a one piece design.
  • Replace handle bar on Trek Marlin 7 for more comfort. I plan to swap the straight handle bar with an ergonomically friendly version. I was initially interested in the Tumbleweed Persuader, Soma's Odin and Dream Riser. I'm currently leaning toward Ritchey's Kyote. The Kyote seems like the sweet spot between comfort, affordability, and correct width. In addition to a more enjoyable hand position, my son has already purchased a beefier front tire for me so I'll be shredding mountain bike trails with more traction and comfort in 2022.
  • I hope to commute to work part-time at some point if our current health situation improves. I'm looking forward to pedaling to an office again!
  • We're attending a wedding on Cape Cod in June, where I hope to spend a few extra vacation days to enjoy riding on trails to more Atlantic beaches.
  • I have a new camping stove, which makes me want to expand my local overnight camping horizons. It would also be an opportunity to test the new setup on the Dahon.
  • And, quite the opposite, I'm also dreaming of riding to a cabin or hotel for an easy, pampered overnight experience. That would be a fun, novel adventure for my husband and me!