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Dutch Bike Co Weblog

Dutch Bike Co Weblog

A More Professional Solution

Vincent Spina - Thursday, December 09, 2010

I’ll admit it.  I’m a little jealous that Seattle gets a Snowpocalypse before Chicago does.  I take pride in my city’s brutal winters.  So now that Seattle has had its fun it’s finally Chicago’s turn to play in the snow.  And while Fritz may happily snip zip ties off his bike now that things are back to normal over there I’ve got three inches of snow on the ground and more on the way.  In a matter of days the plows will shove all the snow in the valuable lanes of pavement I like to ride in, and soon after that all that snow will be compacted into something far more slippery than snow.  So, sure, Seattle gets “battered” once or twice every year, but what about real winter? 

What about many sub zero days, lots of scorching cold winds, the possibility of frost bite, snow, ice, more snow, more ice, and the inevitable lake effect misery that is the reality for all us crazy Midwestern winter riders?  What good is a bike commute if every time I swerve to avoid a collapsed catch basin or perilous pot hole, I lose traction and end up a pile of painful person underneath my bike?   Anyone who has attempted to ride down the lakeshore path will know what it’s like to see the sheen of a vast expanse of ice ahead.  When I was younger and I rode my 1977 Trek TX550 through such conditions, I just barreled through and braced for what I knew was going to be a couple of very uncomfortable moments.  But that was back when I trusted my patellae wouldn’t shatter upon impact, before I had any sort of thoughts that some injuries are more than just annoying to walk away from and some pain is too great to ignore. 

Anyway, what do we do about the dangers of an entire winter of ice and snow?

The Answer is studded tires.

These are the Schwalbe Marathon Winters I like to use.  (and that’s Chris in the background)

These things are great.  Greater, I might argue, than the zip tie snow chains.  And I might argue this because, well, I’m a bit too classy to be uglifying my stately Dutch bike with silly little zip ties.  (Kudos to you, Fritz, for choosing such a bright and safe color for your snow chains.  Safety first!) Seriously though, if you plan on riding through an entire winter, the studs will save you just when you need saving.

Remember when Fritz boasted of his uncanny placement of the zip ties so that they bit into the ice while cornering?  That’s the whole idea behind the placement of the carbide studs in the Schwalbe Marathon Winters.  The studs are arranged so that when running at full pressure your tires will primarily be making contact with the road right in the middle, on the rubber.  When you start cornering, the studs will do their job.  Of course, when the roads do get totally nasty, and the ice and hard pack snow is everywhere, you might just want to lower the pressure and let the carbide studs do their thing all the time.  With the increases contact area of a soft tire, the studs give you way more traction. 

With 240 metal studs on 700cc tire I feel secure on my ride no matter what I roll over, I’ll keep my wheels underneath me.   They also have the Schwalbe standard reflective strip on the side wall which makes me feel not only bijster (very) European but also bijster visible. 

It’s true. You will sound like a swarm of bees when pedaling along dry clean pavement.  But the advantage when you need it is well worth the noise.  And when you arrive to work, or the bar, or back home again all in one piece, everyone will be very happy to see you.  

We’ve got the tires in stock now, and we’ll get just about any size you need.  Heck, I’ll even put them on free of charge.  That’s how much I care about your safety.

Ms. Ding commented on 09-Dec-2010 06:38 PM
Glad you finally got around to getting those tires on Vince! We don't want you to fall and get hurt. Nice close-up picture of the carbide studs by the way.

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