Any suggestions for gravel bike winter tires? Is there anything else I ahould consider when winterizing a gravel bike? #suchanewb
What’s your definition of winter?
Excellent question Jonas!! Central Canada winter! Very cold (will drop to -30 Celsius). Lots of snow (think knee deep).
Writing this has made me question why I live here
I live in Norway at around 60 degrees north, and my experience is mostly down to -15-20C. Below that I don’t ride)
In terms of tires (availability may vary in Canada, of course):
- budget version is schwalbe marathon winter (schwalbe has some more models too). Good for commutes, ok grip on hardpacked snow and some light ice. Heavy, a real PITA to get on, but reliable and good lifespan on the spikes.
- Nokian/Suomi routa. Rubeless ready (if you want to go that way. In that case, get tubeless sealant that won’t freeze in those temps). Not tried myself, but heard good things about them. Mid-price
- Top-shelf: 45nrth gravdal. So, so good. Supple carcass, sharp spikes, good threads. But so so expensive.
- Fenders. Especially for late autumn and early spring when there is snow melt and slush. You do not want that splashing up your back side. Snow from the rear tire can also get you really cold down there. I got the SKS speed rocker recently (for bikes without fender mounting points) and I am super happy with them.
- For really cold riding: bar mitts, especially if you suffer from cold hands as I do.
- Proper water (or at least weather) proof insulated shoes without an opening from the cleats into the shoes. Cold and wetness travel that way. Use duct tape if you have to, but plug that hole. Buy one size larger than normal with room for thick wool socks and some room for air.
- If commuting in slush especially if road salt is used, try to plug holes in bottom bracket area of the bike. Salt will get in there and rust the bottom bracket and crank. Also, rinse drivetrain almost daily when riding on salted roads.
- In general, do regular (and frequent) maintenance, again especially in salted conditions. Keep chain lubed and clean, check brakes, grease bolts especially on brake callipers etc.
I prefer wool inner layer, and windproof outer layers in the winter and the gear mentioned above. Get a nice windproof cap/beanie and buffs (also wool when really cold) to insulate the neck area.
In general, 45nrth has excellent cold weather gear, but is very expensive.
I’m upvoting the Bar mitts
As a Canadian, I believe cold is a gear problem.
I would use those if i was to ride outside during real winters. Fortunately, I moved south so I don’t need them and I cannot recommend a model.
Proper clothing is probably the number one to make those cold rides enjoyable. Couple of notes:
- Windchill is the biggest factor that drains your body heat so use windproof fabrics.
- Cover any exposed skin. Exposed areas will develop frostbites quickly even if you are perfectly warm otherwise (neck, cheeks, forehead)
- Add extra warmth to your crotch area. You don’t want to risk damaging your genitals, trust me. I use softshell shorts over my bibtights.
- Toes and fingers tend to get cold (although this is highly personal). Good overshoes and bar mitts are way to go.
I use my old xc-hardtail for winter riding becouse I want to have knobby (studded) tires to help to deal with soft snow. Ice over tarmac isn’t a problem with narrower tires but soft, fresh snow makes riding more challenging. Also, multiple freeze-melt cycles develop uneven terrain which makes a shaky ride. High volume tires and suspension fork helps to soften the ride.
I cannot thank you all enough!! This intel is golden!
The hardest thing about winter riding to get right is clothing. Don’t want to be cold, but equally, don’t want to get too hot - because then you’ll sweat, and the chills with soon follow.
Pogies for your hands are key. And a good set of winter boots. I have the wolf hammers from 45NRTH. Good down to about zero F.
Adjusting your level of clothing mid ride is an ongoing learning process. Target to be very slightly chilled so you don’t sweat. Hard balance to get right.
Heated socks would help on long very cold rides.
I got some last year for DH skiing after a case of toes frostbite with just normal skiboots.
The cheap version is to use hot pockets and these boot gloves: They make a difference and would work on winter boot.
Btw I now use both boot gloves and the heated socks.