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  1. #1
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    cold, slow tires

    Why does it feel so much slower riding in the cold?
    Iíve heard a few different theories on this, but Iím curious to see what people think.
    If youíve ever ridden bellow 0 and colder you can probably relate with the fact that a bike rolls much slower even with winterized bearings.
    Talking to riders in Fairbanks there seems to be a consensus that certain tires are less affected by this phenomenon.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbasinger
    Why does it feel so much slower riding in the cold?
    Iíve heard a few different theories on this, but Iím curious to see what people think.
    If youíve ever ridden bellow 0 and colder you can probably relate with the fact that a bike rolls much slower even with winterized bearings.
    Talking to riders in Fairbanks there seems to be a consensus that certain tires are less affected by this phenomenon.
    I think it's a combination of lotsa things. Additional clothes create more wind drag, but they also require more effort to move your legs round 'n round inside of them.

    Have you winterized all of your bearings? Leave your bike out on your palatial porch all night, then check to see how well your BB spins in the minus temps at/near dawn. And what about your der pulleys?

    We all know that fresh snow requires more effort to plow through. But hardpack can be abysmally slow too, all you need is a warm day followed by a cold, clear night and the hoar frost grows up out it and slows us all waaaay down. The bigger the temp differential from day to night, the bigger the flakes grow, and the slower we all go. Ever notice that certain snow conditions are louder under your tires than others? The louder it is, the more resistance you're fighting. Not talking about the sub-crust echo--that's different.

    Certain tires definitely roll faster than others on snow, but if float is being considered then not too many of us are gonna give up the fatties we're currently riding--riding slow tires is almost always faster than pushing fast ones.

    There will always be factors that we're not accounting for that are contributing to slowing us down. Cool, huh?

    MC

  3. #3
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    long shot in the dark

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the rubber? Maybe,when it's really cold,the rubber compound some tires are constructed from loses it's ability to "rebound". The sharpness in the boing,spring or bounce to help propel you foward is muted and makes you slower. Fairbanks riders say some tires roll faster than others in sub zero temps. Maybe it's the rubber of the "faster" tires that is making the difference. It doesn't seem like much,but think about how much just a few little knobs in the wrong place on a tire makes such a huge difference in the rolling ability of some tires.


    akdeluxe
    "Trust me,you don't want a big baby."

    JT

  4. #4
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    reference on rolling resistance of tires

    this article is not about snow, but shows that rolling resistance of tires increases as temperature drops.

    http://www.recumbents.com/MARS/pages...other/Crr.html

  5. #5
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    Below is a posting sent today to the Icebike Mailing List. I was wearing the same thing below the waist that I've been wearing at -25F the last week. The trails have been fast and hard and I've been buzzing around in mid ring 4-6 gear, 9 speed. I think the difference was the icy, fine snow we've been getting. BB has light lube as do the wheels. The snow today made the usual ripping cardboard type sound but much louder. Here's the post with a photo link at bottom. t

    Went out for a chilly 2 plus hour ride today and got my butt kicked. It was -40F or so at the start of the ride and probably warmed to -35F or so by the end. It's been a few days since last riding the Love Rd. trails and we've had an inch or two of snow which I never even thought about. Well once on a main trail following dogteam tracks (-40F 1-14-08, photo), it seemed like hard going. Once I hit unbroken trail I couldn't believe how hard it was pushing through not much more than an inch of new snow. I slogged on until the turnaround point of a loop and was so pooped I almost backtracked but decided to make the loop. Can't remember being so tired, on level trail I got off and walked 2-3 times for a couple of minutes just to have a break. All I can figure is the nature of the recent snow. It's been like minute ice crystals falling in temps of -25F to -40F and has a grainy almost sand-like quality. It sure felt like I was riding in sand today. I was in middle ring up front and 2nd gear for this ride, refused to grab the little ring up front but was tempted. I try to ride slower at colder temps but even going slow I was sucking air and had something happen for the first time in 38 years of Alaska winter experience; my tongue got cold due to breathing hard. Couldn't breath well through my nose because of ice and snot which flows freely at temps below -30F. Had to tuck the front of my tongue behind my lower front teeth. A loop which takes 40 minutes with good conditions took me a little over 2 hours; man I was whipped.

    Was so glad to get back to the trailhead and have the car start right up. Took (-40F face 1-14-08) at the trailhead. You can just see the frost on my eyelashes which added out of focus spots bordering my field of vision for the whole ride. t

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbasinger
    Why does it feel so much slower riding in the cold?
    Iíve heard a few different theories on this, but Iím curious to see what people think.
    If youíve ever ridden bellow 0 and colder you can probably relate with the fact that a bike rolls much slower even with winterized bearings.
    Talking to riders in Fairbanks there seems to be a consensus that certain tires are less affected by this phenomenon.

    I think the key word is "feel". Are you sure that the riding really is slower. Or does it just feel slower. It could just all be in your head. After all half the game is 90% mental.

    So many things on the bike feel slower and just because they are uncomfortable. Could that be it?

    If I had to guess I would think that higher TPI tires do better in the cold, rubber gets hard in the cold, higher thread count = less rubber.

    In the end though I'd like to see some numbers on back to back rides on the same terrain. It just seems like this is the sort of thing that we all believe but is not real outside of the rider's mind.

    Adam
    I wanna say I'm sorry for stuff I haven't done yet, things will shortly get completely out of hand --T.M.G.

  7. #7
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    Kind of a hijack here - sorry - but how do I get Mag 1 into the TruVativ giga pipe BB bearings? My first ride at +5 that thing was pretty much frozen solid so I soaked it in kerosene. Now it spins OK at cold temps, but most/all of the grease is gone. I don't really want to destroy the dust seals and I'm not sure how to get to the 2 bearings that are inside the casing anyway.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam
    I think the key word is "feel". Are you sure that the riding really is slower. Or does it just feel slower. It could just all be in your head. After all half the game is 90% mental.

    So many things on the bike feel slower and just because they are uncomfortable. Could that be it?

    If I had to guess I would think that higher TPI tires do better in the cold, rubber gets hard in the cold, higher thread count = less rubber.

    In the end though I'd like to see some numbers on back to back rides on the same terrain. It just seems like this is the sort of thing that we all believe but is not real outside of the rider's mind.

    Adam
    One thing that hasn't been mentioned is whether the extreme slowness is on NEW cold snow, or OLD cold and packed snow. In the ski world, new cold snow is always the slowest-the sharp crystals create tons of friction. Of course, skis are gliding over the snow and the friction is different than tires rolling over it, but I would guess that it would be faster if it has been "worked" by any means, be it foot, snowmachine or even bikes. Maybe we should have Pete "ride in" all our new snow before we go out. One of the reasons that leads me to this is that a freeze/thaw cycle which we see regularly always helps. During this cycle the sharp edges are lost. It would take more than just one or two snowmachines passing over new snow to work it well enough to where we could feel the difference. Anyway, that's my theory, but it still doesn't account for the different speeds of natural versus synthetic rubber tires.
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by timroz
    Kind of a hijack here - sorry - but how do I get Mag 1 into the TruVativ giga pipe BB bearings? My first ride at +5 that thing was pretty much frozen solid so I soaked it in kerosene. Now it spins OK at cold temps, but most/all of the grease is gone. I don't really want to destroy the dust seals and I'm not sure how to get to the 2 bearings that are inside the casing anyway.
    I don't get it... How are your bearings freezing solid at only -15 C? Unless you had moisture in there or something and ice formed?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthony.delorenzo
    I don't get it... How are your bearings freezing solid at only -15 C? Unless you had moisture in there or something and ice formed?
    Yeah - that was a bit of embellishment. Not solid, but very, very stiff. And that was right out of the box. Maybe they just use heavy grease.

  11. #11
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    Good luck with that...

    Quote Originally Posted by timroz
    Kind of a hijack here - sorry - but how do I get Mag 1 into the TruVativ giga pipe BB bearings? My first ride at +5 that thing was pretty much frozen solid so I soaked it in kerosene. Now it spins OK at cold temps, but most/all of the grease is gone. I don't really want to destroy the dust seals and I'm not sure how to get to the 2 bearings that are inside the casing anyway.
    That thing is not really designed to be user-servicable. You can usually get the press-fit cups off over the two outer cartridge bearings and carefully use a needle/dentist -type pick to pry the dust seals off, then clean and relube. I may be wrong, but I don't think you can get at the two inner bearings without destroying something.

    The Phil Wood 100 X 145 square taper bb is a lot more user servicable but you'd need to find a set of square taper cranks to go with it. Plus it has larger ball bearings then the Isis bottom brackets so will last longer and spin easier.

    Back to the thread: Cold air is denser, so more air resistance? Probably not a huge factor, but it all adds up.
    Owner, Trailwerx Trails Contracting
    Palmer, Alaska
    www.trailwerx.com

  12. #12
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    Just because it's in my head, does not mean that it's not real.

  13. #13
    Caveman
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    All of the above!
    Hoar frost crystals, resistance from tire rubber deforming, bad grease, cold air, head games, physiciological aspects of exercise in cold weather.. the list goes on.
    There is this rule of thumb in construction that for every degree of temperature below 60 degrees, productivity goes down 1%... maybe thats applicable to biking as well since at 40 below everything pretty much halts. except for Pete, Jeff, Mike, Pat, Carl ummmmm and all the commuters in Fairbanks and and. ok point made I think

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam
    I think the key word is "feel". Are you sure that the riding really is slower. Or does it just feel slower. It could just all be in your head. After all half the game is 90% mental.



    Adam
    Does this mean that the whole game is 45% mental?

  15. #15
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    I had an opportunity for a reasonably rigorous comparison over the last two days. Tuesday, it was -22 C when I rode to work. (-7 F). Today it was 0 C (32 F). Same bike, tires, pressure, rider. Same amount of snow on the roads.

    It was noticeably faster riding to work this morning. I was definitely turning my gear faster and with a lower amount of effort. I don't think it is mental.

    I can't explain why, however. Frozen tires might be part of it.I wonder if the snow temps make a difference? I know that it would be a blazing fast difference between the two days on xc skis. Does the same effect happen with bike tires, less friction means you go faster? I'm riding studs so this might not be a factor at all.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by timroz
    Yeah - that was a bit of embellishment. Not solid, but very, very stiff. And that was right out of the box. Maybe they just use heavy grease.
    Could be... I'm running Truvativ GXP on my mountain bike and I don't notice any stiffness in the winter. Of course, I've never really thought about it. Maybe it is stiff and I'm just ignoring the fact. I pretty much expect to go slower in the winter.

    Regards,
    Anthony

  17. #17
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    The density of air increases lineraly as the absolute temperature falls

    So the ratio of densitys at -20 C compared to +20 C is (273+20)/(273-20) =115%

    The energy required to push through cold air is 15% greater at -20 C than at +20 C.

    This is without any increase for clothing,

    No pretend that you are pushing a 20 km/h cold head wind ouch.

    I keep my tires at a higher pressure in the winter, if I am on hard surfaces, to help them go faster. as well.

    Winter is definately slowing my cummute time will increase by 20% when it gets real cold.

  18. #18
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    I don't really notice a difference until the temp gets below -35F. After that everything seems to start changing and even with hard pack trail, properly lubed wheels and bb, it just gets harder to pedal. At temps of -40F and colder it really changes, I don't think this is a matter of perception. t

  19. #19
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    I was riding around today in the -35 to -40 range. I could barely pedal, the tires felt like they were glued to the ground. I was riding my beater fixie with 35 mm Hakka 106's on it. The bike is stored outside, I wonder if cold grease has anything to do with it or just the tires...

  20. #20
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    I think its definitely a combination of many small factors, denser air, colder grease, cold muscles, more clothing and so on. The question for me was what if any is the big factor. Iíve heard the explanation of the colder tires requiring more energy to deform and wondered if that was a bigger part of the added effort to ride in the colder temps. The Endomorph tires are the best thing going currently, but there is still lots of room for improvement. Maybe a flatter profile, some more edge knobs and just better overall construction. If there was a clear advantage to going to a different rubber compound or thread count or whatever to improve their performance in the cold it might be worth exploring.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbasinger
    The Endomorph tires are the best thing going currently, but there is still lots of room for improvement. Maybe a flatter profile, some more edge knobs and just better overall construction. If there was a clear advantage to going to a different rubber compound or thread count or whatever to improve their performance in the cold it might be worth exploring.
    Without Endomorphs, I wouldn't be able to ride my local trails in the winter and probably wouldn't be heading to AK this Feb to join in the fun at Su100 so I am greatful that Surly makes them! As Pete said, there is definitely room for improvement but with no competition Surly has little reason to change them. Hello...Nokian? They have experience making tires with a "winter specific" rubber compound. Competition is good.
    Eat Food. Chop Wood. Ride Bike.

  22. #22
    Bill M
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    Harder to deform

    I am sure everything mentioned comes into play but I second the "harder to deform the tire" theory as being a big factor. I think that is the biggest difference in turning a trimmed Gazzalotti with super stiff sidewalls at low pressure and an Endo with the same air. When you let air out of the Gazza until they sag they roll like the brakes are on even at warmer temps..

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave in Driggs
    Without Endomorphs, I wouldn't be able to ride my local trails in the winter and probably wouldn't be heading to AK this Feb to join in the fun at Su100 so I am greatful that Surly makes them! As Pete said, there is definitely room for improvement but with no competition Surly has little reason to change them. Hello...Nokian? They have experience making tires with a "winter specific" rubber compound. Competition is good.

    Competition is good, but considering Nokian took about 7 years to come out with a studded 29 tire, I don't see them getting involved in the much smaller snow bike market, but ya never know.

  24. #24
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    slow cold

    Pete,
    maybe it has something to do with titty jiggle....

    Pat

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by patirwin
    Pete,
    maybe it has something to do with titty jiggle....

    Pat
    Forgot all about that. In summer you have to factor in the angle of the dangle. Pete should know all about winter's multiplication of the moobs.

    MC

  26. #26
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    moobs and dangle in the same sentance, this is getting weird.

  27. #27
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    Hey Pat
    Are you in town for the ultrasport start,will you be coming to Knik?
    Would be good to see you and maybe you can explain titty jiggle and moobs to me.

  28. #28
    Bill M
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    I'll buy the beer

    [QUOTE=carlhutch]Hey Pat
    Are you in town for the ultrasport start,will you be coming to Knik?
    Would be good to see you and maybe you can explain titty jiggle and moobs to me.

    Hey Carl I'll buy the beer to get educated too!

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlhutch
    Hey Pat
    Are you in town for the ultrasport start,will you be coming to Knik?
    Would be good to see you and maybe you can explain titty jiggle and moobs to me.
    Titty

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=titty

    Jiggle

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=jiggle

    Hope this helps.

  30. #30
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    [QUOTE=Bill M]
    Quote Originally Posted by carlhutch
    Hey Pat
    Are you in town for the ultrasport start,will you be coming to Knik?
    Would be good to see you and maybe you can explain titty jiggle and moobs to me.

    Hey Carl I'll buy the beer to get educated too!
    Sweet! a threesome involving jiggling moobs and beer! How Alaskan is that
    no better way to start off a big race eh Carl?

  31. #31
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    It is true Iím sporting a B cup at the moment, but we have to be careful to distinguish between correlation and causation in this case. Maybe Surly could start producing the fabled manzier.

  32. #32
    Wood chips are stupid
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka bubba
    Pete sporting his man Boobs Now all we need is AK Delux in his mankini!
    I think my mankini is still on your dresser...Manny.

    akdeluxe
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    JT

  33. #33

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    Winter happens every year and we are now only posting about this phenomena?? If you ask me I agree with Bear Bait it's a potpurri of everything... the other day I was pushing a hill at night... jumped certain things started to happen garments riding up and such also I didn't feel like pushing the hill... only to realise that I was already 3/4ths up the hill this baffled me as had I known this I would have kept riding to get max velocity on the downhill... that really sucked!!

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by elgeneralsv
    Winter happens every year and we are now only posting about this phenomena?? If you ask me I agree with Bear Bait it's a potpurri of everything... the other day I was pushing a hill at night... jumped certain things started to happen garments riding up and such also I didn't feel like pushing the hill... only to realise that I was already 3/4ths up the hill this baffled me as had I known this I would have kept riding to get max velocity on the downhill... that really sucked!!

    This is going in my mtbr signature.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka bubba
    Pete sporting his man Boobs Now all we need is AK Delux in his mankini!
    Why do you have a photo of a nekked akdeluxe? that's disgusting.

    Ak29
    Singletrack Advocates Anchorage, Alaska
    Susitna 100 "Race Across Frozen Alaska"

  36. #36
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    it's time...

    I'm thinkin' it's time we all hit the trail and get away from our computers.....

    Pat

  37. #37

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    Ok.....

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbasinger
    It is true Iím sporting a B cup at the moment, but we have to be careful to distinguish between correlation and causation in this case. Maybe Surly could start producing the fabled manzier.
    I know for a fact Pete doesn't have moobs cause last week up at Tolovana hot springs we were in a hot tub and, ummm, errr, nevermind.

  39. #39
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    Yeah, you know it wasn't my titties you were looking at...

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