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Featured Tips for snowy conditions

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Philzorz, May 12, 2015.

  1. Looks like there could be some snow fall mt dandenong tomorrow with a max of 5oC. Who has experiance with riding in snowy conditions and any tips for a first timer?

  2. It's the ice on the road you need to watch for...
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  3. Go hard or go home!
  4. Heated grips.

    And don't do this.
    He decided to roll around in the snow with his bike. Then it wouldn't start.
    Good times.
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  5. Ride on one of these:
  6. Done plenty of driving in snow,zero riding.As said fresh snow is ok, its when the sun melts it or its in shade or after dark it freezes to ice,or it gets compressed by lots of traffic. Slow and steady, just like rain only more so.
    Ice and without chains your stuffed. I have seen stationary cars slide sideways off the road, proper glazzy Ice and you cannot even walk on it in Ski Boots let alone drive.
  7. #7 jstava, May 12, 2015
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
    For most people? Don't.

    If you have the reaction time of a 17 year old and a strength/bike weight ratio such that you can support your bike with a leg way out to stay upright in a slide gone way wrong till you can straighten it up, you have a chance. Even black ice is "doable" if that's the equation. It requires a lot of strength, agility and lightning fast reaction times, not to mention super throttle control, to have a lot of fun on a really light bike on super slippery surfaces, because you will easily and regularly get so far out of shape there is nothing for it but to support the bike and physically sort out the sort of shape you are in. Controlling your direction of travel is another thing - gravity, and momentum rule.

    Trail bikes on unsurfaced roads with snow over them can be a lot of fun. You've got a chance and regular handling works. It all changes when the undersurface is wet bitumen or black ice. Modern road bike tyres have zilch lateral traction on the real slippery stuff. They'll put you on the deck in an instant if either wheel slips.

    I've actually ridden on ice (frozen lakes) with road tyres, also snow covered roads in varying conditions, quite a lot, and as a teenager, saw 10 cm of new snow over black ice covered roads as a recipe for going out and having some fun. (think massive slow speed foot down power slides on a low powered bike). I don't actually recall any falls. On clear (no snow) frozen lakes there were a lot of "both feet down slide to a halt before proceeding" times. But all of that was on a bike that weighed somewhere around 70 kg and when I weighed 55 or so. (young and immortal) Now I weigh 75+ and the bike 235+ and it's just not a proposition for play.

    Here are a few things to watch for:
    Black ice is like riding on oil, super slippery. If you can absolutely prevent your wheels from sliding or spinning, it is rideable, at least for a short time. - braking is out of the question and your throttle control has to be spot on to keep your rear wheel from sliding from engine braking - there will be none, or spinning under acceleration. On black ice, the only braking you have, is to coast to a stop, and accelerate? Well you've got a bit more of a chance - don't break traction. (and there will be bugger all) SMOOTH will take on a new meaning - WAY beyond that required to ride on a very wet road. It is rideable so long as you realise that you are pretty much limited to straight lines. You will slide off any road with a big camber, and curves are a big problem. Black ice is often patchy. People ride onto it when going over bridges. If you survive the transit over the bridge, you will be OK so long as you are still straight when you regain grip on the other side. The main thing is don't do anything dumb, like hit the brakes or even close the throttle to the point where you have engine braking. (you want a completely neutral throttle) If you encounter continuous black ice, go home, unless at least 3 of the things in my first paragraph apply to you, as you will not enjoy it one bit and there is the very real likelihood you will do some damage.

    Snow can be diabolically slippery if it is wet. The colder and drier it is, the more grip you have. Real cold hard packed snow resembles riding on a wet road. Beware of ruts which have frozen - much worse than tram tracks. If snow is light and up to 10 cm deep and has fallen on a cold dry road (so it is not wet underneath)and there are no hidden frozen ruts, it can provide a surprisingly good surface for riding on, considering.

    Going uphill is a lot easier and safer than going down.

    As a skill development level, there's dry roads, wet roads then there is snow and ice. Snow and ice are not for beginners. Riding on snow and ice is many times harder than riding on a road which is simply wet, due to the huge differences in traction and the extent of the variation in conditions possible. Approach with the greatest of caution and only if you are completely comfortable in poor conditions on very wet roads.

    One other thing. Coming up to the snow season, many will be DRIVING to and in snow to get there. While it is fun, DO NOT SPIN YOUR TYRES. Your traction is entirely dependent on how slippery the surface is beneath your tyres. In the warm Australian conditions, the pressure of the tyres will compact the snow to ice beneath your tyres as they pass. The pressure will also cause a certain amount of melt to occur. Warm wet snow is slipperier than dry. Spinning your tyres warms them slightly and makes the snow under them into slick ice upon which your tyres are already slipping. Expert snow drivers spin their wheels as little as they can to keep them as cool as they can be and in grippy contact with whatever interlock their tread pattern can afford with the surface. The only exception to this might be where you find you are "understeering" around a corner (usually going uphill) One might use a bit of throttle to bring the rear around, but don't forget, once you've sacrificed this traction, you want it back. If you've warmed your tyres by spinning them, it becomes harder.

    Going down-hill is where most people come unstuck. So often I see (I work at the snowfields) where people have locked on their brakes and straight lined it right off the road on a corner or curve. Make sure you drive slower than you think you can, drive a gear or two lower than you normally would and if you need to brake, pulse your brakes gently, so the front wheels can rotate intermittently and continue to turn you. ABS can help in this regard immensely, by doing it for you, but you might find that braking with ABS is like not having much in the way of brakes at all, due to the lack of traction, you really don't have for braking anyway.

    Good luck. Stay safe in the snow and ice this Winter.
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  8. Agree with jstavajstava above. For the most part - don't! Stay in bed!

    "Going uphill is a lot easier and safer than going down." - until you stop on an uphill for whatever (silly) reason and start sliding backwards....:nailbiting:
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  9. As Jstava says, Don't. A light and low powered trail bike might be a bit of fun. I've done plenty of driving in the snowies in NSW and have lots of experience. Once the road looks mostly white, I've fitted my snow chains and will only drive on them. On a bike you will have less traction than on a very wet road and down to zero traction on road tyres. If you put your road bike onto snow, be prepared to go down, you are unlikely to stay upright.
  10. Having been born and brought up and learned to drive and ride in Scotland.......
    I agree, 100% with Jstava.

    For me, the best solution was to emigrate to Sydney. ;-)
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  11. Went over Reefton in the snow a few weeks back. The road was just slushy with snow beside it, which is probably the worst that will happen in the Dandenongs. Took it pretty easy and kept the bike as upright as possible. No quick turns! Hot coffee in Marysville was a life saver.
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  12. A sample of what we endured from Harrietville to Hotham on the way to Omeo back in november 2013. It became worse after the video, with all but 2 riders able to make it unassisted to the warmth of the fire at Golden Age Hotel.

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  13. Well I used to live in London, where it occasionally snows and the advice I give you is:

    Leave the bike at home.

    Snow isn't a big problem in itself infact I've had some great rides when it has just started snowing. What is the big problem is:
    - ice, which you can't see and which may be in a layer under the snow which you really can't see
    - snow which has melted and refrozen. Ice in other words.
    - piles of dirty grey snow either side of car wheel tracks which you can't ride on
    - other chumps who lose control of their cars
    - you can't filter or overtake, because of the mounds of grey slush either side of each lane, so there is no advantage in being on a bike