Road tyres in the Winter and the wet

by londonplayer   October 27, 2011  

I've recently replaced my worn out tyres with Hutchinson Equinox. They seem hard wearing for the money but I don't feel confident on them on slippery London roads in this wet weather. anyone got any tips for riding road bikes in the winter? I've got a mountain bike and I'm considering switching to that.

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Trust your tyres - they're generally grippier than you will be able to push them. That said, some tyres offer more confidence than others.

What pressures are you running? 23c tyres need be no harder than 100psi in winter really. 25c can often get away with 90psi. That'll give you more grip.

Note that tread on a road bike tyre is nothing more than a wear indicator and there to look good - the contact patch is too small and most of us weigh too much for it to be relevant. Tyre compound is different though, and many so called 'winter tyres' are made of a less grippy, harder compound.

posted by RichTheRoadie [86 posts]
27th October 2011 - 15:57

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When it comes to riding in the wet, you just need to be smooth. Try not to corner to sharply, and make no harsh movements on the bike. Using the rear brake to feather off speed helps, and just be more aware really, just as you would when driving.

Generally speaking, the tyres will have quite a lot of grip but I know what you mean with the feeling that the bike may slip away from you at any point!

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posted by roadracedave [75 posts]
27th October 2011 - 15:58

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This is all good advice. Having been scared witless over the last month (hmm steep hills, wet leaves) I've relented this week and moved onto my winter steel mudguard bike which has 25mm Conti 4 Seasons fitted. I've been experimenting with running them as low as 90psi and I wouldn't like to say yet whether the lower pressure is a benefit but - blimey - the tyres feel so much grippier not to mention plusher than the hard-compound slicks on my race* bike. No brainer, really.

* 'race' is just a term to describe the potential and not the actual speed of my best bike.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
27th October 2011 - 16:24

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If you're riding in the city there is probably a lot of oil and diesel on the surface which won't be helping. As roadracedave says though smoothness is the key, plan your lines through bends and watch out for the camber on some corners and roundabouts as you might need to shift your centre of gravity. keep at it and it soon becomes second nature and you're able to adjust your weight to correct slipping tyres without realising you're doing it.

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posted by stuke [307 posts]
27th October 2011 - 16:27

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nick_rearden wrote:
This is all good advice. Having been scared witless over the last month (hmm steep hills, wet leaves) I've relented this week and moved onto my winter steel mudguard bike which has 25mm Conti 4 Seasons fitted. I've been experimenting with running them as low as 90psi and I wouldn't like to say yet whether the lower pressure is a benefit but - blimey - the tyres feel so much grippier not to mention plusher than the hard-compound slicks on my race* bike. No brainer, really.

* 'race' is just a term to describe the potential and not the actual speed of my best bike.

I've just started using Conti 4 seasons for the first time and after 4 wet commutes so far this week I'm well impressed even at 120psi on 23mm's. Well worth the cash

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posted by stuke [307 posts]
27th October 2011 - 16:31

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i took another approach...i had vittoria's on my bianchi and they scared the life out of me in the wet ( i have no idea why, but they just didnt seem to grip)
I thought i'd try some "commuter" tyres....schwalbe marathon plus. they were a tight fit to get on the rim,but a revelation on the road in the dry and wet.I have used them for two winters now,no punctures,great grip,work well as a training tyre and are not slow.

my point is this...use what works for you,you may have to try lots of tyres,but forget what others ride on, it may not be for you!

i also run continental force/attack on my tri bike and they inspire huge confidence in the wet...again,no idea why!

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posted by keith roberts [179 posts]
29th October 2011 - 20:25

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When cornering keep it smooth and your turn radius even, or even give yourself room to run wide if you need to change your line. 'Keep off white lines and metalwork too to minimise surprises. Run the widest tyres you can fit and drop the pressure in the wet - allow the tyre carcass to flex and work for you rather than skipping and losing grip.

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posted by monty dog [360 posts]
29th October 2011 - 21:35

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Forgive me if you know this already - avoid manhole covers, drains and any other metal on the roads. Painted sections are often slippery too. You won't get any more grip on your MTB, it will just slow you down. If you hit a diesel spill on a fast corner you will end up on the floor no matter what rubber you have but you'll be really unlucky if it happens to you. Your new tyres may take a little wearing in before you feel safer on them. Wet roads, especially those covered in fallen leaves never inspire confidence. If you're worried then slow down a bit and remember to brake on the straight. Once you get through the next few weeks you'll be used to the winter conditions. I rode eleven winters in London with very little incident on spesh Armadillos and conti 4 Seasons.

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posted by Bedfordshire Clanger [309 posts]
30th October 2011 - 23:45

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