Monday, January 31, 2011

BYO studded bike tires

OK, so you’ve read the previous blog on tips for winter riding, but you are missing some studded tires.  If you are going to be riding on snow and ice, these are really a necessity.  There are many different types of pre-fabed studded tires out there with a price range of $50-$120/tire…yeah, you read that right.  Quality studded bike tires have carbide tips, near 300 studs per tire and feature different rubber compounds for added traction.  No doubt these tires are great, made by manufactures that know what they are doing and even with a great deal of riding can last 3-4 seasons. 

But enough of that, today we are gonna make our own studded tires.  This is the choice if you either light in the pockets or just feel grumpy paying for something you can do on your own.  This is a totally doable project with a little patience.  So, let’s get to it.

What you need:
  • 2 – knobby tires
  • 1 – drill
  • 1 – roll of duct tape, 2 old tubes or 2 tire liners
  • 1 – Awl
  • 1 – Phillips head bit
  • 1 – 5/32 drill bit
  • 1 – silver Sharpie
  • 100-500 - #8 x ½ lath screws (big heads, prickly heads these work great)
  • ? – beer is optional

As with a lot of things, it is all about the layout.  I like to take a silver Sharpie and mark the knob on the tire I’m gonna put screws in.  How do you decide which studs?  First, for the front tire you want some studs along the outside row of knobs, these will be the ones you depend on while turning.  For the rear tire, the knobs along the center are more important for the studs as they are the one proving traction to your drive wheel.  In addition, you want to put the screws directly through the center of the tire studs so they have extra support.  Lastly, ensure that you pick a pattern on you tire so that studs are in contact with the ground at all time.  This is why I like to mark the knobs I’m gonna do first, so I can get a visual and make changes as necessary.  I usually skip and put a screw in every other knob and that seems sufficient.  However, your pattern and number and studs are totally up to you (that’s the beauty of making your own).

So, all you knobs are marked and you are happy with your pattern.  Take the awl and punch a hole in each marked knob to guide your drill bit.

Next, take you drill and make a hole from the outside-in, making sure you keep your hole centered on each knob. 
this works good if you worry about your little fingers
Now your tire is full of holes through the knobs you want to put studs in.  Put the Phillips head on your drill and start installing your screws from the inside-out.  Again, take your time and ensure that you are guiding the screws through the center of the knobs.  If one comes out around the knob, leave it.  You will do more damage to the tire re-threading it and creating another hole.  Hint: I do the set-a-screw-take- a-drink method as it makes the time go faster.

Whew, that was time consuming.  All the studs are in.  Your tire has become a dangerous weapon, watch all those screws as they are sharp.  All that is left is to get these new tires on your rims.  Before you mount them, cover the screw heads with either a layer of duct tape, an old tube cut length wise (my preference) or a tire liner.  Throw some baby powder in there and mount.  Run your air pressure lower than you normally would (I run mine at 30psi).  Give the wheel a spin before you take off to make sure nothing is rubbing and you are set for winter riding.

another use for an old tube
For this set, I used a different pattern for the front and rear tires.  On the rear, I went every other mid-knob.  Since this is the drive wheel those are the ones I want digging in for traction.  For the front, I also did every other mid-knob and also went every other outside knob.  On the front I want more traction for steering.  80 studs on the rear and 160 front.
rear tire
front tire

Bottom line: $40 for 2 cheap knobby tires and $5 for a box of lath screws, I had a couple old tubes, and all the tools.  $45 is a far cry from pre-fabed studded tires, so that is the big benefit.  Drawbacks are your homemade babies won’t last as long as those from the store, are more prone to flats and take a good deal of time to make.  All that said, it is a fun process and you can make any type of studded tire you want.  Let me know how it goes for you.   

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter riding tips

For the most part, this has been a great winter for bike riding.  We have had some really mild temperatures and not a lot of snow.  I know people are intimidated by the thought of riding on ice and/or snow, so I thought I'd share some tips for winter riding to get you motivated to try it.  Came up with 7...lucky number huh?  Most important - select the "right" gear.  Bear this in mind as you read on...

1.  Do not use your expensive full-suspension mountain bike.  The moisture, sand, salt and grit can ruin your suspension, frame and gears.  Go find an inexpensive bike, preferably fully rigid, at a yard sale, craigslist, etc.  Couple other things to consider for your bike.  Tires and rims get a lot of build up riding in the winter, so mechanical disc brakes are a great choice for a winter bike.  Also, the more gears you have, the more chance for failure.  Derailleurs and cable/housing systems do not work very well in the cold or when they get full of grit.  Single speeds, internal hubs, or 1 x 8 or 9s are great choices.  Lastly, put some fenders on there for protection.
here is my Globe winter bike
2.  Ride straight and take it easy on the brakes.  Sudden turns or a hand full of brakes can put you on your butt.   Brake using the rear brake only to avoid skidding, and be gentle.
3.  Invest in some studded bike tires.  Don't have $100-200 to invest in a set?  Stay tuned for my next blog where I will attempt to instruct you on making your own.
4.  Protect hands and feet.  It is hard to keep extremities warm when it is already cold out and then you add some wind chill from spinning down the road.  Many companies make winter bike gloves (lobster gloves are a good choice) or use your ski gloves.  There are winter biking shoes also, I just wear a light duty pair of snow boots with platform pedals/cages.  Ditch your clipless pedals.
5.  Layer up.  No cotton, it is evil.  Wear a wicking layer and then fleece or wool over it.  Remember, you will be getting a workout, so don't dress too warm.  You don't want to be sweating.  Dress so that you stay cool and just on the verge of breaking a sweat.
6.  Cover the head.  Wear a skull cap under your bike helmet or wear your ski helmet.  Helmets help to break the wind as well as protect the noggin.  Cold air hurts the eyes and will make you cry for your momma, so wear full wrap glasses or goggles if it is really cold.
not a fashion show, grab a ski helmet if it's real cold
7. Have fun and grab a buddy, it is way more fun to laugh at your friends falling than at yourself.

This may all sound like a lot, but it's not.  It is no more involved than any other winter activity.  So suit up and go explore.  Start out on bike paths or side streets around town.  When you feel comfortable, move to the main arteries or the frozen lakes/rivers for a real thrill!  Hope to see you out there.
in case you were curious, ok after the crash

Thursday, January 27, 2011

7B License Plates now available!

In case you didn't hear, Idaho is the first and only state to have a "Bike" themed license plate.  A percentage of the proceeds from buying your plate go to trails in Idaho.  Double cool!

I got mine...

Yeah, had to work in "7B" somehow.

Click here to go to the DMV site and see if your design is available.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Additional content on Vertical Earth event

Here is a link to the newspaper article

Umm, hold your comments about me being by the beer counter, I am "working"

Team Laughing Dog fundraiser at Vertical Earth

Saturday night was the Team Laughing Dog fundraiser at Vertical Earth in CDA.  With the RAAM race only 5 months away, the team is continuing to work at chipping away at the 40K needed for us all to participate.  We raised close to 7K and the event was a great success!

The experience of working with all the member of this team has truly been inspirational.  Lofty goals were set and we have a core set of guys…and girls…committed to helping achieve them.  Everyone on the team worked really hard organizing, gather items for the auctions, securing drinks and food, supplies, an auctioneer, a location and of course people to come down and bid and donate to the team.  But the team has done all this before, so all these efforts weren’t really the surprising part to me, it was the individuals and business that gave so generously to make this event happen.

If my numbers are right, we had over 30 silent auction items and 8 live auction items.  We also had live music and beer and wine on tap.  Some auction items came from individuals while others came from local businesses.  

Many thanks to the following for their help: Laughing Dog Brewery, Pend d'Oreille Winery, Vertical Earth, Finan McDonald (Life is Good gift pack), Drew Meridith Photography, Marty Taylor (for some awesome photos), Chris Bier (Grateful Dead tees and a sweet wind chime), Al Lemire Photography, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Justin Landis and his band, Mike Murray (woodworker extraordinaire) and Evan’s Brothers Coffee.  I’m sure am missing some, but as you can see participation was huge.  It is because of individuals and businesses such as these that make this such a great place to live.  If you see them, say thanks and support the businesses when it comes time to spend your dough.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Winter riding on the river

So, with the current cold spell the ice on the lake was looking good for a ride.  Jim S sent out the word and we assembled at Memorial Field Sunday for a little spin on the ice.
I was a little tentative at first, but once we got going I started feeling pretty confident.  My studs gripped the ice and things felt really steady as long as I took it easy on the brakes and didn't make any quick turns.

Weather was nice and the lake was full of people out enjoying it.  Ice hockey, fishing, skating, xc skiing and walking were a few of the activities I noted.
Chatting with and ice fisherman about ice thickness
Stopped and watched the 2 hockey games off 3rd Street pier...
While Jim and I opted for pre-fabed studded tires, Sandy got creative and made his own.  I few screws from Merwins and some Duck tape and he was set.  Things seemed to work well for him until he got a flat...might need a little more protection between the screws and tube.

All in all, it was great day of riding and being out on the lake.