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Dutch Bike Co Weblog

Dutch Bike Co Weblog

Seattle Snowpocalypse

Fritz Rice - Wednesday, November 24, 2010


No matter how much we swear we've learned our lessons, Seattle always seems to get caught by surprise by the snow. There we were, minding our own business with our feet all toasty in our sandals and socks, when the temperature plummeted and it turned into Juneau in January. While this year the City did a much better job than last year at preventing widespread carnage and destruction, we at Dutch Bike Seattle still didn't bring in studded tires because it never snows in Seattle. Even if we had stocked them, I'm not sure they'd sell because it never snows in Seattle, right?

We found something else, though. Something else entirely.

You're not going to believe it at first.

It's quick, it's cheap, and yes, it looks completely ludicrous.

BUT. It works. It works beautifully.

I can accelerate, brake, and corner with aplomb, even on the vile snowpack/sheet ice mix the plows leave in the bike lanes. The zip ties dig nicely into the hardest packed surfaces, but they're thin enough not to bounce the bike around at low speed or on short pavement sections.

I've cunningly positioned the tie heads to dig in as soon as the bike goes into a corner while staying up and off the ground in a straight line. This is the place that the ties are most likely to interfere with the fenders, so if you're installing these yourself be careful to make sure you have or can create the clearance.

It is at this point that I must admit that I didn't dream up this amazing technique. It pains me to admit this not because my ego suffers, but because the zip-tie-DIY-bicycle-snow-chains idea appears to have originated with my favorite bicycle industry whipping boy: fixed gear hipster culture. Several years ago, I'm sure, some bright child with extremely tight pants and an asymmetrical haircut had a genius-caliber idea, and I hate that it wasn't me. So here it is: Fixed gear street bike hipster guys, I'm sorry for the things I've said over the years. It's not true that the only drink you like is 4Loko. It's also not true that you're not allowed to wear shoes that don't match your bikes. You can wear whatever you want. And finally, you have come up with a good idea besides brightly colored deep-section rims.

Anonymous commented on 26-Nov-2010 04:13 PM
I believe there are two problems with this: punctures are a complete nightmare and the zipties aren't durable enough if you encounter ice-free asphalt on main roads. We make our own from old MTB knobblies and the shortest woodscrews we can find, inserted through the knobs inside-out. You need many layers of Duck Tape or a tyre liner to avoid the screw heads pinching the tube.
Cecily commented on 26-Nov-2010 08:26 PM
This is so simple yet so brilliant. I think I'm going to give this a try the next time we have a surprise snowfall in Vancouver.
Tom Robinson commented on 26-Nov-2010 09:58 PM
I posted a link to this in my Facebook and Twitter accounts. An Anchorage bicycling veteran now living in Portland said he knew this trick.

It's great advice!
Sven Ryglert commented on 27-Nov-2010 02:34 AM
Well in Sweden we can buy tires with knobs on... but I had never bought any. I bike carefully during our 5 month of winter :)
Glenn commented on 29-Nov-2010 05:36 PM
Cool. But don't try this if you have rim brakes.
Glenn commented on 29-Nov-2010 05:36 PM
Cool. But don't try this if you have rim brakes.
Vancouver BC Personal Trainer commented on 29-Nov-2010 08:30 PM
Hey Im going to try this next time we ride the Shore in the snow might help.
blmuzzy commented on 30-Nov-2010 06:43 PM
The author also appears to have adopted the #1 worthless affectation of hipsters - top tube pads. Although a real hipster wouldn't have disc brakes OR rim brakes. How ironic...
Arold commented on 02-Dec-2010 10:04 AM
A new meaning for "Tie one on!"
Anonymous commented on 02-Dec-2010 11:25 AM
"Cool. But don't try this if you have rim brakes."

Punctures and rim brakes and no snowpack asphalt...just some of the caveats the author failed to mention.
Fritz commented on 02-Dec-2010 12:11 PM
My goodness, yes! A flat while set up like this would be time-consuming to say the least. This emergency measure will certainly not work for every bike, either. We'll address a more professional, longer-term solution in a few days, never fear!
Oh, and for _genuine_ irony, you need look no further than the skinniness of my jeans.
Keep cycling sexy!
Joe B commented on 03-Dec-2010 01:51 PM
What kind of beer is that on the bench?
David commented on 03-Dec-2010 02:18 PM
That would be Redhook's Winter Hook. A great zip tie ale.
Steve commented on 06-Dec-2010 07:13 AM
How do you get them off?
Anonymous commented on 07-Dec-2010 06:05 PM
It's also the budget studded tire solution for cyclocross:
thomas sabo commented on 10-Dec-2010 02:15 AM
This meant that essentially all actions resulted in automated winding. The 1st man to utilize the automated idea towards the wristwatch was obviously a guy through the identify of John Harwood. Harwood took out patents involving mechanisms that grew to become identified as "hammers" or "bumpers." While this system only wound the timepiece when it absolutely was moved in a single direction, it do let for twelve working hours of autonomous timepiece performance when it absolutely was entirely wound. This timepiece was developed in the great deal of 30000, and was the 1st commercially profitable automated watch.
Fritz Rice commented on 12-Dec-2010 11:57 AM
You know, I'm going to leave that up. I think it's the best spam I've ever seen. I wish I could come up with verbiage like "obviously a guy through the identify of John Harwood." I bet that was painstakingly translated from the Queen's English into Bahasa or Hindi by someone that was deeply obsessed by the history of mechanical timepieces, and then brutally babelfished back into a semblance of 'Murrican by some crazed robot spider. Thank you, the internets, for reviving my sense of linguistic wonder.
Ronan Cremin commented on 15-Dec-2010 04:39 PM
I tried an alternative idea a couple of weeks ago during an unusual snowy period in Dublin but crossed them over each other.
Sarasota Real Estate commented on 15-Dec-2010 06:22 PM
Here in Sarasota, FL, we don't get any snow, but I wonder how well this technique would work for a roadbike on the beach? I get no traction with my bike now in the beach.

Stay warm, guys.
K commented on 15-Dec-2010 08:17 PM
rather than tweaking the bike, i'm more curious on how to make snow happen here in my country.. haha.. nice post though. thanks for sharing.. :)
gregorylent commented on 15-Dec-2010 08:39 PM
fritz, that WAS great spam, thanks for leaving it up
matt commented on 15-Dec-2010 08:54 PM
Is that an internally geared hub I see?
jabits commented on 15-Dec-2010 10:09 PM
I like the looks of the bike. Exactly what type and model bike is that?
Herb commented on 16-Dec-2010 02:04 PM
I guess that cyclocross rider isn't planning on using their V-brakes(!). Maybe it's a fixie.
Fritz Rice commented on 16-Dec-2010 07:17 PM
The "snow bike" is my Saison, a bike we assemble on a Surly 1x1 frame. You can see more detail on the bike and the parts spec in my post "A Year of Saison," from sometime last summer. It's a blast to ride, and makes for a great around-town rocket. Most importantly, though, the irony radiating from my top tube pad makes me 15% more efficient and keeps my knees warm!

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