One comment on “Winter Riding: Under Pressured

  1. I’m with you on this one. On a bicycle, there is rarely a good reason to reduce your tire pressures. A good reason to keep your tires nice and firm at their design pressures is to ensure that you get the maximum ground pressure. In dicey conditions, you get better traction with better ground pressure (all other things being equal). Reducing your PSI reduces your ground pressure, in the interests of a slightly greater contact patch.

    My personal experience, related to this, is as follows. About a year and half ago, I switched from a knobby, fat-tired, full-suspension mountain bike for my all season commuting (in Calgary…we know about snow and cold) to a skinny-tired rigid road bike. My non-cycle-commuting co-workers look at my bike in the winter and think I must be nuts to ride skinny tires in snowy conditions. However, what I’ve found is that the skinny, 90 psi tires cut through the loose snow down to the hard pack or solid surface underneath. They track well, and while nobody wants to execute an emergency stop on the snow, they don’t do a whole lot worse than knobby, fat tires. While I occasionaly wish for spikes when there’s ice out, I don’t find the skinny tires are any worse than knobbies when it comes to a polished, slippery surface.

    Those are my 2 cents’ worth. You’ll be happier with fully-inflated tires. Also, ensure that you inflate them in the cold, then you’ll know your actual pressure when riding.

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