The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Does falling down make you faster?

A handful of folks from the shop took part in the Loppet ice bike race on Saturday, which is in its second year as part of the City of Lakes Loppet weekend. After considering several options for bike setup, I decided to try my hand at homemade studded tires.

Most if the intel I was receiving suggested that, for pure ice conditions (as opposed to icy pavement or icy singletrack), homemade tires were the way to go. My Nokians are great for commuting and last forever, but longevity is less of a concern in racing, where performance is paramount. And, as this was my first attempt at ice racing, I was interested in keeping costs down.

Since I already had a big pile of old MTB tires in my basement, I had some opportunity to experiment. A quick trip to my local hardware store yielded a couple boxes of 3/8" sheet metal screws, and after a couple hours of drilling, screwdrivering and duct-taping, I had a pair of serviceable ice racing tires. Or so I hoped.

I took them for a quick test ride on a skating rink near my house just to see if they worked at all, and after a couple laps I decided they were worth a shot. Besides, at that point the race was two days away and I was scheduled to work all day in between. That's what I get for procrastinating.

But in the end they worked pretty damn well. And the gearing on my Surly 1x1 (I had it at 36x17) was perfect for the race. If I had it to do over again I'd probably add another row of studs to each tire--the guys standing at the top of the podium were able to lean over a bit more than I could. In any case, it was a fun midwinter project.

p.s. I found this photo the day after the race, and now I can't remember where--apologies to the photographer.