|Professional Tweaks, Tips & Reviews By "AJ" Picarello
|I hope you find my Tweaks and Tips section helpful. If there is something you want to know about, send me an email and I will try to add that to one of my upcoming articles.
Check out the conditions. If you're riding in only deep powder, you probably won't need studs (as long as the slope is very steep). Use a narrow tire. It will cut through the powder and hopefully hook up on the rocks or dirt. Try using a softer compound, especially on rock.
If the conditions are icy, you probably need studs. Some people drill 2.1" mud tires and insert sheet metal studs from the inside of the tire. They can protrude up to ¾"- 1" out of the tire. This is an extreme way to gain traction for winter riding. You can easily install over 200 screws in one tire. You'll have to line the inside of the tire with a Mr. Tuffy. This is a product that prevents the head of the screw from cutting the tube. I also install heavy-duty tubes. Be careful riding with these tires. If you slip off your pedals while riding and land on the back tire, you could possibly lose more than just blood. This winter I tried this method on my front tire only. I felt more confident and didn't notice any lack of control.
You can also purchase motorcycle ice racing studs. They come in different lengths and are inserted into the knobby from the outside. They may not be as sharp as a sheet metal screw, but still work in icy conditions. Use the Mr. Tuffy. You can still get a flat tire without one. You can also get mangled if you slip off the pedals and land on the rear tire. This is the method Professionals used at last years X Games.
Try using a rear fender. Mud Machine makes a rear fender that bolts to your bikes brake bosses. Mud Machine sells a mounting kit for bikes that don't have brake bosses. It's a very durable fender that can save your sex life.
Lengthen your bike wheel base and relax your head angle if possible. Snow riding is much harder than riding on dirt. The snow will try and launch you over your bars. You have to lean way back behind the seat. Be ready for anything. One second the bike is going perfectly straight the next it's fishtailing down vertical terrain. You'll have to use major body english to compensate for unpredictable obstacles.
Water proof socks and platform pedals are a must. Goggles are also a good idea since the cold will make your eyes water. Bring drinking water. You will probably sweat more riding in the snow than riding in the summer. Pushing a downhill bike through the snow and up a mountain is a chore. Check every section before you drop in. Check for sheets of ice. Use a rock to smash the ice if necessary. Stomp down that hard layer of snow that sometimes forms on top of powder. If you're lucky, try riding on top of that hard layer.
You will never take riding in the dry for granted again. After this winter I'll be happy riding in the rain. With some minor preparation, downhilling in the winter is 100% doable. It will make you a better rider come spring. Sometimes the conditions are better than the dry. You can hammer through packed powder with some ice and exposed rock. The snow will actually fill in gaps between rocks, smoothing out the ride.
Next months tip: How to tune your bike's suspension.
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