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Best Winter Wheel


winterwheel
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Over the last few (fairly hardcore) winter months I've been commuting to work on my ACM2,' which has been great. Over the break I brought out the old V8 to see how it would compare.

These are very different wheels. The V8 is light, narrow, feels tall, and has average power at best.

The ACM2 is much heavier, much wider, and feels much shorter, I think because there is so much weight so low to the ground.

First the superficial stuff...

V8 has lights, which I don't like, but which are actually very useful for commuting in the winter. I have had cars come up behind me in the morning on the ACM and tell me they couldn't see me at all. The lights on the V8 are *much* more visible. A car half a block ahead stopped at a green light this morning (!) in order to watch me pass. Another saw me  from half a block away and waited at a stop sign for me to pass. So big plus for the lights on the V8.

Speed of course works for the ACM.  You wouldn't think this would matter in the winter but it definitely does, because at times the best path is going to be on the road with cars. In that situation I want to get on the road and off it as fast as possible. Creeping along (relatively speaking) on the V8 made me a bit nervous.

As for stability...

...on hyper-bumpy snow over ice conditions: the V8 actually wins this one. Perhaps because it is so much narrower or maybe because it lighter, maybe both, but I found the V8 really rocked this surface. I come over the same surface on the ACM and I always kind of pick my way through, looking for a good line. With the V8 I found I could just ride over/through whatever was in my way. But...

...in my commute there are long stretches of bumpy hard-packed snow. These again are perfectly manageable on the V8 but boy-oh-boy is it a rough ride if you have a bit of speed. The ACM being much heavier, and possibly because its big motor, feels like you are just gliding over this type of surface.

...on pure ice: I haven't tested the V8 on straight-up ice yet, although I plan to; I update this when I  do. The ACM runs extremely well on ice with one important caveat. If you are riding along and you encounter some ice you can pretty much ride all day... until you have to stop. Getting on and off when standing on ice is quite difficult, and I tend to have to find someplace off the ice to get going again. I attribute this in part to how heavy it is, or maybe I just need to practice more, not sure. 

My conclusion so far:

The V8 is best for *fun* riding around in the snow, i.e. find some interesting terrain and having a go. It can handle the rough stuff better than the ACM. But for winter commuting, the ACM still wins because it has a much more comfortable ride at speed over rough surfaces and has the speed to dodge traffic when you need to share a road with cars for short distances.

I'd interested to hear the comments related to other wheels in winter conditions.

 

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Interesting topic, I can work around lights and such things so for me it really comes down to what tire is seated on any given wheel I suppose?

Just got the Mad Mike + studs for the ACM but yet to arrive, it's a 67v variant so kinds sucks for that reason, winter is slippery but with a bit of luck you could also land softer so..? :lol:

...on a serious note, being seen is important but I watch where I ride on ice, if truly like soap on a glass I avoid riding among cars and too close to people. There is specific laws for bicycles etc here if I remember correctly but I also kind of agree with them, white light forward and the red backwards and in low visibility situations. Even if people cannot see me right away they can see the lights and recognize I am at least there and what direction I am going. It's true they may not be enough on the Gotways so looking into stronger sources now.

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51 minutes ago, Electroman said:

Just got the Mad Mike + studs for the ACM but yet to arrive, it's a 67v variant so kinds sucks for that reason, winter is slippery but with a bit of luck you could also land softer so..? :lol:

I have a mad mike style tire (Kenda) ready to put onto the wheel but I haven't yet because... I think it might be better for snow but worse on ice. As for studs, my bicycle-riding co-workers have fallen repeatedly this winter even with studs, and another appears to have not had much success riding his studded-up MSX. So my plan now is to wait for next winter to do that when I'll have an extra wheel so I can do a proper comparison of with studs and without. But the bare tire seems to work well enough now that I'm used to it. I took the V8 on my ice-commute this morning (yet another winter rain last night, only one bike out this morning) and it did just fine.

51 minutes ago, Electroman said:

Even if people cannot see me right away they can see the lights and recognize I am at least there and what direction I am going. It's true they may not be enough on the Gotways so looking into stronger sources now.

This is my second day of commuting on the V8 and the lights make it *much* safer. With the ACM2 it often feels like a game of chicken with cars coming the other way when I approach a crosswalk; but when they see the pretty lights they seem to go out of their way to stop and wait to see the show up close.

Edited by winterwheel
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On 1/2/2019 at 11:26 AM, winterwheel said:

...on pure ice: [snip] Getting on and off when standing on ice is quite difficult, and I tend to have to find someplace off the ice to get going again. I attribute this in part to how heavy it is, or maybe I just need to practice more, not sure. 

Heh, yeah... that's the same experience I have with human powered unicycles on the ice. I'll slow to a stop and then as I tip off the back often it slides out from under me. Do you turn off your wheel as as your stepping off or does it slip out before you come to a full stop?

I'm still researching before buying my first wheel, but winter riding is something I'll be doing if I get one. Do you have any concerns with moisture and salt? I'd imagine snow tends to cake up above the wheel while your riding and then melts off once you take it inside. 

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1 minute ago, Electroman said:

Hehe cool, in regards to the tire I think you are right, snow vs ice different things.

I had great success with my standard MSX tire so far, riding with very low pressure though

I'm riding with below normal pressure as well, but only a little.

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5 hours ago, bobpaul said:

Heh, yeah... that's the same experience I have with human powered unicycles on the ice. I'll slow to a stop and then as I tip off the back often it slides out from under me. Do you turn off your wheel as as your stepping off or does it slip out before you come to a full stop?

I'm still researching before buying my first wheel, but winter riding is something I'll be doing if I get one. Do you have any concerns with moisture and salt? I'd imagine snow tends to cake up above the wheel while your riding and then melts off once you take it inside. 

The vast majority of the time I can control it as I get off, particularly if I am wearing studded shoes as I normally do when doing winter riding. The couple of times I lost control of the wheel there was nothing for it but to let it flop over.

Which brings up another very interesting unique problem that occurs only when you are on an extremely icy surface. Normally when the wheel falls over you stand it up, and as soon as the wheel touches the ground it stops spinning, aligns itself, and calms down. This does *not* happen on slick ice. You're holding the wheel and you put it down, but the madly spinning wheel can't get any traction to get itself to horizontal, so it just goes on spinning a little burn mark into the ice. This is a shock when it happens, you're already a little buzzed from the wheel falling over, usually in front of spectators, and now the thing is spinning madly even though it is resting on the ice, and you can't get it to stop. After you do stop it (by elevating it and letting it cut out) you can't turn it on again for the same reason. You have to move off the ice to somewhere with enough traction that the wheel can level itself. If you happen to find yourself in the middle of a large frozen lake, this is going to be a a sticky little problem. :huh:

WRT to moisture and salt, yes this worries me a lot, particularly with wheels I have been taken apart and re-assembled (for a tire change or a mechanical fix of some kind). For this reason I have gorilla tape over all the seams I can find. Remedies for the salt have been suggested to me, but so far I haven't gotten around to trying them. 

As for the melting issue, I have wheel-shaped buckets at both ends of my commute (home and work, under my desk). I carry the wheel rather than roll it in so as not to leave a wheel track everywhere I go, and then let the snow melt off in the  bucket. I have a wire thingy at the bottom of each bucket to elevate the wheel so that it isn't sitting in the melted water. 

 

 

 

Edited by winterwheel
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3 hours ago, Smoother said:

Let me get this straight:  Four or more wheels-safest, two wheels-dangerous, one wheel bat shit crazy, one wheel on ice-...there are no words to define this level of insanity.:roflmao:

Seriously though I think its the cyclists who are insane to try riding out on the icy days; I met one lady walking her bike up an icy slope on a particularly rough day-- I had to dismount for a second behind her until she cleared the path -- and she told me she had in the past broken a kneecap riding her bike in such conditions. No way that happens on a wheel. Then I wished her a good day, hopped on my crazy little wheel, and rode up the hill and away. FWIW cars were having a rough time of it that day as well. 

Edited by winterwheel
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Can anyone explain to me how an EUC is able to work on ice, even up hill?  It defies my understanding of physics. What principles are at work here?  Is it something to do with the extreme pressure on our contact patch, e.g typical western rider plus wheel equals around 100 kg if you estimate a contact patch of around 10cm sq. that's 10kg per cm or for us old school types 22.5 lb per cm sq or 145.17 lb per sq inch. Is it this pressure that makes riding on ice work?

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It does not work on rock hard smooth ice, unless you have a studded tire (metal spikes). But even the regular tire works pretty well on ice that has a rough surface, or is a bit melted, or anything that gives it grip.

Just like you immediately slip on slippery ice when on foot, but can walk pretty well on rougher ice.

So two kinds of ice we're talking about. Riding on one works surprisingly well, riding on the other definitely doesn't.

There's no contact patch or grip difference to a bike in my experience. If you'd slip somewhere with a bike, you'd slip with a EUC - slippery ice, wet leaves, wet wood, the usual.

Edited by meepmeepmayer
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58 minutes ago, meepmeepmayer said:

It does not work on rock hard smooth ice,

 

58 minutes ago, meepmeepmayer said:

. Riding on one works surprisingly well, riding on the other definitely doesn't.

Sorry, but you are not correct on this. I have encountered rock hard smooth ice many times and its scary, but it works. Going up a hill with such ice you're right, it wouldn't work, although even the smallest of surface textures is enough to get you up. But on mainly  level surfaces you're good to go.

Edited by winterwheel
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Maybe we have different definitions of rock hard smooth ice? Mine is "when you can't ride on it":efeebb3acc: I'm thinking of black ice or wetted smooth ice level stuff. Way more slippery than an ice rink stuff. The one you couldn't walk on because you immediately slip away.

Had a fall on a hard ice patch in the forest shadow and cannot in a million years imagine how you'd ride on such a surface with just no grip available (unless you have a spiked tire).

But I guess you have more ice experience and there are more distinctions of ice you can encounter?

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The way I look at it is this...

Can you stand on ice? Yes.

What do you do on a wheel? Stand, mostly, with a bit of gentle leaning to maintain forward progress.

The main issue with ice riding is you have to overcome the urge to jump off the wheel when it starts sliding around. When it starts to slide out to the right, you apply pressure on the right pedal to put it back underneath you. Same for the  left obviously. And of course, do not lean into turns. But the wheel cannot get out from under you unless you let it.

Edited by winterwheel
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I can agree to that. If you can walk on it, you can ride on it (if only very carefully, maybe). But on some ice you'd also fall on foot if you're not very careful or not expecting the level of slickness, and a EUC is a little more susceptible because you don't have one for each foot, only one. Even if it's just smaller slippery spots, big enough to bring you down.

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19 minutes ago, meepmeepmayer said:

Maybe we have different definitions of rock hard smooth ice? Mine is "when you can't ride on it":efeebb3acc: I'm thinking of black ice or wetted smooth ice level stuff. Way more slippery than an ice rink stuff. The one you couldn't walk on because you immediately slip away.

Had a fall on a hard ice patch in the forest shadow and cannot in a million years imagine how you'd ride on such a surface with just no grip available (unless you have a spiked tire).

But I guess you have more ice experience and there are more distinctions of ice you can encounter?

Sorry, don't want to be a pain, but no. My definition includes *all* ice.

I have many times been trapped on severe, ultra-slippery ice in a situation where I have to stop, for a traffic situation generally. As I roll to a stop my issue is not "will I fall over while I am on this slippery surface", but "when I try to get off I'm going to fall because this is black ice right here and I won't be able to maintain my balance when I get off." This is why I wear studs on my boots now. Another example, the ice is on occasion slippery enough that I could stand up the wheel and turn it like a top. I can't get on the wheel on occasion because there is absolutely no grip to keep it steady while I transfer my weight onto the wheel.

As I have said elsewhere, I imagine that riding on ice with studs would be a ton easier, but no one has given me any concrete evidence that riding with studs actually would be any easier than what I am doing already, so I'm in "it ain't broke,  don't fix it" mode right now.

 

Edited by winterwheel
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Hm... if you say so, I have to believe you. So you say you can ride on any kind of ice? What kind of tire pressure do you use? Where does the extra grip come from? Why doesn't the slightest imbalance make the wheel slip away like your foot? Because that happens fast, so unless you ride extremely careful and balanced all the time, it's going to happen eventually, will it not?

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23 minutes ago, meepmeepmayer said:

Hm... if you say so, I have to believe you. So you say you can ride on any kind of ice? What kind of tire pressure do you use? Where does the extra grip come from? Why doesn't the slightest imbalance make the wheel slip away like your foot? Because that happens fast, so unless you ride extremely careful and balanced all the time, it's going to happen eventually, will it not?

The wheel wants to slip away but you don't let it. This is what you have to master when you ride on ice. When the wheel wants to slip away you resist the *very* strong urge to fall over and instead gently push the wheel back in place. As long as you keep the wheel underneath you, you are good to go. But in your mind you really, really want to just fall over and be done with it,  so the stress of it will go away. So 99% of ice riding is mental. (In both senses of the word.:))

I'm not going to say I never fall, I have fallen four times riding on super icy conditions. All four times occurred when I was trying to observe a traffic issue while turning and leaned into the turn. Doesn't work. You have to keep the wheel under you at all times, even when turning, which you do by very gently nudging the wheel in a new direction. But as long as you make up your mind to stay on the wheel and keep it underneath you, you are okay.

Sorry, forgot the fifth time, exemplified in the video. 

In this case it was the plastic yellow line marker that caught me out, and that I was videoing at the same time. The ice that day was everywhere and I was only  half way through my 7k trip. I continued on without having any more falls.

Edited by winterwheel
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8 minutes ago, meepmeepmayer said:

Hmm, I'll have to test that some time:ph34r:

The best way to learn this is when you are doing winter riding on nice days, ride over ice patches instead of around them. That way you can get the feel of it and start developing the right reflexes under somewhat controlled circumstances before hitting a 500m stretch of ice on a bad day. 

I should mention that my riding weight is about 240lbs, and my tire is a bit under-inflated, but not much.

Edited by winterwheel
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I actually prefer ice when very cold outside (flat iced up surface), the days where temperature tend to lean a bit warmer and things start to melt I can experience same surface a bit slippier for sure, but I think it's all normal considering that the bit you slide on actually is a some extremely thin layer of watery ice on, only 10-20 nano meter apparently? They used to believe that layer melt due to friction gliding over it but now the understanding is getting better. Believe it or not they used to fight over what makes ice slippery and for a long time they did not agree or understand, the latest I read is that the atoms binding the water on the think top layer is "watery" and atoms (or rather molecules since they are in groups) can move a bit more free there compared to further down in the ice where temperature etc is different, act like a lubricant of sort.

Found this just now but in Swedish so sucks for non Swe speakers, sorry about that and translate is yet not perfect, perhaps it is still up for debate til this day I am no Einstein so could be wrong? :lol:  Just cannot help myself, like to know how things work and curious by nature.

I did know that playing with pressure sure did just as much difference for me as I though it could, MSX feels soggy, sluggish and slow. I ride it mostly on flat surfaces so you can find a patch here and there that's dry here atm so use them for acceleration, then touching ice again it's all balancing and very light on the foot, ballerina style haha. Aggressive motocross rider, ballerina, on off, on off.... But it's a challenge, very fun.

I wonder though, could programming of software make a difference and if so, who does that the best for EUC's?  Kind of like on cars, can we have traction magic asap, please? :ph34r:

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A few days back it was cold and icy, but with the forecast of freezing rain, I wanted to get a ride in before it hit. Lots of icy patches on the roads, but I was able to roll over it without issue. So long as you're not changing vector, there's no reason to slide. The wheel is going to gyroscopically stay straight. Kept my speed reasonable ... lowest average speed I've clocked in a while. The one place I lost is wasn't on slick ice at all. There was a bit of rough snow frozen to the road to one side of a slick so I opted to cross that as I normally would in a car. Slow speed combined with the rough threw me. At the speed I was going it wasn't more than a trip fall, but it offended me greatly. There after I stuck to rolling over the smooth ice and had no issue. Kept my eyes far ahead and made damn sure I wasn't going to have to change speed or direction on a slick, and made it back home without issue.

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Just an update on the V8 vs ACM2. People are much more friendly and engaging when I am riding the V8. A combination of the lights, the lower speed, and its quietness I suppose. The ladies particularly seem to have a much more positive reaction to the V8, maybe because it is kind of sparkly. This more than anything (the general positive reaction, not the ladies :efef2e0fff:) is why have kept on riding the V8 in to work the last couple of days. 

In case I haven't mentioned this already both wheels manage the commute to work very well (now than I am used to riding V8 again), so the ACM/ACM2 is not a one-off in being able to handle winter commuting conditions.

Not sure if I dare to try the V5F, only because it is a bit undersized for my winter riding weight. I suppose I have to, just to keep this thread going.

Edited by winterwheel
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