Snow cycling

Snow bike weybridge

Bicycles perform excellently in the kind of conditions that have paralysed roads this week. Although there exists a number of accessories to adapt bikes for snowy conditions -from metal-studded tyres to full caterpillar track systems – most are gimmicks that add very little real value.

2-wheel drive

Japanese bicycle manufacturer Tretta has a range of 2 wheel drive bikes. The MTB uses an additional – and very long – that chain stretches from the rear hub to a set of small cogs near the top of the down tube. There are advantages in having both wheels driven, but this design adds weight and unnecessary complexity.

Caterpillar tracks

An even more complex answer to the question of how best to cycle in snow is the caterpillar track bike. Although ut looks like it means business, when we tested it we found it doesn’t perform any better than a conventional mountain bike.

caterpillar track snow bicycle

Snow bicycle crash

Ice tyre hack

Cyclists tend to be resourceful, but this solution to the problem of icy roads is particularly ingenious. Imaginative cyclists are adapting their bikes for use on icy roads by fitting their bicycle tyres with cables ties. The cable ties take only a few minutes to fit and provide impressive traction on the most slippery of surfaces. The cable ties are inexpensive to buy, and can be fitted to bikes (with coaster or disc brakes) without tools in very little time. It is possible to buy tyres fitted with metal spikes, which give a shorter braking distance than the tyres fitted with cable ties, but can cost around £50 a piece.

cable tie tyres

Cable ties cost about 3 pence each and each tyre needs around 15 ties. Once the period of cold weather has passed they can be cut away and discarded. Alternatively, buy the reusable type or use the head of a small screw driver to release the cable and re-use. The technique is suitable only for bicycles fitted with disc or hub brakes, but it is possible to adapt any bicycle tyre for use on ice by adding pop rivets for less than £2.

It’s easy to assume that a bicycle is the worst possible option in snow, but this is not the case. Although riding on ice can prove tricky, a light covering of snow should not present any difficulties for an experienced rider. In a nutshell, keep your weight towards the rear wheel, make most use of the rear brake (gently) and run a slightly lower tyre pressure.


ETA cycle insurance

Excellent protection whatever the weather

ETA cycle insurance offers a sympathetic policy on storage. For example, as long as a shed door is locked the bicycles stored within do not require any further security. In addition, the policy covers stolen quick-release components and for added peace of mind, claims are handled in-house. Furthermore, bikes are never devalued, no matter their age. Hardly surprising that The Good Shopping Guide voted us Britain’s most ethical insurance company 2017.


  1. Bish


    I’ve been commuting on an old mountain bike fitted with Schwalbe studded ice/snow tyres during the bad weather. It’s got fixed gearing (33/18) so allows total speed control without using brakes and has low maximum speed (approx. 10mph). I’ve only had to get off and push once where the snow had blown across the road and formed a deep drift.

  2. Alastair Seagroatt


    Don’t “just cut away cable ties and discard them”, use reusable ones and keep plastic waste in our environment down. You can also release ordinary cable ties with a small screwdrive, sometimes quicker than cutting them. Have been using them for a few years. Easily available in all sorts of colours, just do a search.

    • The ETA


      Good advice – article now updated accordingly.

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