Thursday, December 18, 2008

Zip tie bike tire "chains"

Todd Boulanger, Vancouver (WA)'s bike czar, came up with the idea of wrapping zip ties around the rear wheel as lo-fi tire chains, and then ran with it. The hard plastic bands should in theory provide some start up and braking traction. Of course, if you have a rear rim brake, you'll have to disconnect it, and, frankly, that's kind of a deal killer. Since my Azor has hub brakes front and rear, I thought I'd give it a try on both ends. I'm here to report that it can be implemented, and it works well, in theory!

I hadn't realized the extent of Todd's brilliance. While I was focused on the physical effects of thin bands of hard plastic, Todd was looking beyond that to the metaphysical impact of doing something this desperate for a bike ride. Sure enough, with my little black tire charms installed, the snow and ice seemingly melted before me, as if parted by a tiny snowboarding Moses. This was aided by the temperature climbing rapidly to 37 this morning. Still, I don't think we can totally discount the tire charms. For my loyal readers, I managed to snap the following photo on some unspoiled sidewalk snow. It sort of does look like the zip ties could help.

I didn't dare hang around long, though, since nearby I saw fresh tracks from one of our urban cougars (Felis domesticus). I imagine stranded cyclers without tire charms are some of their favored winter prey. Be careful out there.

If things freeze again in the next few days, I may be able to report back with some actual information on the zip ties.



Anonymous knochgoon24 said...

I built a set of tire chains for my bike that don't interfere with the rear brake system at all. They take about 5 min to install too. Insane traction on snow and ice. It cost about $30 and a trip to Lowe's for the parts.

I needed (all approx for 26" bike):
16' of 1/16 "stainless steel cable
20' or so of thin chain it was 46 cents a foot
4 of those cable end clamps

I use it every day to commute to school. Works wonders on snow and ice.

11:58 PM  
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1:10 PM  
Anonymous Joseph Sterns said...

You'd better be careful on driving bikes on snow, Man! There are surely some tricks not to fall, though. Some parts of a bike are kinda dangerous, too. If you fall, there's a possibility that you'll hit the pedals. Be sure to take note of that, too. Btw, was your ride enjoyable back then?

2:11 PM  

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