There is a new bike company in Durango Colorado called SlipNot who make a Bicycle Traction System, ie chains, for your bike. Bike chains reduce the barriers to winter cycling for either commuter or just having fun. Recently 303cycling took these out for the test and this is what we have to say about them so far.
Purchase. The chains have two prices, $85 for 26” wheels and $95 for 29’ers. The chains can be purchased online
Installation. First off, these chains are for tires of no less than 1.9” in width so the bike I installed in on was an old school Specialized Epic, 26” and not my typical 700c commuter bike. Installation of front tire went pretty smoothly (as shown in their installation video) although since it was my first time I did fumble around a little causing the total time for the first tire to be about 10 minutes, but I learned lot, greatly reducing installation time for the next tire which took a little less than 5 minutes. I was done! Wrong. The smart engineers at Specialized provided very little mud clearance between the tire and the rear shock which caused my chains to rub the shock a little (plenty of clearance on the frame). This required me to take off my wide tires and install a 1.9 commuter tire (Continental Town and Country). After that was complete the chains fit much better.
Operation: I choose to ride these chains on the first big snow day in the Front range that dropped nearly 10 inches of snow on us. I’d never done this before. My route to work is 25% roads and 75% multi-use paths. The roads were about 50% clear and the multi-use path about 10% clear, today was going to be a good test day... or so I thought. Riding the roads was great, I had zero traction issues which gave me the same confidence on the bike as I would have on any regular day. Traction on the trails was also great! Most of the path had semi packed snow and the chains road through it perfectly never having any traction problems. Overall the chains performed perfectly as they were suppose to... but the commute was a disaster
Commuting by bike or just riding your bike for under such conditions comes with many more problems beyond traction.
- Clothing. This is one place I did a good job but I can see were many don’t prepare for the wet conditions like road spray or bike spray
- Fenders. My commuter bike has fenders but my test bike only had a lame rear fender. Road spray from my front tire was a disaster.
- Glasses. Forget trying to wear them.
- Gears. Hahahaha. Who needs them, if the air temperature is below freezing then you are going to end up with 1 gear by the time you reach your end destination.
While I consider myself a seasoned commuter I learned a lot testing these chains out. 1. chains DO WORK! 2. Commuting by bike under conditions that might require chains requires a lot more preparation then just the need for chains. The ease of installation and removal make using chains much more convenient than either switching out studded tires or simply riding studded tires 100% through the winter months. To increase your mountain biking during the winter months this is perfect but if use for commuting is your goal know than riding in the snow might require more then chains, so be sure to look at the full picture before you buying the chains.