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I'm considering getting studded tires, but I'm concerned about a portion of my commute. I go down this road both directions: 39° 40.468', -84° 14.340'. This 2 lane narrow road has 2 railroad crossings from a parallel track next to the road in order to service a factory. Both the road and the crossings are poor quality.

Considering the rule of thumb for railroad crossings is perpendicular as possible, this road doesn't allow that. I'm not talking about the tire falling in the groove along the rail, just the tire trying to climb a rail. On dry days, no problem, but when they are wet they cause a small slide to the side before the tire goes over the top of the rail. What I'm worried about is that since the tire engages the track off center, will studs cause me even more troubles by not providing traction to climb the rail and cause the bike to slide out from under me as the tire follows the rail?

In my case, the bike is a 2008 Schwinn High Timber, 26x1.95 inch department store mountain front suspension with stock dirt trail tires. Any tires I plan on buying are urban 26x1.50 to 26x1.75.

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I'd be more worried about the stud sliding on the steel rail than anything else. But at least it used to be that studded tires were designed with the studs on the side, so they wouldn't engage unless you were tilting the bike. –  Daniel R Hicks Dec 17 '13 at 16:14
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I've not had problems with Schwalbe Marathon HS396's over three winters worth of RR tracks. The benefits probably outweigh the risk in most cases. –  WTHarper Dec 17 '13 at 17:21
    
Do note that sometimes it's more prudent to stop and walk your bike across a bad crossing. Particularly if the rails are at an angle and traffic is such that you can't approach the rails fairly squarely then it may be better safe than sorry. The scenario on that Google Maps shot is bad because the rails have the left size farther out, so you can't swing out to the left side of the lane ("claiming" your lane) then angle back right, but instead must angle left, leading you out into traffic. –  Daniel R Hicks Dec 18 '13 at 16:39
    
@DanielRHicks, there is no way I would be able to stop and walk that portion, the cagers would skin me alive (even though it is 25mph, and all the buses use that road and have to stop at each crossing). I already have to claim my lane by going down the middle of the lanes because the tire tracks in both lanes are nothing but crumbs, besides the street being narrow. But the crossing has a huge bump from shifted asphalt that I have to swing into the tire track to find the smoothest crossing and then right back to the middle. Plans are in place for a repaving...heres hope. –  BPugh Dec 19 '13 at 14:47

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think you'll be fine. You might experience some slip, but not enough to cause you to come off the bike or get stuck, etc.

Three reasons I'll think you'll be alright:

  1. Your tires are also made of rubber, not just metal studs and will deform while on/around the rail. This means that some portion of the rubber tire will be contacting the rail and providing grip.

  2. If you have any speed at all your tire will cross the rail quickly and not spend much time trying to grip it.

  3. The odds of both tires being on the rail at the same time, for any length of time, are pretty low, so the rear tire will be pushing forward or the front will pull enough to get you across it.

Now, there's a small technique that will help you out regardless of conditions and tires: the bunny hop. By lifting even your front tire over the rail, you've eliminated half of your traction problem. Getting the back tire up will pretty much erase the issue all together.

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You don't actually need a full bunny hop here - just unweighting the wheel, even a little, will help. You're more likely to fall if you do try the bunny hop. Instead, treat it as any other rough surface - go a little off the saddle, stay loose so the bike moves under you (this reduces the force on the wheels so they're less likely to slip sideways). It will help if you unweight each wheel as it hits the rails, just pull back as the front wheel goes up, then lean forward as the back wheel goes up. Once you're in the "bouncing over multiple tracks" stage, just ride the bike :) –  Mσᶎ Dec 17 '13 at 23:33
    
Thanks for a great answer. I figured the tire would deform, but couldn't shake the idea of the stud lifting too much rubber off. –  BPugh Dec 19 '13 at 14:51

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