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How is cornering on the road different than cornering on dirt?

Is cornering in snow any different?

I usually attempt to keep at least half my weight on the front wheel for stability when cornering and braking.

However, with all the ice this winter, I discovered that front tire slips are quite ordinary. Thus, I find it beneficial to keep my weight back, maybe only 20% on front wheel, and stay ready to dab in the event of front tire slip.

Is this reasonable behaviour on ice or am I being too scared and actually decreasing my stability by pulling back? Tires are Land Cruiser, saddle height is lower than typical XC to facilitate ... falling from not so high.

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    Well, if ice is so much of a concern, invest in some studded tires. – Batman Feb 16 '15 at 18:58
  • I've ridden in rain and snow, but I draw the line at ice. Without studded tires it's simply too unpredictable. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 17 '15 at 2:01
  • To clarify, this question is about technique and not equipment. Riding on ice is loads of fun, but I do it only away from cars. The part of my commute, that involves cars, isn't usually iced (rather wet asphalt) and studded tires may reduce my handling in those critical regions, so those are absolutely out. – Vorac Feb 17 '15 at 10:47
  • I doubt studded tires will reduce your handling in those regions. – Batman Feb 17 '15 at 18:15
  • To be honest, I was hoping for some good wisdom on riding slippery surfaces from Aaron, mattnz, cherouvim, DWGKNZ or Jahaziel. – Vorac Feb 18 '15 at 14:26
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I'd look at which situations you are encountering tire slips in. If you are encountering tire slips in cornering, studs are probably the way to go (or much more conservative riding). If you are having trouble while you are braking, you may consider adjusting your technique to be much more rear brake heavy or rear brake alone.

I find that no matter what I do my pedal stroke is so sloppy and unbalanced that I almost never pedal on ice. Generally I just try to coast over ice sections keeping my body as relaxed and centered as possible. Major direction changes (without studs) are pretty much out as well. I try to keep my weight off my handle bars so that I am not tempted to move the front wheel quickly or with any real force. If you are going to try and turn the front wheel, it should be a feathered movement. More than anything it takes practice and watching out for icy spots. I probably fall (on ice) less than once a year now. When I started riding in the winter (even with studs) years back it was probably closer to every other week.

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  • So keep my weight back, but shift my braking to the rear as well. I'll try that. Good thing I learned effective rear braking recently. – Vorac Feb 17 '15 at 12:08
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The real issue with ice is that it has a very low coefficient of friction, and weight distribution won't change that enough to make a difference. Tires with a soft compound and a lot of siping help somewhat, but the best solution is a tire with metal studs.

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As others have pointed out studded tires are most effective against ice. As for weight on front wheel, yes it is important to have some. But you do not want to lean heavy and make your hands heavy and stiff. You want them to be light, quick to react and precise. You also want your upper body to be flexible and quick to react.

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