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Winter is upon us, and if you ride your bike to work you may want to think about making your own tire chains. This project doesn’t look too hard to make, and I bet they would add a lot of safety to that cold morning commute.

More about DIY Bicycle tire chains [bikecommuters]

Marc de Vinck

I’m currently working full time as the Dexter F. Baker Professor of Practice in Creativity in the Masters of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship Program at Lehigh University. I’m also an avid product designer, kit maker, author, father, tinkerer, and member of the MAKE Technical Advisory board.


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Comments

  1. Gilberti says:

    That won’t work on most consumer bicycles. The chains are shown wrapping around the wheel. This means that the scissor-type brakes used on most bicycles, including my own, would be torn apart if you tried to brake with this assembly on.

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      Yes, thanks for pointing that out. I think they address that in the build. I guess I need to find a DIY disk brakes project.

  2. Steve says:

    , THAT will damage the tires, and the cable ties will just brake.

  3. Jack of Most Trades. says:

    Back in the Winter of Seventy-Five, I wrapped a length of rope around the rear wheel of my ’72 CB-350 to get to work one snowy Saturday morning. When I got into town it vibrated like a full-lug knobbie on the wet streets and the rope was only good for 1 20-mile round trip. I had traction, though, in the 4″ of fresh snow that had come down before I had to head in at 6AM.

    Bet this chain trick would be really scary on wet pavement when you tried to turn.

  4. TwoShort says:

    The point of tire chains for cars is that it’s cheaper and easier to put them on and off than to change back and forth to big knobby tires. Cut & replace 16 zip ties to change a flat for something that looks to be not as good as slightly knobier tires?

    As a year-round bike commuter I’ll tell you: Traction in deep snow is not an issue; bikes don’t get stuck in the ditch. Traction on ice is an issue, but these would just make that worse. Studded tires are the way to go (You can even MAKE them with a bunch of masonry screws.)

    Oh, god – just realized he has those on the FRONT wheel, where the only thing that matters is lateral traction; I mean come on, that’s just laughable; what possible purpose is he even imagining those serving?

  5. gromit says:

    Obviously several of you have some valuable input, but what’s with all the obnoxiousness? Do you want people to share ideas and collaborate to improve them or just chase them away with your terrible attitude?

    -g

  6. Luizzle says:

    TwoShort:

    It’s OBVIOUSLY a 2wheel drive bike!

  7. Fat Tired on Ice says:

    Actually, if you’re riding a MTB, traction on ice is of little issue. The low psi, and the knobbies are excellent for riding on ice.

    In those 4″+ sections of snow are where you need the tractions. Fresh snow not only offers less friction than hardpack and ice, but it also seriously slows down your momentum. It’s worse than riding through deep mud. Apparently, Mr. Year Roudn bike commuter has never biked in deep snow.

    Making those cheap studded tires is a PITA, and the lose “studs” left and right with any serious distance.

    Don’t listen to the haters. This is obviously a thing that’s not for everyone, nor everyones bike!

    Instead of showing how much Lemon/Lime Haterade you drink, why don’t you go out and eb industrious and create something? Add to the possibilities of solutions.
    Heck, why don’t you sack up and offer one of your ideas to the general public and see what they think?

    Personally, I like using tubeless knobbies at around 20-25psi.

  8. A winter biker says:

    I made a set that worked on a mountain bike with rim style brakes. I used a ring of 1/16″ stainless steel cable, much like he did, but I didn’t leave the zip ties on. You CAN make it so it doesn’t interfere with the brakes.

    My set attached with 2 zip ties for each tire. basically, I just flipped the bike up-side down and wrapped the chains around the tire. I used the zip ties to snug it up. It took less that 5 min to install them, and only 30 sec to take them off.

    The chain I used was just a generic twist chain I bought from Lowes that had a plastic coating. Eventually, both the plastic and the chains wore through from use, but all I had to do was to add another bit of chain.

    I used these all winter in Erie, PA. We had 145″ of snow last winter and I had no problems and no accidents.

    The chains on the front tire DO provide lateral traction if you space them closely. I had one every 3″ around the tire. I always had at least 2 in contact with the ground.

    I built my set for ~$30.

    I’ll be building another set this year, building on my design from last year. However, this year, I finally dropped the $$$ and bought a bike with disk brakes.

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      Sounds cool. Any pictures?

  9. I would highly advise against making your chains that tight. Not only is it going to destroy your tire and possibly your spokes and rim, but the tear it would create in the tire would cause huge BANG that could startle the living crap out of you while you cruse along at 20mph on snow and ice. If your going to make your own, try and copy the guys that do it commercially. Slipnot Traction Systems is a local company where I live in Durango, CO. I got them straight from the owner.