Riding In The Rain/snow: Fatter Tires, All-weather Tires, Or Both?


New Member
Aug 26, 2015
Hello all,

I was wondering what your opinions are on commuting in rainy/snowy conditions. With winter on its way, I'd like to stay safe while commuting and trying to get some form of workout in between. My route is short, 8km, but it's got hills and sharp turns which do pose issues at speed.

Currently, I have 23cm Specialized Axis wheels with the Sport tires that Specialized puts on everything. So question is:

"What is essential to a rainy commute; wider, bigger tires, or all-weather tread?"

Your thoughts and experiences would be very much appreciated.
It's obvious that I haven't experienced snow because I live in a tropical country. Maybe I wouldn't dare ride when there is snow on the road because it looks slippery (when I saw snow for the first time in China this January). But here, the equivalent of snow may be the floods. Seriously though, it is fun to ride in traversing a flooded road unless you are not prepared to get wet. And the only danger you may face is when you encounter a pothole or an open manhole where you can drop in.
Tread pattern is pointless on skinny tires, thread compound can have an effect. There is no need for special tires to ride in the rain. Visibility is more of a problem than traction for rainy commutes. Have lights front and back and wear bright, reflective clothing. The biggest danger for slippage in the rain is cornering so just slow a bit before turns.

I have ridden in a few feet of water with regular tires with no problem.

Snow is more difficult. A few inches of fresh snow over clean pavement is very easy to ride on with regular tires. I have commuted regularly in the past few winters on standard road bike with skinny tires as long as the roads were clear. Slush, packed snow, snow over ice, crusty snow, etc. makes riding more difficult - this is where fatter or specialized winter tires work better.

My present winter commuter has 700x40c studded tires. The studs give much better traction over icy stretches, I have ridden for miles over frozen lakes. They are not perfect, however, more caution and care is required on ice even with studs. You learn to turn gently to avoid the tires slipping out from under you.

The ultimate would be a fat bike with studded tires for riding on road and snowy trails - perhaps this year.

One final thing, caliper brakes will cake with snow and become useless when the snow is sticky. Disc brakes function well in the snow.
I've always used all weather tires and never had a problem, although I don't normally attempt to ride in the snow. I'm very used to cycling in the rain and I've never had an issue with traction so to be honest it's not something I've given much thought to.

If it's wet or slushy out, I'll avoid using my road bike with the skinny tires, but that's usually as far as I go.
I have all weather tires since in the winter i don't use cycle and instead use my feet. However, it wouldn't be too expensive to acquire some winter tires but cycling may be really dangerous when it is freezing cold and everything is slippery.
I went out for a ride when we had a severe snow fall one winter. I took my mountain bike which had the chunky mountain bike tyres and that seemed to handle the roads and conditions perfectly. I went out about 3 miles away from town out onto minor roads that had ice on them and my bike handled it nicely. I did not slip or slide once.

I'd go for chunky mountain bike like tyres.