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What is Icebike?

H.R. Childress
H.R. Childress

Icebike is a term used for winter bicycling, particularly in snowy or icy conditions on roads or trails. It can also refer specifically to ice bike racing where race courses are marked out on solid sheets of ice. While special equipment is available for icebiking, less extreme versions of the sport are often undertaken on normal, unmodified bicycles.

Biking during the winter can generally be referred to as icebike. Ideal weather conditions typically range from cool and rainy, to cold and dry, to cold and snowy or icy. Icebike can also refer to either road biking or trail biking. Cyclists may choose to bike during the winter for a variety of reasons, including commuting, exercise, or simply for fun. The types and amounts of special equipment required for winter cycling vary by climate conditions and whether the biking is done primarily on roads or on trails.

People who go ice biking should remember to wear winter gloves that will keep their hands warm.
People who go ice biking should remember to wear winter gloves that will keep their hands warm.

In milder winter conditions, a regular road or mountain bike is often sufficient for icebiking. For snowy or icy roads and trails, special tires may be necessary. Icebikers may use studded tires that can either be purchased or homemade — ones with screws inserted from the inside of the tire. Other options for winterizing tires include tire chains and tire wires.

Tire chains can help winterize tires.
Tire chains can help winterize tires.

Other equipment may be necessary for winter cycling whether or not there is snow and ice. Fenders can prevent water or snow from being thrown up onto a cyclist. Bike lights, which in most places are required for cycling after dark, are of particular importance during the winter since it is dark during a larger part of the day.

Appropriate clothing for outdoor winter exercise is as important for icebiking as it is for any other winter sport. Gloves, shoes, and socks are of particular importance for icebikers since hands and feet stay stationary on a bike and are more prone to cold conditions. Cyclists may use regular gloves, mittens, or special mitts called pogies that are designed to be attached to bike handlebars. Regular bike shoes, winter bike shoes, or winter boots may be used for cycling, depending on climate and the biker's preference. In general, clothing guidelines for icebiking are similar to those for other winter sports.

Ice bike racing is a special category of icebiking. It involves twisted race courses marked out on solid ice, often on frozen lakes and rivers. Most ice bike racers use studded tires to achieve sufficient traction on the icy courses.

Discussion Comments


Icebiking has shown up on the winter x games and I think it has become one of my favorite events. There is just something so outrageous about riding a bike down a steep steep hill covered in snow and ice.

It makes you think of a bunch of bored guys at the top of a mountain who have no skis or snowboards. One of them finds a rusty old bike, decideds he is feeling bold and goes hurtling down the mountain. A sport is born. Thank god he didn't find a pair of roller skates.


When I first heard of ice biking I thought it sounded ridiculous. Why would someone want to ride a bike over ice? This is like driving a car through oil slicks or going swimming with a fat suit on. It seemed like an arbitrary obstacle.

But we had a huge ice storm last year and most of the town was shut down and a friend of mine convinced me to give ice biking a try.

Now, we didn't have official ice bikes. We both have pretty decent mountain bikes and they have intense mountain bike tires on them.

It was slow going at first but once you learn to account for the sliding and the skidding it is a lot of fun. You get the feeling that you are out of control but that you can somehow still direct your movements. If is thrilling right up to the point of being scary. I ended up loving it. I only got a few bruises and I would do it again in a heartbeat if we ever got a storm like that again.

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    • People who go ice biking should remember to wear winter gloves that will keep their hands warm.
      By: kitzcorner
      People who go ice biking should remember to wear winter gloves that will keep their hands warm.
    • Tire chains can help winterize tires.
      By: flucas
      Tire chains can help winterize tires.