Bicycle Ice Racing, Toronto Style


I saw the article about the 1983 J.P. Weigle Icecycle in Issue #146. Nice tires, but the screws are same as on motorcycles. Bike messengers have been racing on ice in Toronto since the late ’80s. It started out on lake Ontario, but now it’s on a rink (thanks to global warming). It’s evolved into Icycle 2010 at Dufferin Grove (Feb. 13th, 2010) in Toronto. Kearney, Ontario will hold the 2nd annual races on the natural ice of the Magnetawan River on Feb. 6-7th, 2010 as part of their Dog Sled Race Weekend.

studded bicycle tires

Here is a picture of my latest tires, which I run with Stan’s No Tubes sealant and no tubes. I used 6 X 3/8″ pan head sheet metal screws on a 29er Stan’s The Crow 2.0 tire. Most people use 700c tires and larger 3/8-1/2″ screws and road or ‘cross bikes (mostly single speeds and fixies). I prefer the larger contact area of the larger tire, and shorter screws cut down on rolling resistance (I’m big: 6’4″, 210lbs.)

Some people use a drill, but I’ve found that a Dremel tool with a small bit to pre-drill holes from the outside works well. Then I hand-drive the screws in from the inside. On these tires I’ve used about 550 screws per tire (we lost exact count as my girlfriend was making her own tires at the same time.) I used my standard XC set-up for my wheels with the yellow Stan’s tape inside and about 4 scoops of the Stan’s sealant. It took a while, but they finally held air and I ran them at about 50psi. Most people usually run duct tape over the screws and then run a smaller tire with the bead cut out and a small, thicker tube inside that (don’t use super lite tubes!).

The first time I ran them on the natural ice of the bay, the tires ran well.  I hit some rough ice and popped a screw into the tire, I was able to run inside, pop the bead and retrieve the screw. I put it back in, added another scoop of Stan’s and aired it up (the compressor is a must). I had no troubles with it the rest of the weekend and made it to the semi-finals.

ice bicycle race

The next weekend at the Dufferin Rink, I made it to the semis again, but found that once the ice was really chewed I was slipping a bit. For this year they’ll be modified. I’m replacing alternating side screws on both sides with 1/2″ screws for a bit more traction. I’ve also enclosed a pic of Barry, 2009 winner of the Kearney Ice Race!!! (note: 700c tires and longer screws!).


“Angry” Johnny Bates
Cycle Solutions/Angry Johnny’s Cycling Club


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