For us in India where we do not really experience that harsh a winter and especially no snow fall in most parts of the country, we really have no use having this utility on our bike like pretty much ever. But this is for all those who live in the extreme northern parts of the country that does experience snow and for all the riders who take their bikes there to ride in the know riddled roads.
Snow chains are actually minutely spiked chains that one can either wrap around the tyres of bikes or else some even come with a fitting mechanism that can be pulled over the tyres and fit snugly. What these chains do is the spikes on them allow the tyres to grip deep into the snow; something which we experience while walking with spikes on. This allows the tyres to hold ground and not slip which they would do otherwise. This can be a huge life saver so that you can at least improve your chances of not slipping off and falling on the ground, or even worse, the bike slipping and falling off the deadly ravine. Now, not really planning to scare any one here with this but it can happen and using snow chains actually helps avoid that to a certain extent. So much so that even cars or trucks which ride through such terrain also use show chains on their wheels.
Using these chains is actually not that tough. Just remember a couple of precautions while fitting them and we are golden. For starters, make sure the chain is properly fastened using the locks provided or the one you are using and also that the lock is not coming in the way of the contact with the road. Also when tightening the chain, make sure that all the spike are facing outwards and not a single one is poking into the tyre, else the spikes are sharp enough to leave you with a very bad puncture.
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Make sure that the chain is tight and tight enough but not too tight to not allow any movement. After putting it on, ride for some time and then stop again to check whether the chain is still holding well. It is always a good idea to keep a check on the chain as to if it is proper or not. And most importantly, do not ride with the chain on, on an open road with no know or even in water. If you do not get a chance to remove it soon, then you can drive on but only for a short distance, else it can lead to permanent damage to the wheels.
Another important thing to remember here is that, now that you do have grip on the tyres, does not mean that you can go on speeding and cornering on the snowy road. Make sure to check the speed rating of the chains and go accordingly. But still what I would recommend is a maximum of 30-40 kmph of speed. And now for those who feel that if using this chain is really that necessary and don’t button tyres do the trick. The answer is no. Button tyres help with the wet and mud and a little in mild snow, but when the snow is wet and slippery, no tyres are going to come to your rescue. I remember a few riders had recently visited the north-east on a biking expedition and they were all travelling through proper snow filled and slippery roads. So much so that the bikes were a long thought, they were struggling themselves to keep their feet planted to the ground. They actually had to take help of 2-3 guys at a time to get the bikes moving on the sloped coupled with slippery snowed up surface.
Had only they been using spikes on their feet and snow chains on their tyres, they could have had pretty much breezed through the journey much more easily and made good time of say 30-35 kms per hour as compared to the 10 kms per hour that they were doing. So for all those adventure riders, keep a lookout for this as well, as an added accessory to your biking trip.
Share this article with all your friends who are planning to go on a biking trip to the north where there will be a lot of snow and slippery surfaces and stay tuned to BikesIndia for more such interesting and informative articles.
By: Pratik Patole