Watch out for black ice!


Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 1, 2007
My commute to work consists of leaving my urban area to pass through some country lanes before I get to a science park where I work.

About 3 weeks ago, when the weather suddenly went very cold, I was travelling on a smooth, straight rural road. There was no ice when I left home but I was just starting to wonder as I gazed at the fields. Suddenly, my bike slid from under me and headed for an on-coming car. I was just saying goodbye to my bike when the car slid to a stop, as did the car behind me. A lucky escape!

I am still not sure what happened. Clearly I hit some black ice and the road was very smooth. There may have been an adverse camber but I am not sure how that would make the bike head for the other lane. I have a TongXin motor on the front so there is not too much weight there. I wonder if it lost traction and started to spin?

After that, I have been more careful to look out for ice, and aware that as you leave an urban area, the temperature can drop.

On Friday, I was on the same stretch of road and it was very cold so I was keeping a careful look out. I was approaching a left hand bend when I saw a car sliding around it. I remember thinking that it was at an odd angle and so were its front wheels. I didn't even have time to consider using the brakes as a split second later I heard a loud bang. The next thing I remember was sitting on the ground with excruciating pain in my legs.

I don't think the driver was reckless as he didn't appear to be going that fast and he did call an ambulance for me.

I have a number of cuts an bruises but thankfully no broken bones. The bike was destroyed but the electrics still seem to work OK, although one of my two batteries (the one in a soft bag) was wrecked.

It's not put me off cycling - I've already ordered parts to rebuild the front wheel - but it has certainly put me off that stretch of road when it is cold. One of the few alternatives is a cycle track on an old railway route but it is quite rough and gets muddy so slows progress and shortens bike life.

Anyone any thoughts on cycling when it is icy? (other than "don't do it!")



Jan 10, 2008
On a good road with other users behaving well the odds are still against a cyclist. my response to icy weather is to leave the bike in the shed. in the future i intend to lift share or get the bus on such days. i remember a few years back in an urban area coming off my vespa just as you describe. on 2 wheels i think there is nothing you can do with black ice.

glad it hasnt put you off though. good for you :)


Oct 25, 2006
Nothing you can really do John, except travel slowly enough so that you are able to get a leg out from the bike on the "lowside" and sit onto the road as it slides from you. There's no defence against the other person who loses control though, so ultimately it's best not to ride when the risk is very high, or use pavements and footpaths slowly at those times.


Apr 28, 2007
berkshire RG8 UK
Sorry to to hear that John,
A few years ago on a pushbike I crested a hill and on the windward side it was sheet black ice, the bike and I gracefully parted company and slid for a full 50 yards, side by side. I am now very wary but you never can tell. But when it snows 'I love it'


Apr 13, 2007
Hi John,
I'm glad to hear you're OK.

I hope yopu don't mind me asking but what happens with things like who pays for repairs in a case like this. Are you pursuing having you bike and any damaged rider equipment, repaired/replaced through his car insurance?



Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 1, 2007
The driver admitted liability and gave me his insurance details.

I contacted his insurer (Tesco) and gave them a breakdown of costs. It's surprising how it all adds up to quite a lot. I am hoping that they will fund a new bike and not make an issue out of it's age because I don't think it would be practical to find a second hand bike quickly with a similar spec and condition.

I wasn't going to bother about injury compensation as recovery should be days rather than weeks but the women on the phone said I was "entitled to" so I wasn't going to argue! They said the would send an assessor 'round, which surprised me, but I don't know how long that will take.

I need to get back on the road soon so I can get to work. So I will have to get a new bike or claim for taxi fares too!

Any recommendations for a mountain bike at around £300 to put my motor on? Speed is more of a requirement rather than hills as it is mostly flat here.

I don't think I can go bigger than 26" wheels as I would loose too much torque.