Testing bicycle snowplow design changes

There is little known about bicycle snow plows on the Internet. Mostly it is an experimental project. Build something, tweak it, make changes and retest.

Bicycle snowplowing has some limitation that need to be considered. For one, traction on the bicycle even with studded tires is limited. Then there is the consideration of how much power is required to pull a plow. There is also the snow to consider. The heavier, deeper, and wetter the snow, the more power is required and vice-versa, the lighter and shallower the snow, the wider the blade for the same power.

The first version used a 1 foot high by 18 inch long blades hinged together with 2 door hinges and a threaded bar to spread the plow to a wider width. Heavy snow required reducing the length of the plow blades to 12". The threaded rod didn't work so well since it took forever to adjust the width so a triangle was used instead of a rod to spread the blades apart.

At first there were no wheels on the plow. A metal edge was bolted to the bottom of the plywood and scraped the ground. A 2X2 was used to bolt the plow to the chain stay of the bike but repeatedly cracked and broke. It did however keep the plow from fishtailing but when the bike was banked one of the blades would lift, resulting in a groove being plowed instead of a wide track through the snow. Still, it was wide enough to cycle in. The next design change was to chop the 2X2 and use a piece of rope to connect the plow to the towbar. This allows the plow to tilt and remain flat on the ground while reducing the stresses that cause the 2X2 to break. We'll see if it works better.

Warmer weather and a shovel allowed the pathway to be cleared except for a few icy spots. Then fluffier snow fell and having to cut a narrow width groove through the snow required far too many passes to clear a 2 foot wide path. With the dryer snow, not as much power would be required to pull the plow so a couple of pieces of plywood were screwed on to widen plowed the width to 32 inches.

As you can see from the photo, in fresh snow, the added wheels and blade width worked very well while test pulling the plow. Effort was very low and far easier and faster than shoveling. With the wider width it was even faster to clear a wide furrow. It took quite a few treks back and forth on a 8 foot wide pathway to clear it entirely of snow. V-shaped plows cut a fast groove in the snow but trying to push snow to the side doesn't work as the plow is free to slide sideways. It can be done though. The fastest way to clear the pathway is to do 3 passes with a ridge of snow between them.

To leave a comment, please sign in with
or or

Comments (4)

  1. killingtime

    I don’t know.. I would think that a bicycle snowplow would have very limited appeal. Most states that I’ve been in where people had snowplows of any kind got a lot of snow. Much more snow that any design of a bicycle could handle. Those states (like I live in now) with marginal snow fall probably wouldn’t bother with it. I know that I wouldn’t. Here my driveway is a decline, bikes, ice & slanted surfaces just don’t seem like they go together. Then there’s hitting something that won’t move or will barely move with any speed. If you have ever seen someone trying to peddle through water you know what happens. They go along fine until the resistance is too great & then they fall over. No, I just don’t see more advantages than I see disadvantages, but that just me.

    March 04, 2015
    1. WhatILearnedAboutCycling

      Yes, where there are frequent heavy snowfalls, bike plows might be more limited.

      Here, we get a few inches at a time. Once in a while a heavier dump. For heavy snow I have a snowblower. It is very very slow compared to bike plow.

      I seldom get below 10kph and often plow up to 25kph in light snow. Because of wheels, the plows pull very easily. When snow gets too deep to bike plow I sometimes walk and pull the plow.

      I use studded tires and recently bought tire chains. This combination has extremely good traction. I have never fallen over pulling a plow and have blasted through 2 ft drifts with the 2ft plow. My 5ft plow is for up to 2" of snow at a time. When it was just a 3 1/2 ft plow I ran it through 6" snow.

      The largest snowfall this year was 11cm. I usually plow asap after a few inches have fallen, when possible. At times have had to plow through deep snow. There are hills on my route. Up to 5% grade although most of it is level. Climb a steep switchback to get onto pathway though pulling the plow. No problem and it is great exercise, gets me out cycling when I otherwise wouldn’t.

      If it hadn’t been for the bike plow my pathway to work would have been closed like last winter, forcing me to bike on the road with hostile drivers.

      Its a community service and helps keep me in shape for summer cycling. Have had good comments from neighbors.

      March 05, 2015
    2. WhatILearnedAboutCycling

      In Calgary we get 128.8 cms of snow a year or about 4 ft. Bicycle technology has improved a lot in the last few years. For my 5 foot plow I use a rear Ice Spiker tire with 304 studs and tire chains when snow gets deeper. Good enough to pull a 3 foot plow in 6 inches of snow. You can’t get much better traction than that to pull a large plow. In order to pull a large plow, lower gears are needed. Lower gears require more traction to avoid the tire breaking loose which is why I bought chains. I’ve had really good traction with this setup, even pulling the 5 foot plow up a steep switchback every time I head out to plow. My route has about 5% grades so I’m always on inclines, half of route is fairly level, half is hills.
      I use v-shaped plow so anything I hit will only cause the plow to shift sideways, not the bike. The plow actually helps keep the bike going in a straight line because it pulls straight back all the time.
      I started out with a single speed and sometimes couldn’t get enough speed to keep the bike upright the odd time. Now using a 3 speed with 2 lower gears. May even change out the rear gear for a larger one to lower the top gearing even more. In lower 2 gears I haven’t had any problems with not being able to keep the bike going fast enough to balance. For deeper snow I use a 25" plow that is built super strong. Have punched through 2 foot drifts with it and in light snow often hit 30 kph.
      When I started plowing I would have agreed with you. There is even the option these days to add an electric motor to the front wheel for up to 500 watts more power. This would easily double if not triple the power most people can produce on a bike. Things are changing and the new technology is making bicycle plowing even more feasible than it has been.

      August 19, 2015
  2. sorme1946

    I think you are talking about some design or you generate a new kind of bicycle. I am searching some dissertation assistance service for my project report. So if you don’t mind can you help me for this?

    January 19, 2017