Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Meow, ya big fat stud.

As the northern hemisphere tilts deeper into our dark season, many (me, you?) turn to their fat-tire bikes to gain flotation on snowpacked trails.

It's awesome that we have that choice, not to mention so many options for rims and tires to suit our particular needs.

Those in slightly more temperate locales or with unique microclimates end up having to put studded tires on their bikes to keep them upright.

And it's awesome that they have that choice.  

Still others need both fat and studs to ride all winter long.

It's nearly unbelievable how many options there are for studded tires these days -- unfathomable even 2 years ago.  Currently you can choose from 26", 27.5", and 29" diameters, and widths ranging from 2.3" up to 4.7".  You can choose to buy them pre-studded, or stud-your-own.  Not only that, but there are now options in the studs themselves -- pointed, flat-tipped, concave, and even 3-point crowns.  Amazing.  On top of all that there are varying options in each of these pocketed tires for your overall tread configuration -- some emphasizing traction over all else, others leaning toward a blend of speed and grip.

All unthinkable a few short years ago.  

Which brings us to our current place -- where there are so many iterative options, each of which can potentially steer you further away from what's ideal in your neck of the woods.  Analysis paralysis happens, and we haven't yet begun to discuss the effect of tire pressure on stud effectiveness!

I've been experimenting with studs on my own tires for about 30 years.  Back in college I rode my bike to class year-round, and for 3 to 4 months every winter that meant I needed to stay upright on rutted ice covered by plow spoil, and often with a thin layer of slush or meltwater at every intersection, left behind by idling cars.  Sketchy.

From there I transitioned into riding snow and ice in the mountains of Colorado, when almost no one else was.  Then came nearly 2 decades of training for and racing the Iditarod in Alaska -- an entirely different category of experiences.  These days I ride local trails covered with diurnal melt/freeze for 2+ months of every winter, plus another ~3-4 months of deep snow in the alpine, occasionally interspersed with a trip to ride some weird combo of ice and rock out in the desert.  Or maybe even back to Alaska.  

For literal decades I've embraced riding through the winter, and in doing so I have accrued a tremendous amount of experience with the many variants of northern hemisphere snow and ice.  I'm continually adding to that experience by testing different combinations of rim, tire, stud, and pressure.

I stock and sell tires of all configurations suitable to off-road travel over snow and ice.  Some of the more commonly purchased options are listed here.  Don't see what you need there?  Or uncertain of what you really need?

Drop a line:

Thanks for checking in.


  1. Thanks for the wheels. No studs on the Gnarwhals yet, but enjoying learning the ride. The Kodiak is finally getting its first introduction to winter.

  2. Your ex-Fatillac - now living the soggy PacNW life here in Oregon, sporting a Mastodon up front, and (when appropriate) running an alt 27.5+ wheelset w/ Terrene Chunks - appreciates its younger-self selfie.:-) (Running Vanhelga's in 26 fat mode.) Cheers Mike!