Studded tires for winter and MTB trails

    December 15, 2019, 05:31 PM

    I do not have any plans to get a fat tire bike and use my mtb for winter riding instead, if and when I ride with snow and ice.
    Last year I took a really terrible spill on an icy side street because the city is too cheap to clear those that damaged me for a few days and the bike for a repair.
    So now I am thinking of investing in those studded tires for the first time.
    Here are my questions:
    Is it OK to ride with studded tires on the MTB trails?
    As a considerate rider, I don't want to damage them so I thought I would ask here first.

    Is it worth the investment for the busier city streets that get cleared or do they wear down faster on dry pavement?
    That is my hesitation with shelling out the money for them.

    « Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 11:11 AM by Renegade Rick »

    Middleton Bike Park Trail Steward

    December 16, 2019, 09:43 AM

    This season the groomed snow trails at Pleasant View and Blackhawk will be signed as fat bike only but you can ride any tire when it's frozen dirt as is right now.  Without groomed snow yet plenty of people are riding trail bikes when frozen.

    Even if a trail area is not signed as fat tires only you want to make sure you are not leaving ruts.

    Try a fat bike. You can rent fat bikes at area shops or try a demo bike where some shops also give you some credit toward a purchase. My wife and I did that a few times before we got fat bikes. We've enjoyed owning them far more than we expected.  We've used one of ours for utility, pulling the trailer, and it's the closest thing I have to a UTV or ATV for doing trail work.

    Good luck and enjoy these frozen solid days!


    Renegade Rick

    December 16, 2019, 11:08 AM

    Sorry to hear of your injury, RedStrong. We all appreciate your commitment to responsible riding.

    Right now we are in freeze-thaw season. This makes for highly variable trail conditions. Depending on the sun, temperatures, and a seemingly endless number of factors, the trails, and even parts of the trails can vary from awesome to terrible throughout the day.

     The important thing is to use good judgement and stop riding if you're damaging the trail by leaving ruts.

    Right now, skinny tires are just fine and studs won't cause any damage. After we get a snowpack things get more unpredictable. Fat tires can run at lower pressures and offer more float in the snow. You get more chances for better rides on a fat bike in winter. There will be times when skinny tires will be ok too, mostly once the snow has packed down to ice, and then you'll appreciate the added grip studs provide.

    IMO studded tires are well worth the investment, and studded fat tires, even more so.



    December 16, 2019, 12:28 PM

    To answer your question about how long studded tires last, I have been using a pair of Nokian W106? 700 x 35 tires on my 29er winter commuter for nearly 10 years. During that time I have ridden to work Monday to Friday between 1 and 4 miles each way, plus some other riding. They have only lost 1 stud in that time and the rubber is just a little rounded off.  I don't ride on the studded tires outside of December, January, and February. The tires were expensive but they have lasted a long time and look like they have a lot of life left.

    Studded tires really do help a lot with riding on icy roads, though they don't make it foolproof. Ruts and compacted snow from cars are still tricky to ride on, and they definitely don't float on snow. They are also slow rolling.

    If you want to save money studded commuter tires show up on craigslist off and on. It looks like there is a set of Schwalbes on there right now but I can't speak to whether or not they are a good deal.


    Former President
    Board Member

    December 18, 2019, 10:21 PM

    I've got six or seven seasons of regular commuting on a set of studded tires, sounds like more miles than Justin; they are not as sharp as they were when new, but still effective.  As he says, they are not effective in all conditions, and they are loud and slow on pavement (which is where they spend most of their time in my case), but the other day in the freezing drizzle I didn't realize it was icy until I saw and heard cars spinning their tires, so  when conditions are right, they go a long way toward keeping you upright.