MTB Rims, Rubber, Studs & Spikes
Serious Tyres for Serious Mountain Biking in the Snow
What We Have Found
Studs won’t make any difference in deep snow
And don’t believe anyone who says different! In deep snow the issue is about floatation, which is dictated in turn by the size of the footprint your tyres present. Look for wide mud tyres with wide spaced lugs that won’t pack out with snow. Floatation is further enhanced by running a low tyre pressure in the (experts suggest you can get as low as 10-15 PSI), which allows them to flatten out, and the use of wide rims (but more of that later). Tyres will tend to creep around the rim at low pressures, and some people suggest glueing the tyre to the rim, but remember, only glue one side and remember which one you glued!
If you are never likely to encounter ice on your rides, then there is no real need to consider studs at all.
Studs do work on ice
For many of us who live in more temperate regions, the likelihood of a midday thaw followed by an overnight freeze means that ice may be frequently encountered. Whether off-road or on-road this is where studs come into their own. They are not failsafe, and you still need to treat ice with due respect, but studs do offer a big improvement in control to the extent that you can easily be lulled into a false sense of security, only to slip straight onto your backside soon after stepping off the bike.
are available as off-road tyres with wide spaced lugs, or on road tyres
with a much closer spaced tread. It should be noted that compared to
regular tyres, there is increased rolling resistance (making pedalling
harder), and the studs can be pretty noisy on bare roads. In climates
where snow and ice persist through the winter, riders would tend to
use studs throughout the season, whereas in regions such as the
Front Tyre, Back Tyre or Both?
We’re a mountain bike web-site selling studded tyres, so it’s probably no great surprise that we think studs on both back and front is best, giving you control over both steering and traction. However, if your budget won’t stretch further than one tyre, then the stud should go on the front. You are more likely to remain upright if you rear-wheel spins than if your front wheel washes out.
All Studs are not Equal
On first appearances, studded tyres cover such a huge price range
that it is difficult to see why anyone would bother with the most expensive
ones. However, things are not always what they seem. A painstaking labour
of love by Bill
Dobson nicely demonstrates the difference in stud quality between
the tungsten carbide Nokians and a brand of cheaper studs available
Nokian recommend a 50 km break-in period for studded tyres, during which heavy usage and heavy braking should be avoided. This helps the studs bed in and reduces subsequent losses. However, stud losses do still occur, and while replacements are available it is thought that up to 10% can be lost before performance is affected.
In order to present a bigger footprint, a double width rim is a great
help. The definitive snow rim, the “snowcat”, is a 44 mm wide single
skinned rim that can be further drilled out to save weight. Designed
and built in Alaska by Simon Rakower www.whickedwheels.com, these rims can prove hard to come by in Europe. Down-hill rims
such as the Sun doublewide are more readily
available and can be used as an alternative, but are comparatively heavy.