To Stud or Not To Stud?... That is the Question
To stud or not to stud… that is the question we look at today. It’s a huge choice to make. During the winter months some of us get snow and ice while others get none at all. And then there’s that in between zone that most of us fat bikers reside in.
One big thing to consider I think is price. Studded fat bike tires are not cheap. You’re going to be spending about $140-$250+ per tire. Yep, you read that correctly. That’s more than big mud tires for off road vehicles (I just bought a set of 33” Maxxis Razr MT tires for my 4 runner at ~ $180 per tire). Even if you go the route of studding your tires yourself, those kits aren’t cheap either. Also, many tires that have holes pre-drilled for excepting studs are pricey. Those tires will need to be studded prior to riding too as they tend to get gravel stuck in the holes making it near impossible to insert the studs later.
Then, of course you’ll have to consider the weight studs will add to your fat bike. Plus, the added rolling resistance from a heavy snow tire needs to be considered. I prefer to ride 26” wheels with 4.8in or wider tires in the winter for maximum traction on packed snow and ice. A set of Vee Tire Co. Snowshoe XL studded tires weigh just a little over 7 lbs!
So the reality is, if you’re not going to be riding on snow and ice for 80% of the time or more during winter, than you probably don’t want dedicated studded snow tires. Riding studded tires on pavement, dirt and rocks will damage the tire studs leading to some falling out or wearing down. You will have too much rolling resistance as well and your fat bike will sound like it has an engine (Not joking).
So, if you’re going to be riding primarily on snow and ice then definitely consider a set of studded snow tires for winter. The tires will last for several seasons since the studs and tread won’t wear down very fast. You can then swap back to a fat bike tire set like the Maxxis Minion FBF/FBR for the warmer months. As mentioned above, do not buy pre-drilled tires and think that you can stud them later after trying them out. You will hate yourself.
This is my first season with dedicated snow tires. I noticed a huge difference right away when riding on snow packed single tracks trails. Studded fat bike tires are confidence boosters for sure. Knowing that you can stick a turn without sliding off the trail is a great feeling that I’ve been missing from the past few winters.
I went with silica compound constructed, Vee Tire Co. Snowshoe XL 26”x4.8” studded tires and I couldn’t be happier. I recommend this tire now for anyone looking to try out dedicated snow tires. You don’t have to break the bank to get awesome studded winter tires. This tire is also available without studs for those of use that don’t want studded tires, but want some extra grip. Many of us will be riding mixed conditions and the non-studded version is perfect for that.
Hope this helps you decide if studded snow tires are right for you. It’s a big decision and nothing to take lightly. You want to make your fat bike as pleasant and fun to ride. If you don’t need them, don’t buy them. Your legs will thank you. However, if you do decide to get some studded tires for the snow and ice, you’ll be very glad that you did! While you’ll definitely be moving slower with heavy snow tires, you will be doing so in an upright position… in theory, ha, ha!
Thanks for reading. Look for regular blog uploads from Fat Bike Asinine. It is going to be fun. If there’s anything you think would be good to discuss on this blog send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Until Next Time… Go Fat Biking!
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