322 S Union St.
Traverse City, MI 49684
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January 7, 2019, 12:00 am

If you made it out to the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association Annual Meeting’s ride this weekend, you know just how icy trails can get. With plenty of freeze and thaw in the forecast, we take a quick look at how studded tires can make the marginal days more fun.

Studded tires are nothing new, and especially for commuters in Traverse City, they’ve been a staple of winter riding for years. Using steel or carbide studs to grab onto the ice, studded tires can make the difference in having a safe ride, or getting a ride to the hospital. We’ve used studded tires on pavement for years, often putting in big base mile ride on Old Mission Peninsula and relying on those studs to get us the traction necessary to survive patches of ice and snow along the route.

With the growth of fat biking and fat bike tire manufacturers, the availability of four and five inch studded tires was always going to happen. Over the past two or three years, however, more and more riders are opting for studded tires early and late in the season on the trail, not just for riding around town. Here in northern Michigan, we’re having an exceptionally up-and-down winter, alternating between snowstorms and cold temperatures and plenty of warm days. With rain in the forecast and little snow on the horizon, the trails will be a mix of ice and snow for another week or so. We typically see a similar situation in the spring, where frigid weather offers a stern backlash to the slow thaw of spring. The answer is to pick up a set of studded tires.

There are two ways to get studded. The first is to manually add studs to tires, and many 45NRTH tires have holes that are designed to take aftermarket carbide studs. With a pack of tips and a tool, you’re going to want to put on a good show, give yourself plenty of time, and make sure you’re in a patient mood if you’re going to stud tires yourself. The beauty of adding your own studs is that you can put them in your own pattern, possible sticking to the outside edges of the tire, alternating or spacing the studs, and perhaps only using as many studs as necessary to save a little weight.

If you don’t have the patience, you can also get pre-studded tires. We have plenty of customers who have upgraded to nicer carbon fat bike wheels and have kept their stock wheels for the sole purpose of mounting up studded tires. While certainly heavier, their ‘training wheels’ offer a quick way to swap out lighter, racier set-ups for something a bit more sturdy and sure-footed for when the trails get glazed over.

45NRTH offers a pretty terrific line-up of studded tires, from 700s commuting tires to a nice selection of fat bike tires with the same tread patterns of their non-studded options. It’s a nice way to broaden your tire quiver; if you’ve already got a four inch tire, maybe get a 5” tire for your studded riding, and maybe go for a different tread pattern. We’ve also found that, at least here, a lower profile tread pattern seems to help keep those studs in contact with the ice, making the studded Dillinger 5 our go-to pick.

Whether you’re riding studs or not, always make sure you’re keeping an eye out for icy conditions, and make the smart call about how fast you should be going, or if you should be riding at all. There are certainly days where the risk, especially if you’re riding alone, far outweighs the slow, treacherous conditions of giving it a go. Stop by and we’ll show you some studded tires in person and help you decide if a pair is right for how and where you ride this winter!


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