Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Studs on the Xtra

Last night I made a little time to install the studded tires on the Xtra. I wasn’t necessarily going to run studded tires on the soon to be named Xtra, but with all of the snow we’ve recently received, and the fact that the roads and sidewalks is pretty much solid ice, I needed something with studs. Either that or drive........ Yesterdays ride on the KM proved this. 3 wipe outs on the way home for lunch. 2 on a busy road. Not my idea of a risk worth taking. Also, seeing as the only set of studded tires I’ve got are 26”, and the only 26” bike I’ve got is the Xtra, I didn’t really have much of a choice. The studded tires that I run are Schwable Snow Studs. I don’t think they make these tires anymore. I think they’ve been replaced by the Schwable Marathon Winter. I do like these Snow Studs I have though. While they’re not aggressively studded, they do offer that extra little bit of bite that aids in keeping the bike vertical. I’ve been eyeing up the Nokian 29er 294, with its 294 studs. Those on the single speed Karate Monkey would make for a very well planted bike on the winter roads around Strathmore. However, I think that once the ice is gone, the studs would wear down really quickly. At least the ones in the center band of the tire. One thing I really like about the Snow Stud is that I can pump them up to 65PSI, and the studs are clear of the road. Obviously cornering will bring them into contact, but you just have to remember not to corner very fast. Last night, I put 35PSI in them, and that lets the center of the tire flatten out, and brings the studs nicely down to the icy surface. Where these Snow Studs really shine is when everything starts to melt. Slush and slop pose no issues for these tires. The tread pattern sheds slush, snow and mud like crazy. I’ve never seen a tire as good at shedding mud as the Snow Stud.
After a season away from the studded tires, you forget how big of a difference the do make. Especially after abandoning my bike ride back to work after lunch yesterday I really notice the difference. If you think you may benefit from running studded tires on your bike, I’d say give them a go. You’ll be amazed at how much it helps. With the current conditions that I’m commuting in right now, I’d say that I couldn’t ride my bike to work safely without studded tires.
(This is the way home for lunch today. Warmed up to a balmy -16C!)
Now……..I’m seriously second guessing my decision not to buy a set for the Karate Monkey……


Jeff Moser said...

So how does that long wheelbase handle in the snow? I've thought about sticking some 29er dirt tires on my Ute...

Jerome said...

There are two noticeable differences that I’ve found. One good, one bad.

The good one: when you start sliding out on the rear end, it takes longer for the rear to swing around, and essentially you have more time to correct. Though there is more steering input require to correct, it feels like it’s in slow motion compared to a normal WB bike.

The bad one: with the weight distribution ratio leaving more weight on the front tire than the rear, I do notice that I spin out quicker when waxing on the pedals to get up to speed or when climbing. It’s even worse when I’m doing the out of saddle hammer. When I keep my butt planted, it helps. Being that poor weather commuting isn’t about cranking up to speed as fast as possible, it’s not a huge deal. Might be if you had a lot of hills to deal with.

Also, sometimes the LWB seems to smooth out choppy ruts and bumps. Maybe it’s that there that much more frame to flex, I’m not sure.

That being said, the long wheel base seems to be more stable overall as I’m sure you know. I think it’s a descent option for poor-road-condition commuting, if not a good one.

Your Ute, is that a 700C wheel? I was not aware of that.


coastkid said...

im so jealous of all the snow you guys are getting...!,keep the pics coming...!