Studded Bicycle Tires « Pros and Cons

Biking is an all-season sport. You do not need to wait for time to take your bike for a run. Be it a day, night, rain, or fall, you can always count on studded tires to have your back. They give you traction to easily ride on different surfaces.

Studded bicycle tires have amazing traction, and they let you bike comfortably on ice and snow. But, there’s a downside to them: they’re quite heavy, which means you have to put more energy into riding them, and they’re pricey too. 

There’s a lot more to studs than just weight and traction.

In this article, we’ll go through the pros and cons of studded bicycle tires.

What are Studded Tires? 

Studded tires are winter tires that garner more traction while bike riding. The bikes have small steel or carbide studs placed onto the tires. This reduces friction between the surface and the terrain and ensures nothing can topple your bike. 

These studs are usually 1mm longer than the tire, which causes them to protrude out. This is mainly done to create dents in the snow or ice and to stabilize the bike. This is why they’re the best winter tires on the marketplace. 

Tires come with different numbers of embedded studs—anywhere from 72 to more than 300. The more studs there are, the better traction you’ll get.

A thing about studded tires is you can only enjoy their benefits if they’re in direct contact with ice. They’re not all that great if there’s a layer of snow on top or if they’re ridden on heavy snow. 

When Do You Need Studded Bicycle Tires? 

Ideally, studded tires are used on ice or in cold conditions, but they can also be used on pavements. These tires are most effective on ice or slippery surfaces, where they’ll show you the most grip no rubber tire can give you. 

No matter how knobbly it is, the studded tires will provide traction, which can ensure your safety and keep the bike afloat at all costs. 

Usually, steel studs don’t last as long as carbide studs do, which is why the kind of stud you also have matters. 

These studs are what give you the confidence to balance your bike in severe winters. 

How Long Do Studded Bicycle Tires Last? 

Studded tires usually last for a good few months, but it also depends on the sort of studs you use. If they’re carbide studs, they’d last quite longer than steel ones. 

Usually, studs are placed in November when the weather gets chilly. These then go on until March unscathed and remain in perfect working condition. This means they last you the entire winter season. 

I wouldn’t advise routinely changing tires. Studded ones can cause hindrance in summer, so if your budget allows for it, keep 2 pairs of tires with you. One for winter and the other for summer. 

If you ride your bike frequently during the winter, you can expect to get 5-6 years or 2500-3000 miles out of a good set of studded tires if you take care of them.

» Maybe this also could be of interest to you: Pros and Cons » Tube Vs Tubeless Bicycle Tires

Pros of Studded Tires 

Studded tires are an add-on to your tires so, in the end, it’s completely up to you whether or not you want them. It mainly depends on your area. If it has a lot of icy or snow-filled roads, then they’re good. 

Even if they don’t, some people still keep studs for that extra grip, and it completely elevates the entire bike look. 

But what studded tires have that others don’t? 

Here are a few pros which studded tires have other regular ones. 

#1 Outstanding Traction 

The studs installed in bike tires pierce through the snow or ice and dig a little dent enough to give your bike its grip. They have excellent traction on icy pavements and roads.

This prevents your tire from slipping around and keeps them grounded. This way you can have the liberty of using your bike even when the weather conditions might not allow it. 

Since most people don’t have the liberty to use other forms of transport, these studs can allow them to use their bikes to commute for their day-to-day routine. 

#2 Durability 

The studded bike tires are incredibly durable. This is because they’re mainly used on the ice, so the rubber they are made of wears slowly. 

The reason behind this is pretty straightforward: snow is softer and smoother than roads or pavements, and hence, your tire will face less wear and tear on ice. 

Plus, the studs of these tires are made of tungsten carbide, which is a highly durable material. It’s hard as a rock and so doesn’t dull over time. Funnily enough, it’s so durable that over time your treads may run weary, but the studs will still stand strong. 

These also last a long, long time. For any average rider, these can last well up throughout the entire winter or a good 5 months at least. 

In the case you don’t use your bike often, it can last you a year. 

» I have also written this post, about: (Easy Guide): What Is A Folding Bike Tire? – Best Sports Lounge

#3 Safer Option

Next up, studded tires are a good safety option. These tires prevent your bike from slipping and keep it stable. On top of this, studs also reduce your braking distance and so in the event of an emergency break, your bike can make it without any accidents. 

Plus, it also aids in navigating through icy and slippery terrains as well as helping make sharp corners. But regardless of all these, you should still ride slowly. 

#4 Can Be Used at Low Pressures 

Some might think it’s a feat, but in fact, studded tires are meant to ride on low pressures. As compared to normal bike tires, studded ones are wired to take on lower pressures by almost half of normal tires. 

While regular tires work at 40-65 psi, studded tires go at around 20-25 psi for off-road terrains.

This low pressure is actually what brings about the traction in these tires. This is because the tire deforms and allows more of the treads and studs to touch the ground.  

Aside from this, your bike’s ride quality also increases because the soft tire absorbs the shocks and jolts that your bike may experience. In this way, you don’t experience the shocks and get a better ride experience. 

Cons of Studded Tires 

Along with the array of benefits, there are also a few cons related to studded tires. Not everything has a good side only, so here are the cons of studded tires: 

#1 Inefficient 

This may come as a shock to you, but yes, studded tires are inefficient. This is in a way where they create rolling resistance. 

Rolling resistance is made in 3 different ways: 

  • By running at low pressure, it deforms at the contact patch and makes extra contact with the ground. This creates extra friction and eventually slows you down. 
  • Second, it’s heavy. This means you’re required to generate more power to spin it and later maintain its speed. 
  • Lastly, they’re wider than normal tires. This means they create more air resistance and hence slow you down. 

Eventually, you’ll burn extra energy and end up being tired cycling more distance in less time.

» You can also read my post: Step-by-Step: How to Fix Flat Bike Tire (with NO Tools)

#2 Heavy 

Secondly, the metal studs are heavy. And with little studs placed everywhere, they can hold down your bike.

On average, studs weigh around 0.75kg-1.5kg which accumulates into a big amount. 

With such an extra amount holding you down, you’re bound to pedal slower. These extra kgs can pull you down and in turn, decrease your bike’s efficiency. 

It also alters with the acceleration of the bike, meaning you’ll have trouble speeding up and maintaining it. 

#3 Costly

It’s not a secret that a good pair of studded tires can cost a significant amount. Since they’re customized, these tires don’t come cheap.

Studded tires can easily amount to up to 50%-100% more than regular tires. 

This is a stark difference from your good old rubber tires. And this is one of the main reasons why most people don’t opt for studded tires. 

When you’re going to purchase a studded tire, you can expect to spend around $100 for one tire easily. But if you’re on a budget, you can also DIY your pair of studded tires because you won’t find cheap ones. 

#4 They’re Difficult To Install

If you’ve ever changed a bike tire, you know how much of a hassle it is. Now imagine changing tires every 5 months solely to replace your normal tires with studded ones.

It’s a time-consuming process many aren’t willing to give. This is particularly true if you have tubeless tires. The ideal way is just to leave your studded tires year-round or, at most, just for winter. 

But most people prefer switching back to the original tires when studs are no more needed. Afterward, if swapping is what you prefer, then be prepared to spend long hours, cumulatively, on changing them. 

Are Studded Bicycle Tires Worth It?

If you live in an area with a lot of ice and snow, studded bicycle tires can give you the traction you need to keep cycling all winter long. They are certainly not cheap, but they could be worth the investment if you want to stay active during the coldest months.

If you’re worried about the cost, ask your local mechanic if you can rent them for the winter.

Keeping your car ready for winter is a must. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to cold-weather travel. You just never know what you might come up against out on the road.

Summing Up the Pros and Cons of Studded Bicycle Tires

And that’s a wrap! The article was made to give you a comprehensive look at studded tires and the consequences that come with them. So, in no way are the cons discouraging you from getting them.

These are just what I found to be the most convenient and troublesome when dealing with studded tires. 

Overall, if your area does have a lot of cold and chances of snow, then I would suggest you get studded tires. It’s a lot safer than slipping on cold hard ice and can save you unnecessary injuries too. 

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