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Studded Bicycle Tires: Are They Effective and Should You Buy Them?

You might think it’s impossible to ride your bike in the winter, either because of the cold, snow, ice, or all of the above. But in addition to winter cycling clothes to keep you warm, you can buy studded bicycle tires just like you can buy studded tires for your car.

Sound strange? It’s not. Studded bicycle tires mean you have a safe ride even with snow and ice everywhere, meaning you’re not stuck indoors on a trainer for half the year. So, what are studded bike tires made of, and what brands should you buy?

All About Studded Bicycle Tires

One of the biggest dangers for anything with wheels is black ice. You can’t see it until you’re on top of it, at which point you have as much chance of rolling right over it without incident as you do of losing control.

That’s why studded bike tires help you ride safely in the winter. There are some things you should know about them, though, before you decide whether they’re right for you.

How much do studded bicycle tires help, and how effective are studded bicycle tires for winter?

Studded bicycle tires work the same way snow tires for cars work. They have anywhere from 70 to more than 300 little metal studs that bite into the ice. The bite gives you the traction you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Because of that, you won’t slip and slide all over the place and risk falling (especially in front of a car if you’re on an icy shoulder).

Unfortunately, these aren’t the perfect solution. You get traction, but you don’t have the same traction you have on dry asphalt or concrete. It’s more like the traction you have while walking on a lightly sanded sidewalk. The grains of sand help keep you from slipping, but if you start running, they can roll, and you’ll probably end up losing control.

Some cyclists prefer studded tires on their front wheel only, but your best bet is to have them on both your front and back wheels. Even though your front wheel is your steering wheel, you use your rear brake to maintain control around turns and to come to a gradual stop.

The last thing you want is your bike to start fishtailing because your rear tire has no traction.

Finally, remember that studded tires work well for ice, but not for snow or rain. In snow, they’ll just sink, and in the rain, they’ll try and bite into the pavement, and you’ll ruin your tires faster than you can say “studded tires.”

Do you need studded bicycle tires?

Studded bike tires are heavier than your standard road slicks and mountain bike tires. More weight means you need to put in more energy to ride.

Consider this: Studded tires aren’t necessarily the best thing for your bike at all if you have 26-inch wheels. But for other sizes, you might be better off switching to a wider tire with pressure around 10 to 20 psi lower than usual.

If you have 700cc wheels, look for a tire with a design specific to wet, sticky conditions. That may include studded tires, and it may not. If you’re not sure, talk to the specialists at your bike shop.

In the end, though, you want what will work best for you. If you’re on a budget, find what’s closest to what you need that fits your budget.

How long do studded bicycle tires last?

These tires usually last you two to three seasons. If you use them all winter long, they won’t last nearly as long even on dry pavement.

Asphalt and concrete will wear down the studs in studded bicycle tires quickly. If you have carbide studs as opposed to steel studs, they’ll last longer. However, if you’re a full-time winter bike commuter, you can expect to buy new studded tires every one to three years.

To extend their longevity, try using them only when ice is present or likely to be present. Use your regular tires when you know your roads and pathways will be dry.

See what this rider has to say about his experience with studded tires.

How to protect shoes from studded bicycle tires

Protecting your shoes from studded bicycle tires doesn’t take all that much unless you plan to regularly run over your feet or step on your tires.

However, if you’re someone who makes their own winter bike shoes because regular bike shoes just don’t work in cold weather, be careful with what you use for uppers. You want something very durable and warm, whether you’re using studded tires or not.

Best Studded Bicycle Tires

So, you want to ride your bike in your favorite freezing climate, and you’re looking for studded tires. There are many of them out there, so we’ve narrowed the choices down to our favorite five picks.

Schwalbe Marathon Winter HS 396 #11126448

Schwalbe is a well-known bike tire manufacturer, and the Schwalbe Marathon Winter HS 396 studded tire is great for road bikes. They’re wire-beaded with studs that work best when you’re riding on ice.

Because they only have studs straight down the middle of the tire’s surface, they’re decent for ice but better for snow than other studded tires. They’re okay in powder, but once the snow packs after plowing or people walking on it, they work much better.

You’ll hear noise that sounds a little like you’re riding on gravel if you use these tires on dry pavement. However, they still ride fairly smoothly.

However, they don’t work well when snow is wet and heavy because that snow sticks to everything, including your tires. If you try riding in these conditions, snow will coat your tires, fill up the treads, and ultimately cover the studs.

Pros

  • Suitable for ice and packed snow
  • Lighter weight than other studded tires
  • Reasonably smooth on dry patches

Cons

  • You’re better off with fat tires if you plan on riding in deep or wet snow
  • Best as “light to medium” winter tires
  • Lose effectiveness in more than three inches of snow

Arisun Sharktooth

The Arisun Sharktooth studded tires have studs and knobs arranged in a pattern that will grip not just ice but also give you more traction in snow and slush. These are fat tires, so you need the proper wheels for them.

However, since fat tires work better in winter conditions than standard-sized road tires, you’re better off with these anyway. You’ll also notice a considerable amount of resistance with these tires, but that’s because they’re fat and studded. You’ll always have more resistance on tires like these than you will with road slicks.

Pros

  • Easy to mount on the proper rims
  • More traction
  • Built to last through harsh winters

Cons

  • Noisier than mountain tires on pavement
  • You might lose studs depending on the terrain on which you ride
  • More expensive than other brands of studded tires

Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro HS 379

Another tire from Schwalbe, the Ice Spiker Pro, has small studs in most of the knobs on the tread. If you have a road bike and don’t want to switch to fat tires, you’ll probably do well with tires like these.

Perhaps one of the best things about these tires is that they come with specific instructions for breaking them in. You may not want to take them out on the ice or packed snow for the first time. If you break them in correctly, though, they’ll serve you well during the icy winter months.

They’re a little more expensive than other tires, but not as expensive as fat, studded tires. They grip well enough for tight turns, which is great if you want to do recreational riding in addition to commuting.

Pros

  • You have solid traction riding on smooth sheets of ice
  • They work reasonably well on partially melted snow
  • Tubeless, so they’re easier to mount on your rims

Cons

  • There is a break-in period, so you should buy them before you need them
  • Only good to three inches of snow
  • You can lose studs if you don’t break them in properly

Kenda Klondike Tire

If you’re looking for something that will fit your mountain bike with good clearance, then Kenda Klondike Tires are the tires for you. They have directional treads that help you shed snow and slush on the road or your favorite trails.

The studs are tiny but stick out from the treads enough to provide you with the grip you need to do your riding in both icy and snowy conditions.

Be careful, though. These tires won’t serve you well if you try and do some extreme mountain biking on a slippery trail. Studded tires are great, but even they can’t give you the traction you’d ordinarily have on a dry trail in the summer.

Pros

  • Smaller than other studded tires, so you have better frame and fork clearance
  • Tread helps shed snow and slush
  • Can run them up to 60 psi

Cons

  • May need to bring down tire pressure before riding on ice
  • Studs wear out around 1,200 miles
  • Work best with occasional use

Schwalbe Marathon Winter Plus HS 396

Schwalbe Marathon Winter Plus HS 396 is fantastic if you’re looking for a good studded mountain bike tire. Even if you’re not doing full rides, perhaps you use the winter to maintain your conditioning.

Regardless of what you do, you have an added security feeling when accelerating, stopping, and turning corners with these tires. Besides that, they work well both on ice and hard, packed snow. And they work okay on dry, fluffy snow because the studs will cut down to the ground and give you traction that way.

These tires are also useful for riders who are used to some drift when they turn corners. If you’re a mountain biker, you’re probably used to this, but be careful because the snow may still make your drift unpredictable.

Pros

  • Cheaper than many other brands of studded tires
  • Good shock absorption compared to other Schwalbe tires
  • Slower than road slicks but not as slow as mountain bike tires

Cons

  • Wire beads make it harder to mount the tire on your rims, and you’re better off using a mounting tool
  • Work on ice and fluffy snow, but not wet, heavy snow
  • You lose studs with higher air pressure

Ride All Year Round

The studded bicycle tires you decide on depend entirely on your needs and weather conditions. If your winters are full of ice and snow, then you definitely want studded tires, even if you’re only riding in those conditions periodically. That’s true regardless of whether you ride a road bike or a mountain bike.

Remember that these tires don’t work well on dry pavement, and you’ll give yourself a rougher ride. So, put them on when you need them, and then take them off when you don’t. And above all, enjoy your ride!

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Mountain Biking for Beginners: Tips and Info You Need!

There is nothing quite like taking to the hills and pedaling your way through nature. Riding a bike during sunrise, sunset, or after a long day’s work is soothing to the soul—even though it will get your blood pumping and kick your metabolism into gear. If you’ve never experienced the joy of riding the trails, you need some tips and information on mountain biking for beginners.

And that’s exactly what we have for you. Let’s get started!

Mountain Biking for Beginners: What’s the Big Deal?

Most people understand the importance of exercise, but the truth is, not that many people enjoy it. Some go for a run, work out in the gym, or exercise at home, but far too often, those workout sessions are a chore. And that’s why you should learn about these mountain biking tips for beginners.

Mountain biking offers numerous benefits that other exercises don’t. For instance, when learning about biking for beginner’s tips, one of the first things you will realize is that mountain biking tones your entire body. Yes, the physical act of mountain biking is strenuous, but the benefits in muscle toning are definitely worth it.

When you take to the trails with your mountain bike, you will also connect with nature. The act of communing with nature benefits you in several ways. First, it will allow you to appreciate the natural world around you. And that’s important when you’re stuck in an office or at home all day. Secondly, taking in the natural beauty around you as you cycle through the trails helps get rid of all that built-up stress.

When you learn the basic mountain biking skills for beginners and make it a practice in your life, it will give you numerous health benefits. For instance, mountain biking isn’t hard on your joints the way running or jogging is. And mountain biking is also great for your heart as it gets it pumping as you plow through the hills and valleys on your bike.

And finally, when you learn the correct way to mountain bike, you won’t make all the beginner’s mistakes like these:

Basic Mountain Biking Skills for Beginners

Now that you understand the benefits of mountain biking, let’s talk about some of the basics so you will understand this beneficial exercise. For starters, there are three types of mountain biking terrain that you will traverse with your bike.

1. Mountain Biking for Beginners: Singletrack

This is the most common type of mountain bike terrain, but each type of track differs just a little. For instance, one singletrack may be just as wide as your shoulders and allow for only one bike at a time to traverse the trail. This type of trail is great when you want to bike on your own, or when your biking partner won’t mind riding in front of or behind you.

But some singletracks are wider and accommodate two bikes riding alongside each other. Most singletrack trails are one-way and travel along the most eye-popping terrain the site has to offer.

2. Mountain Biking for Beginners: Doubletrack

If you’re in the mood to bike with your partner along calmer, gentler terrain, a doubletrack might be the right terrain for you. These tracks are wide enough for two bikes to ride side-by-side, and they are typically made by the tire tracks of trucks that traveled along logging roads that have been abandoned, power-line roads, or fire roads. These tracks are less technical and have a gentler grade than singletracks.

3. Mountain Biking for Beginners: Mountain Bike Terrain Parks

If you’re looking for a wild ride, a mountain bike terrain park might be your ticket to happiness. These unique parks are all different and offer features such as jump-and-pump tracks and trails that are located underneath overpasses in urban areas, and trails accessible by lifts at ski resorts. You’ll find jumps of all sizes, banked corners, elevated bridges, downhill switchbacks, and halfpipes on these trails.

What’s Your Style?

Every mountain biker has a certain style, and bike manufacturers take this into account when they design new bikes. Before we talk about the right mountain biking gear for you, you first need to identify which style you prefer.

There are five styles that most mountain bikers fall into.

1. Trail Biking

If you want to pursue mountain biking for the social and fun aspect, trail biking might be the right style for you. People who do trail biking typically meet up with friends at a trailhead and ride the climbs and descents while talking and having fun. Heck, they may even listen to music along the path.

2. Cross Country Biking

Cross-country bikers love to climb hills. And if you decide this is the style for you, expect to traverse trails that range from just a couple of miles to those that run 25 miles or more. Many cross-country bikers compete and are masters at their local trails.

3. All-Mountain or Enduro Biking

For those who love a race, all-mountain biking is the thrill you may be looking for. The term endure refers to a type of race where competitors are timed on their downhill descents but not the uphill climbs. The winner has the fastest time on downhills. Even though this style is named after a competitive race, not all the people who love this style compete.

When riding all-mountain, you will climb high hills and hang onto the handlebars during the steep, heart-pounding descents. You’ll also have to navigate many technical features—both those that occur in nature and those installed by man.

4. Downhill or Park Biking

If you want to experience downhill mountain biking for beginners, this is the right choice for you. It is typically done at ski resorts that have closed during the warmer months. The ski lifts will take you to the top of the mountain, and then leave you there to navigate your way down. While you won’t pedal much because you’ll be traveling downhill, you will use every muscle in your body to jump, go over wooden ladders, travel across rock gardens, and swing around berms. The terrain is fast-acting and will keep you on your toes. Your adrenaline will be pumping the entire ride!

5. Fat Biking

If you’ve ever been to a beach and seen the bikes with the huge tires, you’ve seen fat biking. These bikes have tires that are as wide as 3.7 inches or more. Because of the size of the tires, these bikes can roll through sand and even snow. While these bikes used to be used for those terrains, today’s mountain bikers use them on every kind of trail. Fat biking is a great way to experience mountain biking for beginners if you want to get your feet wet in this exciting sport.

Mountain Biking Gear for Beginners

You understand the benefits of mountain biking and may have even decided on the style of riding you want to pursue. Now it’s time to talk about mountain biking gear for beginners. We’ll start with the bikes because let’s face it, you can’t mountain bike without one!

When choosing a mountain bike, you need to look at two things: suspension and wheels.

Here’s what you need to know.

3 Types of Mountain Bike Suspension

The suspension on a mountain bike is what helps to absorb all of those jolts and shocks you’ll feel when careening down a hill, jumping, or crashing through a berm. Here are the three suspension choices you’ll have.

1. Rigid Suspension

A mountain bike with rigid suspension isn’t going to have that give-and-take you need to roll over a wooden bridge or land after a jump. But these bikes do have their place when it comes to mountain biking for beginners. For instance, if you decide you want to pursue fat biking, your bike’s suspension will be rigid. The good news is that many fat bikers say the bigger tires absorb some of the shocks that the rigid suspension can’t.

2. Hardtail Suspension

People who want a versatile bike with low maintenance and a lower price tag often choose hardtail suspension bikes. These bikes have suspension on the front end of the bike, which helps absorb the shock there, but no suspension on the back end. In addition, most hardtail suspension bikes can lock out the front end suspension when riders want a rigid suspension bike.

Because hardtails transfer power between the rear tire and the pedal, cross-country bikers like them. And all-mountain bikers enjoy them because of the easier maintenance and smaller price tag. But downhill riders can’t use them because their strenuous trails demand front end and back-end suspension.

3. Full-Suspension

For those downhill riders, a full suspension bike is typically the first choice because it offers suspension on the front end and back end, which helps absorb all the shocks of the rough rides. Full suspension bikes also allow for more traction—something every downhill rider needs. But these types of bikes aren’t only for downhillers.

Most full suspension bikes allow the user to lock-out the rear suspension. That’s because when it’s set in full-suspension mode, the bikes tend to lose some energy transfer when riding up hills due to the tendency to “bob.”

Keep in mind that full suspension bikes typically have a lot of travel, which is the amount of movement that occurs in the suspension—and it can be up to 8 inches in the front and rear. That’s why these types of bikes aren’t the best choice for all-mountain or cross-country riding.

Choose the Right Wheel Size

The size of your wheels can have a huge impact on the quality of your ride. You’ll have four wheel sizes to choose from.

1. 24-inch: If you’re looking for a kid’s mountain bike, it will come equipped with a 24-inch wheel.

2. 26-inch: For many years, this was the standard in mountain bike wheel sizes. It is responsive and allows for easy maneuverability.

3. 27.5-Inch: You will have this option when you buy a hardtail or full-suspension bike. It makes it easier to roll over terrain than the 26-inch wheel and is easier to maneuver than the 29-inch wheel.

4. 29-inch: These wheels are also made for hardtail and full-suspension bikes and offer a superior grip. They also make sit easier to handle touch terrain than the 26-inch wheel, and if you bike over obstacles, this wheel makes the job easier. Cross-country bikers tend to gravitate toward this size wheel.

Match Your Pedals to Your Shoes

When learning mountain biking for beginners, it’s important to pay attention to your pedals and shoes. You’ll have two options.

1. Flat platform pedals and shoes: These types of pedal and shoes are best for beginner mountain bikers. That’s because you can get on and off the bike without having to unclip your shoe from the pedal—which can be a lifesaver if you find yourself in a dicey situation. It’s a great idea to buy a platform petal shoe that has a tacky sole. This allows them to sit deeper on the petal, but won’t stick if you need to dismount quickly.

2. Clipless pedals and shoes: Don’t let the name fool you: clipless pedals clip onto your shoes to allow for control and power transfer on those tricky rides. But it’s important to master the art of unclipping your shoes from the pedals before you begin a hair-raising descent. Practice on a flat surface, and don’t venture onto a steep trail until you’re expert at unclipping your shoes.

Mountain Biking for Beginners: Are You Ready to Roll?

If you’re looking for adventure and an exciting way to keep in shape, you can’t go wrong with mountain biking. And mountain biking for beginners isn’t a hard skill to learn—but it does take practice and a commitment to learning the skill and improving on it as you continue to ride the trails.

What about you? Do you mountain bike? Please leave any tips and tricks in the comments below so others can benefit from your expertise!