17 January 2012

DIY Studded Bike Tires

For the last three years I've wanted to make a set of studded bike tires, but the bad weather always comes and goes before I have a chance to act.  Not this year.  I loosely followed the advice and instructions from this video and used this video as a reference for how long the project would really take (try counting how many beers he drinks!)

I used 26" mtb tires that were salvaged from a bike project year ago, placing screws in every other knob, 52 screws per side.  Since I only bought 200 #8-1/2" panhead screws, I had to rummage for the other 8.

I used a variable speed hand drill with a 5/64" bit to put a pilot hole in each knob from the outside.  I started all of the screws from the inside with a screwdriver, then finished driving them flush with the drill at low speed.  You don't want to over tighten the screws as they can strip out the knob or tangle the tire casing fabric.  Don't forget: once you're done you'll need an old tube to use as a liner between the screw heads and the tube you're inflating.

It took me $7 cash and three solid hours for 208 screws. If this seems like too much work, plan ahead of the bad weather and order some studded tires from your local bike shop.  I'll give you a ride report if we get more snow and ice.  That might be this week or it might be next winter!


tacomee said...

Well, you have new snow to try these out in! Good luck Matt.

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting the report on making the studded tires, I meant to do it this year as well and didn't quite get to it in time. I decided to go ahead and try riding in the snow for the first time this year anyway though and I thought I'd give you a ride report of how it went without studs just so you have a reference. I leave at 6am and ride from N 45th and Pearl by Point Defiance to Stadium District, a little over 5 miles.

Monday: The streets were hard packed ice, but clear of snow, I think the night before it had melted and then refroze to create an ice rink. I rode my road bike with Michelin 27 x 1.25 tires that have a slight tread pattern to them. Riding on the ice, even with skinny tires, was really easy, I had to go really slow around the corners, but once I was going straight I could go almost full speed and felt totally comfortable on it.

Tuesday: Streets were covered by slushy snow, 1-2 inches maybe. Again I took the road bike, by my house I had no issues, it was easy to ride through the slush and I felt like my tires were contacting the pavement, so I had good traction. I go through the UPS campus and then through the neighborhood adjacent to I street on my commute and I think the roads were just a little bit higher in elevation so that there was some compact ice underneath the slush. This was very difficult to ride in, I would get stuck in and pushed around by the ruts made by cars. I almost fell when this yappy little dog jumped out at me from behind a car and surprised me. I was wishing I had my mountain bike...

Today, Wednesday: A lot of snow! I rode my mountain bike with 2.5 inch knobbies, riding in the deep snow was a little hard to push through, but on the bigger tires I felt totally comfortable. Mostly though, I rode in peoples tire tracks, it was like all the roads had been plowed just for me! The only thing I would have done differently would have been to wear my snowboarding goggles, getting pelted by snow didn't feel too good, but it was really fun and WAY better than driving. I'm so glad I've done it and I won't be driving again.

I don't feel like the studs would have made too much difference in this fresh snow, but I wonder if tomorrow when there's more compact ice if they would help, especially in the corners.

Thanks for posting on your blog, I've enjoyed reading it!

Matt in Tacoma said...

Thanks for the details, Unknown. We went out riding on Tuesday night: me on my Xtracycle with studs and a friend on his standard cyclocross setup. We both handled the compact snow about the same. I'm thinking the studs are only advantageous when there's more ice than snow on the road surface. I'll give it another go next winter!