Studded Bike Tires: Everything You Need To Know (Pros & Cons)

If you want to conquer the winter months, then studded tires are the perfect solution. These tires offer excellent traction on snow and ice for cyclists who like to remain active all year long! But before you go out and buy them, there are some things you should know about them that I found out the hard way.

Look:

I’m one of the few riders that can’t stay off my bike no matter the weather or season. So during the peak of winter, I was riding my bike on a seemingly normal patch of road with light snow when suddenly my tire just lost traction right into a deep puddle of water.

It was so cold that it felt like they had just plunged me into an icy lake!

Luckily, I didn’t fall off the bicycle entirely, but my shoes were soaked in seconds. The following day, as I went out again with another pair of shoes (I couldn’t wear those anymore), I quickly realized that I was about to make the same mistake of riding with my normal bike tires on the same path.

That’s when I remembered someone asking me about using studded bicycle tires during the winter.

In this blog post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know so you don’t end up making the same mistakes I did this winter.

So let’s get into it:

What are studded bike tires?

Studded bike tires are bicycle tires studded with small metal protrusions, or studs, embedded in the rubber. Studs can be made from steel, carbide, or other hard materials that can withstand the wear and tear of cycling on snow.

How does Bicycle Tire Studs work?

Bicycle tire studs provide extra traction on icy surfaces so that a rider won’t start sliding down a hill at even a slow speed. One of the most frightening things to experience is a long uncontrolled skid with no way to recover. Experiencing a loss of traction is scarier on a bicycle than on a car since there’s little protection during the impact with a car.

So just like with studded car tires, bicycle tire studs are designed to dig into ice as you ride. This provides you with extra traction to prevent slips when cornering, braking, and accelerating on slippery snow and ice. So instead of having to worry about traction, you’ll be able to ride your bike just as you would normally.

Bike studs are designed to provide excellent traction on slippery surfaces. To this end, they were purposefully made to stick up 1 mm off the surface of a bicycle tire, which prevents them from being stuck.

Are Studded Bike Tires Effective?

One of the best ways to think of studded bicycle tires is to think of them as an alternative to studded winter boots. Just like studded winter boots, studded bike tires can be quite effective in preventing you from slipping and sliding on the road during the harsh winter season. (Pun intended.)

Studded bicycle tires are so effective that you’ll be able to ride your bike in almost the same manner as you would during summer. However, you’ll still need to be careful to some extent on icy and snowy roads. After all, prevention is far better than a cure for a fall. So even though studded bike tires effectively provide good traction on snow and ice, the traction provided won’t be as good as riding on dry pavement.

The traction provided by studded tires is equivalent to 70-85% of the traction you’d have on dry pavement. One reason studded tires are not as good as riding on a dry surface is because of braking. If you apply the brakes when riding in icy conditions, your bike won’t stop as quickly as it would on normal surfaces because there isn’t traction to gain. This will cause you to skid further than if you were to apply the brakes on a normal road.

So even though studded tires do improve your ability to ride during the winter, you’ll still need to be careful in certain situations like sharp cornering and braking at higher speeds.

Pros

  • These tires provide excellent traction on ice and snow.
  • These tires make it safer to ride your bike since you’ll have full control to stop when necessary.
  • Studded bike tires are durable and will last a very long time.
  • Bicycle tire studs allow you to ride your bike during the winter.

Cons

  • Outside of wintertime, tire studs increase the rolling resistance of your bike tires.
  • Studded bike tires add a bit more weight to your bike.
  • When riding on pavement, studded tires make your bike noisy.
  • They take a while to install and remove.
  • Bicycle tire studs aren’t cheap.
  • Studded tires are known to damage some road surfaces.
  • Bicycle tire studs need breaking in before you can normally ride with them installed.

Are studded bike tires better than winter bike tires?

A good set of modern winter bike tires are just as effective at providing traction as studded bicycle tires. Unlike normal bike tires that become stiff during cold temperatures, modern winter tires are fully capable of maintaining good traction on ice and hard-packed snow thanks to the improved tire flexibility, thread height, and design. However, when compared to standard tires, studded bicycle tires are far more effective in improving traction.

One of the main reasons why studded bicycle tires are more effective than standard bike tires is because they dig into the ice and add additional traction than normal tire treading.

How long do studded bike tires last?

The longevity of studded bike tires is very extensive. If you are using studded bicycle tires for recreational normally, you should get 3-6 years out of them. If put in actual miles, that would work out to around 3000 miles.

I know that might sound unrealistic, but it’s really not. Even if you ride studded bicycle tires regularly throughout the winter, you are only doing so for a few months out of every year. Additionally, studded bike tires don’t necessarily have to be used during the early parts of the winter when it’s only light snowing or not snowing at all. This will greatly increase the amount of time that they will last.

When can I put studded tires on my bike?

Ideally, you’ll want to put them on your bike shortly after the first snowfall in the fall. But, of course, some areas see snow much earlier in the year than other places, so it’s going to vary from one location to another. And sometimes, you might not even need them on your bike if you check the weather and don’t see a need for them yet.

Can you ride studded bike tires on dry pavement?

Yes, you can ride with studded bike tires on dry pavement. However, you will face most cons of using bike tire studs, such as it being noisier, increased rolling resistance, and reduced lifespan. Overall, riding with studs on dry pavement will make it a little harder to ride your bicycle.

Do I need studded fat bike tires?

You don’t NEED studded tires on a fat bike as much as you need them on a normal mountain bike. This is because fat Bike tires are wider than normal and have far more threading than other bike tires, which allows them to provide enough traction in any condition, even during the winter. However, adding bike tire studs will make the bike safer to ride at any time, so having them isn’t a bad idea, but you don’t need them.

The Bottom line: Should you get a set for yourself or not?

The tire treads of your regular bike tires work well on dry surfaces like the asphalt, but once you are riding through snow or icy surfaces, they’re just not going to cut it. So if you want to stay active and keep cycling during the winter months, studded bike tires are what you need.

Numerous cyclists and tests have proven that studded bike tires offer the perfect combination of good traction on snow and ice. They also allow you to save a bit each year as you don’t need to get bulkier winter tires for your bicycle.