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With all the snow, I have been thinking of a possible snow bike project for next winter. I know I want to do a mountain bike (I already have a cross bike). I know I want single speed (no gears to get gunked-up/frozen). I just don't know what is best. For people with "standard" mountain frames (i.e. clearance up to 2.3 tires), their best option seems to be studded tires. Then there are the wider clearance frames, a la Surly 1x1 (can fit the Nokian 3.0 non-studs). Let's assume the Pugsley isn't an option- it's fairly expensive and I don't really want my feet splayed out that wide with the huge bottom bracket shell. Then there is also the 29" option. My current geared bike is a 29er; I like it a lot. You have increased contact patch, but are limited to a 2.3 non-studded right now (no larger tires made or frames to fit it... no studded tires that I know of wider than the Nokian 700x44).

So what is the best option?

I suppose that on a budget, the best would be to get a cheap 26" frame, slap on a chain tensioner and get some Nokian studs. I like the idea of a 1x1- nice frame, allows me to run the 3.0's if I want (is it better to run narrow studs or wide w/o studs?). The 29er would be more appealing if I could get some nice studs for it. Thoughts?
 

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Studs

Studs only help on ice. It depends on where you are riding. Do you get melt/freeze cycles where ice forms, ride on roads that don't get plowed, then maybe you need studs. If you ride on trails that are just packed down snow then mtb tires are fine. 26 or 29, I don't know but for a given tire the 26 will be lighter if acceleration is an issue for you. I ran my bike fixed last winter and probably will again this. I feel it gives better feedback in slippery conditions and is definately more fun.
 

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Last winter I rode both a 26" and 29er in snow, and the bigger wheel seemed to do better. I once made my own studded bmx tire by using sheet metal screw and nuts. I suppose you could make your own studded 29er tire using the same technique.
 

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regardless of the size you use (26"/29er) I suggest you seek a narrow tire . I've found, at least here in Wisconsin on my 26" and 700c singlespeeds, the narrow tires dig down through the snow to where the traction can be found. Wider tires tend to "float" more on the snow resulting in poor steering and less drive. Also, there are other riders I know using carbide studded tires all winter season. One guy in particular has left them on regardless of the conditions (lack of ice) and they don't appear to suffering damage from running on dry/iceless pavement. He does take them off in the spring.

Don't forget to bundle up, wind burn sux
 

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It really depends on the conditions, even more so than summer riding. My favorite bike for 1-10" of untracked snow or slush is my 'cross bike with 35 mm tires. If it is icy, hard surfaces studs are nearly required (width does not matter much). Packed snow wider tires are good. In deep fresh or deep rutted snow not much works at all.
 

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If you are serious get the Nokian studded tires...

I'm assuming you get snow otherwise I doubt you'd be asking about studded tires. 4-5 years ago I bought a set of the Nokian studded tires and have used them every winter ever since. They work very well in all but deep, heavy snow where nothing really works well. They've held up and show no signs of much wear. I have no regrets on that purchase.

Mike
 

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my brother just gets bolts and cheap tires. He puts botls into the area without knobs and rides on that. It works really well.
 

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I second the skinny tires

I am commuting to work everyday in Michigan. In fact the snow just started up again tonight and the roads are super slick. I'm riding 1.95" tires and I'm loving it. I feel like I just slice right through the snow. Coming home tonight I only slid twice but this was on areas where cars revealed the ice layer under the snow. On ice I do slide sometimes but I've never come close to falling yet. The tires I have are no names that came on the bike (an old 80's Raleigh that never got used much and lived inside a very long time). They have held up for a month so far with no noticable wear yet.
 

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took a look at the tires I'm running

the tires I'm running I don't think they make any more... Panaracer "38 Specials" 700x38 and on the 26" Panaracer Smoke 26x1.75

They're getting a bit rough on the side walls from all the road salt but what should I expect from tires I bought in 1992.
 

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Having lived and ridden in New England for nearly 10 years, I can echo what some others have said here and also add something new. First, as someone said, the proper tire and degree of success you'll have riding are very much condition-dependent (i.e., temparature, depth of snow, water content of snow, amount of ice, etc.). In my experience, metal spikes work for ice but do little or nothing for snow. So if you're riding on ice or a thin layer of snow over ice, metal spikes will work. Otherwise, I found the best tire for snow is the Panaracer Spike tire. They are 1.95 wide and have very tall, stiff rubber spikes that work wonders in snow, especially wet snow. I don't think they're made any more, but you can sometimes find them NOS under a layer of dust in your LBS. By the way, they are front and rear specific, although it probably wouldn't matter much as a practical matter. If you can't find these, I would try another narrow mud-specific tire with tall and stiff knobs. "Floating" with a wide tire sounds like it would work in theory, but in my experience a narrow tire works best because you need to dig down to harder/firmer snow, preferably with higher water content than surface powder.

EDIT: looks like the Panaracers may be available on ebay: http://search.ebay.com/search/searc...=1&from=R8&satitle=panaracer+spike&category0=
 

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I just tried some Maxxis Wet Scream 42a tires from Cambria. Great price. They are the best I have tried. I've tried Nokian studded, Inov studded, Kenda DTC's so far and these really kick butt. They are downhill tires but seem to roll just fine on the slippery stuff. They seemed soft at room temp but they get harder at 20F or less. Don.t believe the 2.2 wide, they are thinner than advertized. Haven't tried them on wet ice but that will come soon.
 

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Conditions dictate tires

all the other posters are making good points.. you have to think about what conditions will make up the majority of your riding. My experience is kind of a mix: packed/rutted snow (from XC skiers and snowmobiles), "bumpy" snow (from deer and people walking), fresh powder and some straight-up ice (roads to the trail and on the lake). For an all-around tire, I have had great luck with the Nokain wxc300 (26 inch). Even though I don't need the studs all the time, I am really glad to have them on ice-covered pavement and where there are some steep sections of the trail that melt/re-freeze. The width I have been running is 2.1 and they seem about right for the conditions.
 

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DIY studs

I second the sheet metal screws. I took an old 1.95 tire and used an awl to poke holes where I wanted the screws. Then I took a screwdriver and drove them through from the back. I found screws that had a nice shallow rounded head, then I ran duct tape around the inside of the tire to make sure they didn't damage the tube. I've been using that on the front and it rocks. I'll probably do one for the back soon, but the front is where you need them. The screws stick out about 1/4" (maybe a bit more) and it's awesome for trails. I did a 5 mile lunch ride on ice covered sidewalks the other day and didn't have any problems. I've also built a couple snow jumps, bombed down the local ski hill, etc. without any problems. I'm loving the winter riding now :D

The only PITA was that the 1.95 is too narrow for my Singletrack rim. I popped 2 tubes with tire levers before I finally got the tire on right.
 

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sheet metal screws

An old mtn bike tire with good lugs to start. An old Michilen Wildgripper (the green one below) works great for my back tire. Incidentally, the front tire makes more difference for keeping a straight line. Studs work unbelievable on ice/packed down snow. A few inches of regular powder and regular tires at lower pressure work well- tubeless better since pinchflats will not be an issue. You just don't want to break the bead though. I made these tires a few years back and are a lot of fun. The key is to use an old inner tube cut lengthwise and use it as a jacket around your good tube. This helps keep the screw heads from wearing thru and giving you flats. Duct tape on the inside of tire works ok, but not as good.
 

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Ohh, yeah- use a small drill bit (maybe a 3/32) and drill pilot holes thru the center of the studs. Then use the drill with a screw driver bit to drive the screws thru. With a screwdriver, I would imagine you will go nuts or get carpal tunnel :)
I think I used about 120 screws per tire. Great rotational mass!
 
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