A chill in the air? Get studs for your tires

Seattle’s once-yearly cold snap has me thinking traction. Sure, so far things have been pretty darn easy. Aside from the University Bridge (no, apparently they _don’t_ read the blog), the roads have been in great shape.

But the weather folks tell me this won’t last.We’re supposed to get some snow tonight and maybe tomorrow. Then they tell us to expect the teens to the low 20s (in Seattle!) for a few days, followed by more white stuff.

That’s tempting me to up the ante in the grip department. Studded tires are a logical choice, but hard to justify for two or three days a year. Even if I wasn’t such a cheap bastard, by the time I got around to ordering them it would be 50 and raining.

So what’s a tightwad with a hankering for traction to do?

DIY of course. Chains seem pretty nifty, but the process is kind of  high maintenance, even for me. That leaves self-studding as my only option. You don’t need me to point you to a studding tutorial — the interwebs are loaded with them. Totally cool studding videos are in shorter supply. Luckily, the Google delivers with this awesome video from Finland:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Even Anne, who doesn’t give a rip about studded tires,  watched the whole thing. It kind of makes you wanna grab the cordless drill and a beer, huh? If I don’t get snowed in tomorrow, I think I’ll head to Tacoma Screw for some #6  pan-head screws and give it a whirl.

Do you have some studding plans or experience ? (I can’t imagine what our Google search referrers are going to look like after this post). Let us know how it goes.


18 responses to “A chill in the air? Get studs for your tires

  1. Hey Tim,
    Yes I have used self studded tires. The biggest problem is flats. The tube gets under the screw heads. Line the tire with an old inner tube. The other problem is weight. It is all on the outside of the wheel. But living down in Seattle you won’t have to use as many.
    Put the screws to the side of the center bead. And make them short! You only need about 3mil of screw showing. If you don’t it’s like riding on tippy toes.

    Been reading your blog with interest. I’ve never owned a car and have lived in Anchorage Alaska for 20 years. I ride every day, summer and winter. We buy studded tires up here. And use them about half the year. It’s the big 9 degrees tonight.

    When you think of the money studs cost. Think about how much a trip to the ER might be if you go down.

    Good luck to you, Ang.

  2. Stumbled onto your website, and I figured I’d offer my $.02. I studded my own tires long ago (in college, when I was even more broke than I am now). #6 screw worked very well, keep them under 1/2″ in length. I then coated the inner part of the tire with a loop or two of duct tape. I also added Mr. Tuffy strips in the tires themselves. the whole shebang was heavy, but effective. I also found that I really only needed to stud the front tire; rear had traction due to body weight. I also found that I didn’t have to stud nearly as much as I thought. I did parallel rows in my tires, but an “x” pattern might have been more effective.
    Good luck.

  3. Thanks Ang and JPG — great comments. We’re still pretty much snow-free this morning.Oddly though, the Seattle School District had decided to throw in the towel.

    I think I might just have to head out and get some screws, just in case. I’ll keep ’em short and few and far between. I just need a “little” something extra for those short patches of glare ice we get.

    And thanks for the Mr. Tuffy tip: I’m kicking myself for throwing away Anne’s old tire liners. I kept ’em around for years and finally tossed them just a while ago. Rats.

    And Ang, congrats on your car-less-ness in Alaska. Very impressive. And though I am cheap, if we had more than a few reliably cold days a year, I too would pony up for commercial studs. That falling stuff *hurts*!


  4. Writing from Vancouver, B.C., here. Like you I was thinking that I wouldn’t get studded tires for just a couple of days of snow and ice. But this looks like it’s going to last. I happen to have a spare set of wheels kicking around so I’ll put studded tires on them so I just have to swap wheels when I need the studs. This being said, I’m too lazy to make them myself so I’ll just buy the tires – I’ll still have a beer, tho’.

  5. You already know how I feel about this – and I still say that you will never regret either buying or making a set of studs. Here’s my winter stable: http://tinyurl.com/6n5n24 Probably overkill, but I like not worrying on the long descents.

  6. Your post yesterday inspired me to run out and grab some 1/2″ #8 screws and build my first set of studs. I’m amazed at how well this works! Rode from Kirkland to Bothell this morning in relative ease. Almost felt smug as I passed a downhill 20 car slideout. Those poor people and their cars are probably still there.

  7. Don’t worry Val. I got the message loud and clear 😉 I’m headed to Tacoma Screw right now.

    And Simon — you think 1/2″ #8 screws do the trick? Maybe I should rethink my 3/8 #6 decision.

    Hopefully I’ll have time tonight to build them up (and hopefully I can get to Ballard without them right now).

  8. Tim – This reply is probably too late as you are probably home working on your tires already. I’m a total newbie at this. But like I said, I am amazed at how well the 1/2 #8 screws worked. I too got mine from Tacoma screw. They had some really nice flat headed screws. I ran duct tape over all the heads, inserted a Tuffy liner then the tube. Hardest part was trying to avoid tearing your hands up fitting the tire to the rim. I was convinced the tire would blow the minute I rode it, however, 20 miles later I’m a totally converted.

  9. Thanks Simon. I was at Tacoma Screw while you were typing the comment. I got 3/8 #6 and #8. I figured I’d try a mix of each for this first set.

    On the way there I was actually quite amazed how the Xtracycle handled on regular tires (one knobby up front, and Big Apple in the back. I did 12-15 miles or so after dark that way. No traction problems at all.

    I still made up some studs tonight though. I’ll run them tomorrow and see what I was missing tonight.

  10. I opened my wallet this year and went for the Schwalbe Winter Marathons. After I “turtled” down the bike path after the first significant Boulder snow. So far, so good. While the paths are now pretty clear, the streets I need to take to the paths are not….in fact they are worse than a never-Zambonied ice rink. Thankful for my Scwalbes!

  11. I, too, hesitated at purchasing studded tyres when I’d counted the “studly” days in the previous four or five years and, indeed, there were two or three each season.
    Then we got fourteen inches of blizzard conditions on Valentine’s day and I impulsively (cabin-fever induced) called out and ordered them.
    The next season there were at least 10 studly days.
    This season has just begun and we’re already at 6 or 7.
    Don’t get ’em! You’ll bring bad weather!

  12. Thanks Mary Beth — I’ll see how DIY goes and maybe step up next year. Though if Xiousgeonz’s is right, if we all order some maybe we can put a halt to this global warming thing!

  13. Momentum magazine had an excellent d.y.i.
    artile on studded snow tires
    myself? I’m going to hide in the house, admire my Christmas tree and drink some seasonally delicious winter beer

  14. Thanks for the link, Marge. I think I’ll partake of some of what you’re having!

  15. theenglishpaperstudent

    I have an old mountain bike that has these tough little cleats already built in– it seems to work though we never have much snow that lasts in NYC anymore. There is nothing like riding down a hill that has compacted snow and some light powder! Part of Forrest Park in New York is closed to vehicuar traffic permanently and I recomend this “fitness trail” to all of you!

  16. Just got my first set of Nokians here in MPLS and cannot believe I waited so long. -14F this morning with a fresh 5 inches on the ground and another 5 on the way tonight/tomorrow

  17. Pingback: Merry Christmas « Car Free Days

  18. Studded tires are definitely one of those things you don’t really know you need until you really need them (like when you’re laying on the ground wondering what just happened). Screws work great for traction but they don’t last long and eventually they’ll wear down all the way. If you’re willing to bite the bullet, one great stud option is Grip Studs. They make a little screw-in stud for bicycles that is easy to install yourself. The studs are tungsten carbide so they last forever. Plus, they don’t puncture threw the tire so no need for a liner! Take a look… http://www.gripstuds.com/index.php

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