Monday, December 23, 2013

Solid Ice Testing

Thursday night we got some ice and it made everything nice and slick. So, it was a perfect opportunity to test out the 45NRTH Gravdal tires with 252 studs in each tire.

Now, I've ridden 35mm-38mm studded tires before. Innova and Kenda tires that felt dead and stiff as a board. They made me hate studded tires so much I swore I'd never ride them again. Sure, there were more expensive, hard to track down Nokians and some others, but these were for my old commuter bike and they needed to be 38mm tires or so to work. Not 26 inch mountain bike tires.

The Gravdals are 38mm tires and would have fit that old commuter rig I had, but I don't, and now the tires are on an older Vaya. That's a good bike to have them on too, because of the low bottom bracket and longer stays which give me more stability anyway. With the Gravdal tires, I figured I wouldn't be in too much danger of going down suddenly. 

See the white scratches? The studs scraped the ice when I laid the bike down
Still, these were "skinny" tires and getting bounced around, or sent offline a bit on ice was going to put those studs in a bind as far as grip is concerned. There is little room for error with such a small footprint. That's why I usually opted for a grippy, really wide 29"er tire at a ridiculously low pressure. I used to have really good luck with WTB WeirWolf LT's at 15psi, for instance. But these tires were no where near that foot print, and I was going to have to be very careful.

Fortunately I did not take a dive or even get close to going down. I had a couple of tense moments and I knew that the studs were gripping, or I should have gone toppling over. I stopped on the way home to see if a certain stretch of pavement I had just crossed was still ice covered and by the scratch marks left in the ice by my studs when I laid the bike down, I knew that indeed it was still very slick.

So, the tires passed the test with flying colors. However; I'd feel a lot more secure on, say Dillingers with studs! I'll have more to add to this later, but for now, these are pretty darn good Winter tires if you are stuck with, or choose to ride skinnier shoes in Winter.

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