Canadian winters are long and sad for many enduro riders. Spending too much time at home leads to depression, divorces and excess drinking…
Now, what if you could get you bike winter-riding ready for just $100? Yes, you can get a fancy $1000 set of proper ice racing tires, but if you will only wind up getting our there 3-4 times and aren’t looking to race on the Frozen NASCAR Circuit… can a $100 method be good enough?
Personally I don’t particularly enjoy Ice Racing because it reminds me of NASCAR. I’m sure that just like with oval car racing there is much more to it than “Get on the track and turn left”, but for me, the activity just doesn’t do it. I do however miss riding and love to get out a few times during the winter to play in the snowy trails and maybe even do a few laps on a local pond. For such casual use case however $1000 investment into proper ice tires seems completely unjustified (or maybe just out of pocket for me at least).
Instead, my solution costs about $100 in supplies and 2-3 hours of time with a drill. The outcome is a set-up that is perfect for trail riding in the winter and holds up if you do want to make a few laps around your local pond.
Check out the following video for more details.
PS: Keep in mind that this method is not THAT different from what more committed ice racers follow.
Essentially, the serious guys use bigger studs (questionable benefit in my opinion), liners that prevent accidental punctures from using longer screws as well as much higher quantity of studs (2-3 per knob). Many also do use specific tires with less aggressive knobs that stick-out less and provide greater surface coverage to apply studs to..
Since my goal is to have some low-cost fun in the snow and then eventually back out the studs returning the bike to riding as usual, I don’t bother with liners or specific tires. If I’m doing a tire change late in the fall I make sure to get a tire with TALL knobs that will give me enough room to fit the 3/8 and 1/2 studs (front and rear) without puncturing the carcass.
If you do expect to do more lake/ice riding where ultimate traction is important, you can just add more studs to the knobs (I use one per, but most off-road tires can easily accept 2-3 per knob). I will say that with more studs in the tire, the traction on ice becomes so incredible that it feels more like riding a super moto and not a dirt bike.
Final tip – bring SLIME and a pump/compressor on your first ride… In some rare cases we had riders get a flat with this set-up… Honestly, it’s not likely, but can happen (after all, you do have over 500 metal screws in your tire…) Adding a little Slime into the tubes if you do get a flat can save the day…
PS: Remember that adding sharp objects to fast spinning parts of your bike is a dangerous idea. Most ice racing organizers will require protective shrouds, if you elect to ride without them, keep your and your buddies’ body parts away from the wheels. Getting a leg or hand stuck in the wheel can have DISASTEROUS consequences…