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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 03-03-08, 04:08 PM   #1
jeff^d
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riding on snowmobile trails

I have a similar post on the mountain bike forum, but someone suggested I ask here as well.

I have a Trek 930 with 26x2.0 Nokian studded tires (the 106 stud model). Lately I've been riding on the snowmobile trails in the area, and have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. As long as it is cold (below 15-20F), the trails are packed enough that I don't sink in too much and can average 8-10 mph without much trouble.

A long term goal is to build up a Surly Pugsley and really enjoy these trails, but for the time being, I'm wondering if switching to fatter mountain bike tires would make a substantial difference. My current 2.0 tires feel more like 1.8 or 1.9 to me, and I think I could fit 2.3 or 2.4 on this bike. I'm looking at Hutchinson Pythons in a 2.3 size, no studs, just floatation. Any thoughts on whether slightly fatter tires would make much of a difference?
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Old 03-03-08, 05:24 PM   #2
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Fat tires, low psi (<15 psi) are key. Generally the fatter the tire, the lower the psi w/o pinch flatting, will improve flotation.

For what it's worth, I settled with one set of tires (Schwalbe Ice Spiker 26x2.1) for winter off-road MTBing as I was too lazy to change tires based on daily changing conditions.

For improved flotation, I did experiment with fatter tires (2.5@10-15psi) but found that the tire pressure made a bigger difference. On snowmobile tracks, my Ice Spikers would sink @30psi but float @15-20psi. The fatter tires would float a little better at the expense of the studs. The studs provided much better traction on ice and hardpacked snow trails.
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Old 03-03-08, 05:31 PM   #3
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Well, at some point I ran 2.125 (beach cruiser style) rims with 2.25 mud tires for winter, studs on the sides and all, but that was because the roads I rode on had a really bad case of car ruts from poor maintenance. Anyways taking shortcuts through skidoo trails most of the times it would float, mostly when the snow was a few days old and it was cold out, and with fresh snow or less cold weather the back wheel would occasionally punch through, damages the trail and makes it real slow. Tires were about the size of a coke can.
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Old 03-04-08, 05:42 PM   #4
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I ride 2.3 Nokian Freddie's, and like the lower pressure traction they provide. There are some days where I wished I had some narrower tires to "cut" down into the squirrely, shallow, snowmachine-churned snow as opposed to "floating" over it. On warmer days, I do find that I can ride on top much easier with the wider meats.
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Old 03-06-08, 11:32 AM   #5
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Thanks for the advice. I just ordered a pair of 2.4 WTB Motoraptors. I'm a little unsure how the fit will be, but they'll be in Monday so we'll see.
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Old 03-06-08, 12:24 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice. I just ordered a pair of 2.4 WTB Motoraptors. I'm a little unsure how the fit will be, but they'll be in Monday so we'll see.
WTB Motoraptors 2.4 measured tread width is 2.36" (60 mm).
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Old 03-07-08, 04:12 AM   #7
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*8 to 10 inches of snow today and tomorrow,well i guess we will just have to get out and enjoy it!thats the only thing i can figure,Wont be long and we'll be saying....boy i wish it would cool off some! hahah!just get out and buggie! but try to stay upright!!!!
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Old 03-07-08, 02:33 PM   #8
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There are a bunch of guys who build fatbikes for snow up here. You can see some in use here:

http://www.alaskaultrasport.com/latest_news.html

As far as the side trails, be careful. If you're talking a put put "snowmobile" no big deal, but up here we have snow machines that can move at 100 MPH.
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Old 03-07-08, 03:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jeff^d View Post
I have a similar post on the mountain bike forum, but someone suggested I ask here as well.

I have a Trek 930 with 26x2.0 Nokian studded tires (the 106 stud model). Lately I've been riding on the snowmobile trails in the area, and have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. As long as it is cold (below 15-20F), the trails are packed enough that I don't sink in too much and can average 8-10 mph without much trouble.

A long term goal is to build up a Surly Pugsley and really enjoy these trails, but for the time being, I'm wondering if switching to fatter mountain bike tires would make a substantial difference. My current 2.0 tires feel more like 1.8 or 1.9 to me, and I think I could fit 2.3 or 2.4 on this bike. I'm looking at Hutchinson Pythons in a 2.3 size, no studs, just floatation. Any thoughts on whether slightly fatter tires would make much of a difference?

Just a little remark: Nokian does NOT make 2" Hakkapelitta W106 tyres. The widest they make in that line is 47mm/1.9". So, no wonder it feels like 1.8-1.9" !
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Old 03-07-08, 03:43 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Hawseman View Post
I ride 2.3 Nokian Freddie's, and like the lower pressure traction they provide. There are some days where I wished I had some narrower tires to "cut" down into the squirrely, shallow, snowmachine-churned snow as opposed to "floating" over it. On warmer days, I do find that I can ride on top much easier with the wider meats.
Which vintage Freddie's do you have? Do you have the "Revenze" by any chance? That was an over-engineered, totally rad winter tyre if I ever knew one. The newer Freddie's (SW336) are somewhat tamer, but still quite extreme stuff. I guess extremely expensive, too?
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Old 03-07-08, 05:43 PM   #11
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Just a little remark: Nokian does NOT make 2" Hakkapelitta W106 tyres. The widest they make in that line is 47mm/1.9". So, no wonder it feels like 1.8-1.9" !
You are totally correct, I just checked the side walls and they say 26x1.75/1.9. What does that slash mean?

I've been following Jill Homer's blog for a while now, and am still following Jay Petervary/Pete Basinger into Nome. I would definitely like to build up a Surly Pugsley fat bike in the future, but it's just not in the budget now. I'm actually looking for a job in Anchorage and would like to do the Susitna 100 someday. Ultrasport...maybe one day. I'll start with the Arrowhead 135 and Susitna.

These snowmobiles do travel at extremely fast speeds, but the trails I'm on are multi-use (not that they're any safer, just legal for me to be there) and I wear reflective clothing. I also can hear them coming from quite a distance so I'm sure to get off the trail. They're maniacs, but they're probably thinking the same of me.
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Old 03-07-08, 06:29 PM   #12
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Which vintage Freddie's do you have? Do you have the "Revenze" by any chance? That was an over-engineered, totally rad winter tyre if I ever knew one. The newer Freddie's (SW336) are somewhat tamer, but still quite extreme stuff. I guess extremely expensive, too?

I have the lite's (SW336). Those original Freddie's DH tires are too dangerous on mixed terrain. I've read of stability issues with using extremely aggressive studs (like on the original Freddies). As I ride over rocks, hard gravel or cross paved roads, I need the stud to seat and rubber to "take over".

These puppies weren't very cheap. I think I paid about US$90+ a piece in the fall this year. As I've posted before, I generally like the wider tire, but sometimes I wish I wasn't "floating" as much. When I know there is good solid pack/ice under some snowmachine sprinkles is when I prefer to sink down. Although, the workout is brutal, and I'm sure it's helping me develop in my control techniques.
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Old 03-07-08, 06:58 PM   #13
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I have the lite's (SW336). Those original Freddie's DH tires are too dangerous on mixed terrain. I've read of stability issues with using extremely aggressive studs (like on the original Freddies). As I ride over rocks, hard gravel or cross paved roads, I need the stud to seat and rubber to "take over".
Yeah, good point. I never tried any Freddies. I know that back in the day there were at least two types, the one spelled correctly and the one with the awful finnish misspellings all over the place - those were the "Frediz revenz". I didn't know they had studs that were more prominent than the other tyres, but suspected as much. Also, all the other Nokian studded tyres in general used to have studs that stood out more than the newer ones - after people complained that they were shedding studs a bit too much.
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Old 03-08-08, 10:03 AM   #14
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You are totally correct, I just checked the side walls and they say 26x1.75/1.9. What does that slash mean?
I bet it means 1.75" on the narrowest recommended rim, 1.9" on the widest.
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Old 03-12-08, 05:09 PM   #15
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Snowmobile trails? You will risk your life with those drunk morons on the snow machines?

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Old 03-12-08, 09:15 PM   #16
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Snowmobile trails? You will risk your life with those drunk morons on the snow machines?

Hehe...

You can hear the drunk morons on snow machines approaching better than the drunk morons in automobiles though. For the most part, they're pretty good. But like for any condition trail-riding, the bicycle is low on the totem pole, and should be courteous to other users. I generally dismount and move far to the right when sleds approach.
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Old 02-18-09, 03:57 PM   #17
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So, how wide would I need to be able to use skidoo trails on a daily basis, 3.0 tire on large marge rim good enough?
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Old 03-25-09, 12:21 PM   #18
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My ride in previous years used Nokian Mount & Ground studded tires (26x1.95?) and I ran them at about 20 psi with glue on one side of the rims. I would punch in on newly packed snow (especially now that the dammed paddle track snowmobiles are more common).
Last fall I bought a 29er, and was having traction issues with the 29x2.3 Boontrager stock on snowy single track climbs and side hills, so I put WTB weirwolf LT 29x2.5 on the rear and run at 25 lbs, I find them floaty and grippy, even on ice, the only problem is they are a little unstable side to side at higher speeds on pavement (probably due to underinflation).
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