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Friday, November 19, 2010
Studded Motorcycle Tires 101
Deep snow spikes
Today i want to talk about the proper riding technique needed to get the most out of your studded tires.The first consideration is what is the best type of studded tire for your bike, and riding conditions. If your riding is done mostly on rocky trails like we have here in New England. Or the average snow depth in your area is between 6" to 8", then your best choice is the slightly shorter "Rocky Trail Studs". They provide excellent traction on ice and snow, but will hold up much better over time. On the other hand, if your average snow depth is in excess of 8", then the "Deep Snow Spikes" will provide the most traction and because of the deep snow cover they will not be as adversely effected by rocky conditions. Most racers use the slightly shorty studs because they prefer the better handling characteristics they provide.
Rocky Trail Studs
After choosing which studs will best suite your riding conditions now you need to properly choose the right size for your bike. Keep in mind that the studs will add to the over all height and width of your tire. This is especially true of the Deep Snow Spikes. On most stock motorcycles the extra size won't effect fitment as long as you do not go up in size from the OEM stock tire size. In most cases, if your bike came with a 110/100x18 tire, then that is the proper size studded tire to choose. Installing a larger then stock studded tire may cause problems with the studs rubbing your air box mudflap or silencer/muffler. Mounting studded tires is straight forward. Wearing leather gloves while mounting studded tires will help protect your hands from those carbide studs. The proper air pressure is also critical. In most instances set your air pressure at 15psi. This will allow the studs to bite in better. Keep in mind the lower the outside air temperature is, the softer your tires feel. It is recommended you check the air pressure often in the Winter.
Studded tires are a big investment. But with a few changes in your riding technique, you can help extend the life of your studded tires and get the best performance out of your motorcycle in Winter conditions. Getting 3 or 4 years out of a rear tire and as much as 4 or 5 years out of a front tire is possible. The single most beneficial thing you can do, to extend the life of off-road studded tires, is to use them only when you have to. If the snow cover melts away and the trails turn to mud, take them off and save them until it freeze up again. Don't get lazy in the Spring and leave them on for one more ride. Changing your riding technique can also help your studded tires last longer. Avoid as much wheel spin as possible ( this is most important on small displacement motorcycles where the common riding technique is to fan the clutch and keep the motor reving high ). Excessive wheel spin will dramatically reduce the life of any studded tire. Use the torque of your motor and ride with as much momentum as possible. Think "smooth" and adopt a smooth riding style. Any expert or old timer will tell you, that a smooth rider is a fast rider. Avoid bare ground and bare rocks. Seek out snow and ice patches on the trail and let the studs do their job. Studs dont bite into rocks. Don't brake slide in corners. Sliding the studded tires will rip studs out if you hit exposed rocks deep in ruts. Use engine braking and the bikes brakes efficiently to control your speed. Ride with a more up-right style. Try to avoid "railing" the corners. Squaring off the corners and keeping the bike upright helps keep more of the studs biting into the frozen ground, snow or ice. By adapting your riding style to the conditions and the studded tires on your bike, you will get many years of use out of them.
Dual sport Studs
Dual sport studded tires are designed much like studded auto tires. They are only to be used in States that allow studded tires on public roads during Winter months. They are less aggressive then off-road studs. They are designed as a traction aid. Most of the tires traction still comes from the rubber contact with the road. As with off road tires, use them only when road conditions allow. Using them all year will shorten the tires usable life. You should take the time to familiarize yourself with the handling characteristics of your motorcycle when you are using studded tires. Find a parking lot and do some experimenting with accelerating and braking. Spending a little time BEFORE you head out on public roads will make riding much safer.
Well there you have it. That's most likely more then you ever wanted to know about studded motorcycle tires. I have over 25 years of experience building and riding with studded tires so i have learned a trick or two in my day. I hope this information can help you choose the right studded tires for your bike and to get the most out of your investment in them. Feel free to call our toll-free number 800-654-4998 if you would like to talk about studded tires for your specific motorcycle. Or visit our website anytime. www.kevinscycleracing.com
The fine print, disclamer, and I told you so part:
WARNING!! STUDDED OR SPIKED TIRES WILL NOT KEEP YOU FROM FALLING OR CRASHING WHILE RIDING IN SNOW OR ON ICE. THEY WILL NOT KEEP YOU FROM BEING INJURED IN THE EVENT OF A FALL ON SNOW AND ICE. IF YOU ARE UNSURE AS TO HOW TO INSTALL STUDDED TIRES, TAKE THEM TO A QUALIFIED MECHANIC. INSTALLING STUDDED AND SPIKED TIRES IS DANGEROUS AND SPECIAL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS SHOULD BE TAKEN TO AVOID INJURY.
RIDE WITHIN YOUR CAPABILITIES....... BECAUSE STUPID HURTS.