If you're in the market for fat bike tires that will keep you upright on ice, you've done some researching and have learned that these tires are priced substantially high. That's not without reason, as there is a great deal of R&D into these tires, but you've landed here nonetheless.
This article will walk you through installing cost-effective studs (less than 1/4 the price of Grip Studs Screw-In Studs) in a Fat Bike Tire with or without stud pockets already manufactured into the tire tread. This method yields a tire that is custom-studded for your needs and costs significantly less than pre-studded tires.
Step 1: Things You'll Need
- Studs for Pocketed Tires (I got mine from BikeStud.com)
- Stud Installation Tool (available at same website)
- 1/8" Stubby Drill Bit - Other sizes may be desired depending on tire
- Hand Sanitizer
Step 2: Drill Pockets Into Your Non-pocketed Tire
If your tire already has pre-drilled pockets, skip to step 3. You'll need to drill a pocket into your non-pocketed tire. Any tire with a tread depth of at least 5mm should do the trick, but the Jumbo Jim works great as it has sipes to guide the drill bit and also aids with inserting the stud. The best bit size for Jumbo Jim was 1/8". I cut it to size and inserted it into the drill enough to be just a tad taller than the stud itself. Start short, and extend if needed - You do not want to penetrate the casing of the tire!
TIP: If you're drilling your own tires, I would highly recommend practicing on steps 2/3 on a single knob before proceeding to do all knobs of the tire at once. It takes some finesse to get the strategy down, but once you do, you're drilling and installing a few studs per minute.
TIP: If you don't have access to a stubby drill bit, but have bits in the required size that are too long, you can do what I did and use a saw to shorten the bit so that it can be inserted at the correct length.
TIP: This procedure can be done with the tire mounted to a rim or dismounted. It is easier to observe the inside of the casing (obviously) with the tire off, but once you get your procedure solidified, it's much easier to work on an inflated tire.
Step 3: Add One Drop of Hand Sanitizer to Each Pocket
This will help with stud insertion and will evaporate once complete.
Step 4: Insert Studs in Pockets Using Stud Tool.
Approach the stud pocket from an angle, and insert the stud with some force.Once the stud is in the pocket, apply some direct force and spin the driver around at least once. This will help the stud to settle squarely.
Step 5: Repeat Steps 1-3 Until Tire Is Studded As Desired.
In this case, the Jumbo Jim's transition and side knobs were the only suitable stud knobs. This yielded about 190 studs per tire.
Step 6: Go Ride!
Some manufacturers recommend riding some dry pavement to set the studs, but I went straight out into mixed winter conditions (snow, ice, slush, etc.) and had no issues. This configuration was not only faster than many OEM Studded Tires, but kept me up on ice great! I was even able to safely slide with brakes!