Friday, April 11, 2014


I really need to get studlier. I’ve been thinking this for a while. Time, gravity, friction—they all take their toll. My wife hasn’t said anything, but I know she’s been thinking it too. I don’t mean “studly” in the chest-hair-muscle-mass-Sex-Panther-Viagra-Speedo-package way. I’m talking about the tires on my winter bike.

This past winter has been something of an experiment for me. For the first time, I rode on tires that I studded my very own self. The previous winter I rode on 35 mm Schwalbe winter studded tires; I liked them but they were expensive (about $70 each) and this year, with a new (as in, really old) winter mountain bike, I was looking at another big pay out. So I thought I’d try the DIY approach and see how it went.

The investment was minimal: I liberated a few discarded but still usable tires and tubes from the MEC tire recycling cage and spent $8 on a box of wood screws. The main investment was time—to drill the holes, put in the screws, etc. I didn’t mind; it was kind of fun.

When I first put them on the bike, my newly spiked tires looked fearsome, like some kind of prickly medieval mace-Michelin hybrid. The screws stuck way, way out—gnarly, threaded barbs of studliness. They made me feel kind of bad-ass.

Yes, I noticed more resistance than on the Schwalbes, but who cares? A winter bike is supposed to be slow. My DIY tires handled just fine on the ice—no discernible difference from the Schwalbes. They may have even been better, grip wise.

But over the course of a long winter, the screws wore down in a way that the German studs don’t. Here’s what they look like now: my once fang-like spikes have been worn down to mere nibs and nubs, so many tiny, nipple-less tire-tits.  Their once-manly pointiness is gone, eroded down to emasculated dots.

And I’ve noticed that the traction on ice isn’t nearly as good as it was back in November. I didn’t have any major wipeouts, but I could tell that it wouldn’t have taken much. In the last few weeks of thaw and puddles, I’ve been riding both bikes (depending on conditions), the Schwalbe one and the DIY one, and I can say that the former definitely feels more confident on the ice.

None of this is surprising, really. I suspected that the screws would wear down; I just wasn’t sure how long it would take. One’s studliness is bound to go, but who knows when it will happen or how long it will take?

I’m wondering what I can do at this point. I’m not quite ready to give up on my experiment. Apparently there are measures that can be taken to enhance one’s studliness. I’ve read about them on the interweb.

One option I’m considering for next winter is adding some new screws (my drill pattern allows for this) to refresh, stud-up my sorry little nublets. Don’t they say that true studliness is measured not by the size of one’s nibs but the number? I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere on the internet.

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