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Wintertouring tires, studs and other equipment

English article about riding a motorcycle in winter

Wintertouring, tires, studs and other equipment! Winter driving with a motorcycle is whatever approach to choose a compromise. I can choose to ride with only unstudded (studded = tires with studs), car studded, car studded and skis, enduro studded or with sidecar. All of these forms are fun, each in its own way, but also a choice I have to make if I am to be sure of getting through in varying weather and on different surfaces. When I drive around home, I can choose the weather and before and then it is also free to choose all forms of studs and extra accessories. If, on the other hand, I go on a long trip, I can never be sure what weather or surface I will get. Below I show when the different options work best for me.

With Two-wheeled motorcycle

Unstudded but winter tires (M + S): Bare asphalt and gravel road
Not recommended: Icy asphalt and gravel road, hard snow or ice-packed road, fresh snow, muddy, icy and rutted surface

Unstudded with skis (M + S): Bare asphalt and gravel road, icy asphalt and gravel road, hard snow or ice-packed road, fresh snow, muddy, icy and tracky ground
Not to recommend: (expect poor grip on icy surfaces with a lot of cord but it works

Car studs (1 – 2 mm): Bare asphalt and gravel road, icy asphalt and gravel road, hard snow or ice-packed road
Not recommended: fresh snow, muddy, icy and tracky ground

Car studs with skis: Bare asphalt and gravel road, icy asphalt and gravel road, hard snow or ice-packed road, fresh snow, muddy, icy and tracky surface
Not to recommend: (As I said, works well on most surfaces)

Enduro studs (4 – 8 mm): Hard snow or ice-packed road, fresh snow, muddy, icy and tracky ground
Not recommended: Bare asphalt and gravel road, icy asphalt and gravel road (thin layer)

Motorcycle with sidecar

Unstudded but winter tires (M + S): Bare asphalt and gravel road, icy asphalt and gravel road, hard snow or ice-packed road
Not to recommend: Fresh snow, muddy (in excessive amounts), quite slippery

Car studs (1 – 2 mm): Bare asphalt and gravel road, icy asphalt and gravel road, hard snow or ice-packed road, fresh snow, muddy, icy and tracky surface
Not to recommend: (As I said, works well on most surfaces)

Enduro stud (4 – 8 mm): Hard snow or ice-packed road, fresh snow, muddy, icy and tracky ground
Not recommended: Bare asphalt and gravel road, icy asphalt and gravel road (thin layer)

General about driving with studs
In general, the longer studs, the better the attachment to all forms of snow and ice surfaces if it is reasonably thick, at least one to a couple of centimeters. The only problem is that studs longer then 2 mm become really difficult on bare asphalt and gravel roads or with thin layers of snow or ice on these roads. I will then drive ”on top” of the studs and it gives both a strong warmth in the studs and so-called ”steel slip”, I slide around on the studs instead of biting into the ground with the rubber. If the studs has a good length, such as an enduro stud, it will also be a swaying ride as the studs bends when driving. In order not to get too hot, I am also forced to drive really slowly on bare ground, preferably not faster than 50 – 60 km / h. I have been involved in driving on bare asphalt at speeds around 50 – 70, with enduro studs, where the warmth became so great that the studs turned in the tire or curved from the heat!!!

So the studs is absolutely important for what grip I get but also where or when I can drive. If I am around home, I can adapt to the weather and the actual road surface, but on long journeys I have to count with all kinds of surfaces. So what I choose when it comes to tires and extra equipment is entirely linked to what I want to do, or how much risk I dare to take and that may not work so well. So what is best for long-distance driving (touring) which is my ”melody” yes it is either a two-wheeler with car studs and skis or a motorcycle with sidecar and car studs. If I drive around at home, I like to ride a two-wheeler with both short and long studs, but as I said, it is always a choice to make depending on what options for alternatives there are (or how many wheel sets or bikes I can have ready at home.

Big or small motorcycle
The bike size also matters. With a lighter bike, the warmth and discomfort will not be as great if the studs is too long on bare ground. This means that with a smaller bike, under 200 kilos, I have a greater opportunity to choose, even if the problems are largely the same. It is also much more fun to ski with a bike that weighs less than 200 kilos. On heavier bikes, skiing becomes more of support to sort out difficults and difficult surfaces, such as when it is muddy, tracky and lot of new snow.

General about studs
The studs and tires I use are selected to provide the best optimization. We drive car studs with a steel core of 2 mm (so-called event studs) which is used on event cars in Arjeplog, Levi etc. It has a slightly longer protrusion than regular car studs but not too far. I also drive with a completely normal car stud (old-fashioned with a steel core 1,5 mm) and it also works well, but the 2 mm stud is of course slightly better. There is also a screw stud (most commonly Best-Grip) which gives about 2 mm studs (also available with longer protrusions) which works really well to mount in a motorcycle tire. Unfortunately, the steel core of the screw studs is slightly thicker / wider than the car stud and this means that it does not grip in the same way. The bike is simply a little too light to be able to push down the studs core properly. Normally these studs are used on tractors and work machines that are slightly heavier. It will work, but when testing between ordinary car studs and screw studs, I notice a big difference in grip so large that I have given up screw studs if there are better alternatives. It may also be important to loosen the screw studs a little more to give a better grip. However, the screw studs is really well suited for supplementary studding, works really well even in old studs holes (when I lost the studs). Another advantage of the screw studs is also that I can screw it in with the wheel in place and also out in the field. The later is something many Europeans on their way up through Norway and Sweden tested. They simply stop at the boat dock after getting off the ferry and screw in some studs to secure a better attachment to the winter road. Unfortunately often to long studs, which gives a really shaky ride on the major roads with bare asphalt. Another disadvantage of the screw studs is the price, which lands at SEK 5 – 7 per studs, depending on whether they are bought with VAT in Sweden or imported directly from China. The price for car studs with drilling, gluing and assembly in Sweden is between SEK 3 – 4 per studs.

About the tires
The tires I choose must also have a good depth of at least 10 – 12 mm for the studs to fit. I also prefer tires that have M + S (Mood and Snow) marking and preferably also Silica marking. This means that the rubber in the tires is intended to withstand cooler weather. If I am going to use studs, I do not choose one of the special winter motorcycle tires that are on the market, mainly intended for German motorcyclists who are not allowed to ride with studs. If the tire is cut/sliced to much, there are simply no place with solid rubber where I can put in the studs. In Sweden and Norway today there are no regulations or prohibitions for studs on motorcycles which means that it is okay to drive with both short and long studs. The worn will probably not be particularly great either, as a motorcycle does not weighs as much as a car. But if we get a studs ban in the future, it is important that an exception is given for motorcycles, two wheels vehicle, otherwise there can be big problems!

My Compromise
As I said, the ground when driving differs significantly more in winter driving than in bare ground driving, but with the right choice, I can still enjoy wonderful motorcycle touring in winter. I like to go on a trip to Norway, Jokkmokk or other wonderful winter places and have chosen to do this with either a two-wheeled motorcycle with car studs and skis or a car-studded motorcycle with sidecar. With these two approaches, it works in all weathers and on all surfaces and I do not get ”stuck” on the trip, stay somewhere and have to wait for better weather. There are also snow chains to get for motorcycles and it can be good to have them with you if the weather becomes really difficult. However, it has only happened to me once but then they also did good! So how you choose must simply be decided by you and based on where, when and how you envisioned your winter driving. But if you have thought that it should work well in all weathers and on all surfaces, the choices are significantly fewer, which makes the choice a form of compromise.

Comments are unfortunately closed here on the website due to the fact that we have to keep hackers away, but feel free to comment on the article on mctouring.se Facebook page. Questions or other thoughts, use the email!

Author: Hans Rönnegård / mctouring.se / Ronnegard Adventure AB / Gagnef / Sweden / email address

Some more to see and read!

Stories from wintertouring: http://mctouring.se/?s=krystall
Video from wintertouring: https://www.youtube.com/user/mctouringse/videos
Motorcycle with ski: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCqt4Aeq3GM&t=71s
Motorcycle skis, Yllestasmen: http://mctouring.se/mc-skidor/
Motorcycle tires with studs: http://mctouring.se/dubbade-mc-dack/
How do I dress for wintertouring: https://www.facebook.com/mctouring/videos/1789979231066481/
General information about motorcycle touring: http://www.mctouring.se
Travel with mctouring.se: https://www.ronnegardadventure.se
mcturing.se on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mctouring/
Krystall-Rally on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/381129761965298

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