“The probability is that you will get your money’s worth over the life of the tire. Probably in less than three seasons. Maybe even less than this season.”
– Portlander Daniel Johnson on whether or not you should buy studded tires
With snow and ice a reality for at least a few more days, and with many Portlanders still choosing to go by bike, it’s time to give studded tires a closer look. They require a bit of investment (about $50 a piece for the good ones, or you can make them yourself), but as we’ll find out, one local bike expert says they’re well worth it over the long haul.
Back in January 2007, we took a look at using zipties around your rim/tire for better traction. It’s cheap and simple, but it
only works for fixed-gear bikes doesn’t work if you have rim brakes and plastic zipties don’t evoke the same level of confidence over ice as sharp, spikey things like studs (nor do they sound as good in a Blade Runner sort of way).
So, if you want to keep riding, it seems there are two options: buy studded tires off the shelf, or make them yourself.
One BikePortland reader, “TessPrime” wrote in this morning with her DIY experience:
I spent the time and small amount money on 3/8″ screws and did a DIY studded bike tire. They hook up like velcro on the ice and snow and aren’t terrible on bare pavement. I did about 80 screws or so per tire and it took, maybe, two hours. I lined the inside with a few layers of duct tape, and I can’t WAIT for more snow.
If you don’t feel that industrious, two local online retailers sell a full array of studded tires.BikeTiresDirect.com sells nine different models — four of which are currently sold out. They range in price from $29.95 to an MSRP of $97.95.
Linda Watts, marketing manager at Velotech Inc. (the company that runs BikeTiresDirect.com) says they increased their selected of studded tires this year, “but still we’ve managed to sell out of some of them. Within the past two weeks we definitely have seen an increase of locals looking for either studded tires or Cyclocross tires to put on regular road bikes.”
Northwest Portland based Universal Cycles also has nine models available (including replacement studs sold separately).
Both the above retailers have retail locations where you can find anything that’s on their website (the only trick might be getting there).
If you’re having trouble justifying the cost of studded tires in a place like Portland, where snow and ice only happen for a few days out of the entire year, local rider Daniel Johnson has done some of the thinking for you.
$61.95 at BikeTiresDirect.com
He wrote an email to the Shift list this morning that detailed his rationale behind deciding to finally invest in a pair. Johnson says if you buy a quality pair for about $50, “It ends up snow tires may be cost effective with only about a month of use.”
Why not just use the tires you’ve got? That’s not a cost-effective option according to Johnson; “A crash could easily cost you more than tires. Both in medical bills, and damaged equipment.”
What about driving? That’s much more expensive if you figure in the cost of chains, parking, as well as costs associated with the risk of sliding out and hitting other cars.
Walking? Unfortunately not everyone lives close enough to the things they need (yet).
Public transit seems like the best choice. Or is it? Johnson reasons that for the $4.75 cost of an all-day TriMet pass (which is what you’d need to equal the mobility of biking), “Even if you got the most expensive tires on the first website ($105/tire) it takes about 45 days to break even over taking the bus.
In the end, Johnson says buying a set of studded tires makes a lot of sense.
“The probability is that you will get your money’s worth over the life of the tire Probably in less than three seasons. Maybe even less than this season.”