TCI Friday

I can’t tell whether I find myself in a real riding conundrum or whether I’m just maybe a little too lazy. I’ll let you decide.

Currently, I have three bikes that are suitable for winter riding, two mountain bikes and a gravel bike. I own studded tires for two of them. Those tires hang from the rack in the garage that I devised purely for the purpose of storing all the various tires I have amassed over the seasons. I went through a period when I was frequently buying new rubber, just to try out various combinations to see what I liked best.

So I have tires.

The thing is, all those bikes I just mentioned are set up tubeless, and they’re stable, by which I mean they’re done well, not leaking air, not oozing sealant. They’re solid. I feel loathe to mess with them. When is the last time you swapped tires on a tubeless rig? With a tubed setup, I can change two in about 5 minutes. With a tubeless set, it probably takes me 10 minutes to pry the first stupid tire off the first stupid rim.

And yet, my Wednesday ride buddies persist in planning and executing cyclo-capers in all weather. I have missed the last few sessions, because I’m just not set up for ice and/or snow. And you know, just sucking it up, and trying to tag along without studded tires leads to a level of frustration (and possible injury) I just can’t manage.

Here’s where I confess that I also have an extra set of gravel wheels I could set up with studded tires and tubes. I just need an extra cassette, or (gasp) commit to swapping the cassette from one wheelset to the other. It’s not a major operation, but I haven’t even sifted through my tools to find the cassette lockring thing-a-majig or the chain whip with the hex slot, or whatever it is I need.

So tell me, this week’s TCI Friday wants to know if it’s the problem is me or the tires. Are you tubeless? Are you studded? Are you riding this winter? How do you manage it? Extra wheelsets? Not being lazy? I’m all ears.

Join the conversation
  1. Jeff vdD says

    Install the studded tires (with tubes) on whichever of those bikes makes the most sense. (Or is the easiest.) Do it! (Maybe today, since something tells me there’s some snow in your future.)

    Sure, you’re fixing something that’s not broken. But, it’s not a bad practice to redo tubeless once a year or more, so here’s the opportunity to make that happen when it’s time to switch back from studs.

    I’ve got studded tires for my gravel and fat bikes. Both are installed on spare wheelsets. You have a spare wheelset. Do it!

    FWIW, my fat bike studded tires are permanently mounted (with tubes) on the stock wheelset that came with the bike. So those studs are always ready to go. My gravel setup is where the fun comes in. As the winter comes to a close, I’ll removed the studded tires/tube and set up 35mm road slicks tubeless for the times my gravel bike has to perform road duty (I don’t have a road bike). Then, in late August, I’ll remove the road slicks and put on CX mud tires to backup the file treads on my primary CX wheels (for a CX bike, not the gravel bike). Finally, right after Ice Weasels, I’ll pull the muds and install the studs. It’s the circle of life.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      @Jeff – You’re right. Of course you are. AND…it makes me really happy that Ice Weasels is a signpost on your calendar.

      I could guess that you’re maybe present at someone’s regular snowy fatbike rides, eh?

    2. Jeff vdD says

      More specifically, my “change tires” signposts are Rasputitsa, Quad Cross, and Ice Weasels.

      Yes, I’m a frequenter of local snow rides, including, if all goes well, tomorrow. Since I don’t want to drive to the start and risk stranding my vehicle, but also don’t have the time on the back-end to ride to/from the start, I look forward to the looks we’ll get taking fat bikes on the Red Line.

  2. ian_christianson says

    I’ll change a cassette from one wheelset to another long before I would mess with tubing a tubeless wheel that’s working well. But I’m a bad example because I just put studded tires I’ve had for about 20 years on a 26” 80’s MTB drop bar conversion. I’m digging them so far.

  3. jlaudolff says

    Remind me why tubeless is so great again?
    I just switched my commuter over for some dirt action last night for this weekend. 10 minutes and done. Tubes for me for awhile longer.

  4. Wyatt says

    Getting out with your friends on the wrong tires is still way better than staying in by yourself with the wrong attitude. If changing your tires improves your ride go for it but if you don’t get to it in time, ride anyway.

    +1 for preferring a cassette change over a tubeless swap.

    As far as tubes go, there is no way anyone who has ridden tubeless mountain bikes at the right pressure would ever go back. I had a blast riding 1.9 26” mtb tires at 40 psi 30 years ago but those days are dead and it has gotten way better. . Definitely well with the set up hassle downside.

  5. TominAlbany says

    I’ve got studded snows on my old, POS mtb. Snows a little too powdery and soft for it to be more than an exercise in frustration. I did the swap last weekend and went for a bit. Works best on hard pack, given its narrowness.
    Brought the CX/Gravel into the shop for its annual tune-up.
    Serotta’s wearing the training slick and is mounted on the trainer. Have even done a few rides!

    I’m all tubes. It’s easy and convenient and doesn’t require me to overcome me to learn a new trick!

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