Studding your own tires for road use

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by meatshieldchris, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. meatshieldchris

    meatshieldchris Long timer

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    I've had a few people ask for more details about my studded tires so I thought I'd do a full writeup. A bit of housekeeping first: My situation is unique. So is yours. What works for me might be dangerous for you. I have routes available to me that allow me to adjust the risk I'm exposed to for the conditions outside. You have to analyze the risks involved in winter riding for yourself. Compare the risks to your own skills and your own equipment. I am not responsible for injury or death that you may cause by following these instructions.

    I've ridden a set of Kenda 270's studded with DOT #10 (9mm) tire studs this entire winter. Once you own the gun, the studs cost about 1/3 of those aerostitch style screw type studs. There are a few things I'd do differently next time. The 270's aren't ideal because of the sip that they have in the tread block. It makes it awkward to drill in the spot that you want (the drill falls into the sip), and it makes it hard to get the stud to go in straight. Ideally use a solid large block tire, something like a TKC-80 or a Dunlop 606. I'm going to try the D606 next year because there's enough room in the rear to get 2 studs in some of the blocks. The knobbier it is, the better it'll do in the snow, but that doesn't really have any effect on the ice that I can tell.

    Whatever tire you use, the tread height must equal or be greater than the stud length. If you research studding tires via car tire studding resources, they tell you to not stud used tires. This DOES NOT apply if your tires do not already have holes in them, because you are drilling the holes. The reason they don't want you studding used car tires (that already have holes molded in) is that rocks and debris fill up the holes and make life difficult, not to mention tread wear making the holes shorter. If your tire is used, the only considerations are 1) tire hardening from age making it difficult to work, and 2) enough tread left to take the stud. My front was new, my rear had about 3000km on it. No difference in stud retention or difficulty. If you have an old set of tires that you are removing that's not too age hardened yet, keep them so you can use them to practice on and find the right stud depth.

    The two sets of car tires that had molded in tires that I inspected just had straight holes, like if you'd drilled them. The rubber contracts back around the base, without needing a cavity in there. Don't worry about any concerns there, straight holes work fine.

    These are the studs. They measure about 9mm not including the tip, and about 10mm including the carbide tip. Call your local tire shop, they can order these for you. Ask for #10 studs. It'll be a special order thing because the shortest common car studs are #11. They might work for you but the fronts typically have less tread depth. My rears had enough to take a #12.
    [​IMG]

    Here's the gun. The studs feed in through the rear of it, fat end first carbide tip towards you. The gun you choose might have some multi-stud feeder capability, but I think I ran into trouble with mine because the studs are too short for the mechanism. One by one worked just fine. It works by inserting into the hole, then 3 fingers expand the hole, and a plunger pushes the stud firmly into the hole. When you release the trigger, everything retracts allowing the rubber to contract back around the base of the stud and hold it very firmly in place.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I don't have any pictures of the tool used to make the holes, because that's easy for you to figure out. You want a drill bit that is 1/8" or slightly larger. I went with a .200" (#7 or 13/64") drill bit, which is the diameter of the jacket of the stud not including the wider part at the bottom. You need a stop collar to set the depth. The exact depth depends on your tires and their condition, you'll have to experiment. Start with the collar about the length of the stud. I found 5/16" give or take a few tenths seemed to work ok, but it took trying 10 or so studs to figure it out. Use a tool spin it as fast as possible. If you can use a dremel, that is probably best, but my cordless drill worked well enough if I held it there long enough to clean out the hole. Drill the holes a few at a time as you stud so you can see how things are progressing and adjust. If I went too far I often lost count and messed up the pattern making me have to pull studs and drill new holes. YMMV. I do this with the tires mounted up and up to normal road pressure. Infact, I didn't even take the wheels off the bike, I just lifted it with my maintenance stand and sat on a stool with the wheel between my knees.

    Here's the patterns I chose. I like the front pattern, very confidence inspiring. I wish I could get about 1/3 more studs in the rear though. The rear lets go far before the front, so it is a pretty good indicator of how much traction you have. The studs in the very outside blocks of the rear tires were a waste, if you need studs you're in conditions where you can't lean that far anyway.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    To insert the studs: Grab a cup of water, and put a few dobs of dishwashing liquid soap in it for lube. Follow the instructions on your studding gun for pressure (mine wanted 90 psi, didn't even really want to open the jaws under 60). Doesn't take a big compressor, any old small compressor should be fine. Insert a stud into your gun, let it fall as far into it as it will go. Dip the tip of the gun in the cup of lube, then with a twisting motion, push the tip of the gun into the hole. This lubes the hole. Then withdraw and repeat, and hold it down at the bottom of the hole, and pull the trigger to push the stud in. I find it works far better by inserting the tool tip twice before pulling the trigger, than inserting the tool and the stud in one shot. The height you are looking for is the carbide tip being equal to or very slightly higher than the surface of the knob. You don't want the jacket around the carbide tip above the surface of the knob.

    Repeat several hundred more times. The box of studs will probably say something like "drive at 60 km/h for 100km to seat them!" which again is for cars. If you got them deep enough, riding won't seat them any better in my experience. If you didn't get them deep enough, they'll come out sooner or later because motorcycle knobs are smaller and flex more than car tire shoulders. So don't worry about it and just go ride it. I was able to successfully reinsert a stud that had come out, but some people say not to do that. If you've got one screwed up hole with a missing stud, no big deal. I don't notice anything bad happening from the 5 or 8 that are missing from my pattern.

    The only studs I have lost are the ones that didn't go in straight, I have not lost one yet due to this hole size. They won't come out unless you use a sturdy set of pliers and lever them out sideways.

    I'm in a rural area and have traffic free alternatives when the conditions warrant, but I've found highway travel quite doable for approximately 75% of a Manitoban winter. Everyone tells riding a motorcycle in the winter means you're instantly dead, but no one has any experience with it to give me quantifiable answers. It's definitely surprised me. The traction is better than expected if you can learn it. I suspect heavier bikes work better with studs than lighter bikes. I've had a better experience on sheer ice with my KLR than the people that have studded up 200lb dirt bike tires. The weight must act to press the studs into the ice better.

    Regarding skills, If you have gravel road or loose conditions dirt biking experience, it'll be a major asset. Snow acts a lot like sand, and studs are useless in snow. Car rutted up deep snow is a LOT of very slow going work. Fresh deep snow is kinda fun, but watch the speed, it's like sand that doesn't compact with speed. Studs work ok on hardpack, and excellent on ice. I highly recommend studding up in the fall, then riding as often as possible as conditions develop to incrementally increase your winter skills. It also allows you to incrementally gear up for the extreme wind chill as average temps drop, and figure out what works best for you. I might not start now if you haven't been riding yet, but wait for next fall. It's VERY different than summer riding. You have to carefully control your acceleration and braking on ice, control your speed, and control your cornering forces. You have to be smooth, very, very smooth. Even rolling off the throttle too fast can cause the rear end to wag on you. Dirt bikers should be ok with this, breaking loose the rear wheel is a matter of course. If it's very slippery ice, ignore that your bike is equipped with a front brake and you'll have all the steering you need if you don't panic. Keep in mind studs reduce your dry road traction too. Cornering seems fine, though braking seems slightly easier to make it skid. The 1 time I've gone down (on the street, not including the times messing around offroad) was a stop sign, once you have momentum things get better. Easy on that clutch! Again, your mileage may vary.

    Practice a lot, and away from traffic. Do it right and it'll make you a way better rider in the summer. That gravel that scared you? It'll be easy. That rain that you couldn't tell how much traction you had? you'll know now! Rolling to a stop with your foot on the ground to hold you up instead of balancing well? Your boot wont have any traction to help you there, so it'll cure you of that.

    Be safe. Don't forget to smile. Don't forget to point at your helmet and gloves when you've ridden in to work to find people standing around complaining about the conditions they had to drive their cars in today.
    #1
  2. Whyswoman

    Whyswoman The Gal's Gotta 'Yak

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    Chris, I really appreciate the time and effort you went to in writing this piece...I completely enjoyed your expository style and the humour with which you addressed the subject...I know Piffle and I look forward to seeing you at a tech day sometime in near future...
    #2
  3. PiffleMaster

    PiffleMaster Long timer

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    Sorry
    Can't read that far...
    , Blah Blah Blah...
    I wanna see video.
    #3
  4. meatshieldchris

    meatshieldchris Long timer

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    You're close enough. Call it a tire studding tech day and I'll bring my tire tool over.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747 using Tapatalk
    #4
  5. PiffleMaster

    PiffleMaster Long timer

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    Thanks Chris,
    Most definitely will take you up on that for next season.
    By the way, I appreciate the write-up, well done. :clap
    #5
  6. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Long timer

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    What about just using Grip Studs? It seems like the old way of studding tires might becoming antiquated.
    #6
  7. PiffleMaster

    PiffleMaster Long timer

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    Chris will chime in, but I expect it relates to price.
    #7
  8. meatshieldchris

    meatshieldchris Long timer

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    Are those the ones that look like screws with a head that looks like a DOT stud? Yeah it would have cost me about $100/tire that way. With the gun purchase the cost is about the same but the next set will only cost me $15 per tire

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747 using Tapatalk
    #8
  9. kenstone

    kenstone newb

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    Thanks for posting

    I use a piece of sharpened-on-the-outside tubing IN a hand drill to cookie cutter the hole, then pull out the titties with needle nose plyers though, for a cleaner hole:lol3.
    just sayin'
    Ken

    Car tire studs come in different lengths, I buy the shortest, and those expensive screw in type studs spit out on wheel spin and can flat an unlined tire...think sharp end:huh
    jmo

    Edit:
    I never had a gun, but was able to get my local tire shop to install the studs because the have a gun and hopper feeder.
    Now, for ice racing, castle'ated sheet metal screws work the best, 2 in each lug of a trials tire, thru a side plate off of a chain link to hold them proud :evil
    And for me, ALL stud mounting/hole cutting is done with the tire MOUNTED and AIRED UP!
    #9
  10. meatshieldchris

    meatshieldchris Long timer

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    Good point. I can wheel spin all I want with these studs and they don't come out.

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    #10
  11. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Long timer

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    I run the screw in studs on a dirt bike knobby. The studs stick out about 5/8 of an inch. I spin all the time on rocks, roots, frozen dirt, and railroad tracks. In about 40 hours of ride time, I have only lost a few studs.

    Price is a big difference. I think they cost about $1 each, so I have about $150 in my rear tire. At $15, that is cheap. How much does a gun cost?
    #11
  12. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Long timer

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    These are the studs I am referring to: http://www.gripstuds.com/

    I can do a tire in about 30 minutes, no pre drilling. They can be removed and installed in another tire.
    #12
  13. meatshieldchris

    meatshieldchris Long timer

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    I spent about $200 for the gun. Can be had cheaper used. I plan on doing the car tires too.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747 using Tapatalk
    #13
  14. justafurnaceman

    justafurnaceman Imaginary

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    Awesome writeup! Can't wait to do this for next year!
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  15. riverflow

    riverflow Adventurous Commuter

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    Leaving this here so I can find it later. It'll be great if I end up out west on a co-op next spring semester.
    #15
  16. pjm204

    pjm204 Long timer

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    Thanks for the writeup! I just picked up a studding setup yesterday so I plan to stud a set in the next couple weeks. I'm going to put on a studdable winter car rear and a tkc-80 front I think.

    If anyone in the Philly area needs to stud some tires, I've got a gun with an autofeed so we should be able to stud up a bunch of tires.
    #16
  17. Don Coyote

    Don Coyote Long timer

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    Where did you find a new gun for under $200? I see one from a recognizable brand for almost $400. Other than that things get really expensive except for something from china under $100 that might be the right kind- it didn't have much information with it.

    I've heard you can get some around that price used, but they are in high demand...
    #17
  18. meatshieldchris

    meatshieldchris Long timer

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    It was new old stock, this one is probably 20 years old but new in box. EBay.
    #18
  19. meatshieldchris

    meatshieldchris Long timer

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    Just did a new set. Dunlop 606 rear and pirelli mt21 front. 538 studs total. So if that was gripstuds that would be a $500 job plus tires. Second set of tires too.The gun easily paid for itself already. Used the same box of studs I bought last year but I'm out now. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Hoping that's a significant increase in capability for both ice and snow.
    #19
  20. GS Addict

    GS Addict Pepperfool

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    Great writeup, thank you.

    One question.....
    Out here in B.C. the RCMP dicks were ticketing any rider that did not have the M&S and Snowflake mark on the tire.
    Bright sunshine and dry conditions did not matter.
    Finally our transportation minister told them to back off this October.
    Do you get hassled in Winterpeg?
    #20