Winter is awful. Putting away the dirt bike every fall is as depressing as my first high school break up. I always wanted to continue to ride in the winter but never had the interest or cold tolerance for ice racing. After a few attempts at running ice studs on the trails and losing damn near every one. I was about ready to give up hope. I had heard about trail studs before but never had an opportunity to try them until this season. The folks at Grip studs and Bracebridge Machine were nice enough to set me up with a set of their studs so we could put them to the test.
What are they?
Grip studs are a screw-in Tungsten Carbide stud that is designed for use in everything from footwear to heavy equipment. We will be focused on the use of Grip studs that are sized for use on dirt bikes. These studs should enable to rider to achieve grip in snow, ice and frozen ground without getting ripped out of the tire as easily as some of the competition. If this is true, the season just got a lot longer.
What makes them better?
Grip studs have a good reputation within the industry and it’s easy to see why. They use a solid Tungsten Carbide shaft that is brazed-in rather than cemented-in like others. This adds ultimate durability to the studs. To keep them from getting ripped out of the tire they use a very wide auger with a blunt edge rather than a narrow sharp thread which allow them to stay secured within your tire for longer. They also use a rounded tip versus something with a 90 degree edge to keep them from twisting. For these reasons and more Grip studs are considered one of the best screw in tire studs on the market.
Installation is simple but tedious and a bit time-consuming. Grab your favourite beverage, put on some tunes and enjoy the process if you can. The Grip studs require a special tool for your drill for installation. This tool is sold by Grip studs and should be purchased along with your studs as there will be nothing in your tool box like it. Just like any screw, you position the Grip stud auger in the centre of the knobs and screw in. It’s a bit tricky at first due to the blunt edge on the auger but you’ll get the hang of it after a while.
The rear tire is much easier than the front thanks to the surface area on the knobs. Front tires with diamond-shaped side knobs are even more tricky. It’s also recommended to use medium compound tires, the softer tire knobs tend to twist as the auger digs in.
The set up
Stud pattern and the amount of Grip studs you use will vary depending on your tire choice and preferred terrain. I was sent 150 front tire studs and 150 rear tires studs. This may not be enough to install on every knob of most tires but mounting a stud in every knob is not always required for most situations. Your tires don’t have to be new either, just be sure the knobs are still longer than the grips studs themselves.
Since Grip studs mount from outside the tire, you can run your normal tubes or mousses. I used my regular Nitromousses throughout testing with no issues. As mentioned above, stick to medium compound tires to help with installation and keep studs and knobs from ripping off while riding.
How do they perform?
My goal with Grip studs was just to continue riding here and there throughout the winter. Grips studs easily make this possible. My first ride on them was more fun than I’ve had riding in a while! Gliding across snow and ice like I was riding in sand, drifting around corners and blasting snow berms. The studs did exactly what I was hoping they would. They bite into the frozen dirt, ice and snow and propel my bike forward with ease. My local trail was easily traversed using Grip studs and a snow-covered grass track was almost as much fun as summer motos.
However there is a learning curve. Riding with Grip studs provides a much different feel then regular knobbies. If you’re a bit too aggressive with the throttle or your lean angle, you’ll find yourself eating some snow pretty quick. The best way to describe it is like riding hard pack dirt after rainfall. It’s slick but with a controlled throttle, you’ll have all the traction you need. Grip studs perform much better in the trails than out in the open fields but fun can be had pretty much anywhere with these things.
I’ve only had one season on my Grip studs but so far they have been indestructible. I honestly expected to lose a few over the course of a winter but I still have every single one accounted for. They also have not shown any signs of wearing down over the course of my use. I expect to be able to use this set of Grip studs for multiple winters after this one.
Although traction is there, it’s not perfect. As good as they perform in the trails, don’t expect them to compete with ice racing studs on solid ice. You can get around on ice using Grip studs but don’t expect to be dragging handlebars like you would on a custom built set of ice tires. They are fun anywhere but perform best in the trails. Especially those early winter days when the ground is semi-frozen. Grip studs can still be fun in deeper snow but your bike will be working a bit harder as it augers into the snow to catch some ground.
For best traction on really icy trails you may require more than 150 studs for the rear tire. In the future, I’ll get my hands on a few more to find out if a fully studded rear tire can perform better on solid ice than the tire with just 150 studs.
I feel Grip studs are a worthy investment for any rider that wants to have some dirt bike fun over the winter. Trail riding is attainable even in the worst conditions and if you find an open area with some fluffy snow you can carve your way around like you’re riding sand dunes. Your riding style will adjust to the studs after the first few minutes and you’ll start to find traction on nearly any surface. That traction you get will not be perfect but without Grip studs you wouldn’t be moving forward at all.
I will continue to use my Grip studs for many more winters in more terrain and will update this review as I learn more about them in the long-term. As always reach out to us with any questions you may have about this product.
Grip studs can be purchased on the grip studs website.
For Canadian riders, grip studs are sold locally by Bracebridge Machine.