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  1. #1
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    DIY Studs and Tubeless

    I couldn't find much info online about whether a tubeless conversion of DIY studded tires would work so I thought I would give it a try (and I'm crossposting a bit to hopefully help other people find it more easily). Click on any of the images for fullsize:

    Tires are wirebead Maxxis Ignitor 29x2.1




    Studs are 120 6x3/8" self-drilling screws


    Velocity P35 rim with gorillatape rimstrip and cannibalized presta valvestem


    Sealant is a homebrew from this thread: http://forums.mtbr.com/29er-bikes/be...ew-406115.html. I just poured it right in. Someone had suggested lining the tire with gorillatape and I gave that a try, but without a tube in there there's nothing to keep the tape pressed against the tire so it would just flop around and wasn't any help.


    Airing it up tubeless was as easy as any tubeless setup I've ever done.


    After setup I took it for a spin around my parking garage, including popping the front and back wheels a few times. There was very little weeping from the studs - maybe a dozen per tire had sealant visible, but the rest were clean.


    When I finished the setup I was doing some other work on my bike, and every so often one of the studs would suddenly start audibly leaking air. It happened maybe twice per tire, and pretty randomly like after they'd been aired up for 10 or 20 minutes. Giving the tire a quick shake to slosh the sealant around stopped the leaks. My first ride around the garage also caused a few leaks, but they sealed up after a quick spin.

    So this is still an experiment but at this point it's turned out better than expected. I've got to give it a few days to see if it holds air, and I'll probably take it for a short ride tomorrow to see how things go after a km or two. Probably won't get to test them on snow for at least another week.

    If anyone is wondering why bother with this, it's basically because there aren't a lot of studded tires for 29ers - 700c tires are too narrow for what I want, and the Nokian 29er gets pretty middling reviews for such a pricey tire. I could see myself buying the new Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro 29er at some point, but it's brandnew and isn't readily available, and it's also super expensive. So DIY studs are my best option right now, and running tubeless will hopefully avoid the problem of the studs popping a tube or of needing to use tireliners.
    Last edited by newfangled; 10-28-2011 at 06:04 PM.

  2. #2
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    Tubeless studs Update #1

    Went for a quick 8km loop on the road, with a few little curbdrops and stuff. The pressures are holding, but I noticed that one stud on the rear has backed it self into the tire so far that it's almost completely invisible. It's the only one like that, but it looks like some of the others have sunk in a bit too. So I might have to ditch the tubeless and resort to a tire liner and tubes after all, but I'm going to give it a few more test rides to see how things go.

    Edited to add:

    I took the tires off to see what was going on. Here is the screw that's backed itself all the way into the tire:


    There was only one like that, but there were quite a few others that had backed in a mm or two:


    I've got some time to play around with this, so I think that I may back all the screws off a bit, add a drop of contact cement to the threads, and then re-tighten them and let them try. I'm hoping maybe that might provide just enough resistance to hold them in place? Failing that, I'll have to go with tubes.
    Last edited by newfangled; 10-30-2011 at 12:21 PM.

  3. #3
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    After 2 weeks of riding:

    Before remounting them I gooped up the screws with contact cement:


    Front tire - tubeless, and still in great shape


    Rear tire - I chickened out and went with a tireliner & tube. The screws are noticeably more worn than on the front


    Its tough to tell from the photos (even if you click through to the big version), but on the rear tire a few of the screws are almost completely worn down. Other DIY approaches recommend studding the outside knob instead of the middle knob that I used, and for the rear tire that might be a good idea.

    The plus side is that even as these screws wear down they don't dull, because their cross-section has a lot of bite.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    After 2 weeks of riding:

    Before remounting them I gooped up the screws with contact cement:


    Front tire - tubeless, and still in great shape


    Rear tire - I chickened out and went with a tireliner & tube. The screws are noticeably more worn than on the front


    Its tough to tell from the photos (even if you click through to the big version), but on the rear tire a few of the screws are almost completely worn down. Other DIY approaches recommend studding the outside knob instead of the middle knob that I used, and for the rear tire that might be a good idea.

    The plus side is that even as these screws wear down they don't dull, because their cross-section has a lot of bite.
    So 2 months say and the rear tire needs new screws?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    So 2 months say and the rear tire needs new screws?
    Well after 2 weeks there's 1 screw that's completely worn down, and 2 more that have maybe 25% left. The rest are all noticeably worn, but not nearly as badly. So it's going to be interesting to see if the 3 bad ones are just a fluke, or if the whole tire is going to rapidly disintegrate.

    If I were doing it again I'd probably use the outside knobs on the rear tire - that would make lining it more problematic since you need a really wide Mr. Tuffy, but on the other hand maybe tubeless would be a better bet since there's less direct load on the screws? I'd say this could be an experiment for next year, but at this rate I may need to try it in December.

  6. #6
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    Tubeless DIY studs - Final Update

    My experiment with these is coming to an end because one of the online stores had the schwalbe 29ers at a price that I just couldn't pass up (and my wife needed something to get me for christmas). But after 1.5 months or about 600km on the Tubeless DIY studs here's what I learned:

    Front Tire


    Rear Tire


    Wear Comparison

    (A new #6 3/8" screw on the left
    A typical screw from the front tire in the middle
    A typical screw from the rear tire on the right)

    In a typical year I'll run studs for about 6 months or 3000km. So after less than a quarter of the winter the rear tire is completely worn down, and the front is on its way. On the other hand, this has been one of the warmest and least snowy winters that I can remember. In a typical December the roads would have a few inches of hardpack, but this year probably 90% of the 600km has been on bare pavement. If I'd done this test in any other year I probably would have gotten an extra few months out of them. If I hadn't found the cheap schwalbes I would have spent the holidays adding screws to the outer knobs.

    Stud the Outermost knobs - that's what all the tutorials recommend to reduce wear, but I didn't believe them, and I was wrong. If I did this again on the rear tire I would only stud the outer knobs, and on the front I would do a mix of outer and middlish. For the outer knobs I would also switch from #6 3/8" screws to #8 1/2" which would give a little more wear life.

    Tubeless Works - The front tire was run tubeless the whole time with zero issues. The rear tire initially had a tube/liner, but it got a puncture after about a month so I switched it to tubeless too. I had an initial problem with the screws backing into the tire, but the contact cement seems to have worked, and because contact cement isn't too permanent you can still remove/replace the screws later. Studding the outermost knobs should also reduce the tendency for the screws to back in, especially on the rear.

    They do work - there have been enough icy patches that I'm glad to have the studs, and these have worked really well even though they're worn. The only time I've had any slipping is climbing steep singletrack, but for aggressive riding on roads I haven't had any problems. For a weekend warrior bike, or a backup bike (lets say your primary winterbike is 26", but you want studs for your 29er), or just as a cheap way to get studs these are definitely workable.

  7. #7
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    Don't ride them on the road!

    The basic issue is riding them on the road. If you want to ride pavement, get carbide studded tires, the softer steel of home made and cheap commercial studded tires doesn't last (as test above).

    I use my home studded tires for singletrack only, mix of snow and ice, with a very, very rare rock sticking out.

    I studded a WTB Stout along the sides and run it on the front. I started with liners but have since run it tubeless. @ winters on it now doing well.

    The Stout is not a tubeless or TLR tire so needs a good blast from an air compressor as well as some time to become less porous, same as summer use of a non-tubeless tire.

  8. #8
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    I had used #4 screws on a tubed setup with good results. The black #6 are a harder alloy with a very sharp point (typically used for fastening sheet metal studs). They are pointy to pierce sheet metal but don't have the standard drill bit tip. I found these to last longer than the silver screws.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BansheeRune View Post
    I had used #4 screws on a tubed setup with good results. The black #6 are a harder alloy with a very sharp point (typically used for fastening sheet metal studs). They are pointy to pierce sheet metal but don't have the standard drill bit tip. I found these to last longer than the silver screws.
    +1 on this, I made a set years ago with the pointy sheet metal screws and they lasted a few years. I thing using the self tappers removes to much material from th rubber and the threads have nothing to bite into. You have to predrill a guide hole first with a 1/16 bit though.

  10. #10
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    I have not used pseudo studs in many years now. When I did tho I used the screws that have a sharp point, as I found self drillers did not hold position well. I am using Timberwolf 2.7 race at 12 psi. My friends are riding Pugsley and mukluk @ 4 psi. They cheat!
    Here is a link to icebike. Good site with links to similar sites as well

    IceBike Home Page

  11. #11
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    The Icebike studding tutorial is from Edmonton Bicycle Commuters (EBC) :: home and news, which is where I'm from. And I know people that swear by those for high-mileage commuting - with the caveat of needing to use liner(s) and worrying about flats - which is why I wanted to give tubeless a shot.

    I could see that using pointier screws would leave more of the tire, but adding contact cement was a workable fix to keep the screws in place. Now if I try to remove the screws there's just a bit of initial resistance, and then they're free to unscrew.

    I should have studded the outside studding the outside knobs (especially on the rear) but this also is a really bizarre year. It dropped to -10C a few nights ago, which was the coldest it's been in a month and a half. In a normal year by now we'd have had at least two weeks of deepfreeze where the temperatures never get above -25C. But this week the forecast is for highs of 8C which is great but crazy.

  12. #12
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    I like the contact cement idea. We have no snow ATM so no hurry. I'll give it a go

  13. #13
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    I'll try to studs my tires this week.

    Any suggestions on where to find the best screw for durability ? Maybe stainless ones ?

    And is #4 screws the limit in diameter or could I go down a bit to use different sizes to match the existing tread pattern of the tire ?

    I'm thinking a nice #8 not too long on the middle knobs, and maybe some #6 a bit longer on the outside knobs for rear tire ? 26x2.3

    For front maybe using #4 outside and a few shorter ones on the middle ? 26x1.95

    Any preference on the head ? V head or flat one ?

    I'll be using tubes, so I figured out a nice layer of duct tape over the tire interior to cover the screw heads would work good ?

    And what is the max length for the screw tip to be exposed ? Without interfering with rolling quality ? Personal experiences ?

    I'll be riding about 5 km a day, and mostly only pavement, with a few days of black ice and such, so I don't want to get the screw too long that it will shred out the knobs when riding on pavement.

    Thanks
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  14. #14
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    ^ I had #8x1/2" screws, but they seemed way too long for the inner knobs so I switched to the 6x3/8" instead. But for the outer knobs 8x1/2" should be fine, and they're what I see other people using around here. I found that the giant Canadian hardware chains didn't have a great selection in the small sizes, so I just went with what was available.

    Not sure how much of a difference the screw head really makes, but the general recommendation is for a panhead roberston since there aren't many sharp edges:



    As for a tire liner, I used a Mr. Tuffy taped in with Gorilla Tape, and after a month I still ended up with puncture on the back tire. I think it was just bad luck because it looked like something went straight-through the tire and missed the liner, but it was still annoying. All I can really say is that Gorilla Tape should stick better than ducttape, and rather than lining the inside of the tire with tape (which is a pain) I've seen some people putting little patches of tape over each individual screw head. That might actually be easier than lining the whole tire, and it might work better. But my liner experience was a failure so I'm bitter about it.

    The other thing is that even when the screws on my rear tire looked like they were completely worn down I didn't have any traction problems. My commute has had lots of black ice, but the only time I had any slipping was climbing on some singletrack.

  15. #15
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    # 4's are very thin, I had used panheads. #8 is rather fat and caused the treads to split. #6 works well
    #4x1/2" or #6x1/2 were the sizes I had used. 1.8" exposure worked nicely. Keep in mind the tread blocks need to have a little meat around the screw so they stay put. I do like the 55 mile per hour tape idea. I did not place screws in the centerline of the tire to preserve ride quality, air pressure so the tire has a slight flex when you are on the bike (more tire on the road).
    #4 less noticeable than #6 on ride quality, tho booth work well.

    If only Bridgestone would make Blizzaks for bikes!!!

  16. #16
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    Forgot to mention....tires I used had very deep tread. Thanks Newfangled for pointing out 3/8 length.

  17. #17
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    Thanks guys.

    My tires are rear/front specific, so I'll have to improvise different pattern for both.

    But are steel plated metal/wood screw alright or too soft ? Because that's what I have on hand and if I can save myself a trip to the hardware store it would be faster to get the job done.

    I think I'll use #6 in back and #4 in front. Is using some type of cement on the screw treads a good thing to help it stay in place and not get the rubber around too loose ?

    Thanks

    Here's a pic of my rear tire and front.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails DIY Studs and Tubeless-img_0485.jpg  

    DIY Studs and Tubeless-_dsc4897.jpg  

    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  18. #18
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    Self drillers may make the screws push back into the tire is my theory, which lead me to use the pointy variety. Your tires look like good stud candidates as the tread has good real estate to hold em in place.

    Lighting farts...!!!LOL

  19. #19
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    The ones I did years ago, I smeared blobs of silicone caulking over the screw heads. I didn't have any problem with them unscrewing. Normal screws are absolutely no good for riding on any hard paved surface - ice and snow only.
    Mike The Bike's home wheelbuilding info - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder information and motivation.

  20. #20
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    Awsome writeup & info

    Wish I had some snow so I could play
    There....Are... Four...Lights!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by S_Trek View Post
    Awsome writeup & info

    Wish I had some snow so I could play
    Yeah, thanks guys

    And I wish I have some snow right now... We had lot of it, but suddenly we had a day of warmer temp, and then lot of rain and right after super freezing temps, like -20C for a few days... So now I have plenty of ice to play with

    I'll give it a shot for the front tire today, as I have 2-3 of those tires, so I'll take one laying around and if I get good results, I'll mount it in place.

    I'm planning to use #4 screws, with a pre-drilled hole to drive them in, maybe use some silicone cement like suggested, then apply a good liner inside the tire, mount it on a rim with tube, air it up and see how it goes.

    David
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  22. #22
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    ^ Some people say that for commuting all you really need is the front tire. I quite like having the back too, but the front is definitely most important.

    And I guess that I never mentioned it in the writeup, but instead of drilling pilot holes I used a really small flathead screwdriver (from one of those sets of computer screwdrivers) to punch the initial hole through. It worked well enough, and I did it that way instead of drilling because it didn't remove any rubber from the knobs.

  23. #23
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by David C View Post
    Yeah, thanks guys

    And I wish I have some snow right now... We had lot of it, but suddenly we had a day of warmer temp, and then lot of rain and right after super freezing temps, like -20C for a few days... So now I have plenty of ice to play with

    I'll give it a shot for the front tire today, as I have 2-3 of those tires, so I'll take one laying around and if I get good results, I'll mount it in place.

    I'm planning to use #4 screws, with a pre-drilled hole to drive them in, maybe use some silicone cement like suggested, then apply a good liner inside the tire, mount it on a rim with tube, air it up and see how it goes.

    David
    Enjoying global warming here in colorado...shorts n hoody weather!

    Let us know how studs are working out

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BansheeRune View Post
    Enjoying global warming here in colorado...shorts n hoody weather!

    Let us know how studs are working out
    I'm closing my damn computer right now and going to lock myself in the mancave for the rest of the day. I'll update through my iPhone
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  25. #25
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