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  1. #1
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    Specialized Ground Controls in the Snow - What Pressure is Working

    Title pretty much says it all. For those of you who've recieved their Fatboys and are riding them in the snow, what pressures have you played around with and what seems to be working best.

    I've run the rear down as low as 4 and I don't see much traction difference between 4 and 8 but huge changes in rolling resistance. I have the front at about 8 right now and it seems as I go lower on the front the "self steer" gets worse even though the grip gets better.

    Interested in experience and observations.

  2. #2
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    This is going to be like all the other threads that talk about it - dependent on snow conditions. Big fresh thick snow, you are going to want it as absolutely low as possible... like when you are super low granny gearing it. Other than that whatever feels comfortable to you on that day/condition/etc.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by duggus View Post
    This is going to be like all the other threads that talk about it - dependent on snow conditions. Big fresh thick snow, you are going to want it as absolutely low as possible... like when you are super low granny gearing it. Other than that whatever feels comfortable to you on that day/condition/etc.
    Yup I've read all the posts and have experience with Nates. Looking for specific input on this tire since it's brand new and very few of us have any experience with it. Especially in regard to pressure vs. self steer.

    BTW fellow MORC'er here. Battle Creek Trail Steward. Posting here because there isn't critical mass on the Specialized Tires yet in MN.

  4. #4
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    Went out yesterday on just frozen ground and spots of frozen thin snow. I went with 8 psi and it wa too rough of a ride. We got 2 inches of fresh light powder over night, I lowered my pressure to 5.5-6 psi and went for a ride. Traction was good, between the powder and the lower pressure, the ride was great. I did notice the bike making decision I had not authorized, I even went off the trail at one point, but it was manageable. I think that was the right pressure for today. Thicker snow, I'd maybe try 4.5-5 psi, back on the frozen ground I'd probably try 6 psi.

  5. #5
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    This is meant to add to the conversation. In this Hard Riding - YouTube video I was a 3 psi in the rear and 2.5 psi in the front. I aired down from 6 front and 7 rear in two steps with attempts in between.

    The attempts shown were real attempts, I didn't stop until I would have fallen. I didn't fall for the video because it was very wet. The video is flat ground. It was about 18 inches of powder 5 days ago. Now it is about 4 inches of packed snow near the end of a 43 degree f day, no ice or frozen slush was involved. I intended to ride 12 or 14 miles. In 30 minutes I "rode" 0.6 miles, but mostly rode a dozen feet at a time. I could easily walk, and I felt like I should have been able to ride. I am slow, but very strong. The first pass was supposed to be "spin with the gears" the second was supposed to be "crush the cranks". Both resulted in spin and going off line despite real attempts to avoid it.

    Random thoughts related to the thread. Do these tires suck? Is this little bit of snow un ride able? Is 3 psi too high? Can I really be this bad at riding in the snow? I had another experience where another rider with 4 inch wide tires seemed to have less trouble too, so now I'm starting to wonder. Is it the equipment, is it me? Is it the setup?

  6. #6
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    @daycj...too high a gear and too high a pressure...imho...also, soft slushy snow like that can be uber difficult...maybe plan your travel around the cold parts of the day...I also find sleeping during the warmth of the day to be more comfortable than trying to sleep through a cold night when winter camping.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for the replies. To keep it on topic, so you don't think that tire pressures were the issue? Other than excessive road resistance at low psi, I haven't gotten much of a result from playing with pressures. Typically if I can't go at all, pressures won't fix it.

    I've ridden with a few friends on Nates, and for the conditions at the time, they did just as well as I did. Again to keep it about the tires, I suspect that Specialized may not have made a tire here that raises the bar in any tangible way. While I don't see anything specifically wrong, the tire doesn't seem to offer amazing traction. It is not an amazing roller either. I'm also really questioning the benefits of a 4.6 tire and the frame that supports it. At least for my intended usage, winter riding.

    On the day I made the vid, no one had tried the trail on a fatbike. On two other days when the conditions were challenging, 3.8 or 4.0 seemed to do just as well if not better. Of course it was different bikes with different riders, so there are a stack of variables.

    The good news for me is that it is uncommon to have more than a few inches on the ground for most of the winter season. One last thing: it is very frowned upon to venture off the trail in the area shown in the vid. There was a whole issue a few years back about new trails that turned out to be "unauthorized". I did ride a few miles away in fresh snow but it was too deep, thick, and heavy.

  8. #8
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    There are going to be days where nothing you do is going to make the snow rideable. I have experienced XC ski days like that, no wax could handle the conditions. The snow in the video looks really wet. Had you been able to get further in, away from the super wet snow at the trail head, you might have had more success. Or not. It just depends.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by adaycj View Post
    [] so you don't think that tire pressures were the issue?
    No. It's the conditions. Slushy snow, especially where there's been foot traffic, is often unrideable. Welcome to winter bicycling.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TgMN View Post
    Yup I've read all the posts and have experience with Nates. Looking for specific input on this tire since it's brand new and very few of us have any experience with it. Especially in regard to pressure vs. self steer.

    BTW fellow MORC'er here. Battle Creek Trail Steward. Posting here because there isn't critical mass on the Specialized Tires yet in MN.
    Hey, I'm in MORC as well. I'm mostly ride leb and currently I'm at 4 in the front and 7 in the back. Tubeless and I'm 185.

    I'm not saying it's the ideal pressure. I'm getting a little bounce, however it seems to be doing great in fresh tracks. I try to widen out the trail when I'm out there. Hope that helps.

  11. #11
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    Interesting discussion, glad it didn't die. Based on my experience with Nates I would have to agree that the Ground Controls do not seem to be a huge leap forward in terms of breaking fresh trail. Although our condition here have turned the snow into a very sugary consistency (at least until that big melt yesterday). I haven't seen any real benefit to dropping below 5-6lbs and the self steer on the front changes pretty dramatically between 4-5. I've given up trying to run the front below 5 even though I've never come close to hitting the rim yet. It would be interesting to compare a Bud and a Ground Control side by side in the same conditions.

  12. #12
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    Hey all,
    I'm in Minnesota also and just rode my Fatboy for the first time today, picked it up yesterday from the EP store.
    1-2" of fresh snow over packed singletrack, 15degF, and played with tire PSI. Found that 5.5psi worked real well and then tried 4.5psi and didn't notice a huge difference, but then again it's my first ride on these tires. The 4.5psi gave more sidewall wrinkle, of course, but no grounding of the rims.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TgMN View Post

    BTW fellow MORC'er here. Battle Creek Trail Steward. Posting here because there isn't critical mass on the Specialized Tires yet in MN.
    Battle Creek, my favorite trail in the cities!

    Very interested in any ground control thoughts. I run nates today but like the thought of something fatter that isn't bud/Lou

  14. #14
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    Right now in North Idaho my conditions have been mixed mud/wet snow and the same frozen. The width of the Ground Controls is a bonus in crusty snow for traction when nothing rolls fast. I actually like them better than the Nates on dirt when it's hard. They roll almost as well as the Knards but better traction. I've been running 6 front/7 rear and they do just about everything well. A few weeks ago we were down to scary ice and I went back to my 29er singlespeed with some Nokian Extremes. Sorry the picture has the Dillingers but I've been on the GC's since the last warm spell.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Specialized Ground Controls in the Snow - What Pressure is Working-image.jpg  


  15. #15
    bigger than you.
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    From what I gather, the Specialized tires are made by Innova under contract, so what ever is working for Surly tires, should also work for the Ground Controls.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    From what I gather, the Specialized tires are made by Innova under contract, so what ever is working for Surly tires, should also work for the Ground Controls.
    Specialized is making the tire themselves with motorcycle tire tooling.

  17. #17
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    I find that to be highly unlikely.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    I find that to be highly unlikely.
    Wow. Good for you. You're still wrong.

  19. #19
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    No.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTR-33 View Post
    Specialized is making the tire themselves with motorcycle tire tooling.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    I find that to be highly unlikely.
    Quote Originally Posted by GTR-33 View Post
    Wow. Good for you. You're still wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    No.
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    The leg bone's connected to the Cash Bone!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    No.
    Care to share your source? Mine is straight from the horses mouth.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTR-33 View Post
    Care to share your source? Mine is straight from the horses mouth.
    What do horses know about fatbikes and tire manufacturing?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    What do horses know about fatbikes and tire manufacturing?
    Not enough apparently. They didn't even dress right for the conditions!

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    The leg bone's connected to the Cash Bone!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTR-33 View Post
    Care to share your source? Mine is straight from the horses mouth.
    I've been told by several Spec employees and dealers that they contract the majority of their tires through Innova. It makes little sense for them from a financial standpoint to invest in a machine to build a limited number of tires (that they have zero experience building) for a risky product that may very well turn out to be a fad in a couple of years. It makes better sense to secure an exclusive mold with a tire manufacturer which whom they have a long standing relationship, who is also the leading fat tire manufacturer- e.g., innova builds all of the Surly & 45 Nrth tires.
    That it is made on a machine for making motorcycle tires, as you claim, is laughable. I've worked in the motorcycle industry for most of my adult life; I'm very familiar with how motorcycle tires are made. The only similarity between them and fatbike tires is that they are black, round and made of rubber. I will guarantee that Specialized's fat ground control tires are NOT made on a machine for making motorcycle tires.

  25. #25
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    Well, guess what? You're still wrong and Specialized IS MAKING the tire themselves. You, heard from a guy, that knows a guy, that knows a guy, whos uncle is employed at a Specialized dealer that Surly is making the tires. Bike shop guys think they know everything. lol

  26. #26
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    Are you in the 3rd grade?

  27. #27
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    I don't want to join in the "match of wits" going on. My relevant info: I was at a bike shop man a man that claimed to be a Specialized rep said that Specialized made the tires on a new machine they bought. He claimed that there was a plan to use another company's machine and that it fell through. He claimed that the tire issue was partly responsible for delays in bike delivery. This was in December. I replied that they should make that information public in an official way because many people were frustrated because they had to wait without a reasonable explanation. My comment ended that part of the conversation.

    I'd take it all as a rumor. I also had a another Spec rep tell me the bike I ordered would be arriving "in a few days". A month and a week later, and the one I ordered still isn't in. It sounds like a great story, but who knows what the truth is. Personally, if the story is true I think they should make a media release about it. Show the new fancy machine, and talk about how the delays are worth it cause "it is the greatest" or some such.

  28. #28
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    Since there are already multiple Fatboy threads, and tubeless ones, I'll just post this here.

    I converted to tubeless this afternoon. Using the split tube method, original rim strip, and just over 3oz of Stans sealant ... I lost 0.9# in the rear and 0.8# in the front.

    I'm sure similar results could be made with light tubes. At 10psi the tire casing on the ground control tires is at 4.4 inches with tubes after 100 miles or more of use. After a quick ride tubeless the casing increased to 4.5 inches. I tried the max listed 30 psi and still only got 4.6 inches tubeless. It must be the "manhood" ruler calibration for tire casing width again.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by adaycj View Post
    Since there are already multiple Fatboy threads, and tubeless ones, I'll just post this here.

    I converted to tubeless this afternoon. Using the split tube method, original rim strip, and just over 3oz of Stans sealant ... I lost 0.9# in the rear and 0.8# in the front.

    I'm sure similar results could be made with light tubes. At 10psi the tire casing on the ground control tires is at 4.4 inches with tubes after 100 miles or more of use. After a quick ride tubeless the casing increased to 4.5 inches. I tried the max listed 30 psi and still only got 4.6 inches tubeless. It must be the "manhood" ruler calibration for tire casing width again.
    Any observations or comments on improvement in traction or ride quality for this tire? Even with 5psi I think the casing feels pretty stiff on this tire. I'm still running the OEM tubes though.

  30. #30
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    There is big difference in compliance and ride quality from stock tubed to tubeless while running the same pressure in both. I can't speak if you are running thinner tubes but the stock tube is thick and it makes a difference at the same pressures. Not sure if you could make it mostly equal by just running lower pressure in the tubes, but my experience in tubeless is you can't, and with this thick tube it seems just as unlikely. Traction is something I have not experience side by side, so I could not say if it is better. Experience says it will have more traction due to the compliance factor, but I have not been able to confirm this.

  31. #31
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    Some of it may be in my head. I think it rolls better for a given pressure on a given surface. The weird part for me is that I have not found any conditions where I noticed better performance below about 4 psi. I agree that the tire is no where near hitting the rim at 4 psi, and didn't much at 3 unless I hit a sharp edged object. Those are hard to come by in the snow.

    My testing is limited tubless, only one ride. I couldn't go in the snow again on my usual trail, but no one else on fatbikes could either. Several times I made it further than the rest, but who knows why. Could be luck, that is not my usual M.O.

    One more variable, I turned the back tire around. Looked better for traction in loose stuff, and so far it is. As as the front I'm starting to think that stopping at 6 or 7 psi as a minimum may be best. The steering gets slow below that, and to no benefit I can find.

    More testing in days to come ...

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    I've been told by several Spec employees and dealers that they contract the majority of their tires through Innova. It makes little sense for them from a financial standpoint to invest in a machine to build a limited number of tires (that they have zero experience building) for a risky product that may very well turn out to be a fad in a couple of years. It makes better sense to secure an exclusive mold with a tire manufacturer which whom they have a long standing relationship, who is also the leading fat tire manufacturer- e.g., innova builds all of the Surly & 45 Nrth tires.
    That it is made on a machine for making motorcycle tires, as you claim, is laughable. I've worked in the motorcycle industry for most of my adult life; I'm very familiar with how motorcycle tires are made. The only similarity between them and fatbike tires is that they are black, round and made of rubber. I will guarantee that Specialized's fat ground control tires are NOT made on a machine for making motorcycle tires.
    Specialized has a long history of tire innovation and manufacturing. See the first quality clincher road and some of the first 29ers on the market. But of course an industry veteran would know this. While the actual definition of who is making the tires is grey and not black and white, the notion that they would totally hand-off the design of any high-end tire is pretty wrong-headed. Both Surly and 45North are QBC house brands and they outsource aggressively. That said, the moto machine use is likely wrong too. Tires sourced through Innova are of course likely going to be the high-volume, low-end stuff.

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