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  1. #1
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    Winter bike advice needed. 3" tires vs 4" tires

    Hello all! Looking for a little advice on getting a winter specific bike.

    My trail bike is an old Santa Cruz Heckler that I built up in 2005 (yup, old haha) and I usually don't ride during the winter and have never ridden in snow. I focus on weightlifting during the colder months.

    But I finally want to start riding all year long, mainly to keep my conditioning up for the warmer months.

    I'd like to get a hardtail to use specifically in the colder months, and am debating on 3" vs 4" tires.

    Ideally I want a 27.5+, but am not sure how 3" tires work on the snow. I assume a 4" tire would be better on the snow, but will also be using this bike on singletrack and when the mtb trails are too wet and muddy to ride I'll be using it on ATV and powerline trails. (and yes I know you can ride a fatbike anywhere)

    A plus bike seems more like what I want, but if its going to be mediocre in the snow then it defeats the point.

    So basically wondering how 3" tires work in the snow and on snowmobile trails. Good, ok, totally suck, let it rip??
    Leeann Tweeden is looking for me.....

  2. #2
    beer thief
    Reputation: radair's Avatar
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    3" tires don't work well on snow unless it's very firm. I run a 26" x 4" in winter and 27.5 x 3" or 3.5" on dirt. Many times when the snow is marginal you'll want 4.8" tires so don't expect much soft condition performance if you go with 3".

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by radair View Post
    3" tires don't work well on snow unless it's very firm. I run a 26" x 4" in winter and 27.5 x 3" or 3.5" on dirt. Many times when the snow is marginal you'll want 4.8" tires so don't expect much soft condition performance if you go with 3".
    Yeah ok, thats what I was afraid of.

    There is a small trail system near me and it appears that only one or two snowmobiles make a pass out there. So its not very packed down usually.

    Thanks for the input.
    Leeann Tweeden is looking for me.....

  4. #4
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    I went through process last winter (with Help from Guitar Ted) The 27.5+ will give you more traction when it’s slick, but it won’t float enough to let you do any real snow. Depending on your weight the 4” might handle your snow, but I bought a Wo that came with 4” Surly Nates (but can mount 4.8” tires). For snow, the tire width and pattern are both important. The Nates get me around pretty well until the snow hits about 8”, then the width is too narrow and the knobs are too high (they dig rather than float). If you google the 4.8” jumbo jims, there’s a video of guys riding in pretty deep, very soft snow (don’t know what they weight). Everything does come at a cost though, wider=heavier, narrower=less float.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forster View Post
    I went through process last winter (with Help from Guitar Ted) The 27.5+ will give you more traction when it’s slick, but it won’t float enough to let you do any real snow. Depending on your weight the 4” might handle your snow, but I bought a Wo that came with 4” Surly Nates (but can mount 4.8” tires). For snow, the tire width and pattern are both important. The Nates get me around pretty well until the snow hits about 8”, then the width is too narrow and the knobs are too high (they dig rather than float). If you google the 4.8” jumbo jims, there’s a video of guys riding in pretty deep, very soft snow (don’t know what they weight). Everything does come at a cost though, wider=heavier, narrower=less float.
    Yeah the more I think about it the more I think I need a fat bike. Not a 27.5+.
    Leeann Tweeden is looking for me.....

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