Boris: Meet the snow

The snow is fickle this winter in Washington. It’s been warm this December, and while it’s an average year for total precipitation, the snow cover is way below average. While my Boris fatbike was waiting patiently in the garage, I was getting impatient to try it out with it’s new Dillinger tires. Snoqualmie pass claimed to have 5~ish inches of snow, so I drove over to the Iron Horse trail and see what kind of fun could be had.

Snobiking on the Iron Horse trail.

Snobiking on the Iron Horse trail.

The first thing to figure out is parking. WA has a myriad (4, I think) of parking permits for recreation, and my current permits did not allow me to park in the Hyak – Iron Horse parking lot. A groomed trail permit would be required for an additional $40.

WA has a myriad of parking permits - it's even worse and more expensive in winter.

WA has a myriad of parking permits – it’s even worse and more expensive in winter. Here’s the sign at the Hyak trail head, which also has a sledding hill.

However, a little bit down the road is another parking lot, this time operated by the National Forest service, where my NF pass works. While the snow wasn’t deep on the trail, those 2-3″ were fresh snow. Gosh, noone told me that riding through fresh snow would be so much more work. I would estimate that it took a good 60 W to go at 7 mph on flat ground.

Along the Iron Horse trail east of Hyak.

Along the Iron Horse trail east of Hyak.

I had a big grin looking down on a fat front tire and the track I was making. So cool. Totally overkill, but still cool.

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On the positive side of not having much snow, the avalanche risk tends to be near 0.

The positive side of not much snow: the avalanche risk is near 0.

After some poking around the trails and roads, I decided to ride up the Stampede Pass road. Higher up, there was ~6″ of snow on top of a thick layer of ice. A couple cars had made nice ruts to ride in, and made going much easier than having to blaze my own trail.

The icy road gave me a chance to test out the studs on the Dillinger tires. The spikes helped on the ice, but they are not nearly as effective as the 26×2.1″ studded Kenda Klondike tires that I have. I think part of the reason is that the rubber is so much softer on the Dillinger tires which means the knobs bend and conform to the ground. This unfortunately has the effect that the studs also bend over and at 5-8 psi, the tire just doesn’t give enough support to hold the studs firmly in place against the ice. I am glad that I got the studded tires, but I must say that I was a bit disappointed by the performance. The traction on ice is comparable to a riding on a slippery gravel road in summer. On the way down I was going a bit fast and hit sruts and some icy stretches which made me a bit nervous but it turned out alright. The D5 could use a bit more tread depth on the sides to dig into the snow more.

Riding back on the Iron Horse trail, I wasn’t quite so fresh anymore and that made me notice the drag of riding through fresh snow. So, I resorted to trying to ride in the path that I had made on my way out, which made a difference of riding about 2 gears higher.

Keechelus Lake.

Keechelus Lake.

Overall impressions of the studded 45Nrth Dillinger 4 and 5 tires:

Overall, I am happy with my purchase. I am not sure that I would notice a difference between having the D4 or the D5 in the rear. In the front, the larger D5 greatly reduced the self-steer sensation that I had with the Mission 4″ tires; steering is now more or less neutral.  I never felt like I needed more grip, except when riding down fast through 6″ of snow-over-ice. Traction uphill and stopping at slow speed were great. The rear tire was mounted backwards, which I think is the reason for a sideways sliding effect when skidding at high speed. I may swap the direction to test this out. Rolling resistance was big in the snow (that’s fresh snow for ya), but on gravel it didn’t seem much different from the Vee Mission tires that I had been running.

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2 Responses to Boris: Meet the snow

  1. Pingback: Fatbike winter tires | 2wheeltrails

  2. Pingback: Fatbike Boris X9 | 2wheeltrails

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