IPMBA Product Review

Can Nicotine Cure Your Winter Riding Blues?

by Allen Daniels, SCI #032
Bowdoin College (ME) Department of Public Safety

Are you suffering from seasonal depression?  Do you get a warm, fuzzy feeling when you imagine riding your bike?  Are you “jonesing” to ride, but don’t believe you can when the roads turn to snow and ice?  Well, now you can, with the Nicotine tire from 45NRTH!

The 45NRTH Nicotine 29 x 2.35 studded tire is touted as a “high-performance mountain bike tire” and the first to have concave studs, 222 of them, to be exact.  The tire actually measured approximately 2.55” wide when mounted on my SUNringle, Duroc and Mulefut rims, which are 50mm wide. 45NRTH recommends rim sizes no larger than 40mm, but I find they fit a 50mm rim with no detrimental “squaring” off of the tire sidewall.

I have used this tire since December 2017, riding my Trek Stache 7 with 29+ wheels in all types of foul, coastal Maine winter weather, from -15 degrees F with blowing snow, to walkways where ice skates would be a more appropriate form of transportation, to town roads turned greasy from treated snow and ice.  I have put more than 100 hours and close to 200 miles on these tires conducting patrol operations at Bowdoin College, and I personally love them!

Bowdoin College has a fantastic grounds crew that is no stranger to the weather the coast of Maine can generate, and they do a phenomenal job clearing walkways, sidewalk, and parking lots on campus.  But even with their colossal efforts to keep the paths clear, there are always spots of drifting snow as well as melted and refrozen patches of glare and black ice.  These conditions make studded tires essential for safe mountain bike patrol operations.  I have had my fair share of falls from my tires slipping out sideways on unseen patches of ice while taking corners, so I know that studded tires are a no-brainer. Using studded tires on your bike has the same advantages as using studded winter tires on your motor vehicle rather than all-season tires; the studs have similar cornering and braking benefits.

The Nicotines are available both studded and non-studded.  The studded version has 222 concave aluminum carbide studs.  Why is a concave stud better than a traditionally shaped stud? 45NRTH claims that when and if the stud ever cracks, chips, or breaks, the remaining piece will actually be sharper than before.  These tires are not tubeless ready, and although they can be set up tubeless, it is recommended that they be run with tubes. Almost all the reviews I could find where people have attempted to set these up tubeless have resulted in disappointment.

Now for my take.  These tires, compared to the Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro tires we have on another patrol bike, have a tad more float being that they are notably wider, but lack the sure-footed cornering the 400 studs in the Ice Spikers provide.  [On a side note, I have found the “plus” size wheel to be an advantage in all conditions and terrain except for snow.  At approximately 3” wide, they are not fat enough to float in loose fresh snow and not skinny enough to cut through to the ground, but I digress.]

Don’t expect the same rolling resistance as your summer tires either.  From the moment you push off and pedal, you are aware of every knob and stud as they make contact with the ground.  These tires clear snow and ice remarkably well due to the large spacing between the knobs, and I have yet to encounter any icing up on the tread.

PROS

  • Improved traction over non-studded tires (better cornering and braking)
  • Excellent snow and ice shedding
  • Self-sharpening studs

CONS

  • Price (one of the most expensive tires on the market)
  • Poor rolling resistance
  • Lack of additional stud holes prevents customization of the stud count or pattern

These tires can be purchased from your local bike shop or online at http://45nrth.com.  The studded version runs around $130 per tire; the non-studded version sells for around $80.  

Allen Daniels is currently an IPMBA Security Cyclist Instructor (SCI #032) and Officer First Class at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.  He is also an Army veteran.  As an avid cyclist, Allen’s enthusiasm is contagious to all around him. He can often be found checking avalanche bulletins for Mount Washington and Tuckerman Ravine or compulsively checking the latest and greatest bike and ski gear.  He can be reached at adaniels@bowdoin.edu or somewhere in the woods.

(c) 2018 IPMBA.  This review appeared in the 2018 IPMBA Product Guide

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