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Snowshoe Tires – The First Dozen Rides

ss tripleAbout a month ago we threw the spotlight on Vee’s new fat-bike tire called the Snowshoe. We saw the snowshoe at interbike this year and because of the 26 x 4.7 label on the sidewall, we all thought that this tire would be an alternative only for folks with fat-bikes that could accommodate a bud & lou on 100mm rims. It turns out that the width of the snowshoe allows for the tire to be run on just about any fatty, that can run a Nate. We’ve probably over analysed the width of the snowshoe already, so I’ll try to put it into an easy to understand synopsis. Snowshoe is slightly smaller than a Big Fat Larry and slightly larger than a Surly Nate. The snowshoe is over 300 grams lighter (per tire) than the wire bead BFL’s that came on my moonlander (that I’ve run for two years). That’s about 1.3 pounds lighter for the two tires.

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Vasa Singletrack

November offered us a varied template for tire testing. I’ve ridden dry hard packed singletrack at Canopy and Kettle. I’ve cruised variable sand conditions on the beaches of both sides of Lake Michigan. I rode the gorgeous sandy VASA singletrack near Traverse City along with the super fun bobsled trenches at Fort Custer in Southwest Michigan. I was even fortunate enough to get some snow riding in on some local trails, thanks to some early winter weather. All of the testing took place with the snowshoes mounted on 100 mm clown shoe rims with 26 x 2.4-2.7 Q-Lite Tubes.

ss double snow

Trail riding with the snowshoes was confidence inspiring, when compared to the big fat Larry’s that I usually run on my moonlander. My fears that the snowshoe’s tread profile would get loose around the edges were erased almost immediately after getting them dirty. One of the other questions that seems to always get asked about Vee’s tire offerings, revolves around ‘self-steer’. The only time that the snowshoes self steered was when they were under inflated on the almost paved hard pack of the blue loop at Kettle. I foolishly ran less than 10 PSI and paid for it, with a pinch flat after squarely nailing a rock coming out of a corner in Hell’s Kitchen. I found that, for trail riding, the snowshoes require a higher PSI than the surly tires that I have run. The snowshoes at approximately 15 to 18 PSI feel or ride like my big fat Larry’s at 10 to 12 PS I. When inflated correctly, ‘self steering’ is not present with the snowshoes. The snowshoes offer better traction in both climbing and cornering than a big fat Larry. The week after I sent the snowshoes off, for further testing, I missed the added traction that they bring to the table, on the snowy trail rides that ensued. I don’t know if it was all in my head, but I was more tentative in my approach to snowy trail riding, on BFL’s, than I was with the Snowshoes. That’s a pretty clear endorsement of how the snowshoes performed in snow.

P1100926Beach performance on the Snowshoes was better than expected. I never felt like I was pushing a high rolling resistance tire when I rode the Snowshoes on the sand. This time of year the local beaches tend to be pretty firm, but we did encounter some softer conditions over in Southern Michigan during an incredible wind storm that put these tires to the test. Right away we all stopped and let air out of our tires when we got down to the beach. I let out air till things felt right and the tires worked quite well. However there were spots, between the surf zone and the flat dry sand that had been churned up so much, that they just swallowed up the rear wheel, past the rim. I doubt that my BFL’s would have fared much better.

The Bottom Line – Once you get past the fact that the number on the sidewall is slightly exaggerated and look at the really svelte weight of the snowshoes, coupled with their ride characteristics, you come up with a tire that is a total winner! This is the fattest tire that will fit in most ‘four inch’ fat bikes – (for example, pugsley or mukluk) and it weighs less that an ultra-light Husker Du. It sports a moderate knob profile that makes it a great ‘all conditions’ tire. This tire provides better traction than low knobbed tires like BFL/Endo’s and less rolling resistance and weight than Nate/Bud/Lou. I give the Vee Tire Snowshoe 4 out of 5 gnomes.

So that’s my two cents on how the snowshoe performs. We try to make fat-bike dot com more than ‘the world according to gomez’, so we’re sending these tires to one of the fastest cats that we could find. That would be our newest test pilot, Jesse LaLonde of BkB. Jesse will mount the snowshoes on his moonlander and take them to levels that your uncle gomez could never even dream about achieving. Look for Jesse’s Snowshoe review coming up soon on Fat-Bike.com.

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6 Responses to Snowshoe Tires – The First Dozen Rides

  1. Mark Ehlers December 2, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Hey, thanks for the review! I ride a Moonlander, and after last week’s snow in SE Wisconsin – with a short ride of slippin’ & slidin’ on my BFLs – I slapped my Bud & Lou onto the Clownshoes. Night and day difference. Yesterday I rode from Port Washington to Harrington Beach, and was a bit surprised at how well B & L rode in the sand. Although I believe the Snowshoes would probably be a great choice for someone that wants more of an all-around tire. I’m looking forward to hearing Jesse’s review too!

  2. 4k December 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Thanks for the review! I like

  3. Grant December 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    @ Eric: Your LBS should be able to order them, and they’re also available at fatbackbikes.com

  4. john December 6, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    do these perform better in unbroken snow than vee missions in your opinion? been getting lots of slip and spinning on mine even when dropping psi the missions came with my norco bigfoot

  5. john January 4, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    Any more updates on how these are in the snow from the longer term testing?

  6. Gomez January 4, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    We’re compiling ride data and will publish our findings, soonish.