Vee Tire released several new tires at Eurobike/Interbike this year. One of which is the Snow Avalanche which comes in 26 x 4″ and 26 x 4.8″. They come in several different variations with both the 4″ and the 4.8″ versions coming in with a regular black rubber compound, the Pure Silica Compound (PSC) and a PSC studded version. I recently got a pair of their studded 4″ tires in the Pure Silica Compound and will be putting these to the test over this winter.
The basic stats on the 4″ version of this tire are as follows:
- Casing width: 3.96″/101 mm on 80 mm rims
- Knob width: 3.75″/95 mm on 80 mm rims
- Center knobs are 5 mm tall and side knobs are 8 mm
- The overall diameter: 28.94″/735 mm
- The bead-to-bead measurement: 9.5″/241 mm
- Stud count: 240 studs
- 120 TPI casing
- Published weight: 1,500 g, measured weights: 1,409 g and 1,423 g
- Published MRP for both 4 and 4.8″ tires is $130/non-studded black compound, $145/PSC non-studded and $200 PSC studded
The tires are listed as being tubeless ready and I had a very easy time setting them up tubeless. The bead is nice and tight (but not excessively tight) and the sidewalls seem to have a nice layer of rubber on them. I left the pair aired up without sealant over night and they only lost a couple PSI. All indications are that long term tubeless performance should be very good.
The tires have a squared off profile on 80 mm rims with fairly tall side knobs. The knobs are not as wide as the casing but are only slightly narrower so the sidewalls should be fairly well protected from rocks and other hazards. The casing feels very similar to other Vee Tires I have used and is fairly supple but still feels fairly substantial to avoid cuts. Construction seems okay with about +/- 1/8″ of wobble in the casing.
The durometer of the tires is softer than a lot of fat bike tires and is listed at 50 (the regular black compound is stiffer at 57 and most fat bike tires are in the 55-60 range). The PSC is supposed to have better traction on ice, be quieter and is also supposed to be better at preventing snow from sticking to the rubber. I look forward to seeing how this works in the real world compared to the other tires I have ridden. The “skunk” tires (as they are known on local group rides) are definitely distinctive looking if nothing else.
The studs are an interesting topic with these tires. From what I can find out, they are the normal aluminum carbide tipped construction. Unlike 45NRTH with their concave studsor Terrene with their triple point design, the Vee Tire studs are pointy and cone shaped. The stud count at 240 is very similar to the 45NRTH Dillinger (258 studs) and 45NRTH Wrathchild (224 studs) and considerably higher than the Terrene tires (154 studs). The stud height is very similar to the older 45NRTH design (45NRTH have come out with an “XL” stud design that I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet) but are a fair bit shorter than the Terrene studs (0.06″ tall for Vee Tire and 45NRTH, 0.08″ for Terrene). The studs are placed on the two intermediate rows of knobs (not the center nor the furthest out side knobs) so it will be interesting to see how these work for drive and cornering traction. How this is going to all shake out and perform is an open question and I look forward to comparing them to the other designs one I start getting some ice to ride on.
The tread design looks similar to a Panaracer Fat B Nimble or 45NRTH Husker Du. Both of those tires are fairly fast rolling with moderate (at best) grip. The side knobs are considerably taller on the Snow Avalanche than either of those other tires. Speaking of the side knobs, they are well supported and feature a cupped design. I also like the fact that they are somewhat staggered in order to prevent a vague transition zone when you start to lean them over. Like many other Vee Tires, the Snow Avalanche features a textured surface between the knobs. I have had issues with snow buildup on Vee’s black compound tires that have this design and I have never known if it is caused by this texture or the rubber compound. It will be interesting to see how the pure silica compound works compared to my black Vee tires.
I am going to be running these tires on a few different rim widths and (Mother Nature willing) in a wide range of conditions once our winter kicks off. I also have the Terrene Wazia 4.6″ studded tires in the test lab and an order pair of 45NRTH Dillinger 5 to compare the Snow Avalanche to. This isn’t going to be an apples-to-apples-to-apples comparison due to the different sizes of tires but should should offer up some useful comparisons for people considering a pair of studded tires. Stay tuned to this space for info on how these ride and stack up to the competition.