This winter my “skinny fat” setup (a.k.a. 4″ tires) has predominantly been the studded 4″ Vee Tire Snow Avalanche in the white Pure Silica Compound (PSC). I’ve bounced around to a couple other 4″ tires but keep coming back to the Snow Avalanche because it is such a versatile tire. If you are interested in numbers and stuff, I got that out of my system back in the first look article. I’ve been running both the front and the rear in the “fast” direction instead of the rear in the “cupping” direction to improve drive traction.
The thing I like the most about this tire is that it feels really fast rolling regardless of the conditions. I haven’t done anything “scientific” to compare it to other tires but every time I rode them, I felt like I was able to ride one gear higher than other similar setups. That feeling of your bike being turbo charged has gotten pretty addictive so I just keep going back to these tires every time I know I won’t be in a ton of deep snow.
Cornering traction is excellent. I have used this tire from dirt to groomed snow to fairly deep powder and the cornering has been about as good as it gets on all surfaces. The profile of the tire is fairly square so the side knobs seem to really dig in when leaned over but you don’t have to lean it a ton to feel like there is some good cornering bite. The transition from sticking to drifting in a corner is controllable but not as smooth as some tires. That said, you have to be honking so hard in a corner for it to really break loose it isn’t surprising the contrast to sliding feels more a bit more abrupt.
Drive traction is just ok compared to other similarly sized tires. When laying down the power, the transition to spinning the wheel is very smooth. There were a lot of times I would be riding through several inches of powder and I could feel the rear tire occasionally spinning but I was still getting a fair amount of propulsion. Don’t get this tire if you want Nate-like drive traction but it seems better than average for a fast rolling tire.
Stud performance is okay. My co-host Andy and I did a podcast on studded tires comparing these to the 45 NRTH Dillinger 5 and 4.6″ Terrene Wazia. At that time we felt like all three studded tires had similar stud performance. Now that I have clocked a lot more time in varying conditions I have to walk that back slightly. In a lot of conditions the Vee Tire studs don’t have as much grip as the other two. On textured ice the soft white PSC compound of the Vee Tires really seems to help with gripping ice making grip similar to the others. If it is very smooth ice, the Vee Tire studs fall slightly behind the others. There is still decent grip on ice with the Vee Tires so you feel controlled if you hit a patch of ice but you are going to lose to your buddies on Dilly 5’s or Wazias in standing starts, skidding to a stop and other icy shenanigans.
Everything seems to be holding up well with the tires even after a fair amount of low pressure riding. The sidewalls have a few wrinkles in the rubber but there are no signs of threads showing or other issues. The rubber seems to be holding up well with all the knobs still having sharp edges but I really haven’t ridden them much on the road or other places where the knobs would get worn quickly.
I have very mixed feelings about the white PSC compound but I am getting to the point where I am pretty sold on it offering a discernible performance difference. The negative to them is that they look funky at minimum and downright ugly to some people. Once you get past the looks it does seem to grip ice and snow better than a regular black compound. The one exception is that it seems to lose its edge over black rubber when things get wet. I can’t tell if it is worse than black on wet ice and snow but it definitely doesn’t seem better like in colder dry conditions. The white compound does seem to roll a bunch faster. This added speed has gotten me thinking about getting other white tires (like the 2XL) because it seems so significant. The white compound also seems to have less snow stick to it. We’re about to line up an apples-to-apples comparison of the same exact pair of tires in the black and PSC compounds sometime this winter and I’ll have a report on that soon.
I would describe this tire more as a fast, great cornering tire that also happens to have studs if you need them, rather than it being a pure studded tire. There are better pure ice riding tires out there if that’s what you’re going for, but those tires, generally come with more rolling resistance. If you don’t mind the aesthetics of the white compound and are looking for a fast rolling 4″ tire that has the added versatility of having studs when you need them, then this is your tire. I give the Snow Avalanche PSC Studded 26 x 4.0 a very respectable 4.5 out of 5 frosty pints of beer.