This winter I have been testing out a pair of studded 26×4″ Terrene Cake Eater “light” casing tires. For full specs on these tires, check out my Initial Look.
My neck of the woods got bombarded with snow in December and early January but then Mother Nature turned off the snow spigot and gave us a series of thaw-freeze cycles. The great part about this is that it provided me with 4 weeks of perfect weather to test these tires in. Conditions started off with spring snow where groomed trails firmed up and got super fast. As the freeze/thaw cycles continued the groomed trails just kept getting faster and faster with a glazing on top eventually giving way to patches of grey ice on the trails. At the same time frozen lakes became skating rinks and many of the two tracks/snowmobile trails we ride developed huge glare ice patches. You couldn’t get conditions more ideal for a 4″ studded tire!
On hard pack snow, the Cake Eaters are a smoking fast tire. They roll as well as any fat tire I have ever been on. Drive and braking traction are still excellent even though they roll fast. I am not sure what to chalk this up to but my guess is that the combination of fairly large center blocks (in surface area, not height) with aggressive siping are working their magic. The aggressive side knobs worked really well for hard cornering. The cornering traction is on par with much slower rolling, aggressively knobbed tires. If I was going to do a race on spring snow with below freezing temperatures, these would be my go-to tires for sure.
On days that started below freezing and warmed up eventually finishing with mashed potato snow the cake eaters did far, far better than I expected. Letting air out seems to “deploy” those aggressive side knobs for surprisingly good drive and braking traction. The tire seems to lose its big edge on rolling resistance compared to other tires (but doesn’t roll slower than they do) but you can keep riding without issue because of the excellent traction. Snow didn’t stick to the tires any more than any other tires when things got sloppy (which can negatively affect some tires).
The studs used on the Cake Eaters are shorter than the ones used on the Wazia (Terrene’s more aggressive fat tire option) but still seem to grip slippery surfaces very well. I am guessing this is because there are more studs on the Cake Eater than the Wazia but whatever the reason, traction on ice is as good as any fat tire I have ridden.
The placement of the studs is isolated to the center and transitional knobs; there are no studs in the side knobs. This worked well 99% of the time but I did notice that on glazed hero snow I could lean the bike over so far that I got beyond the studs and traction would drop off drastically. This was most noticeable when I ran them on a 100mm rim but could still happen on an 80mm rim. If you run these on rims in the 65-70mm range I can’t believe you would ever run into this issue.
After several weeks of spring snow bliss, we started to get snow again in little micro dumps of 1-3″ at a time. During this period I was able to ride the Cake Eaters in increasingly deep powder and freshly groomed snow. Once again the usable range of these tires really impressed me. If I didn’t need much float and could run higher pressures the tires were smoking fast. If things were softer and I needed more traction, all I needed to do was let some air out and all of a sudden these tires started gripping like a much more aggressive tire. Don’t get me wrong, this is a 4″ tire so it isn’t going to float my 190lbs through 8+” of fresh powder but it was surprisingly grippy at low pressures with loose snow conditions that didn’t require a lot of float.
Overall I give these tires a 5 out of 5 gnomes for what they are. More than just about any tire I have ridden they have an incredibly wide range of usability. Within that range, they go from being a no compromise race tire in really firm conditions to completely acceptable option in marginal conditions. Hats off to Terrene for knocking it out of the park with this tire design!
Interesting. Personally, I’d give em 3.5 out of 5 compared to Dillingers in deeper snow, and a 2 on bare ice. Dillingers, by far, out perform cake eaters. However, they roll super fast!
How do you compare them with Bontrager Gnarwhal 26X3.8 studded?
I find that the Cake Eaters lose traction and wash out quite regularly. And thus far run very low pressure (with a tube) to compensate for the lack of grip through the corners.
Not only have I found the Cake Eater be prone to wash-out in medium packed conditions but I find that since it has a tight tread pattern with low profile lugs that it will grab the snow and hold onto it turning it into a snow covered slick.
The Wazia rear is extremely gripy and somewhat drifty. But does not cake over with snow like the front due to the larger lugs and more spaced out pattern.
Overall I would give these tires a 3.5 out 5.
Awesome Review KBS, I always learn some from your write-ups. Cheers!
I’ve got the 4.6. Love the speed of these tires when conditions are right. Luckily that was most of the winter for me. The trails I ride locally are groomed nearly every day when its snowing so they worked well most of the winter. I really only had a couple disappointing rides where I beat the groomer out. I did not think they were any fun at all in more than a couple inches of ungroomed snow even with low pressure coming from Bud/Lou combo.
These were my first set of studded tires. Glazed snow grip seemed really good to a stud newbie. Lately I’ve been riding early AM on trails that are close to 50/50 mix of very firm snow and solid ice. As my comfort on the ice goes up I want MORE GRIP. I want to lean the bike! There’s also some off camber bits on the trails where I’ve had to walk off trail now or risk sliding out once weight hits the outside of the tire.
TL/DR: Love them on packed snow. Fresh snow more than a few inches was meh. Ice ok if you don’t lean. Gimme big outside studs.
210lbs – I have the 4.6 studded Cake Eaters on 90mm rims,
1. Packed trails: tires are fast, smooth, great cornering, grippy standing up hills, fun & confident to move around Aces
2. Deep crusty corn and loose sand on Lake Michigan beach: Always work going through deep stuff- CEs floated well where they could-see-sawed great Beachsand: Ice pack forced me to very loose sand on pretty steep angle – aired out to 4-5lbs and they gripped & floated along nicely, pretty technical ice blockades every so often, studs are surprisingly grippy(seemed really short). Wandered a bit like Ground Controls at low pressure on pavement – who rides pavement with Snow tires?
3. Glare Rutted Ice on inland lake: lil crown Studs and sipes waaaay outperform the eye test! never slipped and did run 20-25mph sprints on the lake, hundreds of 1” glare frozen snowmobile ruts were nerve wracking, they would nudge you away on your unstudded side nobs but the studs kept you upright-Xtremely technical/frightening riding – Cake Eaters are braver than I am- never fell nor dabbed – There are pre- drilled holes on side nobs if you were to ice race- she’s a fast roller for sure. 5 Frozen Undershorts!