The first thing you need is a tire with an appropriate tread pattern. There are many tires out there that will not work well because the knobs are too small/thin or in a pattern not conducive to spiking. I have found that the tires that are best for spikes have chunky knobs in a two/three pattern. That means there are two knobs across in one row and then three knobs across in the next. This two/three pattern gives you five columns of spikes which covers various lean angles well. The tire in the first picture has these desirable qualities.
Having said that we will come back to reality where these perfect tires aren’t always easy to procure. The tire above is a Panaracer Fire Fre Ride (FR) 2.4″ and costs around $50. Who wants to drill holes in a nice tire like that? The next best tire has 4 columns of spikes and that is what I will be using for this demonstration. The tire in the photo has two rows and then two more rows offset to either side. Now you may look at this photo and think “He is wrong. I see three rows and then three rows offset to either side.” You are of course correct BUT there are only two use-able rows. The knobs along the edges are too far over and will never contact the ice so there is no point in adding the time, effort, weight etcetera to put spikes in them. The tire in the photo below is also dirt cheap. It is a Cheng Shin C-1027 and we sell them for around $15.
Tires that look like they have a good pattern for spiking:
- Panaracer Fire (XC or FR)
Continental Vertical (not sure – some knobs may be too small)
Schwalbe Marathon Plus 2.1″
Kenda Blue Groove