45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

28 Jan

Our long national nightmare is over—the Chicago area finally got some snow! A couple of months ago the local bike shop was able to score me pair of Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires for my Surly Necromancer Pugsley and this past week was the first time I was able to use them on snow (but they have seen a lot of miles on off-road trails).

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

The Dillinger tires are 4″ wide and weight only 1375 grams (a major improvement over my heavy Surly Nates). This lightweight snow tire has 240 aluminum-carbide studs that grips the ice and a tread pattern that gives the most amazing traction in snow you will ever find in a bike tire. This 26 x 4.0″ tire is available with a Kevlar bead with 120 tpi (threads per inch), and a wire bead version with 27 tpi.

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

The intended tire pressure range for this tire goes from 5 to 30 psi, but if you are riding on snow you probably don’t want to inflate them to over 10 psi, and on the ice I would drop them down to 5 or 6 psi. When riding on dirt and gravel off-road trails I keep my fat bike tires inflated to between 12 and 15 psi.

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

After our first snowfall I took my Pugsley out to Illinois Beach State Park (the “crown jewel” of the Illinois park system) so I could try them out on the snow, ride across a frozen pond and play along the shores of Lake Michigan. I rode my bike on surface streets from my house to the beach and on the pavement these wide tires are a bit of work (they grip the road too well). However, the moment I left the pavement and got on a snowy off-road trail it felt like I was riding downhill with a strong tailwind—these tires ride so smooth and grip so well on the snow that I don’t even have the words to describe it! On the way to the beach I followed a very sandy trail that has a couple of small bumps I hate—they are only a few feet tall but most of the time my mountain bike sinks in the sand and I almost come to a standstill. However, with the Dillinger tires I just increased my speed and rolled right over the bumps. I rode for several miles along the shores of Lake Michigan and in some places there was very little snow and in other places it was three or four inches deep (I’ve been in a lot worse before). For the record, riding on the beach with a couple of inches of snow cover was a lot easier than in the places that didn’t have much snow. In some places the sand underneath the snow was on a fairly steep angle, but even when riding off-camber the tires never slipped.

A Rare Photo Of The All Seasons Cyclist In His Native Habitat

A Rare Photo Of The Elusive All Seasons Cyclist In His Native Habitat

At the north end of Illinois Beach State Park there is a small pond that was frozen over and it had several guys out ice fishing near the middle of the pond (always a good sign). I rode across this frozen pond and was blown away by two things: how much traction I had and how little rolling resistance I experienced!

When I entered the park I noticed that there were tracks in the snow from two other cyclists on a trail in front of me—both tracks were from mountain bike tires and it appeared that one of them was studded. I caught up with a guy riding the non-studded tires first—he was a nice guy but was having trouble hold a straight line so I passed him. A little later I caught up with the guy on a mountain bike with steel studded tires—he was riding faster than the other guy so I pulled up next to him and chatted for a while. When I conversation was over I hit the gas and quickly dropped him. Both of these guys were younger than me and in decent shape so I am certain that on road bikes in the summer they would have dropped me, but a standard mountain bike snow tire is no match for a studded fat bike tire in the snow!

The Dillinger tires sells for around $250 with the folding bead (Kevlar), but the wire bead version is a bit cheaper. Unfortunately, since this tire is sold by 45NRTH (my least favorite cycling company in America) it means you probably won’t be able to get a pair of Dillinger winter tires till next summer. 45NRTH received a very small shipment of these tires from their suppliers in China and they sold out immediately—I only got mine thanks to the persistence of the folks at the local bike shop (they spent many hours on the phone tracking down a pair of these tires for me). 45NRTH wants to be a company the specializes in winter cycling gear, but so far their track record shows that they specialize in advertising products on their Website that they don’t have. A few years ago one of the political campaigns promised “hope and change” but the slogan at 45NRTH ought to be “hype and out of stock.”


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45 responses to “45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

  1. Carrie

    January 28, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    Riding in snow looks like so much fun! I’ve seen pictures of bikers back in Central New York who braved the weather this weekend and rode outside. 🙂

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 28, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      You really ought to try it! It is a blast (sometimes a last of really cold air). And the best part: No mosquitoes!

  2. Nancy L. Seibel

    January 28, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    Those look like some amazing tires!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 28, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      Those tires roll over just about anything without slipping a bit.

  3. crackingfelt

    January 28, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    Wish I had a set of those on Saturday 😉 had many near off’s due to riding on a bridle path and then hitting a snowy section too fast 😯

    I’ll be looking out for those, probably next year though

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 28, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Hitting unexpected snow or ice is not fun if your tires aren’t designed for winter. I’m sure hoping we get a lot more snow this winter.

  4. the drunken cyclist

    January 28, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Sorry to hear that 45NRTH is so difficult to deal with–I never understand why it is so hard to focus on the customer when you are in the retail business!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 28, 2013 at 12:24 PM

      45NRTH could be such a great company, but they have already made so many cyclists upset by the way they operate. I will continue to buy their products if I have to, but they are going to be the last company on my list anytime I am looking for new cycling gear.

      • Rob Thomson

        January 29, 2013 at 5:42 AM

        45NRTH probably could have been more transparent with intended stock volume for their first season of certain products, but at the same time, they are specializing in what is probably one of the most niche markets for cycling that has yet to exist, so I personally applaud their risk-taking, and understand why they may have underestimated the demand. In other words, you have have a hunch that people want dedicated winter-specific cycling products, and your market research can tell you something about a predicted market size, but you can only predict to a certain extent the actual demand. I see this season’s woes with lack of stock just to be a teething-stage in what I hope will grow to be an awesome winter cycling product company.

        • All Seasons Cyclist

          January 29, 2013 at 3:52 PM

          I would give the guys at 45NRTH some slack if they were new to the business. However, those guys are all industry insiders from QBP and already knew what the market was and instead of being honest about the fact they had VERY little product coming in they advertised products they didn’t have and couldn’t get. I have talked to a lot of Fat Bike owners in the past three months and the majority of them are ready to write 45NRTH off for the same reasons I am (a few are willing to give them another chance). I will buy more of their products in the future, but ONLY if they are not available from other sources.

  5. Chatter Master

    January 28, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    That picture was inducing some ugly jealousy here! 🙂

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 28, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      Go buy a Fat Bike — out of all the bikes I own none of them put a smile on my face like the Pugs does!

      • Chatter Master

        January 28, 2013 at 3:41 PM

        It is one I do not own….. I will show Husband that you suggested this. 🙂 I will just have to do this!

    • timscyclingblog

      January 28, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      +1 on that

  6. Irish Katie

    January 28, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    OMG that looks soooooo awesome. We don’t get the kind of snow here…nor would my bike be able to take that size of a tire (even if I got new rims…the frame is way too narrow).

    But it looks soooooo much fun!

    Do you think there is less rolling resistance on the pond because the bike is actually making contact mostly on the studs only? I actually want to feel what that is like!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 28, 2013 at 9:28 PM

      I think the lack of rolling resistance was probably due to the fact that the frozen pond was perfectly flat and smooth as glass — no bumps, hills or tree branches. The studs actually only extend about 1mm down into the ice (and the points are very sharp). While you might not get enough snow for a bike like this, if you live anywhere near a beach you would love riding this bike on the sand. For riding on the beach in the summer I use different tires (smoother tires) and lower the tire pressure down to around 5 or 6 psi. I’ve even taken this bike out into the water (over 12″ deep) and the bike just kept on going.

      • Irish Katie

        January 28, 2013 at 9:33 PM

        The coast here…the sand gets packed down hard near the water…but above it is a bit fluffier…but the coast is about an hour and a half away.

        However…would sand be bad for the internal thinga-ma-jings? (Like bearings and stuff? Or the rear cog? Are those areas easily washed out? Apparently I can fix a flat tire but some other stuffs are still beyond my ability to fix/understand.)

        • All Seasons Cyclist

          January 28, 2013 at 9:38 PM

          I had this bike custom built with a Shimano Alfine Internal Geared Hub so all the “internal thinga-ma-jings” are sealed up and safe from salt, salt and other junk. Also, I use Gore Ride-On Sealed Low Friction Derailleur Cables and they really protect the cables (I reviewed both of these products on the blog).

          One more thing: when riding on the beach I try to ride right next to the water — like you said, the sand is packed down there and makes for easier riding.

  7. Jeff Katzer

    January 28, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Those tires are just plain wicked! And your photo is a hoot. Cool!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 28, 2013 at 10:05 PM

      The tires are cool. As for the photo, anytime I don’t break the camera I think it is a good shot. Do you know how hard it is to find someone to take a photo when you are at the beach in the dead of winter? Too bad the deer couldn’t help me out (there were a lot of them in the woods that day).

  8. Marty Mathis

    January 28, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    As a Haberdasher, I’m impressed with your color coordination of black and red on your bike and your attire. If you’re going to be outside, you might as well be outside in Style. Well done my friend.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 29, 2013 at 6:01 PM

      Thank you very much! If you are going to get frostbite you might as well do it with style!

  9. adventurecrow

    January 29, 2013 at 2:33 AM

    I still ride my hardtail in the snow around here. Once it gets to about 4 inches it kinda sucks

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 29, 2013 at 6:02 PM

      You are just going to have to get a Fat Bike — I’ve gone through snow that was over a foot deep — the 4″ wide tires inflated at 6 or 7 psi just float over the snow.

  10. fieldspowerfitness

    January 29, 2013 at 9:27 AM


  11. westonfront

    January 30, 2013 at 6:29 AM

    I too had to wait a long time for some snow and ice to play on, and using rather different studded tyres on a rather different machine had what must have been at least as much fun on local untreated (no salt) roads here in the UK – see

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 30, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      As you said in your article, riding in the snow will knock “30 years off your attitude.” It makes me feel like a kid again!

  12. jewelsonajourney

    January 30, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Wow! Great pics! Those tires look incredible!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 30, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      In the words of one of my sons when he was about three years old, they are “the most funnest” tires you can ride on.

  13. doctorlynn

    January 30, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Love the photo of you all geared up!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 30, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      Thank you! I was toasty warm with all that gear and it was a beautiful day to play outside.

  14. cyardin

    January 31, 2013 at 6:11 AM

    Loving the FAT BIKE it looks like soooo much fun! You are looking pretty mean in the “elusive” shot like you could ride up Everest.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 31, 2013 at 9:10 AM

      I love that bike! Mount Everest sounds like fun — I would never make the climb, but the trip down would be awesome!

  15. timfromwales

    January 31, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    This is so cool. Need to find room for a fat bike, we just don’t have enough snow to justify it though…

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 31, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      You don’t have to have snow to enjoy a Fat Bike! You can also use them on sand and really rough trails.

  16. Mark Tessmer

    February 1, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Hmmm… I just walked into the store, took a pair of Dillingers off the shelf and bought them. I love them and they work great up here in the frozen north (Minneapolis).

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 1, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      Sounds great! I am sure you will love them. It also sounds like 45NRTH got a shipment in about six months earlier than they said they would (their distributor had them listed as out of stock till summer).

  17. Sean

    February 1, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    I picked up 120TPI Dillingers as well as a pair of their Wolvhammer boots. Both are game changers for those who fat bike in cold and often icey conditions like we have here in Canada. Locally we had deep powder snow and temps below -20C a week ago and then just this week we spiked to +12C and rain, followed by -15C today. All the snow is crusty and the packed singletrack is now variable and icey. These are the perfect tires for this find of variablility in conditions and the boots are spot on. So you can’t knock them on the quality of their products, but supply was indeed limited.

    I don’t know the exact ownership scenario at 45NRTH. I do know they are a subsidiary of QBP so likely had some start up capital to get things going. I doubt it was a blank check from QBP though. With that they had estimate demand of these new niche products and likely ordered what they could with the funds they had to work with. They would have had to book production orders for these new products back last spring without any sales history to estimate potential demand. Probably pretty tough to do and it was better to estimate conservatively. The products have been wildly successful – and they underestimated demand. Introducing new and expensive products to a niche market is tricky and it is probably better to sell out than it is to end up with excess stock that has to be dumped or carried until next year. At least the products lived up to the hype.

    My shop had to order the 45NRTH stuff back in late September in order to get the product for December. Basically all the studded tires and boots were spoken for before they arrived. Great foir the shop but bad for those who didn’t think to preorder or assumed there would be excess inventory available from 45NRTH.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 1, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      The shop I use had pre-ordered the tires as well (as soon as they were announced), but QBP said they didn’t have enough tires to fill the order. It took a LOT of work for them to find a set of tires for me. The tires are great, but I really despise the way 45NRTH does business.

  18. Lisa Shaw

    February 1, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Dang, those are some seriously bad-ass tires! Is there *anywhere* you could not go on them? 😉

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 1, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      When you other bike tires stop because the terrain is to rough, it is time for tires like this! Even climbing up icy hills has not been a problem.

      • Lisa Shaw

        February 1, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        I can’t imagine that climbing up anything at all on those monsters would be a problem. You sure do make this all-season stuff look like fun! I won’t ride when it’s below 40 degrees, so I don’t ride at all this time of year.

  19. FacingBackwards

    February 6, 2013 at 6:13 AM

    Even in the snow you must have been boiling in that much kit

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 6, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      The jacket I was wearing is actually very thin — it is just a Showers Pass Touring Rain Jacket. The layer underneath is thick in the front and thin in the back. However, there is a lot of airspace between those two layers — the airspace is what really helps keep you warm — I think it was only 8 degrees (Fahrenheit) that morning (with a wind chill of around -15F).


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