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Soren's Studded Tires

While I haven't had total success with my tires, when they worked, they worked great, but when they failed, they let me down big time. I've learned a lot and hopefully I can pass on what I learned to others hoping to join the ranks of the modified ice racers.

I chose to go the cheap and simple route with narrow tires to cut through the snow and ice shavings and lots and lots of studs to bite into the ice. My 1987 Toyota MR2 uses the common 4 x 100mm bolt pattern, so I decided to use the easy to find, and very cheap "wienie spares" I found a local you pull junk yard that would sell me the spares at $5 a piece and searched Hondas and Toyotas to find a decent set. 

tires.jpg (66091 bytes) 

The wienie spares and an original wheel

I settled on a matched pair of Honda 105-75-14s for the front and a mismatched pair of 125-75-14s for the rear. I used a 4-4-4 pattern on the front tires yielding about 280 studs per tire, and a 5-4-5 pattern on the rear tires yielding 306 studs per tire. I brought them to the 2003 event but they weren't finished enough to use, they weren't sharpened, and, more importantly, they did not seal well. A mistake on the mismatched rear tires resulted in a really bad leak that ended up coming off of the bead and that tire being destroyed after the wheel spun inside of it wearing through the sidewall.

Fast forward to the 2004 event.

I needed to replace the ripped tire, and headed off to the junk yard again. This time I found a matched tire and took it home to complete the 4th tire. Here's what that entailed:


First thing is to take the tire off of the rim.


Determine a stud pattern, preferably one based on the treads of the tire to aid in laying it out, especially on other tires. Remember that it's important to make each tire identical (or at least identical side to side) because of the weight.

Tires-during1.JPG (54799 bytes) Tires-after1-s.JPG (70411 bytes)

Setting the stud pattern, the studded tires prior to mounting.


Drill holes in the tire based on the pattern. I used a snowmobile stud cutter chucked up in a drill to drill plugs out of the tire. With no steel belts in the spare tire, this worked great.


Next, insert bolt and washer into hole from the inside. I used partially threaded gr.5 1/4-20 bolts 1-1/4" long with standard washers and small nylon insert lock nuts. Some people have used regular nuts and had them back out. Lock nuts are worth the price.  It was suggested that a sealant be added to glue the bolt in, I didn't do that on the first three tires and I paid for it, this is very important. You can use silicone, windshield adhesive, or, as I did, roofing tar.


Partially tighten bolts as you go, taking care not to over tighten the bolt and deform the tire.


Tighten bolts more once all of them are in. At this point the tire is not as likely to deform. 


Remount tire to rim. This isn't as easy as it sounds, tire places will not help you here. I use a Harbor Freight manual tire changer.


Inflate and add tire sealant as needed to seal (Slime works great)


I used a grinder the sharpen the studs to a chisel point. Jeremy Peterson ended up not sharpening his studs and they didn't work very well, but I think how you sharpen them is not very important.

grinding studs close-s.JPG (81554 bytes) tires1-s.JPG (97810 bytes)

Grinding studs, the finished result

What I did wrong:


I didn't use a sealant on the first three tires, big mistake. The wienie spares require 60psi to stay seated on the bead and my tires would only hold 30-40psi.


I didn't tighten the bolts enough on the 4th tire. I though they were tight enough, but I spent a good part of the morning tightening those bolts to get the 4th tire to seal. When I was done it held 70+ psi.


I should have used fully threaded bolts. Some of my studs are as tight as I can get them, but aren't tight enough.


One of the spares rubbed on the brake rotor requiring some creative grinding. Oops.


Get these things to SEAL. I got 50psi inside, not on the car, but that wasn't good enough.

Andy-failed tires.jpg (26285 bytes)

The tires, off the bead. I believe the lack of tire pressure cause the tire to roll off the bead in hard cornering.

What I think I did right:


Bolts: I used grade five bolts with almost an inch of stick out. Longer studs have bent, and harder (grade 8, etc.) studs have broken. So far, so good for mine.


Sharpening with a grinder. At 40 minutes a wheel, this went really quick.


Wienie spare. Others may knock them, but I saved $580 over Andy Bayley's setup and I really believe the narrow tire works well with snow (look at WRC ice tires.) They were also smaller than stock allowing plenty of room for studs, and actually weighed the same, studded, as the stock aluminum rims, so no extra rotating mass.


Using tire Slime was the only thing that got me a decent run, that stuff is great, although it seems much less effective when cold than when warm.

MR2-studs-s.JPG (66597 bytes)

My 1987 MR2 on it's studded tires

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