I'm thinking of trying out some winter riding on a recumbent tadpole trike. (ie the single drive wheel is in the rear).

With regular tires it slips all over the place; of course you can't really wipe out but still its not practical and is perhaps unsafe to ride that way.

I was contemplating rugged snow tires or even studded tires, but I'm not sure what configuration for this type of trike would be ideal. I think studs on the rear may be necessary for max traction but I'm not sure if that would be the best choice for the front? Could it even have any downsides? It is possible to roll this trike by cornering too hard, not sure if studs would even make that more likely.

Temperatures in the teens/20s (F, or -12 to -4 C) are typical, and snow is on the ground a lot of the time. I'm planning to ride on packed down roads or trails, not in deep or loose snow. Secondary roads are generally gritted, not salted.

The existing tires are all 20x1.50 and there is ample clearance for fatter tires. On the front there is literally nothing near the wheels at all, and in the rear the frame is spaced out a lot. I think we can assume tire width is not a limitation.

The current tires are pretty smooth - they slide easily in gravel for instance. Totally unsuitable for ice or snow.


  • 1
    Much advise on the net for winter tyres does not consider the tyre compound. At low temperatures rubber gets harder. Good cold weather tyres have softer compounds.
    – gschenk
    Dec 28, 2019 at 1:41
  • "Rolling by cornering too hard" in the dry is when your higher areas (head etc) move out on a turn. In the ice, your entire back-end will "hang out" sooner than your top will roll. What width of tyre do you have now, and what is the maximum width your frame will permit ?
    – Criggie
    Dec 28, 2019 at 1:42
  • What rim size(s) do you have? And how much clearance? This can restrict your options greatly.
    – Michael
    Dec 28, 2019 at 7:38
  • If you get too much grip at the rear, the front tyres are likely to become the weaker link and you'll end up with loosing steerability.
    – Carel
    Dec 28, 2019 at 14:32
  • 2
    Normally if one can't afford or prefers not to have all-studded tires the priority is for the front. If you can't go you can always get off and push. The consequences of being unable to turn or stop can be more dramatic.
    – Affe
    Jan 3, 2020 at 17:54

1 Answer 1


For bicycles the so called "snow tires" are essentially mountain bike tires with large gaps between the lugs so snow will come out.

Studded tires are intended for ice and do little good in loose snow. I have a snow bike (aka fat bike) with knobby tires designed for snow - but no studs.

I have another bike with Schwalbe Marathon 26"x2.2" studded tires and these are great on ice but are pretty much useless in snow more than 3" as they don't have a deep lugged design and they'll float on top of the snow where the studs cannot grip anything.

To recommend a tire I would need more information on wheel size, tire clearance and the riding conditions. For deep snow a knobby tire likely will work best. If you're encountering hard pack and ice then definitely consider studs.

Also note that narrow tires will knife through loose snow better than wide tires which tend to float more. So in some conditions a narrow (1.375") studded tire will perform better than a much wider 2.25" tire as the narrow tire will knife through the snow better for the studs to bite in. Again, this is very dependent on the conditions.

  • Good answer - keep it up. I find it amusing that 1.375" gets described quite reasonably as narrow in this area.
    – Criggie
    Feb 2, 2020 at 6:39
  • 2
    The 1.375" (35mm) tires are about the narrowest studded tires I've seen. Perhaps narrower ones are available?
    – NoCo Rider
    Feb 12, 2020 at 2:16
  • Thanks for this answer which I forgot to get back to for a while! I've added a little more info to the question about the current tires & clearance, and conditions. Mar 29, 2020 at 15:59
  • 1
    I think the narrowest studded tire is the Nokian A10 at 30-622. Schwalbe Marathon Winter, Nokian W106 etc. are all at least 35mm width.
    – Michael
    Mar 29, 2020 at 16:25
  • Schwalbe Winter Marathon are available in a 20"x1.6". The Schwalbe Marathon Winter HS 396 has the higher stud count (240 studs for a 26" tire but no idea how many are in the 20" model). Also note that Schwalbe uses carbide studs which will last a long time. I'm happy with how mine are holding up. For hard pack and ice these will work well. The more aggressive "Spiker" tires from Schwalbe are not made in 20" and targeted for MTB riding.
    – NoCo Rider
    Mar 30, 2020 at 17:02

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