Studded tracks are safer and provide more cornering control, but the largest benefit is that they provide better stopping power.
If used correctly, that is.
There are three things to keep in mind when studding tracks: proper quantity, proper length and placement.
As far as proper quantity, it is important to remember that it’s possible to have too few studs. When you have too few, the load on each stud is higher and increases the chance of bending or breaking studs, or damaging the track.
Terry Weiland, of Fast Trac Traction Products in Lake Zurich, Illinois, said the most important factor to determine the proper quantity is to first determine rider styles. “Go-fast riders want a little more bite and more holeshot,” Weiland said. “Casual trail riders usually just want the bite for braking and cornering.”
Proper quantity for 121-inch track machines ranging from 100 to 120 hp is 96 to 120 studs, according to Weiland. Ninety-six is the proper quantity for more intermediate riders, and at least 120 studs for riders who are hard throttle users.
Keep in mind that with higher quantities, tracks must carry more rotating weight, which is a big thief of horsepower. With too many studs, a sled can lose performance.
Proper height above the track lug is another important consideration. “Most people think that longer is better, but that is not the case,” Weiland said.
Weiland said too many people focus on what racers use on snocross tracks. Racers have good snow conditions, and they aren’t driving in marginal snow over rocks and frozen dirt. A snocross-length stud is too long and not suited for trails, he said.
“Studs that are too long have too much flex and they bend,” Weiland said. “I generally recommend 1/4- to 3/8-inch above the lug. A 3/8-inch height is for more aggressive riders who want that added traction, but it’s too much penetration for casual riders who just want to improve safety.”
Stud placement is the third important consideration. There are a number of patterns available on stud templates, and many users make up their own pattern. Whether following a template or creating a unique pattern, there are some things to keep in mind about placement.
“Stay within an inch of the rails on the outside, so there is as much longevity as possible,” Weiland said. He also advised to stay away from the dead center of the track where there is no support and the track flexes too much. Staying within 2 inches to the inside of the rails will keep the studs extended, and maintain the scratch lines. Weiland also advises not to stagger stud placement on the outer belt where there is not enough track material.
Other considerations, like material composition, come with more specific applications. Aluminum studs are an option for those who want to add minimal weight. They’re not as durable, though. Material like stainless steel is better when durable studs are desired.
It’s also important to use tunnel protection if the machine doesn’t have them from the factory. We’ve seen plenty of machines with puddles of coolant under them from studs puncturing a heat exchanger. Protector strips have to have enough thickness to exceed stud length.