Bontrager Gnarwhal Studdable Tire First Impressions

I had been waiting for over a year since I first heard about the Bontrager Gnarwhal studdable tires for Trek's new 27.5" wheel size that came stock on my Farley 9.6.  When they did become available earlier this Winter they sold out immediately and I was out of luck on getting a pair.  I would have to wait for another shipment to arrive which wasn't until the beginning of February.  When my order finally came through the Bontrager studs were still out of stock so I would have to buy some 45NRTH Aluminum Carbide Concave Studs to get them ready for the ice.

This was definitely the Winter for studded tires.  The singletrack around the Twin Cities was very icy for quite some time and usually only rideable with studs.  Something else I wanted to try more of was riding creeks, lakes and marshes since the snow pack on them was either non existent or lightly covered.  Studded tires would open up a bunch of new riding opportunities that were unavailable with my standard fat bike tires.

Once I got the Gnarwhal tires set up tubeless it was time to get to work studding them.  This would take about an hour per tire since each one had 205 stud pockets to be filled.

Out on the ice the Gnarwhals had excellent grip. I could ride a tight circle without slipping because of all the studs and siping that were on the outside edges of the tire.  This gave me the confidence to ride faster and on uneven ice like pictured below.

On packed or icy singletrack the wide footprint (4.5") the Gnarwhals have provided plenty of traction at the right tire pressure for the conditions. 

In fresh powder and off the trail (bushwhacking) they had plenty of flotation to get me where I was going. One of the first things I noticed is how well they shed snow instead of it packing up between the lugs.  This aggressive tread pattern would give me the traction needed to ride just about every condition that this Winter would dish out.

Tubeless set up was very easy with these tires.  The 120 tpi casing makes the sidewalls strong and supple allowing me to run them at low pressures for excellent grip.  If you're a Trek Farley owner that has 27.5" wheels, the Bontrager Gnarwal tires are a great choice for a variety of Winter riding conditions.  Check with your local Trek Retailer for availability.  MSRP $119.99 each, available only non-studded.


  1. Have you seen any studded 27.5 x 3.0 tires? Heck, I'd settle for 2.8. When the trail is a skating rink, I don't need the massive flotation of a Fattie.

    1. 45NRTH has a 27.5x3.0 studdable tire called the Wrathchild. It should be available now.


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