Snow Ball | Vee 27.5 x 4.0 Studdable Tire


Just in time for Eurobike 2021, the folks at Vee Tire released their most recent fat bike tire called the Snow Ball.

Using a tread pattern based on their Crown Gem mountain bike tire, Vee claims the 27.5 Snow Ball is aimed at fat bike riders who won't let snow and ice spoil their ride . . . in addition to being a flier in loose dirt, on hardpacked surfaces and anywhere else a fat bike can go.

Fatbike Republic was able to secure a pair of these fat donuts from Vee to see how they play in the dirt.

The Tire

When I initially saw preliminary Snow Ball pictures they looked surprisingly like another Vee fat bike tire . . . the 27.5 x 3.8 Crown Gem which incidentally I have been running on my Trek Farley EX8 for some time.

Taking a peek at the Snow Ball’s specifications, the new addition to the Vee stable of fat bike tires is available as 27.5 x 4.0 studdable and 27.5 x 4.0 studded formats. Manufactured from 57a Silica Compound rubber, these tires sport a relative subtle and grippy 72 TPI, have a folding bead and are tubeless ready. The ability to run 148 studs allow the Snow Ball to attack the slippery winter white stuff.

Vee Tire Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

When the Snow Ball (right) rolled into the shop I reached for a Crown Gem (left) and confirmed that they are very similar in weight, width and tread pattern . . . with the Snow Ball tread being slightly tweaked to accept 148 studs – 37 rows of 4 studdable lugs. For comparison, the 27.5 x 4.5 Snow Avalanche runs 240 studs per tire.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

What is interesting about this directional tire is that all the lugs – except for the shoulder lugs and the studdable lugs – have pretty much the same rectangular shape and size. Now the set that I received did have some slight misalignment of the center lugs, but that should have little to no impact on how this tire rolls.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

From shoulder lug to shoulder lug the Snow Ball measures in around 3.66” which is slightly narrower than the claimed 4.0”. And tread depth wasn’t significantly deep compared to other heavy lugged tires, with the lugs ranging from approximately 4.14mm (0.16”) to 4.66mm (0.18”) in depth.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

Turning to the scales, the Snow Ball weighs in at 1374g which is significantly lighter than the claimed 1500g. Adding 148 studs to the tire would certainly increase the weight.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

And the diameter of the 27.5 x 4.0 Snow Ball is 772mm (30.39”) which is slightly smaller than Vee’s other studdable 27.5" tire . . . Snow Avalanche at 786mm (30.94”).

With the bench review out of the way, lets take it on the trails.

On the Trail

As mentioned earlier, Crown Gems – Snow Ball’s twin - have been mounted up and enjoying the dirt trails on my Trek Farley EX8 for a couple of years now. Before swapping them out, I thought I would take the Snow Balls on an adventure or two without the luxury of full suspension.

The Snow Balls mounted quickly and seated easily on the Mulefut 80 27.5 rims on my ’21 Bigfoot 1. While these tires are tubeless ready, I opted for the tube method of installation.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

My first spin the Snow Balls consisted of a 30km gravel grind with 14 psi of pressure. 

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

I found that the skinnier nature of this 4” tire coupled with the closer lugs rolled really quickly on the hard packed dirt. I easily maintained a speed of around 15 kph . . . which is good for me considering my preferred type of riding is unrushed exploration.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

A couple of quick sprints on some pavement/concrete provided the audible “growl” one would expect from a fatbike tire, yet I felt in full control with little self-steer. The Snow Balls provided sufficient grip when stopping and maneuvering quickly around trail barriers.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

I did encounter a few showers while on the ride and the Snow Balls had no issues with the dampened earth . . . besides coating the underside of the downtube with dirt. Eeeek!

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

Dropping tire pressure closer to 8 psi I took the Bigfoot off-road to explore some less-tamed terrain. Grassy meadows, rough cut trail, rock garden, mud and granite . . . this area had it all.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

The medium spaced rectangular lugs of the Snow Ball pulled the Bigfoot up through the grassy field, over the roots on the trail, through the rock garden and most of the way up the granite rock face. The tires had traction . . . my legs did not have the required umph.


After admiring the amazing view, I headed back down over the granite rock face with the Snow Balls feeling like they were gripping the rock face like velcro. Slicing through some wet mud on the way back to my vehicle I found that the tire lugs did not hold the mud but cleaned themselves relatively quickly.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

Due to the lack of suspension on the Bigfoot 1 I metered my speed to just below teeth rattling. Next step was to mount them up to the full-squish Trek and kick up the speed and terrain a notch or two.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

The unfortunate thing about running tires with open stud pocket in the dirt and mud is that they are going to fill up with stuff. This makes it practically impossible to stud the tire unless you spend countless hours meticulously cleaning each individual hole of debris. And then there is no guarantee that the pocket will hold a stud. I’m speaking from past experience.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

Heading back to the trails with the full suspension Trek Farley EX8 I was able to pick up the speed a little in the rough terrain. I set the tire pressure at 10psi as I knew that worked quite well for the Crown Gems.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

With the speed cranked up a notch or two, I found no issues with the Snow Balls maintaining traction in the dirt and carving through twisty trails.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

I actually ventured "sending it" over a few small jumps . . . which is a big deal for a guy who likes tires firmly planted in the dirt.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

And while I did not spend any significant amount of time in the mud with the EX8, I did find that the tires still shed the icky stuff from the medium depth lugs.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

I have always dabbled with the idea of getting narrower rims for the EX8 for summer riding. But when I compared the Snow Balls on 80mm wide rims to my buddy's 27.5+ trail tire (27.5 x 3.0), I did not notice a huge difference in width. I think I'm gonna stick with the chubby 80s.  

Next I headed to a more challenging mountain bike trail where the dirt and rocks are less forgiving and there is a slimmer margin for rider error.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

I encountered quick drops, short run inns, large rocks, climbs and roots galore. This trail is more technical in nature with not a lot of opportunity to pick up and maintain speed. A real fun factory.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

The Snow Balls did a great job in helping make this trail as fun as it could be. The only challenge that I encountered was rear tire spin while trying to climb a short rooty climb just after splashing through some mud.

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

Vee Tire Review Snow Ball Fat Bike Tire 27.5 x 4 Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Fatbike Newfoundland

Final Thoughts

Having considerable time running Crown Gems on my Trek Farley EX8 I already had decent idea on how the Snow Balls would handle the rougher trails. They did not disappoint me.

I found that throwing the narrower and lighter 4.0" Snow Balls on an unsuspended fattie for some woods exploration and gravel grinding did breathe a little more life into the bike.

It is unfortunate I was not able to test the Snow Balls in weather fitting to its name. While the 4" width of the tire will sacrifice some float in the white stuff - over a 5" tire - the lighter weight should make for faster rolling on groomed trails. However, having the ability to stud the tire should make riding on ice less sketchy. 

There are not a heck of a lot of 27.5 x 4 tires to choose from, and the selection gets even slimmer if searching for a studdable option. So if you are in the market for a studdable 4" fat bike tire for your 27.5 hoops, be sure to take a peek at Vee Snow Ball.

RIDE FAT!



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