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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 01-06-16, 12:16 PM   #1
cncwhiz
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Looking at studed tires, front tire or both???

I pretty good idea of what I need to ride in the cold "30+". I am doing some serious looking at studed tires. Front only or both for pavement and brand?
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Old 01-06-16, 12:29 PM   #2
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Signing on as I want to read the responses. I use studded both front and rear but there are posters in this forum who prefer studded front and a winter tire like the continental winter contact tire for the rear.
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Old 01-06-16, 12:37 PM   #3
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I ride a studded tire (old nokian) on the front and whatever mtb tire on the rear. If by 30+ you mean it is usually above freezing you may not need studded tires as much as you think. Studs are generally only needed on icy and hard packed icy snow and provide no benefit on any other surface (maybe slimy logs or wooden bridge slats, but that's it).
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Old 01-06-16, 12:45 PM   #4
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Studded front, knobby rear. My logic is that if the back has too much traction, the front will slide. Sometimes the bike needs to slide a bit to keep you from getting bucked off. If the back has all your weight and equal tires, you have less traction at the front.
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Old 01-06-16, 02:23 PM   #5
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I ride a studded tire (old nokian) on the front and whatever mtb tire on the rear. If by 30+ you mean it is usually above freezing you may not need studded tires as much as you think. Studs are generally only needed on icy and hard packed icy snow and provide no benefit on any other surface (maybe slimy logs or wooden bridge slats, but that's it).
I am mostly concerned with shaded areas. We don't much deep snow here but the icy shaded spots scare me. I would much rather run a smoother tire if possible but I don't want to wait till spring to ride.
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Old 01-06-16, 02:29 PM   #6
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Well studs are noticeable and certainly feel like they are slowing you down, but it is better to have it and not need it than...



... I forget the rest.
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Old 01-06-16, 02:55 PM   #7
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2 studded tires only for me. OP, what kind of bike? 26", 29", tire width max? Look at the Nokian site to get some ideas. Peter White has a good page on this info.
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Old 01-06-16, 03:02 PM   #8
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my 2 cents, have same front & rear for same reasons cars do it
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Old 01-06-16, 03:17 PM   #9
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I just do both. While there's less of a risk on the back tire since I'm already doing the front I seen no reason to increase risk by not doing the back.

For tires I'd suggest the 45nrth Xerxes:
45NRTH | Unparalleled Cold Weather Performance

At high pressure the studs don't come into contact with the ground unless turning or slipping. At least pressure they do contact the ground. You can adjust by changing tire pressure without going through the hassle of removing the tire / rims / etc.
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Old 01-06-16, 08:54 PM   #10
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Both front and rear here. It's louder, but not that much slower. Plus, when spring comes, you feel like you are flying......
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Old 01-06-16, 09:10 PM   #11
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cncwhiz, I use studded tires front and rear whenever it snows. I change from regular to studs that morning and ride them untill the ice is gone then change back to the regular tires. Studs work great on glare ice, lots of confidence and I prefer the ice over snow because of rolling resistance in snow. I find bare pavement to be catchy and can pull studs from the tire.
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Old 01-06-16, 11:00 PM   #12
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My "winter bike" is a 29er with studs front and rear. For the shoulder season when I only occasionally encounter ice/frost, I run a studded front and a Conti Winter Top Contact studless tire in the rear on my cross bike. Some winters, though, I have mostly used the cross bike with just one studded tire because I have found the rolling resistance to be MUCH easier with the studless rear tire (and to be honest, you don't gain that much from two studded tires if you have clear roads for most of the ride).
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Old 01-06-16, 11:37 PM   #13
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This is only my second year winter riding, but I use Schwalbe Snow Stud H264 tires front and back once the snow builds up. Often we'll get around a foot of snow but my route will get walked or driven flat and refreeze overnight into thick ice, so they've been invaluable. If you have the money for two tires and don't anticipate needing to switch back too frequently, I would suggest just running both studded. What configuration you run depends a lot on the frequency, duration, and intensity of snow and ice in your locality, and my advice would be like anything else in general gear recommendations- try a few things till you find what works for you, your bike, and the weather.

If you're looking for a budget 26" studded tire I definitely recommend the snow studs- you can vary air pressure according to conditions as mentioned above with the 45NRTH Xerxes, and they are much nicer to your wallet. The reflective strips on the side are great for me too, as it can be quite dark on winter mornings. I have a review thread of them here.

-Val
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Old 01-06-16, 11:55 PM   #14
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Just do both. If you use only the rear than you risk slipping on ice while turning and vice versa. I ebay'd 2 sets of winter tires for the cx bike - new pairs of Conti Nordic Spikes and Conti Top Contact Winters...when there is ice present I throw the studs on, if it no ice then I run the Winters (un-studded but soft compound made for cold weather/occasional ice patches). I picked up both pairs for less than a brand new set of either. The best time to look, of course, is throughout the year when it is not winter.

Last year, during return of the polar vortex when we saw routine temperatures of 0 and below, with plenty of ice and snow, I rode on Conti Top Contacts (apparently I love Continentals because my car also has a set) and a few times nearly killed myself riding in the really slick stuff because I couldn't ride fast enough to build up body heat to keep me warm. It may take some initial investment, but there is absolutely no going wrong with a full set of studs for the winter.
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Old 01-07-16, 07:17 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
At high pressure the studs don't come into contact with the ground unless turning or slipping. At least pressure they do contact the ground. You can adjust by changing tire pressure without going through the hassle of removing the tire / rims / etc.
That's important! I bought my first set of studded snow tires this year and was unimpressed with their performance. Someone on BF explained how running at lower psi allowed the studs to contact the surface better. Love 'em! Options to meet different snow, ice and dry conditions would be separate bikes, or separate wheelsets to change out as need be.
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Old 01-07-16, 07:29 AM   #16
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For tires I'd suggest the 45nrth Xerxes:
45NRTH | Unparalleled Cold Weather Performance
those look good but wonder why they don't have reflective sidewalls
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Old 01-07-16, 08:32 AM   #17
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If you're only going to do one studded tire, then front is the way to go. But I would recommend both. Sure it's an extra $60, but when you're laying on the ground after your non-studded tire slides out from you around a corner you're going to wish you'd spent the money.

And this is coming from a guy who is notoriously cheap, er... I mean frugal.
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Old 01-07-16, 09:10 AM   #18
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Most (if not all experienced winter riders) will tell you to buy both. Often times on ice you'll want to use your rear brake only (because if your front locks up you're going down for sure.) If you only had a knobby tire back there, you'd have a hard time stopping. I've tried riding with one studded tire. It's not fun. If you try to start on ice with no studded back tire you're going to have a hard time.

Buy two.
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Old 01-07-16, 09:16 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by OICU812a View Post
Studded front, knobby rear. My logic is that if the back has too much traction, the front will slide. Sometimes the bike needs to slide a bit to keep you from getting bucked off. If the back has all your weight and equal tires, you have less traction at the front.
This is a novel theory. Is there any evidence of it?
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Old 01-07-16, 09:46 AM   #20
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No studs on the fat bike, studs front and rear on the road bike -- 32mm Nokians.
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Old 01-07-16, 12:14 PM   #21
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those look good but wonder why they don't have reflective sidewalls
I can only speculate, I've owned bikes with reflective sidewalls but didn't find them useful for 2 reasons:

1. There's very few situations where car headlights light up the sidewalls and it's also a car that has time to change it's path because it sees you. Either they're way back and it doesn't matter, or they're right on top of you and it's pretty much to late. It doesn't help with cars behind you or in front of you, and to the side it only helps with cars directly beside you - at which time they're probably either already seen you or it's to late for them to do anything about hitting you.

If you want side visibility, an actual light is far far better, as a car on an intercept course with you can see your light before you're in front of them.

2. The reflective sidewalls can get covered by dirt and stuff on the road. I imagine this is made noticeably worse in winter riding. Reflective gear doesn't work when covered in dirt.

I originally thought reflective sidwalls sounded really great and went out of my way to get them, but after using them for a while I've changed my mind. And they would be particularly less useful in winter riding where a lot of road slop would tend to coat over the reflective strip anyways.
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Old 01-07-16, 12:15 PM   #22
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2 studded tires only for me. OP, what kind of bike? 26", 29", tire width max? Look at the Nokian site to get some ideas. Peter White has a good page on this info.
Old school mountain bike with 26" wheels
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Old 01-07-16, 12:21 PM   #23
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Old school mountain bike with 26" wheels
I like the nokian mount and grounds 26 x 1.95. Maybe $55-65. Have 6 years on my set right now. The studs are offset from the center. For me, 45 psi gets me mostly tread with studs backing up the turns. @ 30 psi, the tire flattens out for full on traction for frozen ruts and ice.
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Old 01-07-16, 12:23 PM   #24
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Old school mountain bike with 26" wheels
I just do front studs on my MTB. Have a separate wheel for the studded tire. We only occasionally have packed snow/ice days so I swap in the studded wheel as needed.

Pros: Cheaper. Easy to ditch the studs on non-ice days, increasing stud life and ride quality.
Cons: Have to go a tad slower around 15' diameter packed snow/ice corners, but I usually go pretty slow on the ice anyways. Some steep pitches might be un-climbable.

Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 01-07-16 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 01-07-16, 02:22 PM   #25
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I like the nokian mount and grounds 26 x 1.95. Maybe $55-65. Have 6 years on my set right now. The studs are offset from the center. For me, 45 psi gets me mostly tread with studs backing up the turns. @ 30 psi, the tire flattens out for full on traction for frozen ruts and ice.
I second the mount and grounds. I use them for my rear tire. I use the Nokian W240 for the front. I figure I have about 90% of the grip on ice as I do with normal tires on dry asphalt.

Both use carbide studs so you'll wear out long before they do. (Mine still look brand new after 3 hard seasons on them.)
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