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  1. #1
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    Studded tires for commuting?

    I live in Winnipeg, where the roads are going to be darned icy for the next, oh, 5 months. I'm currently running Ritchey Speedmax (standard 700Cx30mm knobbies) tires on my fixed gear, and they're not really working out.

    Do studded tires make much of a difference? I'm thinking of picking up a pair od Schwalbe snow studs, which are 700x38mm, w. 120 spikes).

    schwalbe snow studz

    Any experience with these? I think for $55CDN, they're a good value.

  2. #2
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    No experience with those, but studded tires make all the difference in the world on ice. In fact, stud everything!

  3. #3
    Steel and Leather Rich vSB's Avatar
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    I live in Maine. We usually get some snow and ice in the winter. I will start using my Nokian 106's for commuting from December till ... oh ... April or May.

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    I rode the Schwalbe Snow Studs (from MEC) on my cyclocross bike here in Calgary last winter. They were quite secure on glare ice and packed snow, as long as I didn't do any crazy stuff. They were, however, significantly less secure on deep icy ruts. I get these on a couple of spots on my commute as during the winter we're always getting freezing and thawing. The Schwalbe Ice Spiker front tire on my mountain bike was definitely superior.

    I tended to run my Snow Studs at the higher recommended inflation pressures as often most of my commute was on bare pavement.

    Summary - recommended tires, but not the ultimate.

  5. #5
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    I use Nokian Hakkapeliitta tires on days when there is snow or ice on the ground. (Which is maybe ten days a year here.) They are terrific on ice or packed snow. I can go up hills that cars have trouble with. Where snow is unpacked or deeply rutted they don't help much -- I'm on a bike after all. They do add about ten minutes to the trip because they are so slow and heavy.

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    I didn't have much luck with the snow studs. They did roll well on pavement, because the studs are well off to the side, but on ice they were barely better than a regular tire.

    With a spiker on the front and the snow stud on the back, the rear tire would often let go and drift out enough that by the time the studs on the side caught the ice, the back of the bike was almost sideways, and I'd end up spinning around anyways, as if I had a regular tire on the back.

    Maybe I had the pressure too high.

    The durability was a little disappointing too. The bead came off the tire after only a few hundred kms, and the studs seemed more rusted than the other types as well.

    Edit: on my last visit to MEC I noticed that the casing looked different, so maybe the durability of the beads has improved.

  7. #7
    Ice Eater gmacrider's Avatar
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    I live in calgary and this will be my 5th winter of bike commuting. Each winter there's only been about 5 or so days where I would've liked studs, the rest of the time traction is fine. So I haven't really felt the need to buy studs.

    However, you don't get Chinooks in Winnipeg to melt the ice, so I suspect you may really appreciate some studs, at least on the front wheel. You might consider getting a cheap spare front wheel and putting studs on it. If conditions look slippery, just switch wheels and off you go.

  8. #8
    In Transition fruitless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moki

    Do studded tires make much of a difference?
    yes

  9. #9
    In Transition fruitless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
    I didn't have much luck with the snow studs. They did roll well on pavement, because the studs are well off to the side, but on ice they were barely better than a regular tire.

    With a spiker on the front and the snow stud on the back, the rear tire would often let go and drift out enough that by the time the studs on the side caught the ice, the back of the bike was almost sideways, and I'd end up spinning around anyways, as if I had a regular tire on the back.

    Maybe I had the pressure too high.
    Certainly sounds like it. If you have the right tire pressure and studded tire you should be able to pull wheelies on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
    The durability was a little disappointing too. The bead came off the tire after only a few hundred kms, and the studs seemed more rusted than the other types as well.

    Edit: on my last visit to MEC I noticed that the casing looked different, so maybe the durability of the beads has improved.
    I'm not sure what MEC is selling, I got 3 seasons out of a pair of nashbar branded studs on my commuter. Beads coming apart is usually a sign of over-aggressive mounting technique, did you mount them yourself? Riding on dry pavement will wear them out and a few will pull out but if you try and keep on the shoulder where the snow/ice is it seems to increase their life span.

    They don't salt here like they do in some places but I've already had the studs on since October 20 and they probably won't come off until April.
    Last edited by fruitless; 11-17-05 at 12:14 PM.

  10. #10
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    The problem with the snow-stud (for the orginal poster, I'm talking about the 26" model here, which is different)was the centre un-studded part of the tire was just too wide. The bike had to be tilted at a 45-degree angle almost to the get side studs to bite. In order to get them to bite with the bike upright I had to lower the pressure to the point where I was afraid of pinch-flatting.

    The ice spikers were a much better tire, albeit way slower on pavement. I've switched to Nokian studded tires this year, I ran a Nokian 296 in the back last year and was generally impressed, so I went with a WXC330 for the front. They both roll a little easier on pavement than the ice spiker, which is an absolute beast.

  11. #11
    Dog is my copilot. GGDub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmacrider
    I live in calgary and this will be my 5th winter of bike commuting. Each winter there's only been about 5 or so days where I would've liked studs, the rest of the time traction is fine. So I haven't really felt the need to buy studs.

    However, you don't get Chinooks in Winnipeg to melt the ice, so I suspect you may really appreciate some studs, at least on the front wheel. You might consider getting a cheap spare front wheel and putting studs on it. If conditions look slippery, just switch wheels and off you go.

    I'm with you man. I've always entertained the thought but studs are just too slow unless your on ice most of the time and its not the case on my commute (although dropping down into the valley is treacherous right now). The spare wheel is the way to go, although the expensive way to go, but hey, you just need to buy a crappy wheel since winters have a way making all wheels crappy fast.

  12. #12
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    i have the 26" Schwalbe Snow Studs which are probably just about the same. i mounted mine this morning as we had our first snow. this is the 4th winter for mine - i run them from Nov thru April or so. the rear tire is a little worn but still ok.

    i find the Snow Stud to be perfect for commuting where you spend a fair amount of time on pavement as there are no studs in the middle of the tire (with high pressure the studs only contact in corners - with low pressure the studs contact all the time)

    i also have more aggresive studs - the Schwalbe Ice Spiker with over 300 studs per tire which are great for off-road but really loud and slow and overkill is it's not SERIOUS snow/ice (i use mine for off-road winter mountain biking - good enough to ride a sledding hill/pipe)

    so yes, get the Schwalbe Snow Stud for the front tire. then if you have the extra cash get one for the rear, but the front is where it matters!
    why drive when you can ride?
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  13. #13
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
    The problem with the snow-stud (for the orginal poster, I'm talking about the 26" model here, which is different)was the centre un-studded part of the tire was just too wide. The bike had to be tilted at a 45-degree angle almost to the get side studs to bite. In order to get them to bite with the bike upright I had to lower the pressure to the point where I was afraid of pinch-flatting.

    The ice spikers were a much better tire, albeit way slower on pavement. I've switched to Nokian studded tires this year, I ran a Nokian 296 in the back last year and was generally impressed, so I went with a WXC330 for the front. They both roll a little easier on pavement than the ice spiker, which is an absolute beast.
    oopps, i missed this post.

    i disagree with the comments about the snow stud - for mixed pavement/snow/ice which is normal for commuting in all but really cold places (Winnipeg is colder so it may qualify). i find it annoying if the studs contact non-snow/ice pavement on my average commute and when there is snow/ice i find the center about right so when cornering the studs touch (you hear them on pavement when you corner). then ONLY on the days where it is really slick do i lower the pressure (it's kind of like putting on tire chains on a car except letting air out is faster) -- and yes, then you ride more slowly (the pinch-flat i would also diagree with - although i do ride with a suspension fork which helps here a little)

    as i said above, the Ice Spiker is AWESOME but not for pavement. i have never personally used the Nokians but they generally cost more and i have no reason to try as the Schwalbe are great!

    i would say if you expect more than half of the ride time to be on ice/snow get the Ice Spiker, otherwise get the Snow Stud
    why drive when you can ride?
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  14. #14
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    Studs are cheap enough that you cant afford not to give them a try and find out if they are good for you. Where I am from and what I do with my bike I need studs. All the difference. Buy some and go have some fun.

  15. #15
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    I have a question for those of you who run studs in the winter in areas that don't necessarily get a lot of snow but still get snow and ice on a fair number of days. How do you decide when to put the studded tires on or do you just leave them on throughout the snow season? I already have some Nokian Mount and Ground tires for my commuter mounted on a spare set of wheels so changing over is easy. My concern is that I go to work one day on my slicks with no snow in the forecast, and it snows. I'd hate to break down and ask for a ride home. Conversely, I'd hate to run those heavy, expensive tires all winter and wear them down on bare pavement.

    My current thinking is to just play it safe and any time I hear any mention of snow/ice, put the studded tires on. If it does snow when not in the forecast, I'll just suck it up and get a ride home, or possibly take the main roads home. Anyone care to post their strategy?

  16. #16
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    I put mine on in mid December and keep them on until March. Anything else would be far too much hassle for me. The Nokian studs wear at about the same rate as the rubber. After two seasons and 1,200 miles, mine still look like new.

    Slicks don't work too badly in snow. Unless the snow is deep, a bike on slicks is oftenbetter than a car. I doubt whether you would need a ride home if caught by a surprise snow at work.

    Paul

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH
    I put mine on in mid December and keep them on until March. Anything else would be far too much hassle for me. The Nokian studs wear at about the same rate as the rubber. After two seasons and 1,200 miles, mine still look like new.

    Slicks don't work too badly in snow. Unless the snow is deep, a bike on slicks is oftenbetter than a car. I doubt whether you would need a ride home if caught by a surprise snow at work.

    Paul
    Ok, you are almost as far north as me so you probably get very similar weather. I think my major hang up about running studs all winter is that my commute is hilly and extra weight and rolling resistance are quite noticeable. Also, I've gone down on black ice running slicks and it didn't feel good. I've never tried slicks on just snow though. My only experience with snow riding was on a BMX with knobbies during college (and it was fun).

    Do you have a second set of wheels or are you dismounting your normal tires to mount the studded ones? (just curious about your hassle factor)

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    If you have wet snow with no ice, either slicks or studs will work equally well. The tires will bite through the snow to the road.

    Mounting a second set of wheels would be too much hassle. The Nokians are lighter than my normal tires. They do have a bit more rolling resistance, but I keep them pumped up to max pressure.

    Paul

  19. #19
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    Ok, you are almost as far north as me so you probably get very similar weather. I think my major hang up about running studs all winter is that my commute is hilly and extra weight and rolling resistance are quite noticeable. Also, I've gone down on black ice running slicks and it didn't feel good. I've never tried slicks on just snow though. My only experience with snow riding was on a BMX with knobbies during college (and it was fun).

    Do you have a second set of wheels or are you dismounting your normal tires to mount the studded ones? (just curious about your hassle factor)
    I

    I, like Paul H live in Balto/Dc area. I have always used knobbies or slicks. The reason I haven't used studs in the past was the lack of snow/ice on the roads. They do a decent job of clearing the roads, so if a car can ride it then so can I. I just give up the shoulders for a few weeks. If it comes down to riding the cleared off road or icey shoulder, I'm going for the road with or without studs. Further north they have snowed covered roads most of the winter so studs make sense, around here not as important.
    Another option, which I have considered, is getting 1 wheel/tire with studs. It will be a spare that I put on the front when they call for bad weather. Charlie

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    Studded tires are really not necessary around here. I commuted years without them. In fact, I've ridden to work on slicks on when the whole DC region was shut down by snow and ice. As long as you just coast, don't turn, and stay off the front brake, you can ride just fine on black ice. However, riding in slick conditions takes a lot of skill and is mentally tiring.

    However, studs make life a lot easier. No worries when you are are work and snow is falling. Riding on ice is like riding on a wet road without studs. Riding with studs on glare ice is a smooth, dreamlike experience -- it is like a big ballroom. You can use an unplowed/intreated bike path as a shortcut. There clearly are safety benefits to having the best traction of any vehicle on the road on an icy day. So I put them on in December, take them off in March, and just leave them alone in the meantime. I'm maybe 5 minutes slower getting to work when roads are clear, but it could save a half-hour to an hour when they are not.

    I also think Metro DC has less effective plowing and treatment than Baltimore. You don't hear about everything in Baltimore shut down for days after a storm.

    Studs are about like knobbies when it comes to rolling resistance. If you have to have knobbies, I figure they might as well have some metal in them. On my bike, there is no noticable rolling resistance penalty when I mount just front studs. However, I live on a hill, and no rear studs meand having to walk the bike up the hill -- not easy, when walking is hard.

    Conclusion: find out what works for you. Studs all winter works fine; all winter without studs works too.

    Paul

  21. #21
    spinspinspinspin fatbat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    My current thinking is to just play it safe and any time I hear any mention of snow/ice, put the studded tires on. If it does snow when not in the forecast, I'll just suck it up and get a ride home, or possibly take the main roads home. Anyone care to post their strategy?
    I wouldn't worry to much about wearing out the nokians. Mine have three years on them, with a fair amount of pavement riding, and they're still at ~90% of new.

    As far as i can tell, they based them on their studded car tires, which obviously see a lot of dry pavement.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH
    If you have wet snow with no ice, either slicks or studs will work equally well. The tires will bite through the snow to the road.
    Paul
    This is NOT my experience. Slicks are rideable in light snow without ice like is quite common with a surprise snowfall during the day but it is tricky. With studded tires in a simliar situation I had no traction problems. This is with the Nashbar 700c studded tires. Last year I was swapping wheelsets based on predicted weather. I would put on the slicks if the weather looked good for atleast several days in the future but would put on the studs if the weather predicted better than 50% chance of snow. I didn't find it difficult to ride in light snow with slicks if necessary. Ofcourse my commute is nearly all on salted roads that are well plowed.
    This year my two wheelsets have the same rim width so it should make the swap even easier.
    Craig

  23. #23
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Having one bike with studs and another without means all you need to do is grab a different bike in the morning.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  24. #24
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    I just run two sets of wheels. My Nokian 296's are proving to be a bit slow, and sadly, not puncture resistant. Really wish for a commuter specific studded tire. In any case, the studs will get you there--eventually.
    Mike
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  25. #25
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    We got our first real snow of the season, and I am very happy to have Schwalbe Ice Spikers on front and rear. Are they total pigs on pavement? At 900+ grams per tire, you betcha. Then again, the more I ride with these things on my bike, the stronger I'll be come spring. Also, they totally kick ass on ice. I actually pulled on a new Maxima from a dig today.
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