Originally Posted by pluc
I'd like the opinion of people who have ridden both and how they compare. The Hakka W106 looked like it would not handle Québec's winters (although if you have any info against this statement please tell me so!) so I am now in a dilemma as to which to order. I'll be buying two pairs of them so I'd rather not do a 200$+ mistake.
A lot of us are probably in the same boat as you, in that we can't afford to buy even two different sets to compare. I know that I agonized a lot over my first snow-tire purchase last year. Choosing to buy Nokian was the easy part of my decision. Nokian seems to me to be the clear leader in the market. They have the most experience making studded tires, and they have the widest range of tire models. The hard question for me was: "which Nokian tire to buy?"
I live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a few blocks from Lake Superior. We got a LOT of snow up here. My guess is that our winters probably compare to your own. With no prior experience riding in the snow, I had to decide whether to go for more studs and potentially harder peddling, or whether I could get away with fewer studs on a tire that would (hopefully!) roll more easily.
I ended up buying the Nokian Hakka 300s. Having ridden them one season, I will say that I would probably switch to something with fewer studs were I to be riding on pavement most of the time. But where I live, the city leaves a couple of inches of hard-packed snow and ice on the streets all year 'round. They do that to accommodate snowmobiles. So even on plowed streets, I am riding on either snow or ice, and conditions can vary from glare ice to loose snow to hard-packed snow within a block, depending upon weather conditions, the angle of the sun, how much car traffic has been by. The 300s have worked well for me in those conditions, but I say that without having had the opportunity yet to try a different tire.
This winter, I may buy a set of studded tires for my 29er bike. If I do, that is my chance to try out a different model of tire.
Good luck with your decision. Studded tires are costly, and I can well-understand your desire to avoid buying the wrong tire.
Edit: Most of the time in the dead of winter our streets are hard-packed snow. I've became convinced that it is actually the knobs on my tires that do me the most good in those conditions. Usually the layer of snow on the streets is thick enough that my studs are never hitting pavement, nor are they hitting ice. The knobs sink in, and thus I get traction. There are patches of ice though, especially in driveways and parking lots. I need the studs because I never know when I will be transitioning from snow to ice, but I'm willing to bet that, for a lot of my riding, that it is the knobs, not the studs, giving me traction.