With my newly-wed status (April) I had to expand the bike fleet X1 and what were my commuter wheels and studs went on the wife's bike. It was a perfect excuse to make up a new set of wheels for the winter. I built a pair of Velocity aeroheads (OC rear) with DA hubs laced 32X3 with sapim spokes, shod with Nokian Hak's. We finally got a little snow over the last two weeks and I'll give my impression on the new boots:
First-of-all this is the first time I've laced an OC rim and I have to say I really like the way it goes together with a 9 speed rear hub, tension is almost even side to side and it made for a quick hassle free build. Before going to the Nokians I was riding on Nashbar branded Innova winter studs that are on their 4th season, I honestly didn't have any complaints about the Innovas, I hear a lot of people on BF trashing them but I really doubt too many people on BF get more days a year on ice and snow than I do and they were perfectly reliable tires. I'm even more impressed with the Innovas after laying out the bucks on the new Nokians, the Nokian rubber is different, its grippier and stays that way in lower temps. . .up to a point. The trade-off it seems to me is that the Nokians weigh a ton and they also seem to have substantially softer/flexier sidewalls, this gets noticeable if you inflate less than 50 psi and weigh over 165 lbs, I'm around 180 right now and at 40 psi it feels like the tire is about to roll-off the rim at any moment. I'm riding mostly on compacted snow and ice/hard surfaces most of the winter and I admit that riding offroad is an entirely different situation but in the winter I'm really just a commuter.
I think the bottom-line is that winter tires are a low-performance compromise. For me, I'm going from a 250gm road tire that I run at 100+ psi to a set of boat-anchors that run at 50psi, I do it so I won't break a collarbone on the way to work. Studs are a great idea but I think for most users the concept of "performance" that you are getting with a set of Nokians is very narrow for the money you are paying for them.
PS I got my Hak 106s from Ben's in Milwaukee for right around $40 each.