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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 12-09-07, 01:53 PM   #1
Portis
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Nokian Mount & Ground Owners Report

Who else is running these tires? What have your experiences been? This is my second winter with mine and thought they were satisfactory until a tough icy ride today.

I don't know whether to blame the tire or to just chalk it up to extreme ice conditions but I was not happy with their performance today on a continual sheet of ice. They do not climb at all. Granted the roads where i suffered the most were gravel surfaced but if there was an incline, i knew i was in trouble.

This is my 5th season of riding with studded tires and like i said i got these nokian's last winter. I preferred my old Nashbar tires to these. I don't know what the actual problem is, but it seems like the studs are too far apart or something. That is the main difference between these tires and the nashbar tires. That and the nashbar's had some studs closer to the edge of the tread as well.

Regardless, I am now wondering how others are getting along with these and i am also wondering if going to Nokian Extreme's is an option i should pursue of whether that would be counter productive. My riding consists mainly of riding roads. I often ride a lot on gravel and dirt roads but also on pavement as well, and until today was fairly happy with my Mount and Grounds. But the ride was so bad today that i have completely lost faith in them.
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Old 12-09-07, 05:36 PM   #2
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I have limited experience with them, but so far so good. Hopefully this week I will really get to test them out, I'll post here if that happens. Sorry to hear the day was so bad, maybe just extreme conditions?
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Old 12-09-07, 06:20 PM   #3
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I just got mine too. After hearing these reports I plan on treating these as commuter tires, rather than off road tires. I'm too old to be busting my butt, elbows, etc. on the hard ground. I bought these tires so that I could extend my riding season year-round. Although I am concerned because over 50% of my riding is on flat gravel roads and flat gravel forest lanes.

Portis - Would you say you were you riding "aggressively"?

I will report back after I've had more time to test these skins.
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Old 12-09-07, 06:41 PM   #4
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No. I was not riding aggressively. I honestly don't know but I do know i feel a lot differently about my Nokian's than i did 24 hours ago. Not really because i crashed but more because i had to constantly fight my bike on icy roads that i have never really had trouble on before.

So that leads me to think that it was just extraordinarily icy, but still I was under the impression that there was NO ice that these tires couldn't handle. That isn't the case with the mount and ground's anyway.
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Old 12-09-07, 09:17 PM   #5
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What pressure you running them at? I just looked at them online and they seem to have a decent stud pattern. I'm kinda-sorta thinking of going studded but I'm leaning towards staying on knobbies like I did last year.

It's either that, or go through the hassle of gankin' the wheels off my hybrid and running with the crappy (read: high) gearing due to the cassette that's on there. Part of me is wishing I'd scored those Nashbars you had on eBay last year. Probably the same part of you that's wishing you hadn't put them on eBay. I still don't know what I'm going to do. Tomorrow will probably be the decider, with all the ice we got over the weekend.
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Old 12-09-07, 09:29 PM   #6
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What pressure you running them at? I just looked at them online and they seem to have a decent stud pattern. I'm kinda-sorta thinking of going studded but I'm leaning towards staying on knobbies like I did last year.

It's either that, or go through the hassle of gankin' the wheels off my hybrid and running with the crappy (read: high) gearing due to the cassette that's on there. Part of me is wishing I'd scored those Nashbars you had on eBay last year. Probably the same part of you that's wishing you hadn't put them on eBay. I still don't know what I'm going to do. Tomorrow will probably be the decider, with all the ice we got over the weekend.
Well, if your ice is like ours and you are commuting without studs, my advice would be to find a different way to work. This stuff we have on the roads is the worst i've seen. Our driveway is still so slick that you can't stand on it. If i just touch the brake while walking the bike up the driveway, the tire breaks into a major slide.

My back tire was pretty low during the ride. I think i had it around 20lbs. Seemed like i lost some air during the ride or something because it was real soft when i got home. These tires are VERY stiff even at 40 lbs and I am a light rider at 150 lbs.
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Old 12-09-07, 09:37 PM   #7
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Keep in mind air contracts when it cools. I once inflated my hybrid tire to 85 PSI (it's usual pressure) at work in the sub-freezing parking garage because it was squishy as hell. When I checked it the next morning (inside my warm apartment) it was over 110 PSI.

I had to go to the grocery store today, and I took the 4WD Explorer. That was actually quite fun. The roads have been salted to hell and back out here, so even at 17 degrees or so this morning, they were mostly runny. The stuff they put on the roads keeps them soupy and grimy down to about 5 degrees, then there's not much they can do. It's ice after that.
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Old 12-09-07, 10:58 PM   #8
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This was my third ride and they are slowly inspiring confidence. I tried breaking the rear wheel free on a hill, in the saddle, and couldn't. I weigh about 230lbs and that has to help. I am tempted to take the bike down to our local hockey rink to really test them. I don't feel as confident as I did on my Nashbars that I also regret selling and if my 26" touring frame had more clearance, I would have picked up some bigger studlier tires this time. Having said the above, I wouldn't want to rely on these tires on full on ice. For me, they are just a commuter tire when I can hopefully find more pavement than ice and if I find ice, to keep a straight line until I reach pavement again.

I came across this review when I was researching tires. A little late for you but interesting:

http://www.pinkbike.com/news/article2340.html
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Old 12-10-07, 09:22 AM   #9
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This was my third ride and they are slowly inspiring confidence. I tried breaking the rear wheel free on a hill, in the saddle, and couldn't. I weigh about 230lbs and that has to help. I am tempted to take the bike down to our local hockey rink to really test them. I don't feel as confident as I did on my Nashbars that I also regret selling and if my 26" touring frame had more clearance, I would have picked up some bigger studlier tires this time. Having said the above, I wouldn't want to rely on these tires on full on ice. For me, they are just a commuter tire when I can hopefully find more pavement than ice and if I find ice, to keep a straight line until I reach pavement again.

I came across this review when I was researching tires. A little late for you but interesting:

http://www.pinkbike.com/news/article2340.html
I've read that review before, but never put much stock in it because I've always had good luck with these tires. Guess I was just not giving the enough of a test before and this review looks a lot more relevant than it used to.
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Old 12-10-07, 10:36 AM   #10
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They seem to think the M&G's are a little bit better than the Kenda Klondikes, which were the only other sub-$50 tires that I was considering. I guess the Conti 240's at $136 and maybe the Marathon Winters at $117 (lowest shipped prices I could find online) could be better tires, but seeing as how I got the M&G's for $84 and I'll be riding in a city where they salt the streets like it's going out of style, I'm pretty happy with my decision. I will heed the warnings on this site, though, and try not to do anything really stupid with these tires.

I'll post my impressions after I take them for a spin later in the week or next week or whenever they arrive.
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Old 12-10-07, 12:38 PM   #11
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I wouldn't be too discouraged about the M & G's. This is the first ice episode where i've had issue with them. I rode back out to the icy spot where i crashed yesterday and took a closer look at the ice. There is a perfectly smooth layer of glass covering that gravel road for miles and miles.

I turned around before i got to the hill because it was becoming apparent that these tires (and possibly any others) were not going to be very secure climbing such a surface. Like i said, i've never seen ice like this in my 5 winters of riding. THere is simply NO traction out on those hills.

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Old 12-10-07, 01:25 PM   #12
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I have the Nashbar/Kenda. I do remember the nashbar/kenda was a 2.95. the 160 mount and ground is 1.5. This may be the reason they feel a bit squirrelly to you.

I had the same experience as you and quickly decided to put one of my nokian 294 on the front with a 160 mount and ground on the back and lower the air pressure in the 160 to about 30 to 35 psi for traction
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Old 12-10-07, 02:05 PM   #13
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I have the Nashbar/Kenda. I do remember the nashbar/kenda was a 2.95. the 160 mount and ground is 1.5. This may be the reason they feel a bit squirrelly to you.

I had the same experience as you and quickly decided to put one of my nokian 294 on the front with a 160 mount and ground on the back and lower the air pressure in the 160 to about 30 to 35 psi for traction

All take that back the 160 are 1.9 they are narrower then any other 26 ice tire in the studded categories for MTB tires.
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Old 12-10-07, 02:25 PM   #14
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Last night we had ice and rain and a power outage. I took my Trek 820 with brand new M+G tires out for a night time ride. Actually, for just riding around they did very well. Everything was covered with slick wet ice. I put on my concrete worker knee pads just in case. I rode about 5 miles on the edge of town where it is very hilly. After reading about people falling, I was very cautious with these tires. However, I didn't need to be. They got me around just fine. I didn't do anything crazy, but I came away with total confidence in this set of tires, AS LONG AS I USE THEM FOR WHAT THEY ARE INTENDED FOR.

Did I mention that I fell? If you got off the roadways there was about an inch of snow covered with a half inch of ice. I pulled into my friend's steep, gravel, snow and ice covered driveway and promply fell on my boo-twang. Nothing was hurt but my pride, and I was happy to see that I could survive a fall unscathed. As I look back on it, it was not the tires' fault. I had no business riding my bike on that driveway. As long as I remember that I'm riding a bicycle and not an ATV I should be OK. Maybe those high priced Nokias could handle that kind of terrain.
Today, I rode my usual 14 miles through flat pavement and gravel and didn't have a bit of a problem. I did notice much higher rolling resistance than my Michelin Country Rock tires which I normally use on this bike.
I think as long as a person remembers that the Mount and Ground is a commuter tire that can handle some off-pavement riding, then he or she will be fine. I think they will work for my intended purposes.
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Old 12-10-07, 03:14 PM   #15
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I have the Nashbar/Kenda. I do remember the nashbar/kenda was a 2.95. the 160 mount and ground is 1.5. This may be the reason they feel a bit squirrelly to you.

I had the same experience as you and quickly decided to put one of my nokian 294 on the front with a 160 mount and ground on the back and lower the air pressure in the 160 to about 30 to 35 psi for traction
I remembered that you did this. I was thinking about getting just one Nokian 294, but then I didn't know where i would mount it. My 160's proved to me that they can't climb so i don't want one on the back, at least not for that ice. I almost think i would rather have the 294 on the back as that is what was breaking loose.

Regardless those 294's are pretty pricey and i hate to spring for them only to find that they wouldn't have made it either. I know everyone has reassured me that they will climb up the side of a skyscraper made of ice, but I am a little skeptical when it comes to that price.
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Old 12-10-07, 03:51 PM   #16
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I run the Hakka 300s on my mountain bike for both commuting and off-road riding.

It's not that hard to break them loose, although I've only crashed on them when doing something stupid.

There's no way to cover all the bases. Mountain bikers have catalogs full of tires for different trail conditions. One tire is never to cover every snow/ice condition, which I think are an even wider range.

A tire for scaling ice trails would need not just lots of studs, but really sharp studs... which would be ground down on most other surfaces.
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Old 12-10-07, 08:05 PM   #17
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Portis a few things come to mind:

You're biking in, by your own admission, rather extreme circumstances. So perhaps chalk it up to the fact that nothing is built to handle everything.

Second, your only traction is from pencil lead studs. 212 total with no help from the rubber. You might simply have exceeded the design limitations.

Hell, I'd take a sick day and I've got the 296's which have done well on solid ice, but aren't worth the trouble for a once in five years occurrence.
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Old 12-11-07, 11:25 AM   #18
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I have these tires (M&G 160's 26x1.9) and have ridden them on icy snow-packed roads in Boulder for my commute. In my experience so far they are work decently well but are not miracle-workers on that old icy stuff underneath the snow. I white-knuckle it every time I feel the back tire slip around. Thankfully my commute involves mostly bike paths which better plowed than the roads so I only have to contend with about 2 miles of icy streets though part of that is on a fairly hairy hill when its iced up.

I have been running them at 40psi but I will try them out at 30psi to see if they work any better. I just dread the added rolling resistance this is going to add to an already slow tire. I weight about 185lbs so I think I am getting enough weight over the tires.
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Old 12-11-07, 12:49 PM   #19
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nokian extremes...nuff said.

if it can be climbed, these will do it

run them a little soft and they will climb even betterer
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Old 12-11-07, 12:59 PM   #20
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I am in Denver and bought the Extremes last year...no problems whatsoever through all the blizzards..just went out in yesterdays and todays storm...roads icy and frozen and worked like a charm

I love my Nokians
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Old 12-12-07, 12:56 PM   #21
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I remembered that you did this. I was thinking about getting just one Nokian 294, but then I didn't know where i would mount it. My 160's proved to me that they can't climb so i don't want one on the back, at least not for that ice. I almost think i would rather have the 294 on the back as that is what was breaking loose.

Regardless those 294's are pretty pricey and i hate to spring for them only to find that they wouldn't have made it either. I know everyone has reassured me that they will climb up the side of a skyscraper made of ice, but I am a little skeptical when it comes to that price.
I road into work last night and put the old nashbar on just to see. I did feel a difference the nashbar held it's ground better then the 160. This has got me thinking?(smell the Smoke) But then again different conditions change day to day. the nashbar studs are actually farther apart then the nokains. I think the way the 160's setup on the rim makes them narrower. Which probably means more contact patch=more traction for the nashbar tires. a wider rim would help.
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Old 12-13-07, 07:22 PM   #22
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I used a M&G on the front and a W106 on the rear for my first winter commuting season in Maine. I've since switched to a pair of Extreme 294's.

The studs on the M&G and W106 are larger in diameter than those on the 294. The studs on the 294 are smaller and pointed, while the M&G and the 106's have blunt tips.
Since the studs on the M&G are situated toward the outside, I figured they'd be better suited for the front, while the 106's studs are mounted in the center of the tread, better for the rear. Both tired worked well on cold packed snow. The 294's are far heavier. I think the 294's work better on snow, especially cold fluffy snow.
On ice, I almost believe the M&G and the 106's might have an edge in that the studs have better contact with the ice. The studs on the 294's are mounted on the soft isolated knobs of the tread. It's almost as if the studs get compressed and pushed into the soft knob, allowing the surrounding rubber of the knob to "hide" the stud. The studs on the M&G and 106's have a more substantial rubber base surrounding them, so they stand proud of the tread even when compressed. Of course with the numbers game, the 294's have more studs in contact with the ice more frequently per revolution.
With every storm, I learn a bit more about handling. For instance, I used to think compact snow was best, but on today's storm commute, I found going uphill, the unpacked line gave me better traction. It was slower and a leg breaker, but more predictible than the portion of the road that had still not been plowed, but had been packed down by traffic. It was cold, so there was a layer of ice beneath the snow. But on the declines, the packed snow was much better to ride on.
I think going uphill, you're going slow anyways, so as the tire rolls over the uncompressed snow, I got traction because the tire was compressing the snow onto itself with enough friction to get decent traction.
When I switched lines to the compressed snow, it was like loose gravel. The compressed snow acted as a barrier between the studs and the ice. The tires would get good traction on the compressed layer of snow, but the compressed snow itself would slide on the underlying baselayer of ice.
On the declines, the 6-8" blanket of virgin snow would tend to try to veer my front tire sideways.
Rear tire propulsion/traction isn't an issue while coasting downhill, so as long as I kept a steady line and avoided riding in and out of tire tracks, it was smooth sailing on the compressed stuff.

I also learned that as I gripped the bars tighter, I'd lose traction going uphill. It was because as I gripped tighter, I'd tend to shift my weight forward. It takes practice to keep your hands and arms fairly lose while still having confidence you can control the front end. As I relaxed my grip, my weight would naturally shift backwards, giving the rear tire more traction.

Last edited by Jesse Smith; 12-15-07 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 12-14-07, 07:00 AM   #23
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I took my bike out last night after a storm, maybe 8-10inches of fresh powder. I thought these tires were great. When I could reach solid ground, I had no problems with them. Overall it still felt like riding in deep sand, but when the tires had to bite, they did well.
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Old 12-15-07, 01:45 PM   #24
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I did my first snow ride today. 13 miles in about 3-4" of wet snow. The only time the ride got squirrelly was when I was on packed semi frozen slush. Almost went down a few times. On clean or hard packed snow they did just fine. I don't think I would like a tire with any more rolling resistance than the M+G's. I had mine pumped up to 45 lbs in order to decrease resistance.
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Old 12-21-07, 12:40 AM   #25
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I've put some miles on the M&G's over the last few days and here are some of my impressions. (There's not enough ice here yet, so probably 98% of my riding has been over wet but otherwise clear pavement.)

-At 45 PSI, rolling resistance is only marginally higher than with my 1.75" Vittoria Randonneur Cross tires at 70 PSI. This surprised me.

-Going over a patch of icy hardpack (just about the only kind of ice you encounter in Chicago when temperatures keep weaving around the freezing point) is like going over a rough spot of pavement. You get jostled a little bit but you keep traction.

-It doesn't handle piles of slush by the roadside very well. It definitely powers through them way better than semi-slicks, but the wheels get pretty squirrely.

-Taking my bike to the park across the street from me and powering headlong into the grass, which is covered with anywhere between 3 and 8 inches of very dense, very wet snow, is an incredible amount of fun. Being able to do that makes the M&G's worth it for entertainment value alone.

Overall I'm very happy with my purchase. I haven't taken them on a commute yet, though.
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