I currently have Schwalbe Big Apple tires that I have for commuting which I like for rain, and for puncture protection. They are rated fairly high for winter and ice but after hitting a few sleet-enhanced ice slicks today I'm think I need something with a wee bit more traction.
I have my old Kenda Klaws the bike came with... a friend has a pair of Conti Town & Countries... or is it time to shell out for the low stud options like Mount & Ground? Do the low stud tires stay stable on pavement, if 80-90% of my winter travel is on pavement?
is it time to shell out for the low stud options like Mount & Ground? Do the low stud tires stay stable on pavement, if 80-90% of my winter travel is on pavement?
Didn't actually answer the question with my reply, so here goes. On ploughed pavement where thawing and refreezing occurs (I imagine the scenario you face most in New York City), you don't need a really high count studded tire as you rarely need to get out of deep icy ruts, the conditions created where roads/tracks are not ploughed. The M&G has studs placed towards the edge of the tire to help escape icy ruts.
I bought an M&G tire for my front wheel because my erstwhile commute was largely on an MUP in Northern Virginia which was not ploughed. Numerous tracks left by cyclists caused some problems with handling because one got stuck in these tracks. I believed the M&G would have helped me in this situation more than the Hakkepellitta I already had on my front wheel.
The Hakkepellittas have the studs (106 of them) towards the center of the tire. On pavement that is ploughed, where the surface is level, they are very stable however icy the surface is. In 2 seasons of winter commuting on them, I never lost any traction on this kind of surface. The Hakkepellittas are in joint first position with my Carradice Bike Bureau as best cycling-related purchase.
What is the other type of surface that comprises 10% of your commute?
The Big Apples are sweet I agree Joe... cush tires plus I've hit glass, and other street crap with no probs.
Eibinaka: the 10% was just the black ice I had to navigate today... can the Hakkepellittas handle extended pavement only riding? I was under the impression you'll either lose studs or can be a bit sketchy on turns... I had considered the mount and ground only because I'd have the option of upping and lowering the PSI to increase or decrease traction (and avoid stud on bare pavement).
Ah, I understand. I put the Hakkepellittas on at the first possibility of ice/snow and didn't take them off until the possibility disappeared the following spring. So for much of the winter I ride with the studs on bare pavement. I've never lost a stud. My riding style is not particularly aggressive, but I was never inclined to caution whilst riding. I don't recall slipping on pavement at all,even while making turns. I don't think I had the experience of going over a metal surface, like a manhole cover, but some say one needs to exercise caution in that circumstance.
After 2 seasons, the studs on my Hakkeppellittas are not particularly worn, despite my using them on bare pavement.
Apparently there's a bedding in procedure where you ride for 10kms slowly on bare pavement to bed the studs in. I didn't do this, but I didn't have any problems as a result. I think you maybe overestimating the problems of using the studs on bare pavement. One is certainly aware oneis using a heavier tire, and they do make a fair amount of noise, but I certainly didn't feel much less secure when riding them on bare pavement.
In deeper snow, I tended to run lower pressures, but in the kind of situation you describe, with mostly bare pavement with occasional flat patches of ice, I ran the Hakkepellittas at high pressure and experienced no problems on either surface.
I must say the info on Peter White's site tallies with my experience.
This is the Nokian Hakkapeliitta W106 26 x 1.75-1.9. 106 carbide studs. This is a nice tire for road riding when you don't want to be caught unawares by black ice. Very good in snow too. Rolling resistance will be greater than with a smooth tread summer tire, but less than with the Nokian Extreme 296 or the Mount & Ground 160. Don't be put off by the lower number of studs. Even though the Hakkapeliitta W106 has only 106 studs, they are positioned just where you need them for riding on a road that gets plowed. Plowed roads don't develop deep icy ruts, so you don't need studs towards the sides of the tire to get you out of a rut. The Hakkapeliitta has all of the studs in towards the center of the tire, unlike the Mount & Ground which places the studs more towards the side. So it's just what you need for snow and/or black ice on good roads. If you have a mountain bike with 26" tires, these will fit.
This is the Nokian Mount & Ground. 160 carbide studs. A bit smaller than the Extreme, and the tread blocks are shallower, so they squirm less on pavement. It also has far fewer studs to save cost. This is a better tire if you'll be riding on road as well as off, and if you're taking things a little easier off road. Rolling resistance will be lower than with the Extremes, but higher than with the Hakkapeliitta W106. With the studs placed further to the sides of the tread than with the Hakkapeliitta W106, the M&G is better for getting you out of an icy rut. So if you ride on dirt roads that don't get plowed well, this is a good choice.
I don't know how the conditions are in wacky NYC where you put your garbage bags by the sidewalk, but in Chicago we have alleys behind (almost?) every block, and and taking brief detours through them is often very convenient -- as is taking a detour on the sidewalk to avoid some fool who's pulling out of his parking space at the rate of an inch per hour. Alleys are never plowed and often very rutted, and the sidewalks on sidestreets tend to be pretty rough. I'm glad I chose the M&G's over the Hakkas just for the confidence they inspire over surfaces like that, and over the nasty semi-hardened black slush that gets kicked aside by cars.
Hardened slush is much, much more common in this city than black ice because of how relentlessly they salt the streets. It's kind of disturbing, really.
In any case, I can hear and feel the studs making constant contact with the ground when I'm going straight on the M&G's so I don't think I'm necessarily giving anything up for that added side traction. Maybe if I tried out a pair of Hakkas for myself I'd feel differently.
To answer the original question: I don't have nearly enough riding experience to recommend one non-studded winter knobby over another, but I think studs are really the best choice. They'll give you confidence you wouldn't have otherwise, plus they make cool sounds and look totally metal.
Alleys... we don't got no stinking alleys. That's prime real e$tate. I use the same urban cross-country technique though to bypass bad intersections on sidewalk (since delivery trucks usually view bike lanes as "extra parallel parking" in NYC) so M & Gs sound like exactly what I'm looking for.