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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 12-30-08, 09:52 AM   #1
tjspiel
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Nokian A10's - don't seem to be cutting it

I went down twice today. Once from rear wheel slip and the other front. Both on moderate hills featuring glare ice covered with a thin layer of new, loose snow.

Granted, that's a slippery combination but the studs didn't seem to be grabbing much at all. The tires are rated at 65 psi and I had them inflated to about 45 or so.

Too few studs I'm thinking. In past years I've used Kenda Klondikes and it's not like they're perfect in all conditions or anything. But they seemed to have little trouble on ice.

On flat surfaces the Nokians seem to be OK on ice.
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Old 12-30-08, 12:25 PM   #2
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I have Marathon Winters (240) studs in St. Cloud, so the conditions are probably very similar to yours. On glare ice or hardpack they are fantastic, but, they progressively get worse and worse depending on how much loose snow is on the road. I've never fell, but I've had to get off sometimes and push if the snow is too deep or chewed up on backroads.
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Old 12-30-08, 01:27 PM   #3
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I have Marathon Winters (240) studs in St. Cloud, so the conditions are probably very similar to yours. On glare ice or hardpack they are fantastic, but, they progressively get worse and worse depending on how much loose snow is on the road. I've never fell, but I've had to get off sometimes and push if the snow is too deep or chewed up on backroads.
In this case the falls were due to the ice more than the snow. There was less than 1/2" of snow on top of the ice. The bike just went right out from under me. I'm very familiar with the conditions you're describing and I've always had difficulty with that. I don't remember having as much trouble with ice.

As I'm sure you're seeing right now the situation on the ride home will be a lot different. There could be a few inches of new snow by then.
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Old 12-30-08, 02:36 PM   #4
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Perhaps the low pressure you were running was contributing to the problem... narrower and higher pressure tires are able to cut down through a loose snow/slush cover and hit the hard ground below... lower pressures and wider tires are sometimes able to 'float' on top - where there is no traction at all (except the traction loose snow has against the ice underneath.

When I lived in the city I rode all winter with 700 X 35 tires (no studs - the roads were too salty to get icy in all but the coldest temps) and I never had a problem on snowy or slushy roads, but when I tried riding my mtb with 26 X 2.2" tires I was skating around like crazy!
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Old 12-30-08, 03:24 PM   #5
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Could be a lack of studs. Looking at the stud pattern of the A10, there's not many there.

I run M&Gs, and have found that a pressure of 25-30 pounds places the most studs on the ice and provides the best all-around traction for my 26" tires. A few days ago conditions were ice covered by 0-2" of snow and they worked well.

Prior to that, at 45 pounds of pressure, they slipped all over.

I would lower the pressure down and try it out a few times before switching.
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Old 12-30-08, 04:22 PM   #6
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Could be a lack of studs. Looking at the stud pattern of the A10, there's not many there.

I run M&Gs, and have found that a pressure of 25-30 pounds places the most studs on the ice and provides the best all-around traction for my 26" tires. A few days ago conditions were ice covered by 0-2" of snow and they worked well.

Prior to that, at 45 pounds of pressure, they slipped all over.

I would lower the pressure down and try it out a few times before switching.
I'm running M&Gs at 35-40 lbs and have generally had no issues. I guess its all subject to how you feel when riding. I will say to the OP that it may be due to the snow. The A10 tread pattern doesn't look that aggressive, so even 1/2 inch of snow may have been enough to prevent the studs from getting down to the ice. I've had issues with slipping on snow over glare ice before also, even with more aggressive tread and more studs. I like Peter White's comments. Think of studs as sand on ice. You can walk, but if you run, expect to slip. The A10 just doesn't provide that much "sand" to work with.
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Old 12-30-08, 07:32 PM   #7
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This winter is my first with studded tires, Hakkapeliitta W240s. I do notice a couple of limitations:
* there is a joyful feeling when your front tires gets hooked up in icy ruts or tracks. So far I've always been able to pull myself out, but it has been close.
* in snow on ice, particularly anything over an inch or two, I still get that rear tire fishtailing thing that I used to get with my WTB knobbies.
* I am turned into a panicky wimp every time I descend on ice.
* after an hour or two of riding, my legs feel like I've just done a marathon

However, haven't fallen on ice yet (with studded tires) and realize they take me through some terrain that I would never have dreamed of navigating without them.

I was inclined to get something like A10s based on the amount of ice we usually get around here. However, this winter is proving to be exceptional.
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Old 12-31-08, 12:46 AM   #8
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After going down again on my way home (3rd time today), I'd pretty much lost confidence in the bike/tires.

Late this evening I decided to do a little head to head comparison to the Kenda Klondikes I'd used in previous years so I got the old Rock Hopper down from the rafters and took it for ride. Immediately it felt alot better. There was still some wheel slip but it seemed more manageable.

To be fair to the A10s, I took the Peugeot for another ride. It actually felt a lot better than earlier. Could have been the colder temps or maybe the snow was just more packed. I deliberately took both bikes through the types of snow/ice combinations that had caused me some grief earlier. No crashes. Both slipped some but Peugeot with the A10s felt less stable. There wasn't as marked a difference as I thought there might be, but there was a difference.

When I got them back to the garage I noticed quite a difference in the tires that you'll see in this pic:



The A10s don't appear to shed the snow as well.

My dilemma is what to do. I could go back to the Rock Hopper and the Klondikes but it's slow as molasses when road conditions are good. I could alternate between the bikes as conditions warrant. The problem with that is we have limited floor space in the garage which is why the Rock Hopper was hanging. Finally, I could switch to a different road bike that'll take 35's and buy some Marathon Winters or W106s. That would have to wait until next year.
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Old 12-31-08, 06:31 AM   #9
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Just an idea--you said that you keep your mountain bike in the garage--do you keep your other bike inside? If so, bringing a warm bike out into the cold will cause more ice and snow to stick to all surfaces, including the tires. I keep my winter bike at "outside temperature" all winter.

Just a thought.
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Old 01-01-09, 02:40 AM   #10
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It's interesting to hear experience from someone who's actually been riding A10's in the snow. Theories and looks are interesting, but real world experience is the only way to know for sure if something works or doesn't.

And it sounds like it doesn't. The fact that the A10's don't work in snow isn't surprising, though - looking at pics, it looks like a summer road tire, whereas other studded tires like the w106 look more like a mountain bike tire. It sounds like the A10 is only really good for pretty snow free conditions - like when it's a high of 45 during the day, so it doesn't snow but water refreezes at night when you commute home (or in the morning) so you want studs for the ice.

Thanks for posting your experience - I was thinking about getting a pair of the Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires for my bike, but maybe the more mountain-bike-looking Nokian w106's would be necessary for the snow. Hmm...
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Old 01-02-09, 09:35 AM   #11
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Just an idea--you said that you keep your mountain bike in the garage--do you keep your other bike inside? If so, bringing a warm bike out into the cold will cause more ice and snow to stick to all surfaces, including the tires. I keep my winter bike at "outside temperature" all winter.

Just a thought.
Both had been in the garage for several hours before I tried this but there may be something to it. The road bike lives out in the garage just like the mountain bike but it is kept in my office during the day. It could be that the warm tires did impact my ride home. The Nokians were already packed with snow before I did my comparison ride so maybe the test was a little unfair. However, I crashed twice on my way into work that morning and the bike had been outside since about 5:30 the previous evening.
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Old 01-02-09, 09:47 AM   #12
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It's interesting to hear experience from someone who's actually been riding A10's in the snow. Theories and looks are interesting, but real world experience is the only way to know for sure if something works or doesn't.

And it sounds like it doesn't. The fact that the A10's don't work in snow isn't surprising, though - looking at pics, it looks like a summer road tire, whereas other studded tires like the w106 look more like a mountain bike tire. It sounds like the A10 is only really good for pretty snow free conditions - like when it's a high of 45 during the day, so it doesn't snow but water refreezes at night when you commute home (or in the morning) so you want studs for the ice.

Thanks for posting your experience - I was thinking about getting a pair of the Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires for my bike, but maybe the more mountain-bike-looking Nokian w106's would be necessary for the snow. Hmm...
Well, my summer road tires are 23mm slicks and trust me, the A10s are nothing like those !

I'm not quite sure what the A10s are good for. A couple of weeks earlier I wiped out going up a hill on glare ice. There was no snow at all. Now this is a road bike with an aggressive geometry so that may have contributed to the problem with rear wheel spin. I also may have been standing instead of sitting.

I've had some slip with the klondikes on the same hill but in that case, there was water running down on top of the ice and while the rear wheel was slipping some, I was no where near falling.

To be fair, most of the time the A10s have been fine. I get more rear wheel slip than I'm used to but it's usually not much of a problem. Drivers have been loudly complaining to the DOT about road conditions this year and they just throw up their hand and say it's been just a nasty combination of temps, rain, ice, and snow.

Nevertheless, I have trouble recommending them (at least the 32mm version) for anyone. There aren't enough studs in the right places for ice, and the tread pattern isn't aggressive enough for much snow. They work well on hard pack. They're fine on ice if you're on flat ground.

The one thing they do seem better at than my 1.95" klondikes is going through and over small snow banks. I'm not sure why, but the tires like those.
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Old 01-02-09, 10:58 AM   #13
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Good to know.

I ended up with Marathon Winters because I couldn't find Nokians anywhere, but their rolling resistance on dry roads had me wishing I'd gotten the A10s.... Never will I indulge in such foolish reverie again!
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Old 01-02-09, 01:26 PM   #14
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Good to know.

I ended up with Marathon Winters because I couldn't find Nokians anywhere, but their rolling resistance on dry roads had me wishing I'd gotten the A10s.... Never will I indulge in such foolish reverie again!
You were forced to make the right choice

The A10s are nice (for a studded tire) on pavement, but that's not what you buy studded tires for. It's really too bad. They're the only studded tire available as far as I know in a 32mm size. I think a few more studs and having them placed closer to the center of the tire would make all the difference on ice.

I could have lived with the shortcomings on snow. I know before I go out if I'm going to encounter much snow or not. Ice is more insidious.
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Old 02-04-09, 08:47 AM   #15
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Well, I just ordered some Nokian A10's. With winter nearing an end, I was beginning to think that running 240's was more than necessary. I was planning on having the A10's on one bike, and the 240's on another. For the mostly dry streets I have now (no new snow for weeks), I crave a smoother ride, but the 240's will be ready to go in case more snow falls. I hope this isn't a mistake.

BTW- the 240's have served me well in packed snow, ice, and fresh snow. No complaints other than the effort it takes to roll with them.
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Old 02-04-09, 09:39 AM   #16
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Could the low pressure allow the studs to push into the tire instead of grip on the ice?
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Old 02-04-09, 09:49 AM   #17
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oh yeah way too few studs

true trust can only be had with a lotta studs. like 300....or bare minumum, twice what a10 has
which is 72
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Old 02-04-09, 09:49 AM   #18
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Could the low pressure allow the studs to push into the tire instead of grip on the ice?
this is true, but the a10 only has very few studs to begin with. prob not his issue
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Old 02-04-09, 10:31 AM   #19
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Well, I just ordered some Nokian A10's. With winter nearing an end, I was beginning to think that running 240's was more than necessary. I was planning on having the A10's on one bike, and the 240's on another. For the mostly dry streets I have now (no new snow for weeks), I crave a smoother ride, but the 240's will be ready to go in case more snow falls. I hope this isn't a mistake.

BTW- the 240's have served me well in packed snow, ice, and fresh snow. No complaints other than the effort it takes to roll with them.
I'm really thinking that two bikes is the way to go. I pulled the A10s off my bike and put on one W106 and one Marathon Winter. I still had trouble with snow covered ice. The streets have improved a lot in the last week but I still have about a 2 mile stretch with a lot of uneven ice. The A10s would have been OK on that but not as good as the 106s or the Marathons. Earlier in the season I was trying to climb a moderate grade hill covered with glare ice. With the A10s my rear wheel kept sliding out from under me. With other studded tires I'll get some slippage in those conditions but not as bad.

What is nice about the A10s is that they do roll well for a studded tire.

So next year I may be getting yet another set of studded tires, this time for my MTB. This bike will be my "get through anything" bike and I'll reserve my road bike with the 106/Marathon combination for moderately bad to good conditions.
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Old 02-04-09, 11:11 AM   #20
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I'm really thinking that two bikes is the way to go. I pulled the A10s off my bike and put on one W106 and one Marathon Winter. I still had trouble with snow covered ice. The streets have improved a lot in the last week but I still have about a 2 mile stretch with a lot of uneven ice. The A10s would have been OK on that but not as good as the 106s or the Marathons. Earlier in the season I was trying to climb a moderate grade hill covered with glare ice. With the A10s my rear wheel kept sliding out from under me. With other studded tires I'll get some slippage in those conditions but not as bad.

What is nice about the A10s is that they do roll well for a studded tire.

So next year I may be getting yet another set of studded tires, this time for my MTB. This bike will be my "get through anything" bike and I'll reserve my road bike with the 106/Marathon combination for moderately bad to good conditions.
I wonder what would happen if you just put a tougher studded tire in front but a faster one in the rear? Obviously not an A10, but like a 106 or a Marathon Winter in the rear. If you had 2 wheels for the front (swapping front wheels take like 30 seconds max, right?) you could put a w106 on one wheel and a w240 on the other then use the one most suited to your riding conditions. What do you think?

(P.S. I always feel obligated to mention, for anyone reading my comments about this that I would *never* run a studded tire in the front but not in the rear. Different levels of studs in the front and rear are a different story, though.)
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Old 02-04-09, 12:46 PM   #21
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I wonder what would happen if you just put a tougher studded tire in front but a faster one in the rear? Obviously not an A10, but like a 106 or a Marathon Winter in the rear. If you had 2 wheels for the front (swapping front wheels take like 30 seconds max, right?) you could put a w106 on one wheel and a w240 on the other then use the one most suited to your riding conditions. What do you think?

(P.S. I always feel obligated to mention, for anyone reading my comments about this that I would *never* run a studded tire in the front but not in the rear. Different levels of studs in the front and rear are a different story, though.)
On my current road bike swapping the wheels requires deflating bigger tires (like 35mm), otherwise I can't get them past the brake pads. It would be quicker to grab another bike, - as long as the garage is clean enough to keep two handy
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Old 02-04-09, 01:32 PM   #22
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(P.S. I always feel obligated to mention, for anyone reading my comments about this that I would *never* run a studded tire in the front but not in the rear. Different levels of studs in the front and rear are a different story, though.)
Am puzzled by this comment. During mild winters, I might ride for months with a front studded tire and a regular tire in the rear. What have I been doing wrong?? Think that I could have died, without learning the truth...
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Old 02-04-09, 02:12 PM   #23
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Am puzzled by this comment. During mild winters, I might ride for months with a front studded tire and a regular tire in the rear. What have I been doing wrong?? Think that I could have died, without learning the truth...
Um, perhaps you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today?

I just didn't want to get off topic with an explanation.

3 people I know started out with a studded front tire and rode it for months just fine, then had a spectacular crash because they didn't have any traction on the rear tire. That's what they told me. They went and bought a new rear studded tire right after that.

*3 people I know in person*'s experience is enough for me to never recommend anyone else give it a try.

You're free to do what you want, and here in Minnesota we likely get more snow and ice than you get with your seemingly easy-going winters. But we're talking about recommendations, not forcing anyone to do anything, and I would never recommend doing just one - from talking to people who do it regularly, it's my experience that if you need 1 studded tire you need both.
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Old 02-04-09, 04:53 PM   #24
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3 people I know started out with a studded front tire and rode it for months just fine, then had a spectacular crash because they didn't have any traction on the rear tire. That's what they told me. They went and bought a new rear studded tire right after that.
Hmm... Per one bike that I use, I have 4 studded tires, so if put only one on, it is not for the lack of tires, but because that action is reasonable under conditions.

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You're free to do what you want, and here in Minnesota we likely get more snow and ice than you get with your seemingly easy-going winters. But we're talking about recommendations, not forcing anyone to do anything, and I would never recommend doing just one - from talking to people who do it regularly, it's my experience that if you need 1 studded tire you need both.
The circumstances for riding with one studded tire are those of mild winter conditions, so I am puzzled how having harsher conditions is supposed to provide more experience with regard to the above. You make a generalization that is simply incorrect to put it bluntly. When there is some snow and occasional ice, a front studded tire will provide a reasonable steering and a regular rear tire will give most of the traction one needs. When pushing it into any sort of conditions, such as riding on pure ice, I am sure one can get into trouble. This in itself does not make the statement valid of the general need to put on both tires studded.
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Old 02-04-09, 07:22 PM   #25
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I'll go even further and say that from experience, I'd rather have a high-stud-count tire on the front and a regular knobby on the back than matching low-stud-count tires.

This is not intended to be advice to a novice, and there are a number of situations where this set-up is problematic. But I use it and I'm just fine, and I enjoy the little bit of speed I get from a lighter rear wheel. Other times I use no studs, or lots of studs front and rear.

There is no single solution to winter tire setup on a bicycle.
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