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  1. #1
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    Schwalbe Marathon Winter 240 vs. Nokian Hakkapellitta W240

    I got a Rocky Mountain Metropolis for winter commuting, it will be my first winter on 700c tires. I commuted on 26" Nokian Extreme 294's for the last 2 years. While the traction was superb; the rolling resistance was exhausting over my 58km round trip route. I would like a tire with less rolling resistance but still have good traction. I've narrowed my selection to these 2 tires. I would like to have studs in the middle for going up the hills and on the sides to handle rutted unplowed roads. I will still commute on the 294s but only if road conditions are absolutley crazy.

    My winter route is 60/40 roads and MUP. About 13km of my trip are though residential streets which are unplowed. About 15km are on plowed main streets which are sometimes clear and dry. About 20km is on the MUP which is usually plowed & dry with icy patches unless it has been snowing overnight.

    I beleive the Schwalbe's have less rolling resistance than the Nokian's but not as much traction. Any experience you can share with either tire is greatly appreciated.

    Which tire would you choose?

    Schwalbe Marathon Winter
    - 700 x 40
    - 240 studs
    - 910 grams
    - Durometer 67
    http://www.schwalbetires.com/marathon_winter



    Nokian Hakkapellitta 240
    - 700 x 40
    - 240 studs
    - 895 grams
    - Durometer 58
    http://www.suomityres.fi/w240.html

    Last edited by Tequila Joe; 09-05-09 at 08:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member JasonC's Avatar
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    I had the same question last year, but for 26" tires. After countless ours of debating and reading Peter White's site, I went with the Schwalbe Marathon.

    My rationale was that the Hakkapellitta 240s would still have substantial rolling resistance over the Marathons. I figured that extra traction would only help a few days out of the three months that my studded tires are on my bike. Another thing in favor of the Marathons is that I am at a point after biking several winters where I can work from home or drive on the worst 1-4 winter days without feeling like I "wussed out".

    My experience on the Marathons last winter was okay. My route is short, only 3.8 miles on a road that is a "residential through-street" (usually plowed, but low traffic). I appreciated the quality studs and decently low resistance compared to the cheap Innova Tundra Wolfs I previously had. They were fine for the average morning snow of < 3-4" on a street that gets some traffic and plowing.

    The worst morning last year was about 8" on the Friday before Christmas. I needed to go to work and considered driving but figured my Honda Civic Hybrid would get stuck, so I biked. After a block on my normal route, I realized the plows hadn't come through, so turned around and stuck to the busier roads that would normally be borderline-suicide. It was a long 3.8 miles. It took me about 40 minutes, with a little bit of walking. That was mostly due to needing to bike in tire paths, and occasionally stopping and moving to the right when traffic picked up due to green lights. The good part was I got some cyclocross experience by needing to carry my bike over 18-inch piles of snow in intersections.

    In retrospect, I'm curious if the Hakkapellittas would have done any better... the snow was just deep, which stops you if you loose momentum, or hit a thicker patch of snow.

    Summary: I'm sure the Hakkapellittas are great, but for me it is overkill 95% of the time.

    Hope that helps... sorry I'm a bit verbose right now.

    -Jason

  3. #3
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    Hey Jason,

    I also have the option of working from my home and do it about twice a week. I only show up at the office because I get to commute on my bike or to attend a meeting that I need to be there in person.

    I think I will go with the Marathon Winters.

    Reflecting back on the last 3-4 years of communting, road conditions >90% of the time were fairly clear with icy patches or hard packed snow on the unplowed streets. There were only a few days that I commuted where there was a large amount of snowfall overnight or while I was at the office. However, I'm not counting last year; last year was an abnormal year with record snow fall & cold temperatures. Environment Canda predicts that we are in for a warm winter this year. Also, I can always commute on my beater bike with Extreme 294's of road conditions are bad.

    Thanks for sharing your experience;

    T.J.

  4. #4
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    I love my Schwalbes. Be specific about what your ride is going to be most of the time. If you plan on lots of unplowed roads, with snow deeper than 3", the Marathon Winters aren't the best choice. It is best for icy roads and icy ruts, or light, unpacked snow. Mushy, packed down deeper snow, it doesn't dig in as well and can be sluggish.
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

    --Robert Hurst

  5. #5
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    I ride the Marathon Winters myself and they aren't great in anything more than packed snow - they start to slide around. They've worked great for me however, as we have plowed bike paths where I live (minnesota) and I'm not a "required" bike commuter. However, if you already have a set of "real" snow tires, I would be tempted to (as you mentioned) to ride the Schwalbes the 90% of the time that you don't need more than them, and use the Nokian Extremes for everything else. The Schwalbes are great on pure ice, and when pumped up to full pressure roll *nearly* as well on pavement as my non-studded tires do.

    While I have not tried it, it's also my understanding that the front tire is the most important for traction, you might only "need" to switch the front tire when conditions get bad (in other words, run a marathon winter on your back tire all the time and switch the front one depending on conditions). I haven't personally tried it yet myself, though.

  6. #6
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    I ride the Marathon Winters myself and they aren't great in anything more than packed snow - they start to slide around. They've worked great for me however, as we have plowed bike paths where I live (minnesota) and I'm not a "required" bike commuter. ..... The Schwalbes are great on pure ice, and when pumped up to full pressure roll *nearly* as well on pavement as my non-studded tires do.
    Hi Paul & crew,

    Thanks for your replies, I'm very interested in your impressions on the Marathon's handling on glare ice / hard packed snow ice when tire pressures are varied between the maximum and less. (I.e 85psi vs. 55psi for the 700c x 35mm) Also, I'm interested if there are large differences in rolling resistance between the pressures as well.

    BTW: What size Marathons are you guys using?

    Thanks for your input,

    T.J.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tequila Joe View Post
    Hi Paul & crew,

    Thanks for your replies, I'm very interested in your impressions on the Marathon's handling on glare ice / hard packed snow ice when tire pressures are varied between the maximum and less. (I.e 85psi vs. 55psi for the 700c x 35mm) Also, I'm interested if there are large differences in rolling resistance between the pressures as well.

    BTW: What size Marathons are you guys using?

    Thanks for your input,

    T.J.
    I'm using the 35c Marathon Winters, the smallest size they make.

    The tires are rated at 35psi minimum pressure, I think 85psi maximum pressure.

    When I first got the bike, the bike shop had inflated the tires to something really low like 15psi or something following the traditional advice (I assume) to inflate the tires the the minimum pressure they can possibly handle. However, after some experimentation, I felt that they had the *most* grip at 35psi. I've read other people say the same thing.

    The tires grip on glare ice definitely deteriorates at it's maximum pressure (75-85 psi, I believe). It goes from a solid grip to a "just barely enough traction to maintain control" grip, IME. I run them at 35psi all winter as long as the paths are covered in snow and ice. It's during the fall when there hasn't been any snow but it's cold enough that ice may have formed on the trail, or during the spring when nearly all the snow has melted off the trail but there still might be ice in the shadowy areas that I run them at max pressure.

    Because of the pressures I run the tires at (last paragraph) I'm afraid I can't offer much opinion about the difference in rolling resistance between the higher and lower pressures. There's no doubt at all that my bike rides notably slower when there's snow on the ground and the tires are at low pressure than it does when the ground is clear and the tires are at high pressure. But at least some of this is simply because (I feel) you just can't get as much traction on packed snow as you can on clear asphalt/concrete, regardless of what tire you're using (less even surface and more energy lost on packed snow). So I'm afraid I can't offer much helpful advice about that aspect. :-(

  8. #8
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    tires

    Have you ruled out the nokian mount and grounds ? I used them last winter for great results. Bike paths plowed and unplowed dirt roads, side street and lots of bumpy ice, they seemed to handle them all.

  9. #9
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
    Have you ruled out the nokian mount and grounds ? I used them last winter for great results. Bike paths plowed and unplowed dirt roads, side street and lots of bumpy ice, they seemed to handle them all.
    I considered the Nokian M & G because they looked like they could do the job but they're only available in 26". I need 700c


  10. #10
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    I'm using the 35c Marathon Winters, the smallest size they make.

    The tires are rated at 35psi minimum pressure, I think 85psi maximum pressure.

    When I first got the bike, the bike shop had inflated the tires to something really low like 15psi or something following the traditional advice (I assume) to inflate the tires the the minimum pressure they can possibly handle. However, after some experimentation, I felt that they had the *most* grip at 35psi. I've read other people say the same thing.

    The tires grip on glare ice definitely deteriorates at it's maximum pressure (75-85 psi, I believe). It goes from a solid grip to a "just barely enough traction to maintain control" grip, IME. I run them at 35psi all winter as long as the paths are covered in snow and ice. It's during the fall when there hasn't been any snow but it's cold enough that ice may have formed on the trail, or during the spring when nearly all the snow has melted off the trail but there still might be ice in the shadowy areas that I run them at max pressure.

    Because of the pressures I run the tires at (last paragraph) I'm afraid I can't offer much opinion about the difference in rolling resistance between the higher and lower pressures. There's no doubt at all that my bike rides notably slower when there's snow on the ground and the tires are at low pressure than it does when the ground is clear and the tires are at high pressure. But at least some of this is simply because (I feel) you just can't get as much traction on packed snow as you can on clear asphalt/concrete, regardless of what tire you're using (less even surface and more energy lost on packed snow). So I'm afraid I can't offer much helpful advice about that aspect. :-(
    Thanks again for your input, it looks like 35 psi is the ticket for snowy / icy days and run them with more when the roads are dry and clear.

  11. #11
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    I pulled the trigger on the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tonight but got the 700c X 35mm because fender clearance on the 40mm might be very tight. I doubt that the 35mm or 40mm would have much performance difference between them anyway.

    Call me crazy but I'm actually looking forward to commuting in the freezing / icy cold.
    Thanks for all of your input.

    T.J.

  12. #12
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    Looks like I am posting a half hour too late since you just bought the Schwable's. But here's my 2 cents. I don't have any experience with these tires but I do know the rubber compound Nokian uses is fomulated for winter riding, like the car tires they make. Not only does the rubber stay soft in colder temperatures it also has microscopic air pockets that help displace the thin layer of moisture that would otherwise be under the tire(even in freezing conditions). Schwable may very well use a similar compound, I don't know. But the Schwable is siped which does move liquid water as well as give a biting edge.

    I plan on buying the Nokian W240 to ride the cat tracks in my area(couple paved miles away), the studs in the center will help on the climbs. I'm sure you can't go wrong here, I think you narrowed it down to the two best winter tires made.
    Last edited by runawaymachine; 09-12-09 at 10:31 PM. Reason: spelling

  13. #13
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    Hey Runawaymachine,

    I agree, Nokian & Schwalbe makes the best winter tires, hands down. I don't beleive you can go wrong with either company. It was a toss up between the two for me, thus the post in this forum, but here were my deductions;

    The durometer of the Nokian rubber is 58 & the Schwalbe 67; so the Nokian compound is considerably softer and would be more plyable at colder temperatures. The tire would mould easier to the road surface and provide more grip. I believe the Nokians would also be better in deeper snow because of its more agressive and deeper tread design.

    The Schwalbe's, with its harder rubber and less agressive tread design would have lower rolling resistance. This was the primary point for me picking the Schwalbe's, I have a 58 km (36 mile) round trip commute which was exhausting on my Nokian Extreme 294s. Reflecting on the last 3 winters, ~95% of the time, the roads were plowed and fairly clear of snow; the Nokian 294s were way overkill. I also liked the reflective stripe on the Schwalbe side walls which may keep me from getting run over this winter. The Schwalbe 35mm size was the clincher, I'm not sure if a 40mm Schwalbe or Nokian would fit.

    Have fun riding this winter, it sounds like th Nokian 240s would be best for your application of off road cat track rides.

    T.J.

  14. #14
    Senior Member JasonC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    I ride the Marathon Winters myself and they aren't great in anything more than packed snow - they start to slide around. They've worked great for me however, as we have plowed bike paths where I live (minnesota) and I'm not a "required" bike commuter. However, if you already have a set of "real" snow tires, I would be tempted to (as you mentioned) to ride the Schwalbes the 90% of the time that you don't need more than them, and use the Nokian Extremes for everything else. The Schwalbes are great on pure ice, and when pumped up to full pressure roll *nearly* as well on pavement as my non-studded tires do.

    While I have not tried it, it's also my understanding that the front tire is the most important for traction, you might only "need" to switch the front tire when conditions get bad (in other words, run a marathon winter on your back tire all the time and switch the front one depending on conditions). I haven't personally tried it yet myself, though.
    There are some great points in here.

    In riding through non-packed fresh snow, I force myself to slow down and pedal at a higher cadence. It makes a world of difference in stability. But I'm likely preaching to the choir

    Also, I am tempted to ride with one Nokian W240 on front for the bad days this year. I figure I dropped $150 last year on my primary set of winter tires, so could afford an extra $75 to see if one better front tire makes things better. Maybe... seems like it could be worth it.

    -Jason
    Last edited by JasonC; 09-18-09 at 06:13 PM. Reason: never could spell "choir"...

  15. #15
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    I recieved my Schwalbe Marathom Winters 700c x 35mm today. They lack the shear aggression of my Nokian Extreme 294s but they are definatley going to role with much less resistance. The tread on these tires are fairly shallow, so I am a little concerned on how they will handle in snow over a couple inches deep. I suppose only time & experience will tell. The studs along the center look like they will be in contact with the road at all times, however, they aren't mounted on a rim and inflated yet so this is only speculative.

    Bring on the snow and ice!!

    TJ

    Last edited by Tequila Joe; 09-19-09 at 07:57 AM.

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    Well, they're not as good in snow, but that's sort of the perpetual tradeoff - no matter what tire you're comparing, it seems like the better they are in snow, they worse they are for rolling resistance.

    For the 90% of days that you have either ice or hard packed snow, the schwalbe's are the clear winner.

  17. #17
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    Say TJ, I thought you were relocating to Germany for a while? At least I remember you were talking about it last year. I assume it didn't work out? Over there the winters are so mild you could have plowed through the 1/8" of snow with 700x23's

    I'm also looking at buying the Schwalbe Marathon Winter for my cross bike to train in the icy Chicago Winter. Can you actually mount the 700x35's on some Mavic Open Pro's? I thought the widest tire on those rims where 700x32's. And if you can't mount them, what rims are you using?

    Thomas
    Gelato aficionado.

  18. #18
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    Hey Scummer,

    Its good to hear from you, its been a while.

    The Germany opportunity was put on hold last October when the economy started to slide into the tank and has been canceled now that things are even worse. It's a good thing that we didn't relocate, our German operation is suffering big time; so much that we've reduced our staff by almost 50%.

    I bought a 2008 Rocky Mountain Metropilis this summer for commuting and plan to ride it all year. I'm tired of lugging 30 pounds of laptop, power block, mouse, lunch, clothes ...ect in a back pack. The panniers have been really handy, I keep my rain gear & tools in them full time and the IGH will be nice to have this winter when things get snowy/slushy/icy. This bike has some cheapo 36 hole Alex TD17 disc which came with 35mm Nokian Rollspeed so I presume that it would handle up to the 40mm Schwalbe / Halkkas. However, I ended up getting the 35mm so no worries here.

    Some guys seem to be able to run large tires on Mavic Open Pros without problems. See?
    http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/in.../t-104242.html

    EDIT: I found this which might be helpful.
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html#width
    So, according to Sheldon, 32mm is the widest but I'm sure you can get away with 35mm without problem.


    Heres my new to me 2008 Rocky Mountain Metropolis


    Last edited by Tequila Joe; 09-22-09 at 07:52 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tequila Joe View Post
    EDIT: I found this which might be helpful.
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html#width
    So, according to Sheldon, 32mm is the widest but I'm sure you can get away with 35mm without problem.
    Like Sheldon says below the chart: "This chart may err a bit on the side of caution. Many cyclists exceed the recommended widths with no problem."

    It depends on the inflation pressure, really. If you use high pressure, you can exceed the recommendation in the direction of larger tires by a lot. If you want to use low pressure, you have to pay more attention to the widths.

  20. #20
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    Yeah. I had found Sheldon's table before and that's what I based my question on since it said max size 32. But I guess 35 should be fine, it's only marginally wider.

    Sorry TJ that the Germany relocation hasn't worked out, I'm sure you would have enjoyed it.
    Gelato aficionado.

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    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tequila Joe View Post
    I considered the Nokian M & G because they looked like they could do the job but they're only available in 26". I need 700c

    That is what I use, I love em. Very impressive on ice. I actually went out of my way to find ice to ride on.

  22. #22
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    OK. Tire review time;

    We had 3" of snow on Tuesday and another 3" on Wednesday with an assortment of winter temperatures, ideal to test the Schwalbe Marathon Winters 700c X 35. I changed over to the studs Monday evening in anticipation of the overnight snow that was forecasted and awoke to a winter wonderland Tuesday morning. I ran them with 60 psi all week.

    Tuesdays commute: There was about 2"-3" light fluffy powdery snow on the ground, the temperature was around -9C (~ 15F) . The Schwalbe's performed fine on the light powdery snow but when the depth exceeded a couple inches, the front tire felt a bit "floaty" at faster speeds. In drifting snow about 4" deep, even at slower speeds, the front tire would wash out if I turned too sharp too fast but was fine if I went fairly straight and kept my weight centered. I went through some of the loose crunchy snow near the curb that was packed and pushed off to the side by traffic, the ride felt even more "floaty". There was no real ice on the road Tuesday. Tuesday evening I took out my winter beater with Nokian Extreme 294's to compare and had no problems in the powdery or packed snow.

    Thursday's commute: The snow stopped Wednesday afternoon and the temperature got above freezing long enough to melt the top layer of snow and then it froze over night. The less travelled roads were packed snow ice with a layer of slick ice on top. This is where the Schwalbe's really performed; riding on the glare ice and packed snow ice was almost like riding on dry pavement. Traction was almost comparable to my Nokian 294's but with slightly less cornering grip. The main roads were clear and dry; the rolling resistance of the Schwalbe's were impressively low and I could almost hold the same speeds as my slick tires. The middle rows of studs make contact with the road at all times, they crackle and buzzed all the way to work. The commute home had temperatures of 7C (44F) everything was wet and slushy. The Schwalbe's are fine on wet pavement and cornered with more confidence than I would allow myself to pushed them. In 2" deep slush they performed well and only felt "floaty" if I turned quickly.

    Fridays commute: There was no remaining snow on the roads by Thursday evening but they were wet and froze overnight. Temperature was -3 C (28 F) on my way into the office. The Schwalbe's didn't seem to have as much traction on the paper thin layer of black ice than when the ice was thick but, I never had any problems cornering. On the way home, temperatures went up to 11C (52 F) the roads were dry and I was again impressed with the low rolling resistance of these tires.

    All in all, the Schwalbe's were fantastic in all icy road conditions and have extremely low rolling resistance. These are not deep snow tires but can easily handle snow around o 2" - 3" deep but don't turn to quick / sharp.

    Take this review with a grain of salt, I’ve only had 3 commutes / 180 km on them so I need more time on them to be sure. I’ll update this post once I get more time on them and if there are any more observations.

    T.J.

  23. #23
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review, TJ. From the sound of it, we live in the same city, White Hat country, yes?

    I got caught out and unprepared for this little bit of Winter coming in early, so have been off the bike for a week or so. Going to pick up my new Winter bike today, gave up on trying to find an easy way of fitting a disc to a bike with a 1" stem. I had the opposite problem as I picked up a set of Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pros at a steal of a deal, and being 26" no way they're going on the road bike. There is a section of my commute on unplowed pathway that is unrideable on anything less than than Ice Spikers. ( Well, I hope it's doable on them )

    I am somewhat more than impressed at your 58km RT commute, 38km kicks my butt in the snow! Given that, I may put a set of the Marathons on road rims for the lesser Winter days, every little helps.

    Part of my problem is that on the bad Winter days, my job has a component that gets very physical, involving 50lb sacks of ice Melter, waking up to an unexpected dump of snow is not conducive to getting out of bed.

    Hopefully, that will change soon to a job that makes more use of my brains than muscles.

  24. #24
    Winter commuting mode Tequila Joe's Avatar
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    Hey coldfeet,

    Nice to see another White Hat on the forum.

    I live in the Panorama Hills and commute to the Foot Hills Industrial Park along the Nose Creek & Canal MUP in the summer. If you commute that way, we've probably crossed paths sometime. In the winter the city doesn't plow the MUP past 64th avenue north; nor do they plow the Canal MUP so ride on road for the most part.

    I'm going to change out the Marathon Winters back to my non studded tires. It doesn't look like there will be any snow for a while. It was nice to have a short blast of winter to try them out.

    Cheers,

    T.J.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tequila Joe View Post

    I beleive the Schwalbe's have less rolling resistance than the Nokian's but not as much traction. Any experience you can share with either tire is greatly appreciated.
    Last year mid-winter I switched from Nokian W106 to 35mm Schawlbe 240s. You are spot on, the rolling resistance was A LOT less, but the traction in heavy snow was not as good. On main roads (unplowed but driven on a lot) the Schawbles win by a mile.

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