Winter Tires for Variable Conditions
i have read a lot of different opinions about winter tires and i figured i would ask specific questions. i am going to be commuting regularly all winter in the mountains. i assume i will mostly be riding on plowed/semi-plowed/icy spots roads and never on roads that are actually snow covered. would a cyclocross tire work? is a studded tire that much better? are studded tires still fine on regular pavement?
next question. these tires are expensive, would buying just one help my traction? if i bought just one, would it make more sense to put it on the front or on the rear? i also have an extra front wheel laying around, i thought about buying one cyclocross tire for it and switching the front wheel on and off depending on the conditions.
i am trying to get decent traction for winter riding as economically as possible. thanks!
they might seem expensive, but as long as you get the ones made by schwalbe or nokian, they'll last at least 3 winters, 5 at most.
If the road is going to be ploughed, but occasionally icy, then I'd say the schwalbe marathon winter would be the best choice.
the list here should help you:
Eis = ice
Schnee = snow
Matsch = mud
Asphalt = asphalt
sehr gut = very good
gut = good
befried = decent
Optimally you'd like to have a switch on the bike that you press and tires change traction to that needed for the conditions on the ground on your current stretch of the road. Unfortunately, that is not going to be the case in any near future so you need to live with tires that are good on the average for a given day or few days. Since you may well find out that your plans are overly ambitious, there is presumably no point investing into numerous expensive tires. For ice you need spikes and most people start with lighter tires equipped with carbide spikes such as Nokian Hakkapeliitta W106. You may get one or two and always put the more aggressive studded tire on the front. If you find that winter riding works for you and you already have two 106s, you may get one or two tires with heavier thread and more studs.
The studs and heavy threads are slow on asphalt. The more aggressive tire, the slower it gets. I end up changing tires across winter, in the worst cases every night, optimizing the riding. I am down to 15-20 minutes with the change, but it is a pain. Another thing that you can regulate, also during a ride, is tire pressure. In winter you ride at low pressures.
If you only get one, put it on the front. It is easier to recover from the rear slipping than the front slipping.
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