Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: London, Ontario, Canada
Bikes: Surly Cross Check, Trek 520, Giant VT1, Norco Scrambler, Norco Unicycle, Dirtsurfer
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The picture you've linked shows the lightweight racing version. I actually have the heavier weight version without the cutouts.
I use snowcats year round with Nokian Extreme 296 studded tires. They do make a difference for me mainly when riding offroad on snowy trails but also on the roads on days when lots of snow has fallen and piled up snow remains.
For me there are a few differences when compared to a tire on a standard rim.
1) The rim allows the tire to spread wider meaning that more of the studs are in contact with the ground depending on how much tire pressure you run.
2) The wider contact patch helps you to continue through marginal snow sections where you might just punch through with normal rims.
3) You can go much lower in tire pressure without the level of concern you would have for snake bite flats using normal rims. I find lower pressure helps with traction in snow while higher pressure seems to help the studs bite better on ice.