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  1. #1
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    Thoughts on two winter bikes - one studded / one "winter" tire

    Riding in the winter I usually use my cross bike with disk brakes, and I run it with 37mm continental winter tires (no studs). I tend to ride only when the roads are somewhat clear, though I often ride over small patches of ice and long sections of well packed snow. So long as I'm careful, I'm confident and have been able to stay upright. I have a touring bike and was thinking of using it more frequently in the winter, with these conti winter tires, and then getting studded tires for the cross bike. Compared to the winter riding I'm already doing (mentioned above), will the studs allow me to ride when there is more snow, or when there is more likely icy sections, or that slippery snow after it has been packed down and crusted a bit? I'm wondering if it's worth my time/money going the two-bike route (fwiw - I live outside Toronto).

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    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Studs don't help unless there is enough ice, or hard packed snow to allow the studs to dig into something hard. Then they rock. In other words soft snow or slush is about the same as knobbies. I do use two bikes, one spiked, one with knobbies. Been doing it for at least 10 years. It sure beast changing tires. But, when in doubt, use the studs.

    If there is hard, cold, flat ice that is big enough, you will fall without studs eventually. That kind of ice makes stud traction about the same as riding on hard dirt. Really great.
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  3. #3
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    Studded tires help on a completely iced-up surface and hardened snow. They also facilitate grabbing solid surface through crudded up snow. Once there is a thicker layer of softer snow, studs don't do much but a pronounced thread helps quite a bit. If you have Conti Winters, I would skip lightweight studded tires and go for aggressive with a pronounced thread. Myself, I swap tires on one bike which is tedious. Being resigned to swapping gives you though more options, such as front studded and rear Conti Winter.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
    Riding in the winter I usually use my cross bike with disk brakes, and I run it with 37mm continental winter tires (no studs). I tend to ride only when the roads are somewhat clear, though I often ride over small patches of ice and long sections of well packed snow. So long as I'm careful, I'm confident and have been able to stay upright. I have a touring bike and was thinking of using it more frequently in the winter, with these conti winter tires, and then getting studded tires for the cross bike. Compared to the winter riding I'm already doing (mentioned above), will the studs allow me to ride when there is more snow, or when there is more likely icy sections, or that slippery snow after it has been packed down and crusted a bit? I'm wondering if it's worth my time/money going the two-bike route (fwiw - I live outside Toronto).
    I live right across the lake in Rochester.

    Without studs there WILL come a time when you'll go down, guaranteed; there will be a small patch of ice hidden under the snow, etc.

    Personally, I'm more than happy to go to the extra expense of studded tires because it's a heck of a lot cheaper and easier than dealing with broken bones.
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    I live right across the lake in Rochester.

    Without studs there WILL come a time when you'll go down, guaranteed; there will be a small patch of ice hidden under the snow, etc.

    Personally, I'm more than happy to go to the extra expense of studded tires because it's a heck of a lot cheaper and easier than dealing with broken bones.
    This thread has convinced me that I am going to buy studded tires. Right now I'm liking the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires (700x40). I like them over some similar options because there are also studs on the outer part of the tire, that should help with cornering. They are pricey, but more of an issue (maybe because it's mid-summer) is they're hard to find...

    Thanks

  6. #6
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
    This thread has convinced me that I am going to buy studded tires. Right now I'm liking the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires (700x40). I like them over some similar options because there are also studs on the outer part of the tire, that should help with cornering. They are pricey, but more of an issue (maybe because it's mid-summer) is they're hard to find...

    Thanks
    The ones I'm using are 45Nrth Gravdals ( 45NRTH ) and I'm entirely pleased with them. Some people prefer narrower tires for winter use, on the theory that the tread will dig down through soft snow to a more solid base, but the Gravdals worked just fine for me on almost every surface I came across.
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Ice is different at minus 40 than minus 2.

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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    just put studs in 1 bike
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  9. #9
    winter wipeout kitty wipekitty's Avatar
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    I've decided to go the two-bike route this winter. Last winter I managed okay with a fixed gear beater with cross tires, but I also stuck to main streets that had been plowed.

    If my previous experience with studs holds true, the second bike will allow me to better navigate the side streets and trails, which don't get plowed and end up with hard packed snow. I figure the non-studded bike will serve its function in sloppy, gross, wet wintery conditions, while the studs will be better for packed snow and the crazy sheet of ice that appears early in the spring.
    "There are no fast bikes - only fast people." - Some smart person

  10. #10
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Ice is different at minus 40 than minus 2.
    Ice is ice...Ice is slippery no matter what the temperature is...Black ice which is often found at around a freezing mark is just as bad as the ice at minus 40.

  11. #11
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
    Riding in the winter I usually use my cross bike with disk brakes, and I run it with 37mm continental winter tires (no studs). I tend to ride only when the roads are somewhat clear, though I often ride over small patches of ice and long sections of well packed snow. So long as I'm careful, I'm confident and have been able to stay upright. I have a touring bike and was thinking of using it more frequently in the winter, with these conti winter tires, and then getting studded tires for the cross bike. Compared to the winter riding I'm already doing (mentioned above), will the studs allow me to ride when there is more snow, or when there is more likely icy sections, or that slippery snow after it has been packed down and crusted a bit? I'm wondering if it's worth my time/money going the two-bike route (fwiw - I live outside Toronto).
    I also live outside Toronto, in Mississauga to be exact...I use studded tires. There are some days during winter where it would be almost impossible to ride without studs. Plowed roads are easy to ride on, but I also ride on unplowed roads, trails, MUPS, sidewalks which are often covered with ice. The are days when we have freezing drizzle and everything gets coated with ice. If I didn't have studs then I wouldn't be able to ride. Studded tires allow me to ride safely all winter.

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    10 wheel tractor trailer rigs and 2 wheel bikes are different Genus & Species.

    seemed when even colder there truck was less needing Chain-ups.. on flattish highways ..


    got my Nokian studded tire bike waiting in the basement for the potential week, only.. of ice out here ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-27-14 at 04:17 PM.

  13. #13
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    I'm in Ottawa: I've used studs for years, and switched to Conti winters last year: they worked alright for most days, and certainly have a smoother ride. But then we got into the freezing rain, followed by a cold snap and I went back to my studs. Loose snow covering ice is too hard to see coming! later in the year I went with a spiked front and conti on the back, and that seemed like a fair compromise.

    Urban winter biking is fairly hard on the equipment, so I kind of think the trouble of switching wheels is a fair trade-off for not having to de-gunk, de-salt and re-chain 2 bikes.

  14. #14
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    I have a dedicated "ice bike" with studs and a "rain bike" with winter tires and ride them both during the winter.
    For me it is more of a hassle to switch wheels and I just clean/lube both bikes once a week (vinegar and water mix works well for getting the salt off).

    OP if you choose the 2 bike route be mindful that black ice can be anywhere and if you hit it you can go down quick riding a bike without studs.

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    I have four sets of studded Schwalbe tires and two sets of the Conti "studless" winter tires for three bikes I tend to ride in the winter. When things are really icy, my 29 x 2" studs on my longtail utility bike are by far the most stable choice (that bike with studs is a tank in the snow).

    With patchy ice and bare pavement, my favourite combo has been a studded tire up front for solid cornering and a studless tire in the rear to reduce rolling resistance. It is less likely that your rear tire will slip out from underneath you, especially with the extra weight over it, but if it does, it is a lot easier to recover than if you lose a front tire. So I think it is a great compromise. Been riding that way the last three winters here in Calgary, and it has worked out great.

    By the way, it is pretty easy to replace studs in the Marathons -- I have lost a few, but found a nifty tool to replace the studs (unfortunately, it has no brand name on it) but I think Nokian makes one too.

  16. #16
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    Nokian studs, front and rear. 140 bucks in tires is way cheeper than medical bills or going down in traffic on a dark winter road surrounded by grumpy sleepy drivers. The studs don't help at all in snow as far as I can tell. We don't usually get warm enough up here (Anchorage, Alaska) to need a rain bike in the winter. Even if it does rain, the streets are still frozen, and it immediately turns to ice. Be careful when you put your foot down.

    I've so far resisted getting a fat bike for snow days, but think I might put one together for this year as it can be a !@#@ to get in when it snows, and I'm tired of carrying my bike through deeper sections, and can't find a good route to ski in from where I am living now (whine, whine, whine).

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    Syracuse NY. I also have an ice bike and a normal bike. I'm done with the icebike though. The days that I need the studs and lower gr are so few that I'd rather just ride the bus than have a second bike sitting ready by the door. For how much I spent on just tye tires I could have paid for all of those days and four more winter's worth of bus rides. Kenda Klondikes going onto craigslist soon.
    Last edited by MattoftheRocks; 10-01-14 at 02:53 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member kingston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
    This thread has convinced me that I am going to buy studded tires. Right now I'm liking the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires (700x40). I like them over some similar options because there are also studs on the outer part of the tire, that should help with cornering. They are pricey, but more of an issue (maybe because it's mid-summer) is they're hard to find
    I have been running the schwalbe marathon winter tires on my winter bike for the last several years from the first freeze in late November to the thaw in late March/early April. I use them every day and don't switch tires or bikes in the winter. They are slower than even the slowest non-studded tire, but whatever; If I wanted to get there fast I would drive.

  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Only have 26-1.9" tires..

    Nokian Mount and Ground W 160 stud tires are fine where there is a Mix of dry frozen and refrozen rutted Ice ..

    there is enough rubber for the bare spots & studs for traction on Ice.. (mine bought in 1990 are still serviceable.. not lost a Stud yet )

  20. #20
    Senior Member Slaninar's Avatar
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    Winters where I live are mild, so this winter, for smoother ride, I'm considering puting studded tyre up front only, with rear tyre just some standard knobie tyre. Then get a cheap spare fron wheel, with regular tyre on it and swap every morning according to road conditions, keeping the rear knobie until the spring.
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  21. #21
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    When winter hits, I just suck it up and commit to studs until spring. I run into enough mysterious icy patches in the road (or trail) where I live that I can't count on roads to be dry and clear, even if it hasn't precipitated in a while.

    IOW, quit being weenies! Studs will make you stronger for the spring.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member bruised's Avatar
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    This is an interesting thread. I've been giving a lot of thought to riding in the Winter - mostly Park trails but some roads also. I was under the impression that a fat tire bike was the safest and most reliable option particularly riding on fresh snow, but from what's been said above, studded tires are a viable option too. That's sure as heck a lot cheaper than a Fat Bike.

    As a point of interest, my LBS let me ride a Trek Farley 4" around the block today, just on the road....but I was mightily impressed with the way it picked up and handled and glided over the potholes. That's one heck of a nice bike!

  23. #23
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I ride 3 bikes in the winter... two are studded front and rear and the other rolls on 2.1 knobbies for periods when ice is not a concern.

  24. #24
    Yup pyze-guy's Avatar
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    Alot depends on the conditions of your commute. Usually the roads in the GTA are salted so much that the roads are dry most of the winter. For those days I ride my cross bike with 32mm tires. When it is slushy/light snow cover I ride fixed gear with 25mm tires. When ice is a concern I have 35 mm marathon winter tires on my 29er. If I had only one bike and one set of wheels i would use the studded tires through winter. I did swap wheels one year but the rims were different sizes and it was a PITA to adjust the brakes every time I swapped. In theory a second set of disc wheels should not be an issue to swap out as long as the rotors line up the same in the calipers.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    Ice is ice...Ice is slippery no matter what the temperature is...Black ice which is often found at around a freezing mark is just as bad as the ice at minus 40.
    Incorrect. As ice gets colder, it gets grippier. You'll hear olympic downhill skiers complain about cold ice because they can't go as fast. Skating rinks keep their ice surface just over freezing because wet ice is just about the most slippery thing around and slippery is fast (for skates). But what is good for skates is awful for wheels. Barring the change in scenery and chill factor, you wouldn't notice any difference between riding on pavement and -40* ice.

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