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Winter tires: Nokian studded tire review

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Winter tires: Nokian studded tire review

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Old 01-12-17, 06:28 PM
  #26  
Gresp15C
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There's a similar range of preferences for winter tires in my locale. Lots of the bikes that pass me have regular street tires or non studded knobbies. It's practically the same range of bikes that I see throughout the year.

I tend to equip myself for a fairly wide range of conditions, so I don't have to think about it on a daily or even hourly basis. During the summer, I carry rain gear if there's a chance of rain, or I leave a set at work. I ride studs throughout the winter, even if it's only icy for maybe 5 to 10 days. There have certainly been days when I would not have made it to work at all without studded tires, such as Tuesday.

Decent bike infrastructure and bike friendly culture probably reduce the need for studs. I'd like to be guaranteed of controlling my bike, when I'm mixing it up with American car traffic.
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Old 01-16-17, 01:17 AM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
... In an ideal world one would want to have a switch altering tread, studs and pressure depending on the conditions for a particular stretch of the route .
Every now and then I dream about the ideal commuter. It would be a bike whose wheels mirrors car wheels in function, meaning the (functional) parts of the hub remains attached to the bike. Single-side fork and rear. You'd be able to switch wheels w/o disturbing brake/drivetrain setup. Changing wheels would be a one-minute-job. W/o the axles, wheels would be flatter and easier to store. One could have four pairs for less than the space of one more bike.

Not as good as a mid-ride change, but it would make pre-ride changes far easier.
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Old 01-04-18, 11:57 AM
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bumping this helpful review of various tires
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Old 01-04-18, 02:25 PM
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Thank you for that, @snow_echo_NY . It seemed like quite a lot of discussion had happened in a short time, then I realized the thread had been started a year ago.

I did a lot of online reading when I upgraded from my 26"x2.1" Kenda Klondikes to 26"x1.9" Nokian/Suomi W160s. I was concerned that the more aggressive W240, W294, or W300 might not fit under my fenders, and my takeaway from all that reading was that W160s had their minimal studs in a good place so that there would always be at least a couple on the ground. It seemed like with W106s you wouldn't be able to lean the bike as much before you were on the tread shoulder and slipping out, but that may not be true.

I measure a section width of about 42-43mm on my rims, inflated to 25psi in front and 30psi in rear. While the studs definitely help on icy patches, I have yet to get comfortable riding them in deep or "brown sugar" snow, where they seem to be too skinny to float, but not skinny enough to pierce through to the ground underneath. I'm building up a new front wheel with a wider (30mm outer, 25mm inner) rim to hopefully expand the footprint a little, but I suspect that I really need a fat bike.
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Old 01-04-18, 02:50 PM
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no problem @ThermionicScott i'm glad this was useful for those new to the thread! i also thought this was really useful when this first came up last year. i got studded tires in '15-'16 and it's been great for the few times we've had snow storms or ice conditions. to

what people have said, i tend to agree with.

i also think this is a really helpful resource: the ice-bike email list

you can go here: https://listserv.heanet.ie and make a log in.

you email [email protected] and write Subscribe ICEBIKE <first name> <last name> in the body of the email and you can get on the email list/forum. there have been some really great discussions on there of those who bike in icy/snowy conditions regularly.

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Old 01-10-18, 07:37 PM
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I ride two inch Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour HS 404s. Luckily I have only had one day of snow on the ground this winter. I bought a couple packs of thick heavy zip-ties with big heavy female ends. If necessary I can place them on the tire spaced out and with the connector just off the center of the tread pattern. Although I don't think they would wear well.
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Old 01-11-18, 09:10 AM
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I've been riding on Schwalbe Marathon Winters for about 10 years. No, not the same tires! They do wear out after 2 or 3 years. I'm riding a Dahon Mu XL, which is my dedicated "winter" bike (attached). The salt used heavily on Chicago streets seems to take a toll on the tires. The studs comprise a small cylinder of tungsten carbide held in the tire by a "top hat" retainer made of steel. The "hat" corrodes in the salt; the corrosion products seem to act as abrasives on the tire carcass. Eventually, the bases of the stud retainers will wear through the tire and cause flats. This happens sooner (2-3 winters) on the rear tire than on the front. I'm assuming the reason for this is that the 20" tires are more susceptible to wear, and the rear is more heavily loaded plus provides the driving force. Once the studs begin to show up inside the tire, I have been able to prevent flats by installing "Mr. Tuffy" tire liners... this gives me another season or two out of a tire.

On my mountain bike, I chose Nokian "Extreme 294" tires. As noted ^^ they are not very effective in deep or packed snow, but are excellent on ice. Since (black) ice is my main concern, I don't regret buying these tires. They show no sign of wear after several years, probably because I ride on trails mostly, so there's little salt to corrode anything. I enjoy going out on frozen lakes if the ice is thick enough (see attached, taken by a pedestrian who was having trouble staying upright!).
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Old 01-11-18, 11:20 AM
  #33  
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Schwalbe vs Suomi W106

I just recently got a set of Suomi (formerly Noikan) W106's. I think you can still get these on Amazon.

$_59.JPG

I went out yesterday during the brief freezing rain on them. They were great. I wouldn't have felt safe walking on the slick road/sidewalk, but these tires made the bike perfectly stable.

I do have a pair of Schwalbe Winter Studded tires on my other winter bike. These are also great. They've been my go-to for the past three winters.

As for which is better, the Suomi treads look more aggressive, and I feel they are better than the Schwalbe's. They are also 10 mm wider and on a different, so it's really difficult to compare.
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Old 01-11-18, 12:46 PM
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I'm honestly having second thoughts about studded tires; I've got Schwalbe Marathons, and have been disapointed with the experience so far.

They're terrible on dry pavement. They're good on uncovered ice, but it's fairly unusual to see that. And they start to get pretty darn squirrely when there's more than an inch or two of snow on the ground.

I'm thinking a really nice, very wide, semi-slick tire with knobs on the sides would be a better option. Something like the Speed King below. Would serve double duty as a gravel/trail tire. They roll extremely well per bikerollingresistance, and at <30 psi there would be a massive contact patch with some side knobbies to deal with ruts.

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Old 01-11-18, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
I'm honestly having second thoughts about studded tires; I've got Schwalbe Marathons, and have been disapointed with the experience so far.

They're terrible on dry pavement. They're good on uncovered ice, but it's fairly unusual to see that.
If they don't have studs, they will suck on black ice. But if that's rare, you may be OK without the metal. I figure I need the studs at most 25% of the time, but I'd rather put up with the drag and the noise the rest of the time. YMMV, of course.

I like your avatar. "FSM- He boiled for your sins!"
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EDIT: I see you're in Chicago. How do you not run into a fair amount of ice?
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Old 01-11-18, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
If they don't have studs, they will suck on black ice. But if that's rare, you may be OK without the metal. I figure I need the studs at most 25% of the time, but I'd rather put up with the drag and the noise the rest of the time. YMMV, of course.

I like your avatar. "FSM- He boiled for your sins!"
Steve

EDIT: I see you're in Chicago. How do you not run into a fair amount of ice?
The massive amount of salt Chicago uses. It's pretty rare to have slick frozen ice, as I'm finding out. The bigger threat is frozen ruts, and accumulating snow. Also...I'm wondering how well a fat unstudded tire at 25psi would fair on smooth ice. I would bet it's manageable, and would do much better on everything else than the studs.

I dunno. I'm still gettting a feel for this. The studs though definitely have felt like an imperfect solution.

Thanks for the avatar comment
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Old 01-11-18, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
The massive amount of salt Chicago uses. It's pretty rare to have slick frozen ice, as I'm finding out.

Thanks for the avatar comment
Before I went studded, I was falling a few times a year. Now, never. I'm too old (67) to fall. I've been commuting by bike for going on 16 years. My experience may be different because I ride a folder with 20" wheels...?

You may have noticed my own avatar.
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Old 01-11-18, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
I'm honestly having second thoughts about studded tires; I've got Schwalbe Marathons, and have been disapointed with the experience so far.

They're terrible on dry pavement. They're good on uncovered ice, but it's fairly unusual to see that. And they start to get pretty darn squirrely when there's more than an inch or two of snow on the ground.
Yes, they are not great on dry pavement compared to non-studded tires. You will need to output a good 10-20% power to get the same speed, or you just ride 10-20% slower...yeah, I know it's not linear, but I'm just illustrating a point. Having said this, however, it only takes one fall on ice for your decision to not ride studs seem pretty stupid.

The tires are ideal for ice and thin layer of snow or hard-packed snow. They are not meant for anything more. But you can dictate the road conditions you ride on, so you go with the option that gives you the best chance of staying upright.
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Old 01-11-18, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
The massive amount of salt Chicago uses. It's pretty rare to have slick frozen ice, as I'm finding out. The bigger threat is frozen ruts, and accumulating snow. Also...I'm wondering how well a fat unstudded tire at 25psi would fair on smooth ice. I would bet it's manageable, and would do much better on everything else than the studs.

I dunno. I'm still gettting a feel for this. The studs though definitely have felt like an imperfect solution.

Thanks for the avatar comment
I didn't know studded tyres exist until after a couple of years of winter riding. Would never give up at least a front studded. For paved roads, Schwalbe Marathon Winter is very fast for a decent ice and snow tyre and when inflated to a higher pressure, it rolls quite OK.

For the rear, I was happy with Continental Race King - small knobs and supple sidewalls - they roll very fast for a knobby tyre, but grip well in the mud and snow. Wide enough not to slip too much on ice, so for the rear - they can be controlled (although a slick tyre is better for ice).
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Old 01-11-18, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by BBassett View Post
I ride two inch Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour HS 404s. Luckily I have only had one day of snow on the ground this winter. I bought a couple packs of thick heavy zip-ties with big heavy female ends. If necessary I can place them on the tire spaced out and with the connector just off the center of the tread pattern. Although I don't think they would wear well.
Zip ties? Good luck with that.
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Old 01-11-18, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
I'm honestly having second thoughts about studded tires; I've got Schwalbe Marathons, and have been disapointed with the experience so far.

They're terrible on dry pavement. They're good on uncovered ice, but it's fairly unusual to see that. And they start to get pretty darn squirrely when there's more than an inch or two of snow on the ground.

I'm thinking a really nice, very wide, semi-slick tire with knobs on the sides would be a better option. Something like the Speed King below. Would serve double duty as a gravel/trail tire. They roll extremely well per bikerollingresistance, and at <30 psi there would be a massive contact patch with some side knobbies to deal with ruts.

Studded tires? You need them or you don't. Price out some broken and bruised body parts, plus some time off work. MA rider here, I find pavement to be very hard. Lots of freeze thaw here, maybe your winters are different? A slick for the winter? Seems like the worst choice, YRMV.
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Old 01-11-18, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Studded tires? You need them or you don't. Price out some broken and bruised body parts, plus some time off work. MA rider here, I find pavement to be very hard. Lots of freeze thaw here, maybe your winters are different? A slick for the winter? Seems like the worst choice, YRMV.
It's a matter of road conditions. Streets here are plowed same day, with a massive amount of salt spread around. I've been using studded tires, but even on the BAD snowy/icy days, I've found the greater danger to be semi-deep snow molded by tire tracks already, NOT smooth frozen ice, which from what I can tell is the only surface studs will truly be superior.
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Old 01-11-18, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
It's a matter of road conditions. Streets here are plowed same day, with a massive amount of salt spread around. I've been using studded tires, but even on the BAD snowy/icy days, I've found the greater danger to be semi-deep snow molded by tire tracks already, NOT smooth frozen ice, which from what I can tell is the only surface studs will truly be superior.
I prefer knowing that my front wheel won't just slide out unexpectedly (unless I do something stupid). Especially since I ride in traffic. This surpasses the speed penalty. Whenever there's a chance of ice, I use the studded tyres, or at least a studded front one.
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Old 01-12-18, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Whenever there's a chance of ice, I use the studded tyres, or at least a studded front one.
This ^^. I have two folders, one dedicated to winter equipped with studded tires. In a typical winter I'll break this bike out after thanksgiving and put it away mid-March. If there's a warm spell, the other bike comes out. Even though we're both in Chicago, where street clearing is generally very good*, my experience is different from Abe's. Maybe it's the streets I ride on, and maybe it's me. I'd rather put up with the studs than slip even once.
*Except bike lanes; generally not plowed. :-(
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Old 01-12-18, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
I just recently got a set of Suomi (formerly Noikan) W106's. I think you can still get these on Amazon.

I went out yesterday during the brief freezing rain on them. They were great. I wouldn't have felt safe walking on the slick road/sidewalk, but these tires made the bike perfectly stable.

I do have a pair of Schwalbe Winter Studded tires on my other winter bike. These are also great. They've been my go-to for the past three winters.

As for which is better, the Suomi treads look more aggressive, and I feel they are better than the Schwalbe's. They are also 10 mm wider and on a different, so it's really difficult to compare.
How deep is the tread of the W106's compared to SMW? Have you tried them in deep snow / slush, yet (I guess that is just about to come...)? Looking to replace my SMW's on the long run with something more Ontario-snow/slush compatible tires.

bike24.com has Nokians for about 40EUR-tax each.
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Old 01-12-18, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
This ^^. I have two folders, one dedicated to winter equipped with studded tires. In a typical winter I'll break this bike out after thanksgiving and put it away mid-March. If there's a warm spell, the other bike comes out. Even though we're both in Chicago, where street clearing is generally very good*, my experience is different from Abe's. Maybe it's the streets I ride on, and maybe it's me. I'd rather put up with the studs than slip even once.
*Except bike lanes; generally not plowed. :-(
Steve
Bingo...i think itís the bike lanes. Iíve got about 5 miles of bike lanes on my commute down Lawrence and Elston that dont really get plowed, but the snow DOES get compacted in some parts and not others from double parking cars, people pulling into lots, etc, making things very dicy when snow accumulates.

Wouldnt be bad if the snow was fresh, but the inconsistency makes the front wheel with the marathon wander a terrifying amount; Iíve got to really slow down a ton to not fall. Iím confident a big fat soft semi-knobbed tire would reduce that a lot.
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Old 01-12-18, 09:00 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
Bingo...i think itís the bike lanes. Iíve got about 5 miles of bike lanes on my commute down Lawrence and Elston that dont really get plowed, but the snow DOES get compacted in some parts and not others from double parking cars, people pulling into lots, etc, making things very dicy when snow accumulates.
My solution is not to ride in the bike lane under those conditions.
You're right about the compacted snow...
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Old 01-12-18, 11:18 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by alias5000 View Post
How deep is the tread of the W106's compared to SMW? Have you tried them in deep snow / slush, yet (I guess that is just about to come...)? Looking to replace my SMW's on the long run with something more Ontario-snow/slush compatible tires.

bike24.com has Nokians for about 40EUR-tax each.
The treads are considerably deeper than the Schwalbe's so I imagine they would work better than the SMWs but I'm not an aggressive ride, especially when there's snow/slush on the ground.

Are you not happy with the Schwalbe's?
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Old 01-12-18, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
The massive amount of salt Chicago uses. It's pretty rare to have slick frozen ice, as I'm finding out. The bigger threat is frozen ruts, and accumulating snow. Also...I'm wondering how well a fat unstudded tire at 25psi would fair on smooth ice. I would bet it's manageable, and would do much better on everything else than the studs.
My schwalbe marathon winters have been good on clear pavement. Yeah, they're not conti gp4000's, but they're good. If the pavement is clear you want them at higher pressure (like 65psi) as it keeps the outer row of studs off the ground. Use lower pressures and you get all 4 rows of studs on the ground all the time, more traction but a slower and mushier ride.

Pure rubber simply does not grip ice at all. With the front wheel, if you lose traction hitting black ice and go down, it's so fast your brain doesn't even register it. With the back wheel, you might be able to get a foot down before the bike goes down as it's slower. I believe this holds true for all tire sizes short of a genuine fat bike (3.7" or larger), so personally I would not suggest anyone ride without studs in the winter. (Some people have a higher risk tolerance than I do and they do it). I've talked to a ton of people here in minnesota who have tried it, both on the forum and in real life, and without studs you basically expect to completely wipe out at least once a winter. My uncle had a bike accident (during the summer not involving ice) where he impacted the ground and he broke his hip. Long story short it was the worst pain of his life, and it took him a year after his surgery for even his brain to come to be fully functioning.

But with icy ruts and compacted snow, I sadly have to agree with you that the schwalbe marathon winters kinda suck at handling it. If you have a ton of bike handling skills/muscles/etc you can do it. But they're not great. I used to ride that greenway that is fairly well plowed in the winter and they were great. Then I moved, and ended up on bike sidewalks along the road (specifically built for biking) but they're plowed a lot less well, and the marathon winters are a rougher ride on that stuff.

I think the 45nrth gravdals would be the ideal tire for the kind of conditions you're talking about where it's plowed but there's still icy ruts. They'll be even slower though, but they have a lot more tread and grip in nastier road conditions:
45Nrth Gravdal

I've also tried 2" studded tires but I didn't like them. In loose snow, skinnier tires cut through the snow to the pavement if it's possible. You get a significant amount of snow and they practically don't work at all. Fat bike tires (3.7" and bigger) float on top of the snow, 6"-12" from what I've read. 2" tires suck for both - they're to fat to cut through the snow, but to skinny to ride on top of it, so they just sort of flail around. They stop working at the same depth of snow that skinnier tires do, but they're much slower.

I understand what you mean that you're not running into sheer ice right now. It shows up the most in the spring. When the weather starts melting the snow into water one day, then refreezing it the next, that's when the sheer ice becomes a regular issue. The problem is, if you do hit it it's extremely dangerous. I've talked to people who have ridden for months on non-studded tires and it was ok, then *bam* one day they hit unexpected ice and they're down. Sometimes they're ok, sometimes they break their hip, leg, collarbone, etc. It's real bad news.

I haven't found anything perfect with that ****ty "lumpy snow on top of ice" situation. My brother was using 26" 1.9" studded Nokians and went down when he hit some of that. I just barely stayed upright with my 29" schwalbe marathon winters, but that could just be that I saw him hit it first so I wasn't hitting it by surprise like he was.

I wish I could try the 45nrth Gravdals and offer personal experience with them. Unfortunately the winter bike I bought won't take a tire bigger than 35c so at the moment I'm a bit stuck. I'm sure a lightly studded fatbike (3.7" or bigger) tire would work better as well.

Last edited by PaulRivers; 01-12-18 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 01-13-18, 02:50 AM
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Slaninar
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
I've also tried 2" studded tires but I didn't like them. In loose snow, skinnier tires cut through the snow to the pavement if it's possible. You get a significant amount of snow and they practically don't work at all. Fat bike tires (3.7" and bigger) float on top of the snow, 6"-12" from what I've read. 2" tires suck for both - they're to fat to cut through the snow, but to skinny to ride on top of it, so they just sort of flail around. They stop working at the same depth of snow that skinnier tires do, but they're much slower.
Good post, agree with most (it rhymes ), except this part. I used a 2" rear (non-studded) and it worked OK in snow that was too deep for the tyre to cut down to the pavement. OK as - better than a skinnier studded tyre, far from perfect. Also, at least for me, there is a line when the snow depth is too large so I don't ride.
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