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Marathon Winter Plus or Top Contact Winter II?

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Marathon Winter Plus or Top Contact Winter II?

Old 11-22-19, 10:52 PM
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stevel610 
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Marathon Winter Plus or Top Contact Winter II?

I have a set of the Top Contacts and have ordered a set of the Marathon Winter Plus, and had previously owned another set.

I got the Top Contacts a few years ago strictly for recreational riding so I wouldn't go out if the conditions were bad.

I got a new job this Summer and have started commuting a couple times a week 20 miles each way. About 14 miles of bike path.

My thought in is if I am commuting there is a greater chance of unexpected snow or ice and the studded tires would add a bit of safety for those times.

Anyone go through a similar process? Comments on your experience with either of these tires are welcome also.
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Old 11-22-19, 11:53 PM
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I have been running the Schwalbe Marathon Winter Plus for the last few seasons, and they are a versatile winter tire. They roll nice(ly enough) with higher pressures when conditions are ideal, but are quite capable at lower pressures when things get icy. If you want to keep one tire on all season long, they are a very good option. I have ridden these without incident when the cars in town could not get up hills due to snow and ice.
That being said, I am going with a little different option this season on my winter bike (Salsa Journeyman). I have acquired a second wheelset (650b) in addition to the stock 700c wheelset. I am keeping the Schwalbe Marathon Winter Plus 35mm on the 700c wheelset, and running 48mm Panaracer Gravelking SK on the 650B wheelset. When the weather is a non issue, and there is no real chance of significant ice, i have been running the 650 non studded tires, which are also quite capable in snow. When the conditions involve more ice, or are unpredictable, i throw on the studded tire wheelset.
My main reasoning for this stems from a fall I took last season. The winters in my area are widely varied, and can include a sunny 40 degree day, or maybe -30 and a snowstorm. Lots of ice forming and melting, and lots of calcium chloride and salting of the roads. As the season progresses, a steady layer of "salt dust" coats all of the road surfaces. While the Marathon tires are great in the winter conditions, they seem to "let go" of their grip on the road pretty quickly when the road salt dust conditions are just right, making any sort of leaning while turning a bit sketchy. Combine this with the sometimes necesssary bar mitts in sub-zero temperatures, and a loss of traction will end in a hard impact with your hands tethered to your handlebars. This is exactly what happened to my while travelling through a roundabout last winter. I lost traction with a slight lean into the turn, and went down hard on my shoulder....grade 3 AC tear. I think that if the pressure is just so and the road dusted with salt, when you hit those outer studs with a lean, the tires lose their grip on the road, and there is no turning back from the slippage. (Oddly enough, you can save yourself with correction if these tires start to slip while riding on sheer ice, so that's good!)
So now i run the beefier non-studded 650b tires on the clear, yet heavily salted roads. When the weather turns south, i will run the studs, and if it is also cold enough will run the bar mitts, with the understanding that i have to be conscious to not get the bike leaning with the studs on asphalt, meaning a bit slower commute, which is OK so long as i arrive upright!
Hope this wasn't a complete waste of your time.

Last edited by SalsaShark; 11-22-19 at 11:57 PM.
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Old 11-23-19, 07:39 AM
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I put on Contact Winter in late fall and take them off in early spring. Occasionally I switch to Suomi W240 when the ground is continuously covered with snow and ice. It is an optimization issue where you consider grip, speed and frequency of tire swapping. For what you want to achieve now, presumably you made a good choice.
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Old 11-23-19, 09:41 AM
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Riding 20 miles in studded tires is a chore. I use a set of Marathon Winters for my 12-mile commute when I need to, and only when I need to, but I hate it. Yeah, for tires with metal spikes sticking out of them they roll okay, but it's still feels like riding on sand the entire way. If there is a high probability that you'll encounter ice, then you have little choice. But 20 miles...😖
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Old 11-23-19, 08:23 PM
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I have two different bikes set up for winter riding. One of them has studded tires for riding on days when it is icy and my other bike is set up with aggressive cx tires for days when there is just snow or wet and no ice. I only use studded tires when necessary.
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Old 11-23-19, 08:48 PM
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Around here....things in winter are either:

A) Frigid, but roads/paths clear from being bladed or just plain no precipitation

B) Winter wonderland or left-over winter wonderland.....and things haven't been bladed.

I have two wheelsets...in summer one has higher-volume slicks or semi-slicks (40mm), and the other knobbies of some sort. In winter, the one keeps slicks while the other switches to studs.

Riding studs on bare pavement sucks only a bit less than not riding at all or riding indoors; but on snow/ice is pretty fun so long as it is there to ride on. Otherwise slicks roll faster. Where things get very sketchy--is when it is icy, and the DOR dumps tons of traction sand everywhere; ironically named as it fouls the studs and makes them grab less....and recklessly driving cars still wreck from being recklessly driven.
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Old 11-23-19, 09:25 PM
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I recently started commuting the Marathon studded tires. They roll surprisingly easy(ish). They also have extremely good snow traction.

I have the 700cx40.

A week ago I rode them on a steep forest trail in the snow. I usually ride that trail with my fatbike and get some rearwheel spins. But the Marathon actually climbed better without spinning.

I also tested them cautiously on black ice, good traction as well.

I don't understand the above stated fear of them not having traction on pavement.
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Old 11-24-19, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
I

I don't understand the above stated fear of them not having traction on pavement.
It's not that they don't have good traction on pavement, but more about being cautious not to lean into any turns thus putting the studded line portion of the tread directly into contact with salted pavement, as the studs will prevent the rubber from gripping and will let loose. You don't want to lean a bike through turns on loose aggregate in any circumstances, but ive found there is little room for error with these tires. In straight line conditions on pavement, with no leaning, the traction is of no concern.
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Old 11-24-19, 12:09 PM
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I haven't run studs in the past 45 years but do have the Top Contacts. Very, very grippy tires. They are ridable in most ice conditions. But on dry pavement, they are hard work. I rode the Worst Day of the Year ride last year on then, knowing they would be fully in their element 1000' above Portland. Well, the ride got changed to all within the city limits and down low. Nothing frozen. Wow, was trying to keep up with anyone on regular tires hard! And I am not talking about the Lyrcra crown with their CF bikes. I'm talking the women in basically street clothes, steel bikes and fenders.

Oh, those tires are called 37c (38? I'd have to look), but they are a skinny 37c. The same width Paselas are much fatter tires. My fenders don't lie.

Ben
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Old 11-24-19, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by SalsaShark View Post
It's not that they don't have good traction on pavement, but more about being cautious not to lean into any turns thus putting the studded line portion of the tread directly into contact with salted pavement, as the studs will prevent the rubber from gripping and will let loose. You don't want to lean a bike through turns on loose aggregate in any circumstances, but ive found there is little room for error with these tires. In straight line conditions on pavement, with no leaning, the traction is of no concern.
Unless you ride with a really weird pressure, the rubber has contact in curves. The studs are not that long. I also assume that in winter conditions you don't ride fast enough to require a 45 lean angle on a bike path or road. Un-studded tires for hybrids/commuters in general are not optimized for riding like in a race or so.
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Old 11-26-19, 08:56 AM
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nice commute! even w/ most of it being a paved trail that's a decent # of miles. studs are great for spotty ice. I hope they plow that paved trail. if not, & if it's got frozen foot prints, you may not want to ride it. that kind of condition will really slow you down. on dry roads & paved trails you won't be as fast on studded tires so allow more time. looking forward to hearing (& seeing) more about this throughout the season!

reminded me of this


if the trail & roads are dry, pump those puppies up!


a nicely plowed trail is a pleasure to ride


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Old 12-05-19, 09:51 PM
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I really like top contacts on my commuter, run them year around, They are grippy, and seem stable enough without studs for me.
I figure I gain extra training running them in summer, beside the change makes my road bike really fast!
R
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Old 12-28-19, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by SalsaShark View Post
I have been running the Schwalbe Marathon Winter Plus for the last few seasons, and they are a versatile winter tire. They roll nice(ly enough) with higher pressures when conditions are ideal, but are quite capable at lower pressures when things get icy. If you want to keep one tire on all season long, they are a very good option. I have ridden these without incident when the cars in town could not get up hills due to snow and ice.
That being said, I am going with a little different option this season on my winter bike (Salsa Journeyman). I have acquired a second wheelset (650b) in addition to the stock 700c wheelset. I am keeping the Schwalbe Marathon Winter Plus 35mm on the 700c wheelset, and running 48mm Panaracer Gravelking SK on the 650B wheelset. When the weather is a non issue, and there is no real chance of significant ice, i have been running the 650 non studded tires, which are also quite capable in snow. When the conditions involve more ice, or are unpredictable, i throw on the studded tire wheelset.
My main reasoning for this stems from a fall I took last season. The winters in my area are widely varied, and can include a sunny 40 degree day, or maybe -30 and a snowstorm. Lots of ice forming and melting, and lots of calcium chloride and salting of the roads. As the season progresses, a steady layer of "salt dust" coats all of the road surfaces. While the Marathon tires are great in the winter conditions, they seem to "let go" of their grip on the road pretty quickly when the road salt dust conditions are just right, making any sort of leaning while turning a bit sketchy. Combine this with the sometimes necesssary bar mitts in sub-zero temperatures, and a loss of traction will end in a hard impact with your hands tethered to your handlebars. This is exactly what happened to my while travelling through a roundabout last winter. I lost traction with a slight lean into the turn, and went down hard on my shoulder....grade 3 AC tear. I think that if the pressure is just so and the road dusted with salt, when you hit those outer studs with a lean, the tires lose their grip on the road, and there is no turning back from the slippage. (Oddly enough, you can save yourself with correction if these tires start to slip while riding on sheer ice, so that's good!)
So now i run the beefier non-studded 650b tires on the clear, yet heavily salted roads. When the weather turns south, i will run the studs, and if it is also cold enough will run the bar mitts, with the understanding that i have to be conscious to not get the bike leaning with the studs on asphalt, meaning a bit slower commute, which is OK so long as i arrive upright!
Hope this wasn't a complete waste of your time.
My experience pretty much matches your description, SalsaShark. Nicely said! I'm running 622x50's on my Surly Ogre, and will ride that whenever snow/ice are in the forecast. As you said, when on ice, as long as I concentrate on staying as upright as possible, and not being afraid to do some gentle, corrective steering with my butt, if necessary, all is good. If roads are dry, or just wet, and to give my ears a break from the steady "hummmmm..." of the studs on clear pavement I'll ride my gravel bike with its 700x40 WTB Nano's.
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Old 12-28-19, 04:02 PM
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I went through the same decision you're going through about 2 years ago. I started with Top Contact Winter 700c tires, slipped and fell about four times commuting on ice patches, switched to Schwalbe Winter 700C x 30 and have been using them since. No more slip and fall.
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Old 12-31-19, 06:21 PM
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I put light weight (if there is such a thing) studded tires on in December and take them off in March. I went down one year - no precipitation, the mist had just turned to black ice on top of a hill. So you never know when you need them. The fall was sudden and could have easily resulted in injury. The extra weight is not that bad of a trade off in my 13 mile commute.
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