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What Tires Would You Put On This Bike?

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What Tires Would You Put On This Bike?

Old 12-06-16, 03:53 PM
  #1  
Abe_Froman
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What Tires Would You Put On This Bike?

Ok, so I have a new winter bike, shown below. It obviously just has MTB knobbies on it right now. This will either be a dedicated winter bike, or dedicated all year icky weather bike. I'm anticipating about 90% of travel on roads in various degrees of salty slushiness, and maybe 10% on a likely unplowed MUP. Will be used exclusively for a 24 mile round trip commute.

What tires should I have on this bike? I really can't decide.

Leave the knobbies on?
Put on commuter slicks?
Studded tires?
Leave knobbies on but have studded tire on a spare front wheel to swap on frozen days?

Help!

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Old 12-06-16, 04:51 PM
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Schwalbe Marathon Winter
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Old 12-06-16, 07:55 PM
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I'll second the Schwalbe Winter Marathons as a good all-rounder for the conditions you describe. They're pretty good in icy conditions, are OK in snow as long as it's not too deep and they roll nicely which should be a bonus on a commute of that length.

If you don't think you'll have to deal with icy conditions, the knobbies you have should work fine and in my experience are a bit better than the Winter Marathons in deeper snow.
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Old 12-07-16, 12:27 AM
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Schwalbe Marathon Winter, unless facing deep snow. But that kind of snow would make a 24 mile commute very long one. I wrote an article on choosing winter tyres by the riding conditions:

Bicycle winter tyres
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Old 12-07-16, 11:19 AM
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Are you planning to cycle-commute 24 miles every day all winter? That's at the very upper end of what I would consider doable in Chicago. I'm amazed every winter at how much slower and harder it is to ride in the cold.
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Old 12-07-16, 12:23 PM
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Studded tires, 2. Using one makes no sense. And maybe some fenders?
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Old 12-07-16, 01:21 PM
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I agree with the Schwalbe Winter Marathons....(I have a FatBike for when it really snows)
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Old 12-07-16, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Studded tires, 2. Using one makes no sense. And maybe some fenders?
My experience with just front studded tyre has been good.

I live in flat lands, roads are cleared, with some ice patches during early morning (late night). Rear is a Continental Race King (small knobs - an off road tyre), while the front is a Schwalbe Marathon Winter.

I'd recommend it to others at their own risk. Two studded is safer, sure. But just the front can work.
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Old 12-07-16, 01:57 PM
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12 miles on knobby tires in the snow & cold. that's a workout, huh?
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Old 12-07-16, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
My experience with just front studded tyre has been good.

I live in flat lands, roads are cleared, with some ice patches during early morning (late night). Rear is a Continental Race King (small knobs - an off road tyre), while the front is a Schwalbe Marathon Winter.

I'd recommend it to others at their own risk. Two studded is safer, sure. But just the front can work.
OP is in Chicago, real winter, for like 5 months. What kind of ice only needs 1 studded tire? The idea is to remain upright. What are you trying to save? $ 60 bucks or so? Vs a broken bone or what? Stop propagating myths.
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Old 12-07-16, 03:26 PM
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Spikes on both wheels. There is no advantage other than cost for running a knobbie rear tire in Chicago. If you want to save money get the Schwalbe Winter with only 100 spikes. It's only twenty bucks a tire (plus shipping) if you order direct from Germany, and these things last forever. I think I'm going on my 6th or 7th season on the same set of tires. Order some replacement spikes when you order the tires. And as long as you are ordering from Germany you might as well throw in a busch & muller Ixon IQ premium headlight with a fork crown mount and a Relite-D rear. It's always dark in the winter.

Also, you'll need to find a detour around the unplowed MUP. Unless we have a very mild winter it will be impassable on anything but a fatbike.
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Old 12-07-16, 04:04 PM
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Ive had Suomi Nokian tires on my winter MTB for 20 years .. here the Ice and bare pavement is Mixed usually

So the Mount and Ground W works fine.. I dont need a center if the tread row of studs , 2 on the edges is sufficient.

I got them direct from Finland in 89~90, but I ordered 10 at a time..
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Old 12-07-16, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
OP is in Chicago, real winter, for like 5 months. What kind of ice only needs 1 studded tire? The idea is to remain upright. What are you trying to save? $ 60 bucks or so? Vs a broken bone or what? Stop propagating myths.
No wish to argue, just telling it can work.

For 5 months of real winter, I'd definitely go for both studded tyres.

My city often has mild winters. One week of snow, one week of clear roads. With lots of clear patches. For those conditions, non-studded rear tyre was faster, better grip 90% of the time, and a lot quieter - no need to change tyres/wheels from day to day.

Having said all this, front wheel is crucial for staying upright. On flat terrain, it's easy, with some common sense and caution, to stay upright even without a rear studded tyre. I rode bicycles in the winter before I even knew about studded tyres.
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Old 12-08-16, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Studded tires, 2. Using one makes no sense. And maybe some fenders?
After many years of winter commuting in Minneapolis and trying different options, I ended up very happy with Mount & Ground on the front and Top Contact Winter on the rear. The studs on the front tire help with steering and most of the braking force is on the front wheel. I never pedal hard enough for the rear wheel to slip out and the lower rolling-resistance on the rear wheel helps the winter-commuter not be such a hog. I have never hit the cold, cold ground with this set up.

Edit - I'll add some insight on tire wide (the OP is on 26x2 like my winter-commuter above); however, I've used 700x35 studded tire (front-only) on my summer-commuter & been very happy (no falls). OTOH I've hit the deck in icy-conditions with 26x4 non-studded fat-bike tires.

edit v2 - OP - reminder to keep tire pressure down for icy and snowy conditions for maximum tire contact; and increase pressure for cold weather.

Last edited by Hypno Toad; 12-08-16 at 08:14 AM.
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Old 12-08-16, 08:23 AM
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@Hypno Toad, Just curious, have you tried Schwalbe Marathon Winters and rejected them in favor of your Nokian/Continental setup? My only winter experience is with either regular tires or marathon winters, so while the mixed option doesn't make intuitive sense to me, I'm interested to hear how you arrived at that solution.
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Old 12-08-16, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
@Hypno Toad, Just curious, have you tried Schwalbe Marathon Winters and rejected them in favor of your Nokian/Continental setup? My only winter experience is with either regular tires or marathon winters, so while the mixed option doesn't make intuitive sense to me, I'm interested to hear how you arrived at that solution.
I have not tried the Schwalbe - I know many Minneapolis riders that use them and give the good reviews. The Nokian was selected because of availability at the time I needed a new tire. If I were to go out today to buy a new tire, I would look for the Schwalbe.

Over the years, I used:

standard MTB knobby tires, front & rear - no good for ice and slippery conditions
45NRTH Arcwelder (retired product), front & rear - there were way too many studs for commuting, too heavy and stainless studs that don't hold up on pavement. Never fell, but the extra effort was painful.
Top Contact Winter, front & rear - AMAZINGLY good on most conditions, except smooth refreeze ice. No falls, but some 'clinch-up' moments on snow-covered ice - low rolling resistance, great tire for winter commuting. Short story about riding home in these tires: we had a wet snow falling on untreated frozen road. I hadn't needed to stop for a couple miles and noticed drivers were very cautious. But I didn't realize how slippery the roads were until I stopped for a red light, put a foot down; my foot slipped out and nearly fell. While on the bike, the tires allowed me to have no idea how greasy the roads had become.
Nokian front and Continental rear - The great compromise for winter-commuting set up, no falls. My daughter is riding this set up (she's car-free). And my summer commuter has a similar set up for the occasions when the SS winter-commuter and the fat bike are the right choice (I'm fortunate to have a large garage and supportive spouse).
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Old 12-08-16, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I'm amazed every winter at how much slower and harder it is to ride in the cold.
Me too and its ONLY 45 degrees F!!! I can only imagine what its going to be like when it gets below freezing and lower with this being my first time riding through the winter!! .....I'm determined though!
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Old 12-08-16, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by GrooveRite View Post
Me too and its ONLY 45 degrees F!!! I can only imagine what its going to be like when it gets below freezing and lower with this being my first time riding through the winter!! .....I'm determined though!
Studded tires are very heavy and slow, kind of like riding through wet tar, yum. Beats sitting in car traffic gridlock during snow and nasty winter stuff.
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Old 12-08-16, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Studded tires are very heavy and slow, kind of like riding through wet tar, yum. Beats sitting in car traffic gridlock during snow and nasty winter stuff.
I have 1.9" Kenda road slicks on mine and I felt like I had flat tires on last nights ride, lol!
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Old 12-08-16, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by GrooveRite View Post
I have 1.9" Kenda road slicks on mine and I felt like I had flat tires on last nights ride, lol!
The upside: in 6 months, when the snow & ice melts and you get back on summer tires, you feel super fast!
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Old 12-08-16, 10:39 AM
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Studded tires are heavy and slow but winter riding isn't about speed, it's about staying upright and getting to the next food & drink stop. I have Nokian Mount & Grounds in 26" and would recommend them for 26" mtn bikes. I also have Nokian 50mm wide W240s for my 29er. They're heavier and slower (size) but I like them more in snow. FWIW: It's hard work to ride in more than 3-4" of snow.
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Old 12-08-16, 11:08 AM
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Studded tire for sure. And fenders: without fenders lots of extra gunk get strewn across the bike.
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Old 12-08-16, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
Top Contact Winter, front & rear - AMAZINGLY good on most conditions, except smooth refreeze ice. No falls, but some 'clinch-up' moments on snow-covered ice - low rolling resistance, great tire for winter commuting. Short story about riding home in these tires: we had a wet snow falling on untreated frozen road. I hadn't needed to stop for a couple miles and noticed drivers were very cautious. But I didn't realize how slippery the roads were until I stopped for a red light, put a foot down; my foot slipped out and nearly fell. While on the bike, the tires allowed me to have no idea how greasy the roads had become.
I've heard good things about the continentals and would really like to give them a try, but I normally go down 2-3 times every winter even with the spikes so I have been reluctant to try studless winter tires. I ride a few "plowed" MUPs that get pretty rutted out and icy.
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Old 12-08-16, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I've heard good things about the continentals and would really like to give them a try, but I normally go down 2-3 times every winter even with the spikes so I have been reluctant to try studless winter tires. I ride a few "plowed" MUPs that get pretty rutted out and icy.
What bike and tires are you using? Psi? My 3 sets of nokians keep me upright on the commute. Off road? that is a whole nother story. I use the 26 x 1.95 nokian mount and grounds, the hakkapelitta 700 x 35 and the nokian extreme 29 x 2.1.
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Old 12-08-16, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I've heard good things about the continentals and would really like to give them a try, but I normally go down 2-3 times every winter even with the spikes so I have been reluctant to try studless winter tires. I ride a few "plowed" MUPs that get pretty rutted out and icy.
I have a good track record of taking unintended breaks, laying on the ice and snow... mostly on trails. I'm typically extra cautious on roads (with cars) and rarely gone down on roads. To your point, icy/rutted trails are a good reason front and rear studded tires. Ruts can grab the rear wheel and give you some pucker-up moments.
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