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Studded Tires - Where Donít They Work?

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Studded Tires - Where Donít They Work?

Old 03-11-23, 06:23 AM
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Noonievut
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Studded Tires - Where Donít They Work?

I recently got a mountain bike and a friend said he uses some Schwalbe studded tires (not sure model or size) and rides all winter (Toronto area). He says they grip on ice better than traction devices people put on shoes. Heís said heís ridden on paths that have downhill turns and they grip awesome.

Iím not wanting to ride down roads or paths on sheets of ice, but the idea of getting in an extra 20 or so rides during the winter, when our roads have snow that has been packed down from cars or plows, and the paths in the area especially, as they get plowed and are far free, would be a big appeal for me to put on studded winter tires (next year). But if Iím riding around all tense for fear of falling, it wouldnít be for me. Iíve done fat biking (rented) and itís fun but if snow is too heavy, soft, itís not fun for me.

This photo of my street is from this morning. Snowed yesterday. Plows were out. A 20k ride in town would see this, a clear but possibly slick main road (early, no traffic), a bike path that is like the road but likely more icy). Itís a beautiful morning and Iím about to ride Zwift (sigh)



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Old 03-11-23, 07:11 AM
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where don't they work? well beach sand but sounds like that's not a consideration for you

studs on dry pavement are ok for short distances. but it depends on the tires. marathon winters are pretty good on pavement & I've used them for winter commuting on mixed surfaces including bare pavement. when the pavement is bare you pump up the pressure so you roll easier. when there is frozen snow/ice you lower the pressure to let more studs make contact. just a few lbs makes a difference

for more aggressive mtb style studded tires, they are awful on pavement, but they can withstand fresh powder over glare ice, which is rare, but dangerous (my personal nemesis)
non agressive studded tires can't handle that

these are better on that stuff


I guess (for your conditions) it makes sense to use the tires your friend uses. something like this it sounds like?

just stay off unmaintained forest roads that have had several thaw freeze cycles, built up a layer of glare ice, then got a fresh layer of power (kinda rare)

any tire won't be pleasant over hard frozen footprints

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Old 03-11-23, 07:30 AM
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add to the list, deep snow of any consistency, but doesn't sound like that's a concern for your area of cold commuting on plowed roads

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Old 03-11-23, 08:07 AM
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Thanks!

Iím definitely looking into these for next winter. Been riding a lot on clear roads lately and that should only improve, so Iíll wait for now.
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Old 03-11-23, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
Iím not wanting to ride down roads or paths on sheets of ice, but the idea of getting in an extra 20 or so rides during the winter, when our roads have snow that has been packed down from cars or plows, and the paths in the area especially, as they get plowed and are far free, would be a big appeal for me to put on studded winter tires (next year).

This photo of my street is from this morning. Snowed yesterday. Plows were out. A 20k ride in town would see this, a clear but possibly slick main road (early, no traffic), a bike path that is like the road but likely more icy). Itís a beautiful morning and Iím about to ride Zwift (sigh)


Looks like a pretty bread and butter surface. Myself and others might ride such a surface without studs, but with studs it is way safer, especially when there is traffic. Remember that riding under such conditions takes significantly more effort, so do not expect to cover the same distance during the same time as in good conditions. Also, the studs are not an absolute solution to stability. You still need to be very careful, as the studs just give a bit more room for dealing with the situation. Finally, the winter conditions stronger underscore the basic principle that, in riding, you should protect yourself, not the bike and not even defend the rule of not falling - if the fall of the bicycle is an optimal solution defending your own safety, you let the bike fall, while detaching yourself from the bike (remember the ladder, can of paint and yourself issue).
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Old 03-11-23, 10:26 AM
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It doesn't take much snow on top of ice before the studs no longer make contact with the ice. I found Marathon Winter tires really bad for that. The Ice Spikers I'm using now have much deeper lugs so it gives you extra margin.

I'd be more than happy to encounter the road in OPs picture, it might be slick to walk on or drive on but no problems with studded tires. Ice with that kind of texture has lots of places for studs to grab into, I wouldn't even slow down on that stuff. Its the smooth ice you have to watch out for, especially smooth clear ice.

One caveat being that riding on ice requires experience and technique. Even with studs you can't ride on it exactly as you would in the summer. You have to avoid any ridges parallel to direction of travel, avoid hitting ridges at a shallow angle, and stay out of deep icy ruts, any of those can make the front wheel slip out. Avoid riding on any ice with a sideways tilt, if you find yourself in that position you have to let yourself get pulled to the low side as fighting it will make the front wheel slip out. Its important to always be scanning the road and picking a good line and identifying obstacles. If you see an off camber section of icy road / path ahead you need to think of where gravity will pull you. If its a railing, wall or curb its best to stop before you get to it and just walk. Riding in rough spots requires so much focus I highly recommend having a mirror for winter riding, veering even a little to shoulder check can cause huge problems. You also have to ride without leaning the bike when turning, instead you keep the bike upright and shift your body weight off the center of the bike (it feels weird).

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Old 03-11-23, 11:15 AM
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A few more ideas, somewhat based on where I live.

I have a skinny tire road bike and clearly thatís for nicer days. And I have a FS 29er MTB. I ride the Mtb in the winter on roads when theyíre not ideal for the road bike, but I donít ride outside of it looks slippery.

I usually ride 4x a week, and the number of days I canít ride at all in the winter are maybe 20-25 (Number of times I rode Zwift).

I have a rail trail a 15 minute drive from home and with the right tires, I could ride there when roads not safe. Could get those frozen foot prints though (like photo above).

I donít want to buy a bike for just 20-25 rides...was hoping a set of the right tires and some fenders on the mtb would be good for most of what I want...
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Old 03-11-23, 05:12 PM
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The only place where studded tires won't work is very deep snow, no other tire will...Studded tires seem like a perfect solution to where you ride and live. Keep in mind that deeply rutted trails with footprints can be rideable but it's going to be a really slow hard bumpy ride.
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Old 03-12-23, 06:23 AM
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I ride studded tires all winter on suburban roads in Ottawa—one winter without them, falling on ice patches, was enough.
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Old 03-12-23, 08:05 AM
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I dread riding through slush. There's traction in deep snow as long as your winter tires have deep treads just like winter car tires have. Studs will grip on hard ice but if there's slush, both traction in snow or ice is gone and than layer prevents your tires from making full contact with either the pavement or dirt.
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Old 03-12-23, 03:09 PM
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An important item, after the tires under the winter conditions, are the shoes that should not slip. I became well aware of the issue after slipping and falling several times following uneventful rides while walking away from parked bikes. The shoes that firmly grip the surface are further needed more broadly when walking the bike or escaping unscathed from a falling bike. The Canadian site "Rate My Treads" rates the footwear in the market with regard to the slipping and there was a CBC Marketplace episode on this. The boots that provide a reasonable protection are those equipped with Vibram Arctic Grip soles, but there are other options, to be found there, developed by individual shoe manufacturers. Hush Puppies had some good models, but they seem now discontinued.
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Old 03-12-23, 10:22 PM
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Sometimes I don't slow down enough before putting a foot down on ice so I end up continuing to move forward with one foot sliding on the ground.
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Old 03-13-23, 05:52 AM
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Since starting the thread on Saturday morning (photo was from then), Iíve been out on two rides. Got me thinking of how those who ride where winter happens, but without studded tires, get by:

- check the weather forecast and plan around snow (in conjunction with below)
- if my small street is snow/ice covered, the main streets may be clear, which means some streets north of me in a less trafficked area (but ploughed well) may be clear, so put the bike in the car and drive the 5-10 minutes to where I know can ride for an hour or more on clear roads (I may even drive out to scout them before)
- if my street is good, I know I can ride from home for around 30 minutes before a few streets on my longer routes, which are usually the worst (blowing snow or shaded), can be checked out. When theyíre bad I turn around and sometimes ride the clear streets a couple times, or I get off the bike and walk the bad sections (I did this yesterday, rode about 29.5k and walked about 1/2k by getting off the bike around 5 times)
- I never ride over anything that looks dodgy when on my road bike (walk or turnaround, every time)
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Old 03-13-23, 06:11 PM
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Last week, I thought the conditions were good enough to go for a ride and check out how good the snow clearing was for a bike lane on a major road nearby.

Then on the way towards the park trail I encountered this wall of snow.

So I turned around and made a 7km detour.
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Old 03-14-23, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
Last week, I thought the conditions were good enough to go for a ride and check out how good the snow clearing was for a bike lane on a major road nearby.
Then on the way towards the park trail I encountered this wall of snow.
So I turned around and made a 7km detour.
nice
I see footprints up to what? a path?
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Old 03-14-23, 07:53 AM
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I run into this kind of situation in Ottawa all the time...at least I'm not in a wheelchair.
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Old 03-14-23, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
nice
I see footprints up to what? a path?
That other path ends at a gate into the complex on the left.
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Old 03-17-23, 07:21 AM
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I ride in the winter with Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pros in a 29x2.25 size. They have about 400 studs per tire and are exceptionally good in a variety of icy conditions. I ride mostly easy single-track, dirt roads, and bike paths near my home. Stud count is important. I tried tires with lower stud count than the Schwalbe and found them to be unsatisfactory.

As others have mentioned, the areas to be careful of are icy ruts and steep hills. Footprints frozen in ice are okay as long as you maintain momentum. Ride smoothly and avoid sudden changes of direction or grabbing the brakes too hard.

The other thing you need to consider are your shoes. If you put down your foot on glare ice, you are going to go down. There are some winter boots out there that allow you to add studs similar to what are in the tires. An easier solution is to buy socket hex-drive sheet metal screws and insert them into the soles of your boots. Just remember to take your boots off before you walk into your house.
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