benmills Show full post »
Hey Zman - too me a while to get to this as its not gonna be short.  ;-)

I love winter riding – when it is below freezing.  No Mud!!!

Short answer: I have 3 pairs of studded tires, and I hate them. 

I love Schwalbe G-Ones in the winter (see below)

And, no there are no cheap studded tires – they are super expensive unless you get lucky with a closeout.  Those studs add a lot of cost.


But, here is all you need to know about buying studded tires


I use studded tires in the two conditions:

1) Fresh snow fall – I love riding in this and it makes a treck within a 1 mile radius of my home more beautiful than just about any ride I do.

2) When I am concerned about ice puddles.  Glare ice is a killer on a bicycle.  Usually from frozen puddles of water, they hide under snow and places where I can’t see it.  I go down fast and hard when I hit these, tearing up the bike and sometimes me. 

Flat frozen ice patches – even when hidden under snow – can be very dangerous.

For studded tires, I rather like my 160 studded tires (Nokian Mount & Ground W160).

I can high'ish psi in them and ride on rubber only – so the studs can’t slow me down too much.  Or, I can drop the tire down and ride on the studs.  These tires slide on ice, but are controllable.

I have the 295 (312) studded Nokian and they stick like glue.  I love riding these on frozen lakes.  I did an acceleration test on glare ice – under full torque I did a wheelie on ice!  Braking I can lift the rear wheel.  They can corner fairly hard and slide nicely.  But these are just overkill for anything other than riding on a frozen lake.

I also have the 240 stud version.  These don’t really have the benefit of the other two (in either direction) although they don’t slide like the 160’s do.  

The studded tires are heavy, stiff sidewalls, high rolling resistance.


I really love ridingon the Schwalbe G-One in the winter.  I can corner hard in freezing rain conditions.  In deep snow, they pack up with snow which gives them great snow traction (snow sticks better to itself than to rubber).  A lot of my riding is on frozen gravel – which is pretty rough (unlike summer when my gravel is typically smoother than asphalt).  Those little nubs provide good traction on rough ice – and a smooth ride too.  They are my goto winter tire.

Either way - Just stay off the rutted snow (unless you have a fat bike).  That stuff is just a nightmare.  I ride when the snow is fresh (preferably in an active blizzard) or when there has been rain and a refreeze (to wash away the old snow).  Snow keeps the bike a lot cleaner than mud!

Studded tires are nice for extreme weather and short distances (and frozen lakes).  For a fast riding longer distance frozen mud/dirt ride, I love the G-One.  Nice smooth and fast over frozen ground.

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Chas thanks a lot for that info. Think I won't be buying studded tires.

If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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FWIW I have the Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires and as others reported the studs are excellent on ice and of little to no value in deep snow.  Peter White Cycles has a lot of good advice.

The three key features IMHO:
1. Carbide tips: I wouldn't get studded tires without carbide tips as they will wear down quickly if used on pavement.
2. Number of studs: This is a tradeoff between speed and weight.
3. Tire tread: More space between lugs will work better in snow.  My Schwalbe Marathons are smooth so they roll nicely on dry pavement BUT they really suck if the snow is over 3 to 4 inches deep or is heavy.

Friends in Colorado who ride throughout the winter swear by fat bikes for trail riding in deep snow.  The only people using studs are those of us who don't want to go down on an icy trails but we're not using these as snow tires. They truly are designed/intended for ice.

For cheap(er) studded tires check Craigslist and other local on-line classifieds.  I picked up my tires from but there are other good sites offering discounts on studded tires (spiked tyres on some sites).  I've also seen used studded tires come into the bike co-op where I volunteer. If you have a co-op or similar you might keep an eye on what they have.

The Nokian tires get excellent reviews. The Extreme in a 26"x2.1" would be a much better snow tire than my Schwalbe as it has large wide spaced lugs.  The Extreme only seems to be available for 26" wheels.

The Nokian (now Suomi) Hakka (Hakkapelitta) SW240 looks like a good tire for a gravel bike but alas it's a bit rich for my blood at $85 (ish).


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I have Extreme 294's for my 29er, so they're definitely available in sizes other than 26".
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I kinda hate the 294 and the 240.  Heavy and slow.  Difficult to control on singletrack.  Work best in fresh virgin snow, but nothing that has been walked or ridden on.  They are a blast on virgin snow, but that is the ONLY time I will ride them.

Fat is the way to go, but that ONLY works in groomed snow, and works best on rough surfaces where normal tires don't work.  Realistically, most people ride them on a trail that a snowmobile has already gone down.  If you are not going down a groomed snowmobile trail - forget about it.

I can ride in deep snow with a 2" tire (294), but not on anything 3" or bigger.  Thinner tires cut through the snow - fatter tires are like pushing a snow shovel (until I grind to a stop).

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