Studded Tires -- Question for Experienced Users
This year, I'm going to attempt to become an all weather commuter by installing studded tires on my underutilized mountain bike. I normally commute on a road bike, but even the narrowest studded tires won't fit on it.
So, for those of you who have done this before, do you install the studded tires on your winter commuter and leave them there for the season? Do you swap tires as conditions merit? Get another set of wheels to make the process faster?
If the trails are snow and ice free, I can ride my road bike. My mountain bike wouldn't get much use over the winter except for snowy and icy commutes, so I'm thinking I can get by with leaving the studded tires on for the season.
What do you all think? Thanks in advance.
I tend to leave them on the bike most of the winter. Last year I switched tires 4 times over the course of the whole winter. There were many rides where I had studded tires on the bike, but only encountered small patches of ice that could have been easily steered around or just ridden over. I haven't found that it wears the tires out particularly much. I use the Nokian Hakkapelita 700x40c (240 studs) tires on the cross bike or Nokian 294 Extreme (They make a 26" version) on the mountain bike if it is really nasty.
Like you, if it is truly clear, I just ride a different bike rather than change the tires.
Riding the studded tires on ice is interesting. The traction is amazing... I'd say that it is on-par with the feeling of riding on gravel with normal tires... maybe a little better than that. There's some moving around and if you really try to lean hard into a turn, you'll slide, but in general you're gonna stay upright.
Riding studded tires on dry pavement is also interesting. The studs actually will slip on pavement a little if you corner really hard. You've got to lean into it much harder than you ever would for a normal commute in order for them to break loose. I wouldn't say they're scary at all on pavement. The really cool thing is the sound they make. There's no way to describe the clacking, rumbling noise that studded tires make unless you hear them for yourself.
If I don't know what the conditions are for the day, I tend to run the studded tires.
Definitely play with them in the snow and ice a time or two before you do your first commute. I suggest that with every major equipment change... you don't want to be unsure of things when you have to arrive at point B at a specific time.
Last winter was my first with studded tires, and I just put them on and left them on. My commute is short, and my rides around home, for errands and such, are short. I took the studded tires off in early spring because I was going to go on a long recreational ride. At that point there was still a chance there would be another snowfall, but I figured if I had to put the studs back on, it would be no big deal. I didn't have to.
I like to keep the bike ready to go and not try to guess what the weather is going to do every day. It sounds like this approach might be good for you, since you have another bike.
One more quick thing... ('cause you know I can't be that concise in a response).
Studs do NOTHING in loose snow. That's where the tread pattern of the more aggressive snow tires come in. Both the Hakkapelita and Extreme series are designed to work with snow and ice. Some tires have minimal tread and studs added. Those are AWESOME on hardpack snow and ice, but can spin in loose snow.
I haven't ridden the other snow/ice tire offerings in the last 5 years... I kinda felt like once I'd tried the Nokians, that I'd reached the pinnacle. Innova, Continental, Kenda, Schwalbe and others make very, very good snow/ice tires. Many are quite a bit less expensive than the Hakkapelita or Extreme tires. I can post somewhat enlightened opinions on their quality and characteristics, but I can't speak from having ridden them. A friend just got some Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires... Jabberwocky will definitely talk about those when he gets a chance to play with them a bit.
I have multiple bikes, so I leave the studs on one of them all winter long. Riding the studs on clear pavement doesn't seem to wear them much, but they are considerably slower.
I've been using the Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires (a 26X1.75 on one bike and 700X35 on another) for three years now. These do not have deep knobby tread and as Dirt mentions they're only ok in loose snow/slush conditions. If I had it to do over again (and I'm sure I will at some point), I think I'd go with Nokian Hakkapeliitta W106 which has slightly deeper treads. One thing I do like better about the Schwalbes is the refective sidewall strip since I ride after dark a lot. The first winter I had a spare set of wheels from another bike and I would switch them. Then I got a new commuter bike with different size wheels and have just pretty much left the studded tires on from the first sign of ice until sometime in March. Also, take a look at the Peter White discussion of studded tires.
I built my custom MTB for the sole purpose of snow commuting. When the white falls, I've already got it sitting in the garage on Innova Tundrawolf studs ready to go. I leave them on until spring when I swap back to mud tires and find other ways to break stuff on the bike. :-)
The Innovas do great in slushy snow if you air them down a little. The studs buzz on dry pavement at 60 psi, it's kinda funny.
WEAR GLOVES WHEN YOU MOUNT THEM... AND JEANS...
Many cuts have been had.
Another reason to leave them on: I felt better with the studded tires on cold days, even when the roads were pretty clear. You get icy patches from snowmelt, water main breaks, problems with household plumbing, construction work, etc. You don't know what you're going to find. There were very few days last winter that I needed the studded tires at all, but having them gave me more confidence to take the bike out.
Last edited by Joe Chapline; 11-10-2011 at 05:36 PM.
Reason: very few days, not just a simple minority of days
hmm. I think I know where the REI gift card I have is going to be spent now. My boss gives these things to me and then tells me not to buy anything crazy. I'm sure my next one will be to Macy's instead.
I wonder if it would be beneficial to just buy one spare wheel so I can just quickly swap the front wheel in a matter of seconds. The back is more of a PITA to switch so I would be much less motivated to swap it out based on the weather.
Which do you think is better in snow/slush, the Hakkalakadakawhatever or the Extreme?
Last edited by MCL1981; 11-10-2011 at 08:44 PM.
I leave them on for the season. In your situation, given that you rarely ride the MTB, I'd be even more inclined to do so.
Originally Posted by eminva