Winter commuting: Which studded winter tires?

Adding screws to your tires might not be the best idea | Photo by Anthony DeLorenzo

Since I managed to mangle my wheels yesteday, I’ll have to take them to be trued and while I’m at it, I’m going to put studded tires on them. We all rode bikes to school and everywhere when we were kids, even during the winter and it was awesome. Sliding and throwing your tail as much as you could, polishing the ice to be even more slippery. But then we weren’t in a hurry and we didn’t fear death.

In this post I’ll paraphrase an excellent, almost Sheldon Brown quality post from Peter White cycles.

When deciding on your winter tires, it’s all about the environment you ride in:

  1. Riding in the bush, singletracks, forests and harder environment
  2. Riding on dirt or gravel roads and paths that may or may not be plowed, and
  3. Plowed roads

If you want to go deeper into the details, read the post linked above. But there are three main types of tires for those three environments:

Schwalbe's Marathon Winter's are good all-rounders
  1. Lots (closer to 300) of large studs or spikes all around, big knobs, massive blocks and all in all, very aggressive profiling to carry you through. Go with models like Nokian Extreme 294, 700c Extreme 294, Schwalbe Ice Spiker or Ice Spiker Pro.
  2. Less studs, something around 200 and a less aggressive profile. These tires have elements from both ends, smaller rolling resistance, studs on the sides to allow you to climb from a hole and elements to keep you up in most commuting circumstances. Go with models like Nokian W240, Nokian Mount & Ground (M&G), and Schwalbe Marathon Winter.
  3. If you’re a urban commuter who wants to ride all-around the year and ride mostly on plowed roads, you’ll want more safety than ultimate performance. A smaller number of studs (like a 100ish) which are more on the center of the tire instead of the sides, they keep you running but don’t expect any miracles during your performance of Disney on Ice. Go with models such as Nokian W106 or Nokian A10.

There you go! Winter tires in general cost quite a bit (50 to 100 euros PER TIRE), but they do last quite a long time as well. Modern winter tires have carbide studs, so you don’t have to worry about wearing them out, the tire itself will break before that. You can keep them on during the whole winter, because that’s what safety is all about.

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By Markus Sandelin

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.