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Tyres for cycling through snow

u33dbu33db Posts: 68
edited November 2012 in Commuting general
Hi,

I have been using my bike to commute to work for a few months this year and have equiped it with Contental Travelcontact tyres.

Now winter is coming i don't think slick tyres will really cut it so i'm wondering what you all use for cycling through snow/ice during the winter months?

Is it just a case of the knoblier the better?
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  • graeme_s-2graeme_s-2 Posts: 3,382
    My commute is all on the road, so I only really have to deal with slush, and the odd patch of ice. For that I have a set of Marathon Winters I put on my hybrid during the winter. You can ride over ice and compacted snow almost like you're on tarmac, they're great. If you were going to be riding in a lot of fresh snow then you'd want something knobblier I'd imagine.
  • u33dbu33db Posts: 68
    Thanks!

    I live near Aberdeen and i think we're going to get hit HARD by it this year.

    Seen these Continental Spike Claws which look pretty good;

    http://conti-tyres.co.uk/conticycle/ti%20SpikeClaw.shtml

    Still got to check prices...
  • graeme_s-2graeme_s-2 Posts: 3,382
    Don't wait until it's already snowy and icy to order them. They have a habit of selling out as soon as the weather takes a turn for the worse, and I think generally the tyre companies just do one production run of them for the winter.

    I ordered mine a couple of years back from an online bike shop in Germany (basically the German version of Wiggle/CRC).

    Spiked tyres in the snow are lots of fun though :)
  • u33dbu33db Posts: 68
    Thanks.

    I see they do 2 versions - a 120 spike version (with the spikes only around the shoulders) and a 240 spike version (spikes all over).

    What would you recommend if the commute is on roads that may be a mixture of snow/ice one and exposed tar on other days...i mean if i bought the 240 and used them on dry days would the spikes get damaged?
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,963
    The studs are harder than the tyre rubber. Don't worry about damaging the studs!

    Stick with 120 - the tyres are heavy as they are without more studs.

    As for the Continentals - those I believe have steel studs, the Schwalbes Tungsten Carbide irrc. Schwalbe and Nokian are normally the winter tyre of choice.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    after 26 inchers? I have a set that aren't much use to me down in London, schwalbe winter spikes I think.
  • CJ BillCJ Bill Posts: 415
    Graeme_S wrote:
    My commute is all on the road, so I only really have to deal with slush, and the odd patch of ice. For that I have a set of Marathon Winters I put on my hybrid during the winter. You can ride over ice and compacted snow almost like you're on tarmac, they're great. If you were going to be riding in a lot of fresh snow then you'd want something knobblier I'd imagine.
    +1
  • Marathon Winters shed studs quicker than Snow Studs as they are thinner.

    Go with them it they'll fit.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • I've used Conti snow studs (240 from memory) and found them excellent. Again from memory I think they recommend you ride them on tarmac for a period to bed the spikes in. You just have to remember to carry the bike instead of wheeling it through the house on your wife's newly laid timber floor.
  • CJ BillCJ Bill Posts: 415
    Marathon Winters shed studs quicker than Snow Studs as they are thinner.

    Go with them it they'll fit.
    Last years set of marathons shed two studs (and are still good for use this year!). You do have to break them in gently though.
  • fossyantfossyant Posts: 2,549
    Schwalbe Snow studs here on my MTB - bit slow on tarmac, but great off road generally (i.e. when no snow or ice) and work great in snow and ice. Not lost any studs in 3 winters. I tend to go on an off road commute when it's bad - avoids the numpties going too fast in cars on ice and snow.

    Schwalbe will send you replacement studs if you ask customer services - a few mates have done this when their new tyres lost studs.

    Order now though !
  • fossyant wrote:
    Schwalbe Snow studs here on my MTB - bit slow on tarmac, but great off road generally (i.e. when no snow or ice) and work great in snow and ice. Not lost any studs in 3 winters. I tend to go on an off road commute when it's bad - avoids the numpties going too fast in cars on ice and snow.

    Schwalbe will send you replacement studs if you ask customer services - a few mates have done this when their new tyres lost studs.

    Order now though !

    After three bad Winters bought a set of these last Summer, best insurance I've had against bad weather. They're still hanging in my garage unfitted. :)
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,963
    fossyant wrote:
    Schwalbe Snow studs here on my MTB - bit slow on tarmac, but great off road generally (i.e. when no snow or ice) and work great in snow and ice. Not lost any studs in 3 winters. I tend to go on an off road commute when it's bad - avoids the numpties going too fast in cars on ice and snow.

    Schwalbe will send you replacement studs if you ask customer services - a few mates have done this when their new tyres lost studs.

    Order now though !

    I got a generous envelope full of studs - can't actually get any of them back into the wretched tyre though can I?!!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    There are several plans for DIY studded tyres. I made some 2 winters ago and have used them over 2 four-week freeze-ups. They are as effective as proper winter tyres just not as durable, but mine have plenty of life left in them When the screws wear down you just put a new one in.
    You need to pick the tyre with care, something with knobbles big enough to accept a small panhead screw.
    A Dremel is essential to cut the screw tips down to size.
    Total cost was <£20 and 4hrs work.
  • jejvjejv Posts: 566
    Marathon winter is more an ice tyre than a snow tyre. The tread blocks aren't very deep. Nokian W240 has a deeper tread, much better in snow. Then there's stuff like Nokian WXC and Schwalbe Ice spiker - which seems more a snow tyre, despite it's name. Haven't tried them.
    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp

    If ease of ordering and cost aren't problems, and you're concerned about snow, not just ice, I think W240's are a safer choice than the winters.

    Tool for replacing studs:
    http://www.bike-components.de/products/ ... ikes-.html
    [They also sell nokian studs]
    I haven't tried/bothered replacing the odd missing stud. Monkey wrench might work.

    About replacement studs:
    http://thegoldenwrench.blogspot.co.uk/2 ... tires.html

    I have an idea that compatible carbide studs are also used in some footwear. Ah Yes:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nokian-Footwear ... B005JPLHMG
  • fossyantfossyant Posts: 2,549
    Oh and a quick warning. When storing said spikey tyres (or when fitted on the bike), make sure they are not hanging above or near one of your shiney bikes - the studs cut through paint like butter. I know this as I moved the spike equipped bike too near my car bumper, and it cut into the plastic and paint without any pressure !!
  • fossyantfossyant Posts: 2,549
    Oh and another thing, if anyone asks at work how you got in on a bike in the ice... spreads like wild fire. "What you've bought special tyres for the ice" - "yup metal studded ones". "Wow, never knew that !" - comes a bit of a talking point each winter.
  • Next Top tip is to get then ordered now. Don't wait until snow shows up I will the long range forecast and order the wrong size like I did one year. Didn't get them until it had pretty much thawed out.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • Here's last year's thread on Marathon Winters including the low-down on stud loss (which is a short term issue based on my own and other peoples' experience) and everything else you need to know.

    I was disappointed with the mild winter last year (only from the point of view of subzero road riding) and hope for a bit of ice this winter so I can get The Icebike back out.

    viewtopic.php?f=40052&t=12814947&hilit=marathon+winter
  • I've shelled out for a set for the CX wheels for my cross bike, it will probably be the mildest winter on record knowing my luck.
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  • DrLexDrLex Posts: 2,142
    Big_Paul wrote:
    I've shelled out for a set for the CX wheels for my cross bike, it will probably be the mildest winter on record knowing my luck.

    Worked for me when I bought a set of Marathon winters last Autumn; cold & dry or wet & mild. Did one commute to test - 12 miles total. Blooming hard work - each tyre is around a kilo!
    Location: ciderspace
  • Big_PaulBig_Paul Posts: 277
    DrLex wrote:
    Big_Paul wrote:
    I've shelled out for a set for the CX wheels for my cross bike, it will probably be the mildest winter on record knowing my luck.

    Worked for me when I bought a set of Marathon winters last Autumn; cold & dry or wet & mild. Did one commute to test - 12 miles total. Blooming hard work - each tyre is around a kilo!

    Put them on, pumped them to max pressure, then headed out to run them in a bit as recommended, round the local park.

    Bloody horrible things, make an ungodly racket, scare the hell out of the local wildlife and feel very draggy compared to even the CX tyre I had on. Did 10 miles then called it a day, going to do another 10 later then get the road wheels back in until the frost comes, which may not be too long, methinks.
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  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    The first time you feel them catch on the ice and stop you going over you'll forgive the noise and weight.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • Big_PaulBig_Paul Posts: 277
    Right, full 25 miles done, minus 2 studs on the back, 4 on the front, emailed schwalbe, no response yet, although, we have a selection of clutch rivets in work and a lathe, so I can probably knock something up over a lunchtime to replace them. Half looking forward to the icy weather now.
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  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    Wow, that's pretty bad. My Snow Studs did a few hundred miles last year and haven't lost one. did you go easy on the braking and aacceleration during the bedding in 75 miles?
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • Big_PaulBig_Paul Posts: 277
    Wow, that's pretty bad. My Snow Studs did a few hundred miles last year and haven't lost one. did you go easy on the braking and aacceleration during the bedding in 75 miles?

    25 miles according to the label, and yes I deliberately chose the park because it's a near exact mile lap with no hills and I don't think I touched the brakes once, as I was in it just after it opened a 7am and just before it closed at 6.30pm, smooth tarmac too. :? I just gently trundled around! :)
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  • Big_Paul wrote:
    Wow, that's pretty bad. My Snow Studs did a few hundred miles last year and haven't lost one. did you go easy on the braking and aacceleration during the bedding in 75 miles?

    25 miles according to the label, and yes I deliberately chose the park because it's a near exact mile lap with no hills and I don't think I touched the brakes once, as I was in it just after it opened a 7am and just before it closed at 6.30pm, smooth tarmac too. :? I just gently trundled around! :)

    Don't worry, the stud loss will reduce and eventually you'll lose no more. It's normal to lose a few in the early stage - see the thread from last year that I posted a link to, above.

    Schwalbe are very good, they sent me about 15 studs after I emailed them.

    It's a whole wonderful new world, cycling safely on sheet ice/black ice, bring it on!
  • Big_PaulBig_Paul Posts: 277
    Schwalbe have emailed me back, they're sending me some replacements, I don't have a long commute, but about half of it is on tarmac towpaths that are mostly ungritted, come to think of it, every winter the NI road folk are caught on the hop and at the first night of frost, there's vehicles in hedges everywhere, they only grit the main routes.
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  • I live in Southern Finland and there tends to be snow around at least from December to March, sometimes longer, and it is the law that cars must have winter tyres on for about that time too. I use Schwalbe Winter Marathons too and have found them very good - they're not as puncture resistant as Marathon Pluses though (which have never punctured in tens of thousands of kms whilst I got a snakebite puncture with the Winters once). I don't think I've lost any spikes in mine, although I haven't looked too closely, but I must have done a couple of thousand kms on them by now.

    I think what people should realise is the big difference between riding on snow and on ice. The Winter Marathons are great for riding on ice be that the occasional sheet ice in the spring from daytime melt/nighttime freeze (think riding on an ice rink), and the much more normal icy road/cycle path where the snow ploughs have done their job. If there is just a few cms of fresh snow it's fine as the tire cuts down to the hard surface underneath, but any more than that and the studs can't grip and they are no better than any other tyre of that size. If you want to ride off track in snow where its to deep for your tyre to reach whatever is underneath you need a fat bike! see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OtPoDOk ... ure=relmfu

    Studded tyres are slow and draggy - even 'fast' ones like the Marathons. I leave it to the last possible moment to change mine at the start of winter, and swap them back as soon as possible in the spring. Having lived in Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and rural Worcestershire, I don't think I could see any point to having them in any of those places. It seems to me when it snows in the UK we often get 20 cms + overnight and then if you really have to ride, a fat knobbly MTB tyre will probably work as well as anything. Don't go getting winter tyres thinking that they will make it "easy" to ride in fresh and in the UK normally quite damp, heavy snow. They don't. I guess for some frosty mornings, or mornings when the snow is starting to clear but isn't fully yet, where you are riding in busy traffic and are worried about slipping on frost or black ice it would be reassuring but I'm not sure if the cost/negatives balance that out. I guess if you have to ride everyday, then they would be nice to have (all the Schwalbe's are a massive fight to get on to my rims!), but I might just look for alternatives to cycling on the odd snowy snap in much of the UK.

    I'm quite lucky that I can do my commute (23 kms into Helsinki) mainly on cycle paths away from traffic. But I'm happy to risk the odd spill (and it does happen! http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/20 ... rt-ii.html ) rather than put the winter tyres on that make my commute longer and harder work (according to this old blog post, it seems I go an average of 4kmph slower on them http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/20 ... again.html ).

    Hope some of these ramblings helps.
  • In reply to the OP it is lovely to have a spare set of wheels with studded tyres for winter mornings. I am outside Glasgow and in the winters of 9/10 and 10/11 we had several weeks of lying snow and ice with sub zero temperatures. Too icy for mtbs. Nokian 240s cut through fresh snow and took me on roads untouched by traffic. Lighter Schwalbes with 120 studs were good for busier roads with risk of ice. Both were excellent on snow and ice but not fun on dry roads. It is also not practical to change tyres every day according to the weather.

    So if you have the money, and think that winter might be hard, then buy a set of cheapo wheels, a cassette and a pair of Nokian haakapelitta 240s and keep them in the garage for fun. You will be the only thing on the road.

    Alan
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