Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Studded Bicycle Tires

I wish I could get in touch with Al Gore and have him direct some of that global warming to my neighborhood right now but I understand that he's a busy man and it's a complex issue. While my friends and family back in the midwest are having warm temps with rain, there's an inch of ice on the roads in Issaquah and the temperatures are rather nippy. I took the very crowded bus to work today.

Peter Jon White has the answer: fat studded bicycle tires. He's got a wonderfully grumpy and informative page here:

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp

and it really makes me want to send him $104 dollars (plus shipping) for a set of Schwalbe Snow Stud tires. "The perfect tire if you want one tire to do everything." That Peter knows how to write ad copy that hits me right in the "reach for wallet" reflex.

But then I think "hey, it never really ices up here and by the time I get the tires, this freak cold snap will be gone and I'll be back to normal riding." This sounded like a rational, save your money argument until I talked to my pal Ken who pointed out "if you have tires like that, you'll seek out the snow." Damn, he's right. We've got all those mountain passes around here and every winter I sulk in the low valleys, waiting for spring. These tires mean more adventures. More stories for the blog...

Back in my big buck software industry days, I'd already have those tires Fed Exing their way here. Now, in my non-profit professional bike advocate days, I ponder my purchases a bit more.

Hmm...

15 comments:

Bone said...

I've been running the same pair of Nokian Hakkapeliittas for 3 winters now, and the studs don't even show any wear yet.

They make a hell of a noise on the pavement, but every once in a while, they fall silent. That's how you know you're riding over ice.

I definitely feel that I got my $100 worth out of them. They do tend to make you feel indestructible, so be careful about that :-)

Richard said...

Personally, I went the cheap way and had a pair of Innova 700x35 studded tires shipped to me from BikeTiresDirect because I rationalized that I rarely see much snow and ice in Seattle proper, and didn't need to invest in the highest quality tires out there. If I loose a few studs a year it won't matter. The studs may rust but from what I understand that doesn't affect their performance. Bike Tires Direct is a portland company with fast shipping. I like Peter White, but I can't really justify $100 for tires that might get used 2-3 days a year.

Kent Peterson said...

OK, I did enough pondering and I ordered the Schwalbes from Peter White. Now according to everything I've learned about the universe, things will warm up and we will have no ice in the Seattle area for the rest of the winter! But on the off-chance that the ice stays or we get more of it, I'm ready. And I am going to be headed out for the mountain passes to give these tires a real test.

Jim said...

Let us know how you like these. I have them at my store, but have been reluctant to push them on my customers. They seem very nice, and Schwalbe's reputation is excellent. But the Nokians are the gold standard, and I have been steering people in that direction (same price).

Jim G said...

Kent, I half-expected to read that you'd attempted to make tire studs out of coroplast... ;)

Tim said...

Although I use and recommend Nokian tires here in Alaska, the Schwalbe model will do you fine and hold up well.

I have to disagree with Richard, though, about the cheaper Innova brand. I have owned their studded tires and know other riders who have had the same problem I experienced: Even limited exposure to dry pavement quickly grinds the cheaper studs down to a profile that makes them ineffective on ice.

Because most winter riders move between pavement and ice regularly, the Innova tires aren't worth the savings, and the price difference is far less than a trip to the emergency room.

blackbeard said...

i bought a Schwalbe snow stud last year when my home-made studded tire began to discentigrate & mounted in on front. Here in Omaha, NE, i find i can get thru most of the winters w/out needing to to put a studded tire on the back wheel. Last week i bought one of the Nashbar studded tires for ~$28. At ~990g, the nashbar tire (actually made by Kenda), is a little heavier than the Schwalbe, but it seems to be of decent quality.

Me said...

Rode/Have/Own a pair of those Schwalbe studded tires, actually they sent me a pair of them when they were in their prototype stage 2 years ago [the ones that just became available at Interbike this year]... they are excellent, hold up well, and eat deep snow and ice like a pissed off, yellow-snow eating Yeti.

2 Thumbs Up... you'll dig them Kent.

Peace & Blessings-

-Me

Michael R said...

Now I'll have to mount up the studded tires I have.

steve said...

I've run a pair of Snow Studs for commuting here in Nova Scotia for the past couple of years, and they've held out pretty well. What I've noticed is that it's not the studs that wear out so quickly, but the knobs on the centre of the tyres. Unsurprisingly it's the rear tyre that's seen most of the wear, I could probably get away with putting last year's front tyre on the rear and just buying a new front tyre but I figured it would be safer in the long run to buy a new set.

Of course, after buying the set at the start of a cold spell we're now seeing record high temperatures of around 16C in Halifax (21C in Ingonish a couple of weeks ago) so I've yet to put the tyres on!

David said...

Wish I had some this morning...went down on some ice this morning on the boardwalk across Mercer Slough and decided to grab the bus on into Seattle. Be careful!

Fritz said...

After a couple of decades of all-year cycling (including bike commuting through snowstorms), I finally got a studded tire a couple of years ago to mount on the front of my mountain. It helps me corner a little more confidently, but I don't consider it a "gotta have" item.

Tom said...

After commuting daily all winter for the last few years and riding over lots of ice, it finally happened. A local paved bike path wrecked the drainage and now water backs up and freezes. The snowy path was gorgeous, what a great ride....then.....deep, black and looking like glass all the way across the path just past a curve. Saw the front wheel go sideways. No broken bones but bad bad sprain, two weeks later painfully walking, sitting is bad and biking again is a ways off. Crap. Will be picking up some studded tires real soon.

Anonymous said...

I tried a set of Kenda Klondike tires. They lasted me about 1 1/2 winters in suburban St. Paul, MN., probably no more than 1,000 miles. Sure, I ride mostly on pavement, the tires are insurance against ice patches, but I have a pair of Nokians that dont fit my current rims that I used for considerably longer and still have lots of miles left on them. I dont like it when your ice tires slide on the ice!

cvkim said...

I bought a pair of Nashbar studded 26" snow tires 3 years ago for commuting to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Rode them a little the first year throughout the winter and loved them. Didn't ride them at all the second year. Rode them almost every day last winter, on ice, in slush, and in snow. They were amazing except in 3-4 inch loosely packed snow. No problems with studs coming off or wearing out.