Author Topic: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days  (Read 570 times)

steve216c

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Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« on: December 11, 2020, 01:43:58 PM »
Last year I crashed my bike and broke my ribs. That was on wet leaves and on cobblestones. Around 8 weeks later I was back on the bike and riding back from physio for the ribs and came a cropper on a frosty bike path.

Berlin doesn't get much snow but is often frosty in the morning, particular the bike paths. Blitzeis (rain freezing on ground contact) happens occasionally but hard overnight frosts can make for visible and black ice conditions- and my commute requires crossing bridges where this is a given many mornings. The Germans talk about winter tyres for cars from O (October) to O (Ostern=Easter), and our winters do drag quite a bit longer than those back in the home counties where I originally hail from.

I don't want to constantly change tyres, so would plan to leave them on until spring sets in- but commute roundtrip is around 20 miles a day. I don't want riding on spikes to be a chore. I ride Marathon Plus usually. I'd be less inclined to cycle if snow is laying- so not so worried about snow performance. 

But would they make a difference if just for frosty conditions I mentioned???

RoseBikes have some Schwalbe Winter Active spikes at a very tempting EUR price (UK price GBP21).

Any suggestions gratefully received :)

Steve
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kwkirby01

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2020, 02:04:22 PM »
I spent a couple of years commuting with winter tyres, and although slower, I did feel much safer in frosty weather.
The Schwalbe tyres I used had off-centre spikes to arrest a slip, so that for most riding the spikes were not used.
This seemed a pretty good compromise to me. Hope this helps.
Kevin K. Glasgow

steve216c

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2020, 04:15:47 PM »
I spent a couple of years commuting with winter tyres, and although slower, I did feel much safer in frosty weather.
The Schwalbe tyres I used had off-centre spikes to arrest a slip, so that for most riding the spikes were not used.
This seemed a pretty good compromise to me. Hope this helps.

Are they much slower than Schwalbe Marathon tyres? Is it really noticable?
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kwkirby01

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2020, 05:02:04 PM »
The tyres are heavier and definitely more sluggish, but I didn't ever time myself so can't say how much slower.
The reduction in speed did not put me off commuting to work so it couldn't have been that much slower.
Kevin K. Glasgow

julk

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2020, 06:55:22 PM »
The Schwalbe studded winter tyres have made riding in icy or frosty surfaces possible for me.
You can steer and brake with some confidence that you will not come off.
It is a bit like riding normally on a wet road - a bit more care needed.

They were useless in snow or rutted ice, maybe the longer spiked tyres would have worked for me there.
Julian.

martinf

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2020, 07:30:10 PM »
I use Nokian (now called Suomi) Hakkapeliitta w 240 tyres in the 26" x 1.9 size for icy conditions. AFAIK the 240 in the designation is the number of studs. I found these tyres excellent for grip on black ice, which, although rare, is the main ice hasard here in southern Brittany. "Blitzeis" is even rarer here, the tyres worked OK the one time I tried riding on that, but it was very difficult not to slip when putting a foot down. Snow isn't very common here either, the few times I have ridden on that the Hakkapeliitta tyres coped very well with light snow and rutted frozen snow, but tended to clog on moderate depths of fresh snow.

For commuting they were definitely slower than my summer tyres (Marathon Supremes) but significantly faster than my dedicated off-road tyres (Hutchinson On The Rocks, a lightweight knobbly tyre with Kevlar bead). About 23.5 km/h on the Supremes, 22 km/h on the Hakkapeliittas and 19.5 km/h on the Hutchinson On The Rocks.

I didn't notice much difference in speed between the Hakkapeliitta tyres on my 26" bike and the "ordinary" 2005 model Marathon tyres on the 650B bike I used for commuting on winter days with no ice risk. Current model Marathons probably have better rolling resistance than the 2005 model.

One big difference is that the studded tyres are noisy, the studs make a high-pitched crackling sound and the blocky nature of the tread means these tyres hum like other off-road tyres when riding fast on tarmac. 

Typically, there would be ice or icy patches on the morning commute, but no ice in the evening. The studs on the Hakkapeliitta tyres are tipped with tungsten carbide, so were more hard-wearing than the alternatives available when I bought them more than ten years ago.

There is information on various Suomi and Schwalbe studded tyres here:
https://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.php

I am very wary when riding on ice here, even with studded tyres. When it gets slippery, the cars tend to slide about as very few are equipped with suitable tyres, and not many drivers know how to drive on snow and ice. That aspect might be less of a problem in places that usually experience icy conditions.

PH

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2020, 10:42:52 AM »
My folder is currently shod in Marathon winter studded.  If possible I won't use them at all, but if I really have to ride when it's likely to be icy I'll use it with extreme caution.  I used to have a MTB with studs just for those occasions, but didn't want to keep a bike just for that and had no other use for it.  They don't guarantee you'll stay upright, they just give you a better chance.  I used to laugh at falling over, the older I get the more it hurts and the longer to recover, so I try not to take too many chances.

steve216c

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2020, 07:03:04 PM »
I got my Schwalbe Winter studded tyres ‘for Christmas’ and fitted them today. Took a 20km ride with my teenage son to begin to bed the studs in. We have had 2 snow showers in past 48 hours but at just above freezing nothing settled. But 14 day forecast will see sub-zero temperatures overnight so fros and ice more likely as we move into 2021.

My first impressions over my usual Marathon plus tyres is that they are loud like my MTB used to before I discovered slicks. My ride saw me on smooth asphalt, small cobblestone paving and some concrete cast roads as well as paving slabs used on shared pavement/bike way.

Noise was bearable. Depending on surface it varies from wood fire crackling noise through deep fat frying noise or even the sound of riding over gravel. But not so loud that It disturbed.

Will try another 20km to finish bedding the spikes in tomorrow.
I’d thought about mounting them on my 28” derailleur bike so I could pick a steed each morning depending on weather. But given that derailleur sucks when snow is falling I reckoned the Rohloff is the right decision and not so sluggish that I won’t manage the 2x10mile commute if I don’t home office after Christmas holiday is over.

To compare, It did feel a little more sluggish at 5 bar vice the 6 of my Marathons, but ride time on 20km was only a minute longer than I’d have expected.
As for handling, no hard braking or cornering for first 40km so I took it easy. But if they allow me to ride through the winter staying upright then I think I’ll be happy to ‘suffer’ them.
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steve216c

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2021, 09:48:25 AM »
I'm back on my daily commute since last week- shod with the Schwalbe Winter tyres previously mentioned. These are the 120 stud tyres and not the 240 stud version.

Tyres are already over 200km used, so I passed the 'wearing in' phase- and all studs are still in place.

The weather in the last days would have likely put me off riding after my broken rib experience 15 months ago, but I have to say that these winter tyres do seem to be pretty effective for the conditions I have experienced so far.

My 16km commute involves a number of different surfaces/conditions and prior to winter tyres I had an approx 10% longer winter commuting route to avoid some of the more challenging conditions. But I've managed to keep to my preferred regular route made possible by these tyres. A win of around 10 minutes each way back to my life  ;D

My route involves around 3km on smooth tarmac bike paths (can prove slipperiest conditions on my route) and 3km bike paths with paving slabs and occasional cobble stones. About 6km is on the road with the regular traffic- with 4km on tarmac and 2km on concrete surfaces. 4km is a shortcut through the woods on compacted permeable surface with lose gravel on top for the most part. In the winter or on wetter days this can get muddy and slippery in places enough to make it unrideable on my 42-622 regular Schwalbe Marathons road tyres forcing a 10 minute detour on some busier roads to stay upright.

Since mounting the Schwalbe Winter tyres I have ridden in freezing, icy, frosty, snowy and wet conditions (all in the last 7 days!) on my shorter forest commute route.
The tarmac bike paths still prove the slipperiest. The tyres hold well, but where I have had to stop for traffic lights I need to be careful not to slip when I put my feet on the ground!
The tarmac and concrete road surfaces tend to be less slippery as they are treated by local council, and these are mostly perfectly rideable. Where ice has formed on puddles, these have been approached with caution, but the spike have proven their worth in not slipping even then. The cobble stones (often on crossing with major roads in Berlin) are more of a challenge. The winter tyres/spikes do provide better road holding, but I am still cautious as there still seems to be less grip than on the other surfaces.

As for the forest. This was my no-go when wet or in snow on old tyres. But on icy mornings where the ground has been hard, this part of route was not just rideable, but even fun! On a clearing where 4 paths meet, it was often too slippery to ride, but the spikes kept me up when I saw an MTB with offroad tyres struggling last week. And for the homebound commute, where surfaces were muddy and previously unrideable for my 28" road tyres, I could navigate that stretch without having to slow too much or get off and walk. A huge win for me, especially when I overtook some younger adults pushing their MTBs on same stretch  :o

Worth it? For me, yes. I haven't had deep snow (1cm max which melted same day) but the 120 spike tyres have given me the confidence to keep riding through the winter. If you live in an area with more snow, then knobbly MTB style with more spikes might be more appropriate, but for city/town slickers who are mostly on road, these 120 spike Marathon Winter get a big thumbs up from me. My commute is slightly more sluggish due to tyres, but only a couple of minutes longer on 16km vs same route on Marathon Plus. But still quicker than my bad weather route!

I have no experience of other brands of spikes. But German bike magazines rated the Nokian and Continental spikes slightly better. However the price point of the Schwalbe (approx GBP 20 a tyre) effectively gave me 3rd best performer at half the price of the competition. And they are really pretty good for my needs!

Although  I haven't lost any spike yet, I combined my tyre order with a bag of spare spikes and the tool needed to fit them for approx a fiver more. If I had to order those separately at a later date, the postage would have cost about the same as the extra spikes! I ordered from bike24.com who deliver to most countries if you cannot find locally.

Stay safe (and upright) in 2021  ::)
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energyman

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2021, 10:02:00 AM »
My dear wife has hidden my bike shed key untill the weather gets better.... nuff said.

PH

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2021, 09:36:49 PM »
My shiny studs are still to see action, there's only been three days when they'd have been needed and they've coincided with not needing to be anywhere.  I'd be quite happy to never need them, but there's a long way to go before I swap them back.

steve216c

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2021, 10:19:57 AM »

As for the forest. This was my no-go when wet or in snow on old tyres. But on icy mornings where the ground has been hard, this part of route was not just rideable, but even fun! On a clearing where 4 paths meet, it was often too slippery to ride, but the spikes kept me up when I saw an MTB with offroad tyres struggling last week. And for the homebound commute, where surfaces were muddy and previously unrideable for my 28" road tyres, I could navigate that stretch without having to slow too much or get off and walk. A huge win for me, especially when I overtook some younger adults pushing their MTBs on same stretch  :o


Had my first noticeable slight slide/loss of grip in the forest on my commute to work with the spikes this morning. There was a lot of wet snow during the night and much of this had made the muddy stretches of my route even wetter and more muddy. I hit the mud on a downward incline at about 20km/h trusting in the spikes to keep me stable, but as the path started to climb I could feel the pull of the bike wanting to go another direction from where I was pointed. I was able to maintain enough traction, but I can say I have pushed to the limit of what I can expect these tyres to manage without quite losing control.
We are expecting  sub-zero conditions overnight the coming days which should at least freeze the mud and make it rideable with the spikes. Otherwise I think I am going to have to be a little more cautious riding on sodden ground despite my initial euphoria.
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brummie

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2021, 01:47:26 PM »
I favour Continental Contact Winters for winter riding - Fine for most wintery conditions, BUT when ice is present Schwalbe Marathon Winter tyres keep me upright.
 

mickeg

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Re: Are winter tyres/spikes worth it for riding on frosty days
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2021, 01:26:07 AM »
I find that studs are very slow, I avoid using them if I think they are unnecessary.

My Nomad Mk II gets studs front and rear in winter.   I do not regularly run studs on my Lynskey, occasionally use that in winter too.

With studded tires, if there is very little ice, I run higher pressure, the studs are off to the side of the tire slightly and that seems to lift the studs off the pavement a bit.  But if conditions are quite icy or there is much snow, then I may run lower pressure so that the tire patch is wider, the studs seem to grip better.  If the snow is deeper than one or two cm, the snow can prevent the studs from contacting any underlying ice in which case you have to be careful. 

When I am not using studded tires, for my front tire I usually set pressure at about 65 to 75 percent of the pressure in my rear tire.  But if I have studs on, I might run the front at an even lower pressure to try to make sure that the studs can grip the ice better.

I have talked to commuters that did not want to pay the high cost of two studded tires, they bought one and only put it on the front tire.  They felt that the front was the most important wheel to have studs on.  I bought a used studded tire that I put on a spare wheel.  I can put that wheel with the studs on the front of the Lynskey if I suspect I might encounter rare occasional ice but there is not enough ice to require my Nomad that has two studded tires.  I have not tried it yet, but I think on some days I might feel more confident with studs on the front.