When I wrote about possibly rewarding the 1×7 with a set of studded tires, I hadn’t committed to spending the cash yet. The only thing I needed to tip me over the edge was missing a commute from the small storm we got that left a coat of ice over everything last Tuesday. I was online that morning to order these: Nokian Hakkapeliitta w240 studded tires.
After years of commuting with normal tires through the winter, these are a revolution for me. I haven’t tried any crazy maneuvers on ice, because my interest is in not falling more than seeing how far I can push my luck. Nonetheless, they fit the bill perfectly for me. These tires won’t make you invincible, but they will keep your wheels from flying out from under you without the slightest provocation. (e.g., I can pedal or corner comfortably on a sheet of smooth ice, but if I stomp on the pedals in a middle gear I can spin the rear wheel easily.)
update – 1-26: A commute this morning in wet snow and they shined here too. The studs probably didn’t help too much, but the knobs have a good pattern for quickly shedding wet and compacted snow. The tires did a good job of clawing out of rutted tracks left by cars and the uneven ‘snow-chum’ left behind by plows on the side of the road as well. In the evening I rode home on loose frozen rain/sleet and they worked great. At one point I put a foot down at a traffic light and my foot was slipping more than the tires.
update – 1-28: Another commute, this time on packed down snow and tire-track rutted slushy side streets. This required a ton of concentration as the surface was loose and uneven, but traction was great.
The only drawback that I see is they’re heavy tires (1150-1200g heavy) with an aggressive tread that really drag on my average mph. Getting there slowly is a small price to pay for getting there in one piece. I might put them on the Santa Cruz and only ride them when I really need them next year, but for now I’ll roll on them for 2 months or so. Here’s a good look at the meaty treads…