What this blog is about

Bicycle commuting, bicycle touring, bicycle racing; bicycle ADVENTURING.
To the grocery store, up a mountain, across the country or to the finish line--
it's all an adventure.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gear Review: studded bicycle tires

Nokian Mount & Ground studded 26" x 1.9" mountain bike tires 
(Note: NOT "Extreme" Nokian studded tires)

Approx. cost of a pair: $100

Unlike many of my gear purchases, I didn't 'over think' this one. It was snowing and I walked into my local bike shop and bought whatever studded tires they carried. I needed them then and there. I flinched at the price, but I reminded myself that I would be paying four times as much to stud a car.

On my ride home, I was initially a little bit disappointed-- but I shouldn't have been, I just had some misguided expectations. On that first day I was trying to bust through fresh piles of 6" snow. Busting through thick powder requires wider, fatty 4" tires or walking. The tires I had bought were barely 2" and certainly not meant for that.

However, once I started riding these tires on packed snow and ice, 
I really began to understand their benefits.

THIS is the kind of road these tires conquered:
(see photo to right)

I could ride on top of a sheet of ice and snow as if I were velcro. It made me absolutely giddy.

Also note that tire pressure plays a large role in tire performance-- I rode on the minimum tire pressure, if not lower.

In the end, the tires performed and I got great use out of them. Also, since I only need to use them for a short time period of the year, they should last a long time.

However, I did notice that Jill up in Alaska gave these tires a poor review. She's practically worn them out just in one season-- but Jill trains for things like the Iditarod Invitational (for BIKES), rides hers on asphalt and she lives in ALASKA. I use mine for about 2 weeks a year and hardly on bare road. From her blog:
Today I went ice biking on the frozen Mendenhall Wetlands. I've owned my 29" Nokian studded tires for about two months now and I can't say I'm real thrilled with them... full post here.
  • Great for packed snow and ice
  • Not great in powder
  • Great for a few weeks a year
  • Not great for long winters
  • Perform better with lower tire pressure

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