Wednesday, December 26, 2012

the Studded Tire Debate (new Marathon 50-622)

The Schwalbe Marathon Winter 700 X 35mm tires I bought last year sure work good on smooth snow and ice and fluffy snow, but leave something to be desired on mushy tire tracks and icy ruts.  The bike wants to follow the ruts instead of going where I want it to go.  Did some searching and saw the Nokian Hakkapelitta 240 700C X 40  studded tires -  they look like they'd grip better in adverse conditions, but might not be as smooth as the Marathons on bare pavement, which is a good chunk of my winter riding in Spokane.  My ride to and from work on any given day can run the whole gamut from deep fluffy snow to icy ruts to wet pavement. Then I saw some new 2 inch wide 29er Marathons (50-622/28 X 2.0). A little less knobby tread pattern than the Nokian.  So I went back and forth - would the Marathons be knobby enough to ride in all conditions?  Would the Nokians be too rough? Did I need to get a new pair? The 35mm ones should last a few more seasons.

So anyways, these Schwalbe Marathon Winter 50-622 tires arrived last Thursday - too late for that day's snow.  The dogs got them for me for Christmas, putting an end to my internal debate.  Thought about putting them on my mountain bike but want to keep it available for some possible January thaw riding like last winter, so I swapped them in on the Marin.  I swear, for an "urban" style bike, this ride has tons of clearance - almost looked like it could fit the new Surly 3" Knards.

Took a ride Saturday on bare pavement and immediately noticed a more sure-footed handling on the bike.  With the 35mm tires it felt like they were going to fall in some cracks in the road and the handling felt twitchy.  I think this bike is designed for wider, almost mountain bike size tires.  Today's ride to work had a little bit of everything - smooth pavement, flat ice, smooth snow, icy ruts, snow/ice piles - and these tires handled great.  Hoping we get some more snow so I can give them a good workout.

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