To Stud Or Not To Stud: A Winter Tire Face-off
Posted on 30 October 2020
Tires come in hundreds of choices but here at Curbside Cycle, we have made the pickings very easy with our highly recommended Schwalbe options. The tires we recommend without a doubt during the summer when people need new tires are the Schwalbe Marathon or Marathon Plus. Both are bomb proof tires that will last a long time, keep the rubber side down and tires full of air. They work very well when it is wet out too! As one would have winter tires on a car, van, or you name it; bikes also perform best in winter conditions with winter specific tires! We have made that option extremely easy as well! Our top two choices are the Schwalbe Winter and Continental Top Contact Winter tires.
Schwalbe Winter Studded Tire
For the everyday commuter
Close up of tread. Photo provided by Schwalbe
Schwalbe is the go to if you plan to ride out the ENTIRE winter with no days off the bike. The ideal cyclists for this tire are the everyday rider, people that live in areas that don’t get cleared the best (think about laneways, side streets or even towns that don’t use salt to melt ice or snow on roads) and lastly; the adventurer that can’t sit still in the winter and needs to continue the rides on backroads, trails or long tours. The Schwalbe Winter tire will keep your tires safely on the road through the snow, over black ice and get you where you need to go in the bone chilling cold.
With all this wonderful traction, there is a catch and it is up to you to decide if it is something that won't bother you. The biggest drawback is the amount of noise and rolling resistance on dry roads. It is unavoidable, and to some can get annoying but of course you are going to be the one blazing past the person that’s using slicks on that snowy afternoon commute back home. Maintenance wise, the spikes do wear out and need to be replaced which is time consuming and costly however we believe the negatives are outweighed by the positives. Safety is our number one concern in the winter.
The Continental Top Contact Winter
Our most popular winter tire ever
Close up of tread. Photo provided by Continental.
Then there are the cyclists, that know they won’t need the spikes. They plan to take public transit, stay home, take a rideshare on the worst of winter days or perhaps wait a day or two for everything to settle or clear. We still highly recommend a set of winter tires for safety and Continental has an amazing choice of tire for the fair weather cyclist of winter.
The tire that Continental has developed is the Top Contact Winter. It is a non-studded winter tire specifically designed with the cyclists in mind that take a day or two off when conditions are not ideal or if your city isn’t hammered by heavy snow in the winter time. Intended if you plan on waiting to do any outdoor adventures like backroads or trails after the snow is gone.
The trade off is less traction on ice but it has a couple of things up its sleeve. The rubber compound that Continental developed for this tire is incredibly soft compared to standard tires. That means that it is much more grippy in cold weather and it also features thousands of tiny micro-sipes that greatly increase traction, even on ice.
Though you may lose some traction compared to the Schwalbe Winter tire, the bonus you do get with a lack of studs means the abundance of rolling silently and faster on roads clear of snow or dry pavement. Especially in a city like Toronto that does an amazing job clearing main roads and streets after heavy snowfall. The next big thing is being worry free about studs getting damaged or worn out because there are none!
The Choices is Up To You
To stud or not to stud
Who choose the winner! Photo by Kevin Gebhardt Photography
Your tire choice entirely depends on how you ride, what conditions you face and where you are in the world. Schwalbe and Continental both offer amazing options for your needs. Schwalbe Winter tires are geared towards the everyday, no matter what cyclist or the outdoor adventurer while the Continental tire is great for someone that wants safety and reliable grip all winter but wants to take the worst days off.