new Schwalbe marathon winter studded tire

Step 1 For Studded Tires, Ride 25 Miles to Seat The Studs

new Schwalbe marathon winter studded tire
According to Peter White cycles, Nokian studded tires required riding for 25-30 miles on pavement to seat the studs because they have poor quality control. I bought a set of Schwalbe tires and they now have the same recommendation. Anyway, it was nice to go test them out, and I rode them easy on the Cherry Creek trail which runs near my neighborhood.

front tire Schwalbe marathon winter studded

First impressions is they are noisy with 240 studs hitting the ground. Overall I think the grip is a little less with studs on pavement than if it was all rubber. It takes away some of the stickiness since the studs are first to contact the road. No matter, I didn’t get them for stickiness on dry roads, but for ice.

While Schwalbe says that you can lose 5-10 studs during this process I didn’t lose a single stud. So I’m happy with that.

With some snow coming later in the week I hope to have a chance to really test them out. It’s going to test me too since it will be in the single digit temps in the morning. Brrr 🙂

Can I Install Schwalbe Marathon Studded Tires As Tubeless?

Since I just got my cyclocross bike with tubeless setup I wanted to mount some Schwalbe Marathon Winter Studded tires on the Stan’s Alpha 340 ZTR rims as tubeless. The studded tires are a little heavier than normal tires and I was hoping for a little weight help from a tubeless setup. Not knowing whether this was OK I emailed Schwalbe late last night and asked the question:

My Email: 8pm last night

Subject: tubeless setup for studded tires Message text: Hi I think I saw this in the FAQ but I wanted to make sure. I just purchased a set of marathon winter studded tires for my cyclocross bike.

I have stans notubes rims and was hoping to use sealant and install them as notubes. The current tires are 700×35 which is the same as the marathons I bought. Wondering if the stans sealant is bad for these tires, I mean will it damage the rubber? Also, is it a big risk to install these tires as notubes setup? Thanks in advance for the response.

Schwalbe Response less than 3 hours later: Don’t Do It

Dear Mr. Norton,

These tires are not designed for a tubeless set-up – we must advise you against this and inform you that should you choose to use the tires in a tubeless manner it will void all warranties.

Please also note that In order to ensure that spikes are permanently fixed, tires should be run in for about 25 miles (40km) on asphalt, while avoiding any fast acceleration or heavy braking.

Regards,

SCHWALBE NORTH AMERICA

First off, kudos to Schwalbe for responding to my question only 3 hours later, in the middle of a weekend! But I guess that settles my question. I’m still installing the Schwalbe Marathon studded tires on the Stan’s Alpha 340 rims, but I’m not going tubeless with the setup.

Schwalbe Marathon Winter HS 396 Studded tires Stan's ZTR Alpha 340 rims $T2eC16JHJG8FGsn,Zf5nBSWFO3fjvg~~60_57

What Studded Tires to Buy for Cyclocross?

Now that I have a nice cyclocross bike for my winter riding, the question comes up of studded tires. It didn’t take much research to decide that I needed studded tires. From what I’ve read, there are no tires that will keep you upright without studs on them, if you do any riding over ice. I’ve actually ridden over a few patches of ice on my road bike in the spring of 2013, and did everything I could to keep the wheels straight and stayed off the brakes. It was still hair-raising riding down a hill next to cars and ride over ice.

Fast forward to October 2013 and I look back on a great year of riding to work very consistently, even in torrential rains we had in late summer. I also don’t let cold stop me. I just need something to help out staying upright on ice.

I started reading everything I could find online about winter riding and studded tires. There are some great forums and websites, like Peter King cycles which looks like it might be a little out of date but the same tires he talks about there are still being sold.

Choices

The question is what tires to buy. Winter bike tires in general are made from a softer rubber compound, so you would not want to run with them all year as they will be liable to wear quickly. However in cold temperatures they will last fine. But softer rubber compounds are a given on all the quality brands. Second there are steel studs and carbide studs. Unless you will only use the tires once in a while, carbide studs are much more durable than steel. I’ve read people using steel studs that they will wear quicker than the rubber the tires are made of. So I didn’t even consider tires with steel studs. There may be a lot of brand names but the two that consistently come up for quality of construction and materials, are Nokian and Schwalbe. So I really didn’t even consider other brands for very long.

When it comes to studs, there seem to be like 3 different classes of winter bike studded tires:

1. Heavily studded tires:

These have 300 or more studs in them that are in the center and all the way over to the side of the tire contact area. These tires are good for the heavy snow, ice, frozen slush. They are for people who either ride very roughly plowed areas or off-road.

Tires that fit this category are the Nokian Extremes and Schwalbe Ice Spiker.

2. Moderately studded tires:

These have around 200 studs or thereabouts, and the studs normally extend to the side of the tire contact area. These are lighter tires for better rolling, and can be ridden on plowed streets and trails, and occasional frozen ruts are fine too. They are sort of do-everything studded tires.

In this category are the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires and some of the moderate Nokian tires like Nokian W160.

3. Lightly studded tires:

These only have studs in the center area of the tire, and 100 studs or less. These should only be ridden on plowed streets and paved trails. If you get stuck in a rut, you won’t be riding out of it since there are no studs on the sides to help you out.

Nokian Hakkapeliitta W106 and A10 are in this category. I didn’t really see anything from Schwalbe that fits this category. I didn’t consider anything else since I wanted carbide studs which are longer lasting than steel.

Getting What I Need

After a lot of consideration and honesty about where I’m actually going to be riding, I settled on needing the #2, moderately studded tires. I ride almost exclusively on a concrete trail, and some on the side of a road. The trail might occasionally have thick ice in places, and I might encounter some slush and frozen slush on the roads. Based on this, I wanted a tire that will do it all.

I went with the Schwalbe Marathon Winter Studded HS396, 700x35c. I found them on Ebay for $140 for a set of brand new ones. Once they arrive I’ll start riding and report back on how well they work!

Schwalbe Marathon Winter HS 396 Studded tires

Winter Riding Preparations

My road bike is great in the summer and fall but when winter comes I usually quit riding for a few months. A little south of Denver we get enough snow and ice to make riding on slick road tires treacherous. My commute is 13 miles each way on a concrete path called the Cherry Creek Trail. I’m not sure but I believe it will be plowed and I’m looking forward to getting out there in the ice and snow, with the right gear.

The first step was I had to get a bike that will hold wider tires than road racing slicks. I spent a few weeks shopping around on Craigslist, and toyed with the idea of getting a frame and building what I needed. Ultimately, I ended up buying a cyclocross racing bike, a really cool machine.

My Winter Bike

Frame

Lapierre X-Lite Racing Frame – made of Scandium, this thing is super light and stiff. I’ve only had aluminum and steel frames and this is definitely the lightest frame I’ve had.

Lapierre X-Lite Cross Racing Bike

scandium tubes

Xlite model

frame material is scandium

Lapierre logo

Components

Shimano Dura Ace 10 speed grouppo with Ultegra front derailleur and crankest. I’ve had Shimano 105 on a couple bikes, and always wondered how it would be riding Dura Ace. Two words … A – Mazing. Shifting is super tight and precise, and this is by far the quietest component set I’ve had. The shifters are the older version with aero brake cables and shifter cables that come out of the hoods. I’ve heard that before shifter cables went aero shifting was better and more precise. Maybe that’s why I think shifting is so amazing. Let’s face it, this is way more grouppo than I need or deserve but it’s fun riding it.

crankset

rear wheel

Dura Ace rear dérailleur

Ultegra front dérailleur

Ultegra crankset

Dura-Ace brake lever shifters

Wheels

Stans Notubes Alpha 340 ZTR rims, Shimano Ultegra hubs and cassette, and cross tires 700×35. They were setup as notubes which I’ve always associated more with racing, but I decided to give it a go. I love these wheels, super light, and very comfortable ride. These tires have to go, though, since they aren’t studded and I don’t want to spend half the winter lying next to my bike on the ice.

Ultegra hubs

Stan's ZTR Alpha 340 rims

Brakes

These are Avid Shorty Ultimate cantilever brakes. They get rave reviews and they seem very firm and smooth, as well as quiet. I’m happy with them.

cross wheels

Avid Shorty Ultimate cantilever brakes

Other Components

The other components are all high end quality components.

front end of bike

WCS headset

Specialized stem

Specialized saddle

IMG_0471

Overall

Overall I’m super happy with this bike, it’s fast, light, comfortable (the wider tires are really comfortable when I’m used to riding 120psi road wheels), and overall, just unbelievable.

Tire Research

There are some great options out there for winter riding, I’m only considering studded. Peter White Cycles certainly has a great writeup of mostly Nokians with a couple Schwalbe thrown in there. I think Nokians have been considered the gold standard for studded tires for years, and Schwalbe is starting to make a strong push for market leadership. More to come on my tire research in another article.