Just as we started to get some hints of snow in Flagstaff, Arizona (yes it snows here!) this winter I called up a friend of mine and said I need a pair of those Schwalbe Winter Marathon studded snow tires so I can keep riding! He had ridden them in previous winters and he said he was able to continue riding despite the snow and ice.
When I was young we built our own studded snow tires at the bike shop that I worked at with mountain bike tires and sheet metal screws. These days there are a couple of studded bike tires to choose from and based on my friends recommendation I thought I would try the Schwalbe’s Winter Marathon.
The following is a video of the features of the Schwalbe Winter Marathon Tires:
Schwalbe Winter Marathon Tire Features
- Lots of well positioned small studs made of hardwearing tungsten carbide. The base is fully galvanized steel.
- Tires are siped (small cuts) for increased traction
- Kevlar Guard anti flat protection
- Reflective side stripes
- Tire sizes available: 20×1.6, 24×1.75, 26×1.75, 700Cx35, 700Cx40
- Recommended pressures: 30-70 psi
- Wire bead tire
- Weight = 1015 grams each (a little over 2 lbs.)
- MSRP Price = $77.75 but I found them for around $65 at a few different stores.
What is the ride like with studded tires?
I had these tires set up on the Hebb Electroglide 500 electric bike that I had in for review and testing. This bike uses a 350 watt front hub motor and it was nice to have “all wheel drive”; front wheel with electric power and rear wheel with human power! With the studded tires this made the bike handle extremely well in the snow and ice. Having the extra electric assist helped me plow through deeper snow than I normally could handle on my traditional (non-electric) bike.
After a few rides I was a total believer in how well these tires performed in sketchy conditions. I was able to lean a little into corners, NOT like a road bike, but gentle cornering. Stopping was not a problem either. I jammed on the brakes a couple of times to see how well these tires would handle and they stopped me with almost no sliding. On pure ice I was a little more cautious about corners and stopping, but the tires definitely gave me a lot more confidence.
One thing I want to point out is that you should run a lower pressure when you are riding in the snow and ice so that the studs can engage more with the slippery stuff. When the roads clear up and you don’t need to use the studs for traction you will want to increase the tire pressure to ride on more of the ridge of the tire for less wear on the studs. The higher pressure will also give you a more efficient ride.
Schwalbe tires are known for being high quality bike tires. The Winter Marathons definetly live up to the Schwalbe reputation. They feel like sturdy tires and they seem like they will last for a long time.
I like the reflective sidewalls. They are a very effective way to be seen from the side.
During the couple of months that I was riding these tires I never got a flat. Maybe I was lucky or maybe it was due to the Kevlar protection in the tires. No flats is a good thing in my book!
PLEASE NOTE: (From the Schwalbe website) “Tires need to be run-in for 25 miles / 40 km on hard-top road to ensure spikes are permanently fixed. Avoid rapid acceleration and braking during this period.”
I lost some studs on both front and rear tires. This may be because I did not adhere to the 25 mile break in period for the tires. I thought I took it easy, but the torque from the electric front hub motor could have caused some problems. I talked with my friend who has used the 700c tires on his bike for a couple seasons and he said he hasn’t lost any.
These are heavy tires! This is not too big of a deal on an electric bike, but for a traditional bike it is quite a bit of additional rolling weight (the worst for efficiency). When you break it all down I would rather stay upright than set an speed records!
These are not cheap bike tires! If you are serious about riding more in the winter, just be prepared to pay out for these tires.
That’s a wrap!
Overall I really like the Schwalbe Winter Marathon studded snow tires. I am a little bummed that some studs went missing on the tires, but that could be from not following the break in period properly and the torquey electric motor could be a factor.
Do you have any questions about these tires? Do you have experience using these tires? Please share your comments or questions below.
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