12/20/2006

26" Nokian Extreme 294 studded tire review

We had something like 10 days of snowy/icy commuting followed by a short break followed by a pretty durn big snow storm that hit monday night and continues as I type this. And we have a snow day today. Snow day! Thus some epic length blog reviews...

Because of winter acually arriving this year I probably have nearing 100 miles on my single speed MTB shod with the Nokian extreme 294 studded bicycle tires. Riding was in ALL conditions: fresh powder on dirt, 6" fresh powder on old icy snow, crusty snow, untracked snow, skiid/snowshoed snow, packed walked on snow, icy rutty snow, glare ice, black ice, dry pavement, mud, dirt roads, rocky trail with and without snow, single track, off camber stuff, huge swaths of ice left when the streets are not plowed for weeks and compacted, sidewalks, road, deer trail, game paths that are probably closed gov't property,etc. etc. etc.

As with almost any studded bicycle tire, you should probably get it through Peter White Cycles:
http://peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp

He has pretty much all of them available. Your LBS might be able to get SOME of the Nokians and the schwalbe through their distributors, but Peter tends to have the best stock of the most tires.


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OK. That said, on to the review.

These tires are marketed as the tires to use when you want to go riding off road and on singletrack while there is snow and ice on the ground. From Peters marketing blurb:

This tire is for aggressive riding off road in any conditions. This is a very tough tire, suitable for all riders in all off-road conditions. The aggressive tread pattern will be slow going on paved roads due to high rolling resistance compared to a smooth tread summer road tire, just like any knobby mountain bike tire. Don't get these if you're commuting in an urban area, since they are overkill. The Hakkapeliitta is a better choice for that. But if you want to ride the same single track trails you ride in summer, when the snow's a foot deep and ice is everywhere, rutted from cross country skiers and snow shoes, the Extreme 294 is the ideal tire.

Pretty clear. I will concur that these tires absolutely feel like crap on the pavement. They feel like they are stuffed filled with marbles. They have tall knobs with studs on it. Yukko, but my winter commute contains little of this. I go through shady neighborhood interstitial sidewalks and footpaths that retain snow and ice for weeks, to a bridge and then a 1/2 mile of pavement to a few miles of single and double track to work. Occasionally I take a big singletrack loop that cuts out nearly all the pavement past the bridge and has both slightly technical rocky singletrack and smooth singletrack.


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I will also whole heartedly agree that these tires work GREAT on glare ice, icy roads, icy bridges (I have to cross a high exposed bridge every day on the way to work), packed icy snow trails and the like. Good stuff. In fact, they often encourage you to traverse (successfully!) completely icy off camber slopes which you probably would not have ridden if they were dry and snow free.

Here is my big complaint on these tires. They are terrible on technical rocky trails (with or without ice and snow) on a rigid singlespeed. If you are used to riding big wide tires at low pressures for the suspension/float/traction you will find these tires abysmally narrow. They are marked 26x2.1, I measured them on my sun 0xc rims at 45mm at the widest point on the casing and about 47mm tall off the rim. This is a very narrow tire. Maybe suspension makes it OK, but I am of the opinion that full time commuting on a boingy bike in the ice, snow and random corrosive deicer is a bad idea.


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My first plan was to run them at low pressure which works OK, but then you hit a rock or curb that is submerged in the snow and you pinch flat and you are left trying to fix a flat at night in the snow and cursing the finns for making such LAME extreme tires. Feh... These should be at least 50-55 mm to be useful on the off road conditions that they advertise.

These tires are also pretty crappy in fresh snow and slushy snow, as they are too narrow and you are forced (or at least I am at 190 pounds) to run them at higher pressure than you normally would want to in conditions like these. I much prefer my Weirwolf 2.5 tires (54/56mm on the same rims) for snow trail riding. They work great in everything off road except for ice. Wide low pressure trumps narrow studded in snow and on rocks.

For MTB commuting on the pavement, the hakellepita's would probably be a far better tire. But beware, my 700x45mm nokian hakepelitta tires measure out at 36mm wide by about 42mm tall. Which is much narrower than they are marked.

Overall, I will keep riding these tires, they keep me from crashing and killing myself on the icy rutty stuff, but I really really wish they were 10mm or more wider. The Nokian Freddies Revenge apparently are 2.3" wide, but I have not been able to find someone who has them to measure them and PJW is out of them at the moment.

The carbide studs are in excellent shape despite riding that has included bare rocks, pavement, dirt and concrete. If the Hakkapeliitta tire that my brother and I have used on and off since 2001 is any indication, the studs and tires should last effectively forever.

On an unrelated to the tire snow performance note, I find rim brakes to be laughably useless when you are travelling in snow at or deeper than the rim. My commute home has a few miles of snowy flat trail followed by a short but steep little down and up an arroyo. Usually I have not used my brakes in a while leading up to that, the feeling of panic as you cross the threshold of the hill and you realize you have zero braking ability is memorable. My ideal snow bike would be an internally geared disc braked hub rigid bike with 2.5" studded tires front and rear. I have my eyes on a Kona Humuhumunukunukuetc bike as they have a ton of clearance, are relatively cheap and would probably even fit 2.3 studded tires and fenders (maybe...)

The rare Pauls Component Snow hub:

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Some other snow tire ride reports/reviews/pics:
Kent Peterson ride report on Schwalbe studded tires
Sconnyboy's Bullwinkle Commuter
Hjalti posted a link to this movie in the comments, 10 minutes of icy snowy riding on studded tires and squishy disc bikes. Good stuff!
Scott posted a non studded ride report on the perimeter trail, which is where I generally go for winter MTB rides.

Uh, hit me with some more studded tire reports and reviews and I will add em above. For some reason I thought I saw more about the blogosphere but can't find them today...




4 comments:

Hjalti said...

This is the best studed tire review I've seen (video):

http://www.mtbvideos.net/~geir/bringonthewinter.wmv

Anthony said...

these things help a lot when you need to fix a tire at night:

Fix a flat at night

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