It’s Cold And Icy in Chicago And I Now Have Studded Bike Tires!

About a week ago I wrote a post about using studded bike tires on a Dutch bike. This is my first winter riding an upright Dutch bike, and I had heard other Dutch bike owners who ride in Chicago year-round discuss the benefits of studded tires. The post received a lot of great comments from other Chicago riders as well as from readers as far away as Finland who shared their experiences with studded tires on Dutch bikes. In cities like Amsterdam or Oulu (Finland), where they get a fair amount of snow but not a lot of ice, and ride on well-plowed cycle tracks, studded-tires aren’t used all that much.  But in cities that see large temperature swings and see a a fair amount of  snow and ice, causing cyclists to ride on ice-filled bike lanes, residential streets, or lakefront paths like Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver or Chicago,  many people say the studs are helpful on the ice.  And the studded tires provide some peace of mind in less-than-ideal conditions.  I was almost convinced.  Then we got our first snow – a heavy wet snow that eventually turned the side streets and bike lanes to ice.  My mind was made up.  So I headed over to The Dutch Bike Company on Armitage Avenue to buy some tires and get them installed on my trusty Omafiets. They had a pretty good supply in stock.

studded schwalbe marathon winter tires

Schwalbe winter tires at The Dutch Bike Company

Vince was in the shop and he set to work switching out the tires on my Omafiets.

Oma sporting a new studded tire

Oma sporting a new studded tire

I rode home to the sound of the click-click-click of those carbide studs on pavement. Well, not really a click really, more like a clatter.  Riding with studded tires on pavement isn’t a super-annoying sound but you do notice it.  Everyone who has these tires says that riding on pavement is not a problem with the carbide studs on these tires though – they don’t wear out like the steel ones. I will say it was nice to have these on my bike when I turned to ride down an icy residential street. I had not been down the street since the snow storm and it had devolved into a street with a clear patch of pavement in the center that disappeared under a sheet of ice within about 20 feet. I kept riding along at a steady pace and all was well in my winter world.  Score one for those little bits of carbide! One more thing to note with these tires – you do notice you are riding with heavier, studded tires, the  increased resistance is noticeable.  I’m just considering it as part of my winter workout plan.

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