Schwalbe Ice Spiker Tyres
Snow and ice stopping you from riding? Fear not, Schwalbe Ice Spiker tyres may be the answer, unless Paul can defeat them that is…
With what can only be called perfect timing, I received a pair of Schwalbe Ice Spiker tyres to test a few days before our first fall of snow. The Ice Spikers are a hefty and aggressive looking tyre that promise huge amounts of grip on snow and ice. Normally at the first sign of ice, I will retreat to the turbo trainer; too many falls on ice have left me battered and wary of going out when I don’t have to. If these Schwalbe Ice Spikers work then I’d be left with no excuses but I was confident that I could show them up.
For the 26″ version I received to adorn my makeshift ‘cross rig, each tyre weighs in just over a kilogram each which is down to 304 tungsten steel spikes that protrude from the top of each cone shaped knob. These spikes have to be run-in for 40km to help bed them in. This has to be done on tarmac, with no sudden accelerations or braking which as snow began to fall, led to a desperate tyre changing session to get the Ice Spikers fitted before the snow got too thick.
On the run-in the tyres produce a distinctive clattering sound on tarmac that I can only liken to 74 wooden clogged mice running on cobbles. I ran the tyres at 60psi as I was going to be sticking to the road. On a rigid MTB the tyres rolled well and once up to speed the weight of the tyres are probably producing a flywheel effect that keeps you rolling along nicely. They are certainly not ZX’s but, despite the weight of the tyres, didn’t feel at all sluggish.
As the ride progressed the snow continued to fall. Still on only an inch of snow over tarmac, I would nevertheless have been wary on my road bike but with the Schwalbe Ice Spikers had no problems. I even felt confident. Finding some ice, albeit covered in snow, and holding my breath, I rolled across and back again. I then tried braking and a couple of shallow turns, all of which produced nothing. No sliding or slipping, the Ice Spikers had passed their first test. Ice Spikers one; me zero.
Crashing through a bottom bracket deep puddle, that had a deceptively thin covering of ice, produced no slides or slip, when entering or exiting. Exactly the kind of unexpected event that would have normal tyres slipping and dumping me in some very cold water. Ice Spikers two; me zero.
A day later and the snow was maybe 20-30cms deep. I picked a route that included some short steep climbs with protruding roots that had also been highly polished by hundreds of excited tobboganists. Walking down one in particular earlier in the day had been interesting to say the least and I was sure would defeat these tyres…but the Ice Spikers rode straight up it as easily as if it had been tarmac, impressing the locals coming down the other way in various states of distress! Ice Spikers three; me zero.
Riding through deep snow was awkward but this is down to the fact that you can’t see what is underneath, and nothing to do with the tyres which still gripped well. In this kind of powdery deep snow the tyres cleared easily; certainly a lot easier than my cleats, which by now were ice-bound and un-useable. Ice Spikers four; me and my pedals zero.
On the third day we had a small thaw, followed by a re-freeze. Another great testing opportunity. I was starting to enjoy this snow and ice riding. So out again to try and defeat the Spikers. Once again, they rolled over frozen lumpy ice without a wobble or a slide. This is getting boring. Jumping off to try pushing the tyres into a slide only resulted in me slipping in my cleats on the ice. Ice Spikers five; me still zero.
The only hairy moments are on deeply corrugated ice, where they would grip but like riding on rutted chalk the wheel would want to follow the rut, rather than where I wanted to go. But it has been suggested that maybe this is down to my roadie background and I need more time off-road, so I cannot claim a point even here.
At the end of our mini ice-age I came away very impressed by the Schwalbe Ice Spiker tyres. Some may baulk at the price of a tyre which is going to see limited use, but this is a quality item that works and will last you for years. I ride all year round and when it’s icy I hate being forced off the bike. With the Ice Spiker I had the confidence to ride anywhere, completely confident in my ability to stay upright and that’s priceless.
Schwalbe produce four types of studded tyre, two for off-road and two for the road. We tried out the Ice Spiker, which is a 26” x 2.1” tyre. As well as 304 tungsten spikes, it has a kevlar puncture guard strip and retails at around £39.
The Ice Spiker Pro uses more spikes with 361, but the tungsten core is wrapped in aluminium and with a kevlar bead, tips the scale at 695g. The Pro is also available in in 26” x 2.35” and 29” x 2.25” and retails for around £63.99.
For more road specific tyres Schwalbe have the Marathon Winter and Winter tyres. Road friendly widths are 35 or 40mm and come with 240 spikes, kevlar puncture guard and retail for around £35.99. The Winter comes in four sizes, including 700 x 30mm. It has only 100 spikes, but Schwalbe reckon this will only affect you in extreme cornering and retails for around £49.99
A useful addition to the Ice Spiker range from Schwalbe is a replacement spike pack. This comes with 50 replacement spikes and an insertion tool. The packs aren’t available yet, but when they are they will be around £7.49 each.