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Aside from racing or riding across a frozen pond, under what conditions do you find studded tires useful?

I have never used them, and the worst I have had to do is take a day off when it is really nasty and icy. Maybe some climates or landscapes are more prone to the spontaneous formation of ice patches?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

I find them useful on the street during the winter. Here in Minneapolis it gets pretty cold and the streets can get pretty icy. Their studded-ness plus their aggressive tread pattern give me good traction in snow and on ice.

However, studded tires are really slow. The majority of the time, even in winter, there isn't much ice and I am completely fine riding on slicks. For days when its snowing and icy, I have a spare front wheel with a studded tire mounted on it. I'll swap that in for those days, leaving the slick on the back. Traction on the back is less than optimal, but it is a good speed/stability tradeoff. I can handle my backwheel slipping around, but if the front wheel slips I am going to end up on my face.

Also I did this when I commuted daily, so I didn't skip very snowy days. In fact very snowy days made me want to ride more.

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+1 especially for the trick of keeping an extra front wheel handy –  David Nov 30 '10 at 15:33
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It depends on where you live. On many winter days there isn't much difference between the frozen pond you mentioned and the middle of the street around here.

Studded tires are definitely not a must for any winter rider, it's more of a if-it-fits-your-local-needs type of item.

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