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I've just bought a pair of Kenda Klondike tires (26*2.1). I've heard that I have to ride about 50-100 kilometers without fast turns and so on - to make spikes to "sit" firmly into the tire. So I've made my commute slowly.

Is that true? And if it is - how can I determine that this break in is done?

  • It's believable. But it's also the sort of thing that might be false "folk wisdom". There used to be an "ice bike" site where the knowledgeable folks hung out, but it disappeared about 10 years ago. – Daniel R Hicks Dec 6 '17 at 13:53
  • @DanielRHicks might be or is? I don't want to end up with only a half of spikes) – k102 Dec 6 '17 at 14:00
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    Nokian winter tires for both bikes and cars come with instructions that tell you to do the same thing (for cars it's up to 500 km). Schwalbe website recommends 40 km. And no, even if the loudest know-it-alls on this site live in warm climates, some of us do know. – ojs Dec 6 '17 at 14:11
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    I have no idea where Nate W lives, but his answer is spot on. It is basically the knowledge I garnered living in interior Alaska for two decades while riding, selling and repairing studded tires from many manufacturers. – Deleted User Jan 1 at 15:48
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I work for a distributor that sells several brands of winter studded tires and everyone of them comes with this warning, this particular one is from Schwalbe

In order to ensure that spikes are permanently fixed, tires should be run in for about 25 miles (40km) on asphalt, while avoiding any fast acceleration or heavy braking.

Source

With this said i don't think there is any physical means to tell that they have been ridden far enough. More so 25 miles/40km is likely on the safe side.

Here is the reason why they recommend the same for studded car tires and im quite certain the process is similar with bike tires.

Looking like carpenter nails with their shafts cut short before being inserted headfirst into the tire, winter studs are made by encasing a tungsten carbide pin into a cylindrical metal housing. Typically 80 to 100 studs per tire are inserted into small holes molded in the tire's tread design. The tread is often lubricated (a 2% soapy water solution is desired) to facilitate installation. A special tool spreads the rubber and inserts the stud into the bottom of the hole. Once the stud is in place, the tool is removed and the tread rubber compresses around the stud's flat head and cylindrical housing to hold it in place.

Because it takes some time for the lubricant to evaporate and the tread rubber to compress around the stud, studded tires require a special break-in period. This will allow the lubricant to evaporate and the tread rubber to conform to the shape of the stud.

Source

There is also a form of lubrication used when the tire are initially molded that remains on the surface of the tire for a period of time until worn off, this lubricant makes little difference to asphalt or dirt but as you can imagine on ice or snow it can make things a bit more slippery as it further reduces the friction coefficient.

Before tires are cured, a release lubricant is often applied to prevent the tires from sticking in the mold. Unfortunately, some of the lubricant stays on the surface of the tires, and traction is reduced until it is worn away.

  • Drop the pressure when you do the bedding in ride too (especially on MTB tyres) to make sure you get the side knob spikes to bed in properly. Yes rolling resistance will be pretty huge. P.S. You can get replacement studs and a stud driver for Schwalbe. – Purr Dec 10 '17 at 2:41
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    ^^ This. Ride conservatively for a bit. It's not the speed that affects them as much as sudden turns and stops. Moderate speeds may actually accelerate the break in period. Don't concern yourself too much, however. The danger is that the stud may "pop out" and you will lose it if it isn't properly bedded in. I've spent plenty of time replacing studs. It is cheap AND easy. Nothing to be feared at all. – Deleted User Jan 1 at 15:44
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On new or newly fitted tyres it's worth riding cautiously at first anyway, though not for as long as the winter tyre manufacturers suggest (just in case of bad seating, trapped tubes etc.). When the weather worsens it's worth riding cautiously anyway (cars do funny things when the driver has only cleared the ice off a small area of windscreen).

Getting used to the extra noise is another reason to ride slowly. Certainly I back off if the bike ever sounds odd, and studs on tarmac sound odd until you get used to them.

So you might just take it a little easier than normal. That doesn't mean lower top speeds but gentler acceleration, braking and cornering, for a few tens of km (average across a few manufacturers). I'd round that to a week, given my commute. You're not going to get any personal records on these tyres anyway, and the time lost to riding a little more gently is less than the time lost to common but worse than normal traffic.

I didn't lose any studs in the first 50km on mine (Schwalbe) but had lost a few by the end of last winter.

I do wonder if the manufacturers aren't so much worried about seating the studs as not having them unseat suddenly when you're riding hard.

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