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I am thinking of buying Schwalbe "Marathon Winter Plus" or "Winter" tires with spikes. I intend to use them on a touring bike which when loaded will have:

  1. about 25kg (55 pounds) of luggage (2x5kg on the back rack and 2x5kg on the front, 3kg on the handle bar and 2kg for odds and ends).
  2. Myself 77kg (170 pounds)
  3. The bike itself, a Surly Troll around 18 kg (39 pounds)

I normally inflate both tires to 3bar (43 PSI).

Questions

  1. Will this load cause the spikes to puncture the tubes?
  2. What is the likelihood of the spikes puncturing the tubes?
  • Depends on the quality of the tire, and the care taken in design and manufacture. – Daniel R Hicks Dec 2 '19 at 23:09
  • I've tweaked the question a little by adding imperial/standard/US units, because they have a fair about of cold winters. The weight of your bike came from googling about. – Criggie Dec 3 '19 at 10:54
  • Clarification - do you intend on using spiked tyres all the time? Or only in winter? Roughly how many of your rides in winter would be on clear tarmac and how many on snow/ice ? – Criggie Dec 3 '19 at 10:55
  • @Criggie I know Surly's tend to be heavy, but 39lbs seems excessive – Argenti Apparatus Dec 3 '19 at 13:40
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    You should be aware that studded tires are pretty heavy themselves and this will add to the considerable mass you will be propelling. – Argenti Apparatus Dec 3 '19 at 13:42
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The current generation of pre-manufactured winter tires you'd get from brands like Schwalbe do not use 'screw-in' style studs that have a point on the inside surface. They have a pocket and flange design:

https://bikestud.com/

I don't know of a source for actual data on this other than personal anecdote, so I can offer that.

I have never had the stud on a commercially made/retail bought winter tire come through the casing and damage a tube, and I've never heard any of my colleagues complain about it. But I have never used particularly cheap ones/off-brand, and most people around here have Marathons because that's what the stores here stock.

Certainly with a Marathon PLUS your studs are already outside what is supposed to be an industry leading protective layer, so I don't know what else you could do if it were a concern.

On the other side most of the so-called 'old timers' at the bike co-op will still recommend splitting and fitting an old tube on the inside of a winter tire if asked. This bit of wisdom seems to be corroborated by Chris H's answer where some people have reported inconsistent quality with Schwalbes. (Perhaps it is worth the extra $ for the 'Plus' model!)

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  • 4
    Both this answer and Argenti's are correct (and well done). Anecdotally, I have hundreds of "loaded" miles on quality modern studded tires (Nokians and 45NRTHs) and have never had an issue with this. I have also seen A LOT of studded tires come through the shop I worked at (some just from 120 kg+ riders) and have never seen the problem you are worrying about. – Deleted User Dec 3 '19 at 0:28
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Studs pushing through the tire carcass might occur, but Increased load on the bike will not increase the probability of it happening

The pressure of the tube against the tire or the tire against the road surface is determined by the air pressure the tires are inflated to, not the weight of the bike and rider. If the weight of bike and rider increases the tire deforms more and the contact patch gets bigger until tire pressure x area = force exerted downward due to gravity acting on mass of bike and rider. The force per unit area of tire or tube (i.e. pressure) remain the same.

Also, the pressure of the tube against the inside of the tire is the same whether that bit of the tire is pressed against the road or not.

The problem you may face with a heavily loaded bike is the rim bottoming out and hitting the road without exceeding the max pressure of the tires.

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  • True, but you're likely to pump the tyres up harder if you're heavily laden, so the pressure will increase, just not for to the load directly – Chris H Dec 8 '19 at 19:10
  • @ChrisH yes, but if you stay in the pressure range for that tire you should be ok. If you have to exceed the max pressure to stop the rim bottoming you have other problems – Argenti Apparatus Dec 8 '19 at 20:55
  • they have a rather broad range depending on conditions (35-85psi in the 35mm IIRC, with the low end for snow and the high end for potentially icy tarmac, taking into account load). That's pretty high for the width, around the same as touring tyres, so bottoming out isn't an issue. Running at the top end pressure consistently may be, given my, and others', experience – Chris H Dec 8 '19 at 21:00
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I've had exactly this happen with the "winter" tyres you're looking at. I'm not light, and neither is the bike; a little of the distance was with a child on the back, so comparable to a heavy set of rear panniers

Schwalbe say the only difference between their "winter" vs "marathon winter" is the extra studs on the marathons. The puncture protection is there on both (and the cheaper ones even have holes for the extra studs, so the moulding seems to be the same).

I've just fitted the old (3 or 4 winters, but only used for commuting) tyre in my old question, with a brand new one on the other wheel. On the old tyre I've used a cheap tyre liner that I had lying around, though last year duct tape over the suspect studs was enough.

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  • Judging from Internet reports, among quality brands the problem is unique to Schwalbe Winter / Marathon Winter. They may have improved the product over the years, but buyer beware. – ojs Dec 3 '19 at 7:50
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    @ojs possibly, but they're by far the most common in some places where winter conditions are marginal for needing them (light snow covering/risk of ice patches). On ebay.co.uk (as an example) I can only find listings Schwalbe products and one single Conti Spike Claw. So (i) we don't have much choice and (ii) there could be more reports because more tyres are used, (especially on hard surfaces where wear and damage would seem more likely) – Chris H Dec 3 '19 at 10:07
  • Like in your case, I've had the threads on a winter tyre (Nokian Tyres brand) puncture the tube. But I haven't associated it with the spikes, but just general wear on the tyres. It's not surprising that the rubber degrades faster in low temperatures. – jpa Dec 3 '19 at 20:56
  • @jpa I've also had a normal tyre wear out on the inside so the threads caused punctures, but that was after riding 10x as far on it. On hard surfaces the spokes are likely to concentrate stress so accelerate wear – Chris H Dec 4 '19 at 7:11
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Greetings from the 60th parallel, where we ride studded tyres 5 months out of 12.

What is the likelihood of the spikes puncturing the tubes?

The first factor which this likelihood depends on is the tyre mark. My commuting friends have been telling stories about Schwalbe (Marathon or not) Winters doing that; I did not believe them until I got this:

Schwalbe Marathon stud rubbed through the tyre

(Naturally, this was not the only one place where the spike has rubbed the tyre through - this was the first one which punctured the tube.)

I never heard similar complains about other tyre marks. If you compare the thickness of the rubber in places where the studs sit in Schwalbe Winter and for example Nokian W106, you see notable difference. Schwalbes are lighter, and this is the price.

Will this load cause the spikes to puncture the tubes?

My feeling is that it's the amount of rubbing which mostly contributes to such, well, rubbing through. This amount depends on how much the tyre deflects, which in turn is a function of the applied weight and tyre pressure. So (assuming my feeling is correct) you can reduce the probability of such internal puncture by running higher pressures.

My solution to the problem was: not save weight here and buy more sturdy studded tyres; use some liner with the Schwalbe Winters (not yet rubbed through) I have. A cut-along tube or a special anti-puncture tape might carry you through the winter (or they might not).

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