Can a tire like the Schwalbe Marathon Winter be used for winter-long commuting (40 km/day) on roads which are mostly or usually not icy?

I might want the studs occasionally (and lower the air pressure to get them), but not on most days.

This is Toronto where it's subzero at night, with snow etc., for about 4 months (it's snowing today for the first time), but they plough and salt the roads.

I wouldn't want to have to swap the tires daily or weekly depending on the weather: only once a season.

  • Note that you should check out icebike.org . The web site's not been actively maintained, but there's still a wealth of info there. Dec 1, 2011 at 22:18
  • For such a long commute it probably wouldn't be a thing but I saw people using some sturdy string/cord to make bicycle tire chains. They just wrap them around the tire. It is more of a makeshift solution, but it could be applied easily in situations where the weather conditions turn out to be really bad.
    – WalyKu
    Aug 18, 2016 at 9:11

4 Answers 4


I think the tires would be durable enough (my winter commute in nearby Kitchener, ON is about 20 km/day and my Marathon winters hold up pretty well) but they're definitely going to feel more sluggish than a road tire.

If you're normally running them with enough air pressure to keep the studs clear of the pavement, I think that kind of defeats the purpose of them (and that much pressure makes the ride a little harsh for my liking as well). Carbide studs will last as long as the carcass of the tire holds together, and there's always a chance of running into an icy patch somewhere, even if 99.5% of your route is bare and dry.

  • "more sluggish than a road tire" - I'm using Marathon Plus as a non-winter tire, which are rugged too. 700x32 at 85 psi. I don't mind a harder/faster ride in summer at least: the heavy tires ride the bumps (like suspension), and I have padded gloves. So do you find you can ride your Winter tires at the lower pressure, all season long?
    – ChrisW
    Dec 1, 2011 at 4:46

It boils down to this: if you use your bike when the roads are icy, get them. If you take the bus on those days, don't.

I find that they're more useful not so much for icy roads, but more for icy sidewalks (sometimes I have no choice), icy parking lots, parks, or other passages where they don't put salt.

One last thing, they're as bad as regular tires in "greasy brown icy slush".

  • Do you use yours all season long, for commuting?
    – ChrisW
    Dec 1, 2011 at 4:38

In my experience, studded tires aren't that great -- you're more likely to get a flat (which sucks so bad when it's -20!), and the studs only help on ice.. So if you ride on frozen lakes a lot, you should get them :)

I ride winters in Montreal, and my favourite winter tires are narrow, knobby ones (cyclocross) -- they cut through the soft-packed snow and get traction on whatever's beneath.


I tried this a few years back.

There isn't much point if you're not riding on ice. Just get a standard road tire. If you're riding that much on normal roads, the nubs will be mostly worn off for the odd time that you are one ice.

  • jefferee said that the carbide studs would last as long as the tire.
    – ChrisW
    Dec 1, 2011 at 4:49
  • @ChrisW I rode mine through a winter a few years back (in Toronto too, incidentally) and they were barely-protruding nubs by springtime. Dec 1, 2011 at 22:20
  • They used to be steel, now they are (harder) carbide.
    – ChrisW
    Dec 3, 2011 at 5:01

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