Literally, not hooking me up. I have had this odd sensation for the whole time I have owned them that they just don't provide nearly the traction on ice that I have come to expect from Nokian studded tires. I own six Extreme 296, four Freddies Revenz, four Hakka 300, two Hakka 240 tires, all in 26" size, and now also a set of the 29er 294s. That's 18 studded tires total and I've been riding them here in Kodiak for a good 10+ years, so a reasonably good basis for comparison. The 29er 294s come in dead last in terms of traction on bare ice. Tonight I rode up the road that climbs the mountain behind town, and it is a sheet of beautiful, six-inch-thick, nearly bubble-free ice the whole way up. A few minor vehicle ruts, but otherwise quite smooth. I rode up and down twice, once with the 29er 294 tires on my Sultan, and a second time with my Feddies Revenz 26 tires on my 5-Spot. I put the same pressure in both front and both rear tires. The Freddies have 336 studs per tire, so about 15% more studs than the 294s.
Seated climbing on the Sultan at the steeper sections was really dicey. I had to slow down and downshift and pedal smoothly to keep the back from spinnng out. Stopping is not an option since I don't have studs on my shoes and putting a foot down basically means falling down. Standing to climb ANY portion was totally out of the question, and if I even eased off the saddle, the rear tire would start to lose grip. The Freddies on the other hand showed little inclination to spin out unless I assumed a choppy pedal stroke, and I could run a gear or two higher. I could even stand to climb (using very smooth pedaling) on the less steep sections, and the rear only lost traction briefly with each pedal stroke (picture climbing on gravel).
The two tires use the same version of Nokian's aluminum-sleeved, pointed carbide pinned studs. They don't seem to stick out dramatically more on one tire that the other. Their distribution on the two tires does not seem that different. However, the 26" Freddies climb, brake, and steer with far greater traction (and confidence) than the 294 29ers. I will try to do a back-to-back with my Hakka 300s soon.
I was really looking forward to the 29er studded tires and got them the moment they came out thinking the inherent traction benefits of the 29er platform would translate fully. So far that has not been my experience. They are very narrow and heavy to boot. And to add insult to injury, I frankly think the Freddies roll at least as well if no better.
Anyway, I would be curious to hear my frozen brethren's opinions on this. Anyone have time on a set and some feedback? I did x-post the 29er forum on this.
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