My friends at Kenda tires were kind enough to send me a set of studded tires to test over this winter. I have both the Klondike Wide and Skinny tires. This past weekend I got to hit the snow packed gravel roads to test the Skinny version.
Description: 100 carbide tipped studded tire, designed for long life in the harshest of conditions. Great for use as a winter cyclocross tire or for use with a trekking or commuter bicycle. Features snow shedding directional tread design. My 700 x 35 weighted in at just over 780 grams (w/studs).
Mounting: This might just have been the hardest and most dangerous tires I have ever mounted. Well I take that back. My Brother Joey and I about killed ourselves trying to remove and mount an old truck tire on one of our fleets Kenworth W900's. Sometimes a truck tire would not air up and we would have to spray starter fluid inside the tire then apply air and throw a lighted match at the same time. The results varied, but if you were good (and we were) you survived and you had an inflated/sealed tire. Back to bike tires.... the Klondikes are very solidly built. The sidewalls are very stiff and combined with very sharp studs I would strongly suggest a pair of gloves and some soapy water to help with mounting. I have to use 3 tire irons to mount them, but mounted they were. I normally try not to mount tire with irons, but sometimes you just need a helping hand. In the end you have a sweet set of snow tires ready for action.
First impressions: A quick little ride around the neighborhood streets resulted in a smile on my face. I hit all the icy sections that I could see and had no problems with slipping. The real result would be the Smithville Gravel Grinder or Snow Grinder as some have suggested. Conditions on Sunday's little snow ride were varied - snow packed ruts to deep snow. The first few miles were on snow covered roads that were very slick due to the inch or so of snow that fell overnight. No problems here, but we were not really going fast. We hit the snow covered gravel soon and the Klondikes came alive. The aggressive knobs really hooked up and provided plenty of traction. On the hills during the route I felt the weight of the tires, but on the downhills they were great and I was routinely out leading the way. There were not very many icy sections during the ride, but plenty of snow. I plan to test some more during the week, but my first impressions are very good. I would highly recommend a set of them. Now we just need a few more snow storms here so I can put them to good use.
Here are a few pics of the slick conditions and of riders who did not have the same Kenda Klondikes as I:
Here is a video of me waiting for everyone else that did not have Kenda studded tires :-)