Tyres for icy patches


Active Member
Hi everyone,
My commute on country lanes has begun to get icy. Ride a cross bike with 28 mm schwalbe marathons, normally pretty good grip, but after falling on black ice once and slip sliding again last week, I'm starting to lose my nerve!

Do tyres exist that are designed for roads which are mostly tarmac but will grip on ice patches? I'm not interested in speed or weight, just surviving my 24k to the office first thing in the morning!




Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Nothing really grips ice but studs IMO.

Schwalbe Snow Stud tyres have studs only on the shoulders so you can pump them rounder and harder and they roll OK on tarmac but if the bike slides and starts to tilt, the studs make contact and you get grip which usually suffices. If you know there's much ice, you run them softer and the studs make contact most of the time. However, they are only in 50-559 as far as I can see and may be discontinued, whereas I suspect your bike currently uses 28-622 so they're not an option. I don't know of anything similar for 622 wheels and it would probably need to be at least 37mm wide to be physically possible.

Some suggest Continental Top Contact Winter as having better grip than many but they have no studs and I'm sceptical but I think Conti are mostly overpriced and fragile anyway! That said, plain Marathons (which I do use on some) aren't the grippiest Schwalbe tyre - browse the Schwalbe site to see what's made of what and so on.


Accra, Ghana
There is so little tyre actually in contact with the road especially in 28c that it's pretty much a hopeless cause.
Those Schwalbe studded are 35c narrowest so might not fit inside vthe OPs frame but if it's a CX he might be in with a chance.
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twentysix by twentyfive

Clinging on tightly
Over the Hill
I have the luxury of not needing to go out when it's icy these days. When I did I used to let some pressure out of the tyre to put more rubber on the road. If I detected ice (difficult when it's black I admit) that I didn't fancy I'd get off and walk round the patch.
Studded tyres really are the business.

As I've posted a few times now, you will be able to ride - carefully - in places where pedestrians are slipping over.


Über Member
Studded tyres are the biz.

However, there's no way I'd run them all winter given how little really cold weather we get and how slow and NOISY (I was amazed what a racket they make) they are.

So unless you have a spare bike to fit them on, or at least a spare wheelset, they're not the answer. I put a pair on the mtb for winter commuting and haven't used them once this year, despite riding every day.


Continental Top Contact II Winter Premium tyres are the obvious choice for a 24km each-way commute on tarmac with icy patches, if your bike has clearance for them. The narrowest in 700c is labelled '37mm' wide, but these actually measure 31-2mm wide, so they may well fit where you currently have 28mm tyres. Studded tyres will instil even more confidence, but are awfully slow, and are terrifying if cornering on roads with lots of metalwork that may be difficult to avoid.

I wouldn't pay much attention to sceptical comments from people who haven't used the Top Contact Winters. Have a look at some video reviews instead (e.g. HERE), or consider advice from experienced users. As for fragility, well the Top Contact Winters are tougher than a Schwalbe Durano and a bit less tough than a Marathon Greenguard. I haven't punctured one yet - they have a fairly decent anti-puncture layer - and my only concern in this area is that, like any tyre with fairly deep tread, thorns can get caught between the tread lugs and so render them more susceptible to thorn penetration than treadless tyres (only really a problem for me at hedge-cutting time, but the Marathons have the same problem anyway). Top Contact Winters are also noticeably more comfortable than Schwalbe Winter or Marathon Winter studded tyres of similar size, which tend to be constructed extra-robustly and with extra-stiff, bump-transmitting sidewalls.

As it happens, I've posted on the subject of the Top Contact Winters before on CycleChat, and as you can see, I consider them excellent road tyres for very cold UK weather. I only wheel the studs out when the ice is likely to be severe/extensive, such as after a sudden hard freeze following heavy rain, or when there is a lot of compacted frozen snow (so pretty rarely in southern UK).

Continental's Top Contact II Winter Premium tyres are the answer to general very cold weather riding in the UK. Note the 700x37mm version measures only about 31mm wide; yes, the fronds sticking put may add a few more mm, but if they brush mudguards or anything else they add very little resistance and wear off anyway - so the '37mm' version will actually work with any bike with clearance for 32mm tyres. The 700x42mm version measures a true 42mm wide. Continental really ought to produce a true 37mm version, and a 28mm version wouldn't go amiss either.

I find them excellent, and use them in most frosty/icy conditions unless the ice is severe and extensive, in which case I deploy Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tyres - i.e. I use the Top Contact Winters frequently on ice as I typically find it on the southern UK road/lane/path network (including countless miles on ungritted lanes) - thick hoar frost, rime, frozen rain, frozen run-off etc are all fine with caution on these Continental tyres.

Studded tyres are horrendously slow though, and on a 15-mile commute will probably add around 15 minutes' riding time over something like a Continental Gatorskin or Schwalbe Durano, whereas the Top Contact Winter will probably only add 7-8 minutes for the same riding effort. Studded tyres inspire a confidence even on extensive sheet ice (although caution is still required) - studs are lethal when cornering on road ironwork, though, whereas the Top Contact Winters are fine on dry metal and generally fine on wet metal with caution.

I quite happily ride across icy patches on the non-studded Top Contact Winters - yes I do need to exercise caution, and take extra care to corner more slowly than normal, but they cope admirably and riding a straight line across ice on them is very straightforward compared with non-winter compound/tread tyres.

For muddy and wet leaf road conditions, I use the Continental Top Contact II regular tyres in various widths depending on application, which have a fairly aggressive tread but still roll reasonably well due to a smooth centre strip. Definitely noticeably faster than the Top Contact Winter. The 700x28/32/37/42mm versions of these tyres are all fairly true to size in terms of tyre width.

Successful winter riding is all about the right tyre choice (and clothes) for the conditions. The only conditions that will stop me are deep snow and winds above about 70mph.
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Randy Butternubs

Über Member
I too have had success with the Conti Winter tyres. I can't imagine they are anything like as effective as studded tyres (which I haven't tried) but for me they made icy bits quite doable so long as I was careful. I still wouldn't want to hit a patch of ice mid-corner but on the plus side they ride like normal tyres (albeit slow ones).

I should add that the tyres I had been using were the slick Vittoria Voyager Hypers, so I don't know how the Contis would stack up against a treaded tyre like a marathon.
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Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next

Tom B

Über Member
Likewise I normally run 28c marathon greens. I'm snow and ice I run 30c schwalbe winter studs. I got them for about £11 each one July
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