After vacillating for years about trying studded tires, I finally got a set of the Marathon Winter Plus. I've run these for 3 weeks now on my 10-mile roundtrip urban commute, and I will now always maintain a set on spare wheels to be quickly swapped in whenever winter conditions threaten. As this is only my experience after less than a couple hundred miles, I can't speak to long term durability. That said, these appear to be quite robust, and I've hit broke glass many times already without incident.
First, I will confess that I struggled to mount the Marathons on new Mavic Crossride 29er wheels. It probably didn't help that I was trying to repurpose the big tubes that came inside the big Mavic Quest tires. But unless you want to run them an entire season, I can't really imagine routinely swapping them with other tires on a single wheel set, unless they soften up after running, or your wheels (or technique!) make for easier installation.
Second, they're not quick to accelerate due to weight. My commute has many lights and stop signs, so I notice the weight burden each time I try to take off. In fact, today I switched back to my regular wheels with 32C Panaracer Gravelkings, and I was going 3-4mph faster than with the Marathons without even trying. That's not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, as the 38F conditions allowed me to go back to regular MTB Sidis on my cross bike, rather than the winter Sidi or 45Nrth boots I've been wearing lately. However, they do seem to roll quite nicely once up to speed, and the frying bacon sound of the studs on pavement isn't as bad as I feared.
Third, and most importantly, these tires inspire confidence. I like to go fast when I can, but I'm generally cautious on the bike in the city, particularly when snow obscures Chicago potholes, narrows the distance between me and SUVs, and reduces visibility. These tires allow me to get through thick slush, skate over patches of ice, and traverse packed snow without (too much) concern. Since, I'm not a daredevil, I cannot comment on cornering at speed in winter, but I'll bet the fearless among you would be even more so with these.
I've often read that studded tires don't help in snow. While that may be somewhat true, and this is my first test of studded tires, I find these tires are great in most snow situations that I encounter in the city. Perhaps the tread is improved over past tires, but I find the Marathons far out handle my Gravelkings in snow, indeed any mudgravel tire I've ever had on my cross bikes. With one exception...
There is one situation where the Marathon Winter Pus tires consistently handle poorly. In Chicago, many of the older bridges over the Chicago River lack pavement but rather have open steel grating as the ridingdriving substrate, the grid pattern of the grating includes diagonals that I suspect interact with some tread configurations. When wet, these steel grates can be quite tricky, sometimes causing significant fishtailing for certain tires, slick road tires and various knobbies alike. Whereas my Gravelkings are excellent on the bridge grates and track well even when wet, the Marathons can be downright scary when wet and aren't a thrill when dry. On such bridges, I am forced to a crawl and must be very careful with the Marathons, particularly if sharing the lane with wider vehicles that leave less room for erratic handling. Their tread pattern is about the worst I've tried for the effect on the steel grates. But I understand it's a situation that many will never encounter.
In summary, I'm sold on the Marathon Winter Plus for the confidence and sense of safety that they inspire in a wide range of winter conditions. This performance comes at the expense of accel
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