I have used the Hakkapelliita W240 and used them a 26" commuter (since gifted to my nephew [the bike]).
They worked well on pavement in up to 3 inches of snow and handled black ice like a dream too.
Draw backs were slow rolling speed (stop pedaling and rapid slowdown - great workout though!) , a bit noisy (dogs would bark at me from inside their houses without being able to even see me), and moderate to poor dry pavement traction.
I'm now looking for a set for my 29er drop bar "monster commuter" and I'm considering:
Schwalbe Marathon Winter (I need size recommendation on this too)
My summer tire is the Schwalbe Big Apple 60-622 but winter commuting is more road oriented and width is less of a concern in fact I think narrow is better in cutting through snow. Anyone have any thoughts or recommendations?
BTW: I'd let the old pair of 26x1.5 go for 75$ if anyone's interested (still in great & shape no stud loss).
I used a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Winters last season and they worked like a dream on ice. In new snow, I'd say the results were mixed. They were fine if it was just a few inches, but any deeper than that and they'd float a bit. I don't think they handled all that great in that slush/salt/snow slurry that gets created once a lot of cars and plows have been through. I've switched over to Hakkapelliita W240 tires for this season just as an experiment (although it's too early to give any comparison).
I don't have a recommendation, but I just bought a pair of 40mm Schwalbe Marathon Winters and will mount them next week. I've been riding on 35mm Marathon Supremes without flats for more than a year- I love that. Hope you post something about the tires you do buy.
Ive run the Schwalbe Marathon Winters for several seasons and echo David Beazleys comments: great on ice, not good in snow. Rolling resistance is noticeably greater than normal tires but not terrible. Traction seems fine on dry roads so you can run them all season.
I have used 35mm Nokians (W116? I can't remember - I may be thinking of the Mercedes instead :) ) in the past and found them perfectly nice for our conditions. They'll fit under the fenders of whatever bike I would put them on. Of course they are loud and slow on dry pavement but that's to be expected, and they're less so than higher-stud-count and wider tires. Great on ice, pretty good on packed, icy snow. However, I haven't really needed them in about 3 winters.
I ride Nokian A10s (700 x 32) on a fixed gear winter bike. The A10s roll decent on dry pavement, but handle the type of slop/crud that covered the bike lanes today just so/so. I only felt comfortable today riding by taking the lane, and didn't just charge through the bike lane crud.
I lose around 2 mph off my average speed. The A10s are essentially a black ice insurance policy, and generally allow you to at least correct when you hit something slippery.
"black ice insurance policy"
Yes, that's what I need.
Still undecided. I like the XERXES idea but I'm afraid they might be a bit too hard of a ride for my current tastes (I really love the fat smooth tire). I'm afraid the Gravdal is too much of a compromise tire too hard, heavy and slow in dry weather & not enough for serious crunching through the suburban winter terrain. I don't think that I'll ever be commuting in deep snow and even I am skeptical as to how much commuting I'll do this winter. Last winter was a wash-out for me, and really reduced my biking motivational "momentum". I am becoming more focused on biking as a recreational activity and I could see converting the KM into flat bar mode for the winter seasons and going that way but the best tires are the Ice Spiker Pro at $175 each! I kinda like these SUOMI A10 A 40/44-622 but really not quite enough studs on the side and also can't find a vendor to even price them. Come on 45N, how about a Xerxes in a slightly bigger size like at least a 35?
I've seen the Xerxes in person, and while they're listed as a 700 x 30, they are at least as wide as my Nokian (Suomi) 700 x 32 A10s when mounted. With the Xerxes you get more studs than an A10 (even compared to the wider size), and if you're willing to drop the coin you can get them with a folding sidewall (120 tpi). Part of the idea behind the narrow design is cutting through slush to reach tarmac easier as well, though obviously winter riders vary on whether fat or skinny is best in slop.
From everything I've read, the folding sidewall Xerxes rides almost like a regular road tire with some slight resistance/extra noise from the studs. The folding-bead Xerxes will likely give you a much, much softer ride than even the much wider Nokians. If I had it to do over again, I would have bought the Xerxes for daily commuting, as the Nokians ride like a sack of potatoes on dry pavement.
Maybe Gravdal? 700x38c. http://45nrth.com/products/tires/gravdal
Also, I think anything is going to be a compromise. Nothing with studs is going to ride as nice as what you might be used to from Compass, V-O, or Panaracer. The Xerxes show a 75psi max pressure on the sidewall. You can't pump them up rock hard. The sidewalls seem pretty supple as well.
do you use the 120 tpi folders or the 35 tpi wire beads?