Schwalbe and Continental have both struggled to meet demand in the UK for spiked bike tyres following the recent cold snap.
Reports have come in of bike shops selling out of the tyres – which feature either metal studs or spikes embedded in the tread – in a matter of days and distributors’ shelves emptying.
Shelley Childs, Continental’s distributor, said: “We sold out of Spike Claws. We only ever kept a small stock as there was no demand in the UK – until the first week of January… Luckily our German warehouse had some stock so I’ve now purchased enough to get us through one more big freeze.”
Schwalbe say they sold nearly 2,000 spiked tyres over the winter, including the Marathon Winter studded model – which will run on ice and tarmac – and their Ice Spikers, usually aimed at bike speedway events in Scandanavia.
Chris Hearn of Bohle UK, Schwalbe’s distributors, said: “Our problem is that we get geared up for winter but wholesalers and retailers don’t always put orders in early enough. Then you get this situation with the weather and suddenly everybody wants them.”
BikeRadar spoke exclusively to Graham O’Hanlon who runs Snowbikers mountain biking training and guiding in Snowdonia and has plenty of experience riding on snow and ice, including a stint living in the Alps.
He stressed that studded tyres aren’t the answer to all winter conditions: “Studded tyres won’t make any difference whatsoever in deep snow – you need big fat mud tyres that will keep you floating on the surface. People who ride on snow six months of the rear even go to the lengths of putting on double-wide rims to increase the tyre footprint.”
UK conditions more often feature ice than deep fluffy snow, and according to Graham: “That’s where studs come into their own. The grip of studs on ice can be so convincing that you actually forget you’re cycling on a very slippery surface. You don’t need special training to use them, but you still have to take care.
“Braking and steering is still quite convincing on studs but any sudden changes of movement and you’re likely to end up flat on your back before you realise it. They can be super-useful though – living in the French Alps we sometimes found that a bike with studded tyres would get up icy slopes that even 4x4s with snow chains on failed.’