So I’ve always been under the impression (looking at an old test that tirerack preformed in 2007) that winter studless tires, proper winter tires like those from Nokian and the like have about the same performance than equivalent tires with no studs. The results did show the studded tiers THEY selected were worse. See the video from 2007 below.
But as of 2013 there are much better studded options and if you look at the test results down the page a bit, on ice, studs are always going to be better!
And in 2009 they did indeed find this to be true, duh, studs are better on ice:
A test done found here http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/551.1.pdf by Washington Dept of Transport – basically said that Blizzaks were about as good than studded tires even on ice but this is from 2002 and I don’t this the studded tires they used were very good.
So what’s the best snow tire to buy ???
Here is a list of test of the top snow tires from a Swedish Test in 2001 and you can see the studded tires come out on top: ( I snagged this data from a webpage – here is the original article – http://www.350z-uk.com/topic/52351-winter-tyre-tire-review/)
The evaluation weightings used: Ice 30% Snow 20% Sleet 10% Wet tarmac 20% Dry tarmac 10% Economy and comfort 10% S means Studded, N means Nordic, E means European. 1. Nokian Hakkapellitta 7 (S): 7.4 (****) 2. Continental Conti IceContact (S): 7.3 (****) 3. Bridgestone Noranza 2 Evo (S): 7.0 (***) 4. Goodyear Ultragrip Extreme (S): 6.6 (***) 5. Michelin X-Ice North XIN2 (S): 6.6 (***) 6. Pirelli WinterCarving Edge (S): 6.6 (***) 7. Vredestein Arctrac (S): 6.6 (***) 8. Gislaved NordFrost 5 (S): 6.3 (***) 9. Yokohama IceGuard Ig35 (S): 6.0 (**) 10. Goodyear UltraGrip Ice+ (N): 6.0 (**) 11. Dunlop SP Ice Response (S): 5.9 (**) 12. Continental Conti-Viking Contact 5 (N): 5.9 (**) 13. Nokian Hakkapellitta R (N): 5.9 (**) 14. Hankook Winter I*Pike (S): 5.7 (**) 15. Sava Eskimo Ice (S): 5.6 (**) 16. Michelin X-Ice XL2 (N): 5.6 (**) 17. Bridgestone Blizzak Nordic WN-01 (N): 5.5 (**) 18. Yokohama IceGuard ig30 (N): 5.0 (*) 19. Continental ContiWinter ContactTS830 (E): 4.9 (*) 20. Dunlop Graspic DS-3 (N): 4.6 (*) 21. Goodyear UltraGrip Performance 2 (E): 4.6 (*) 22. Insa Turbo T-2 Green Line (S): 4.5 (*) 23. Kenda Icetec (N): 4.5 (*) 24. Pirelli Winter 210 Sottozero Serie II (E): 4.5 (*) 25. Cordlant Sno-Max (S): 4.3 (*) 26. Vredestein Snowtrac 3 (E): 4.2 (*) 27. Sava Eskimo S3 (E): 4.0 (-) 28. Toyo Snowprox S953 (E): 3.5 (-)
As you can see the top 9 are all studded and rightly so as the test was weighted for ice 30% rather than snow %20. Also the tirerack does not carry the Nokian Hakkapellitta but they do now as of 2013 carry the updated version of the number 2 tire (Continental ExtremeWinterContact ) that came second it their latest 2012 test – see results here http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=167.
So studs then?
This is what the folks at Nokian have to say :
It’s really comes down to where you live. Here in the Front Range of Colorado during winter the roads are mostly dry so if you have to commute to work every day with studs then you are going to have to put up with that constant rumble for a good 5 months of the year, people who have never had studded tire before fail to remember that you are running tiny little metal rods into the dry tarmac at speed every time your studded tire rotates, noise is going to be generated and quite a lot of it!
If you want to know why you even need snow tires then see this video
In case you were wondering what the difference between Nordic vs Central European snow tires was
Latest test of Studless snow tires from tirerack in 2012
This should be the most up to date info for those wanting to get tires from thetirerack but remember they don’t stock Nokian, in my opinion the best snow tire money can buy.