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The arrival of Continental Nordic Spike 120 couldn’t have been timed better. 120 steel studs combined with an open, knobbly tread allowed me to cut a steady swathe through otherwise impassable back roads. However, a modicum of caution is required when accelerating – especially over icy tarmac – and their portly 42mm profiles can present compatibility hassles with more traditional ‘cross, touring and hybrid frames.
900g a piece, 84tpi and with a pressure range between 55 and 65psi the Nordic Spike are designed as an extreme conditions tyre. Taking its lead from cross country rubber, the open tread is designed to shovel away loose snow while the spikes bite deep, providing all important traction when negotiating sheet ice.
Three ply casings continue the belt and braces approach, safeguarding the sidewalls against punctures, tears and related damage. Wire beads make them less appealing companions for extreme/expedition touring but they require surprisingly little persuasion aboard most standard section road rims without creeping away at lower pressures. Bigger clearances, or at least careful measuring, are essential on bikes running low profile cantilever or V brakes- a moot point with the latest generation of disc ready cross and expedition tourers but my 1978 Geoff Roberts proved an absolute non starter.
Run at 60psi, the Continentals felt steady but purposeful. Clipping along at consistent 12- 15mph through otherwise abandoned back roads while, the spikes provided plenty of feedback and traction at the crucial points, especially braking and cornering. The joy of remaining upright brought with it a spell of over confident acceleration, causing the spikes to momentarily loose purchase approaching a roundabout.
Mercifully this didn’t spiral into a spill, something I attribute to the girth and greater rotational weight, characteristics that lend themselves equally well to swooping singletrack and even more challenging terrain. Steep climbs and descents demanded a steady, seated rhythm but I never once felt the call to unclip. The Univega and I only wish they produced a 26" MTB variant….
Excellent extreme conditions tyres but traction could be better under acceleration.
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Make and model: Continental Nordic Spike 120 tyre
Size tested: 700x42
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"For extreme 700C winter use only
Metal studded tyre for use in snow or icy conditions
120 or 240 studs
3 ply, 84 tpi casing
Open tread clears snow well"
Nothing I'd challenge here.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
120 or 240 studs
3 ply, 84 tpi casing
Open tread clears snow well
Should last many winters, especially given our relatively short spells of extreme weather.
900g each, hefty but not that you'd notice in the snow.
Very reassuring, especially when cornering and braking.
Excellent value given the quality of construction and overall performance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Continental know a thing or two about tyres and the Nordic Spike 120 are very competent extreme conditions rubber for ice, snow and slush. a little care needs to be taken when accelerating but if our winters continue as they have, the Nordic Spike will repay their investment many times over...so long as you've sufficient frame clearance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Pretty much everything given the design brief.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing but a reflective sidewall might be handy and I want a 26 mtb version!!!
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, would love a 26 inch varient too
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 37 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)