Riding a bike in the Upper Midwest winter can be a challenge of matching clothing to weather, trying to be seen in the long periods of darkness, but mostly, staying upright. This year we were hit especially hard with an early, wet storm that subsequently froze into a solid layer of ice.
Commuting through downtown Minneapolis, staying upright is a concern, but so is being seen. Although a lot of winter riding is done in the dark, very few of the studded tires on the market have a reflective stripe.
Enter the 45NRTH Gravdal. A nice 700×38 size, 252 studs and a reflective stripe. The tires check the basic boxes of need, jump past the break to see what else they deliver…
Being that studded tires are typically heavy and slow, there is no expectation of extreme performance with these, even though 45NRTH calls these “high performance commuter tires”. At 842 grams, they are definitely not lightweights, but this is the 27tpi version with steel carbide studs. This version also has a non-folding wire bead. 45NRTH also sells a version of the Gravdal with folding bead, 120tpi casing, and carbide studs in aluminum bases. They don’t offer a claimed weight of the tires, so we are not sure how much weight they would save.
Aside from the material and weight difference, one primary point of differentiation is that the carbide studs in steel bases that are used on this tire have a different shape than the carbide studs in aluminum bases on the 120tpi tire. The higher-end tire’s studs use 45NRTH’s unique concave stud shape, whereas the 27tpi tire uses a domed tip. The domed tip, while not appearing “sharp” worked just fine, and actually quieted down the ride of the tire. The Gravdals are notably quieter than the Nokian tire with less studs that they replaced. While the concave studs might have more grip, these were adequate for street duty, and the quieter performance is greatly appreciated.
- FEATURES 5mm high-visibility strip for riding at night, fits most bikes with cantilever or disc brakes
- OPTIONS 120tpi Studded, 27tpi Studded
- SIZE 700c x 38mm (622/Road)
- CASING 120tpi Ultralight or 27tpi
- STUDS Concave Aluminum Carbide (120tpi), Steel Carbide (27tpi)
- BEAD Folding (120tpi), Wire (27tpi)
- RIM COMPATIBILITY 20-28mm wide rims
At $85, these are the most expensive studded commuter tire on the market, except for their even more expensive 120tpi siblings which cranks up to $115. Options from Schwalbe, Nokian, Kenda and Innova are all closer to the $50-$65 range, but like mentioned above, are mostly missing reflectivity. 45NRTH knows winter, and that experience transfers into the product, making the asking price seem reasonable since they work well.
The Gravdals have been mounted for the winter on the Rawland Sogn commuter test bike, so we will put them to the test and report back with a long term review when the snow melts.