Sadly Tyre Reviews won't be conducting a studded tyre test this year, but thankfully the excellent testers at the Swedish magazine Vi Bilagare have, and as they're some of the best Nordic drivers in the world, you can be assured this is the best studded tyre test you'll see this year.
As always for a studded tyre test, the tyres were all tested in the dry, wet, snow and importantly ice, which is where studs really make a difference. To add another element to the testing this year Vi Bilagare bought a "joker" tyre, a lightly used Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 (the current version is the Hakkapeliitta 10) which was manufactured in 2015, making the tyre both old technology AND 8 years old. The testers noted that the tyre still had around 7mm of tread depth (compared to 9.1mm of the new Hakka 10) and that some studs had fallen out, and those which hadn't were somewhat blunted compared to new.
The inclusion of the old tyre is really interesting, as they've also included a cheap Chinese, so we can answer whether an old premium studded to tyre is better than a new budget!
In our coverage below we'll concentrate on how the old vs new perform, but overall this is an excellent in depth test and well worth checking out the full version on the ViB website.
Dry braking started off with a win for the used tyre! If you understand tyres and braking tests, this won't be a huge surprise as lower tread depth really helps improve dry braking results, especially on siped tyres like these.
The testers don't report lap time for this category of tyre, but they do report subjective handling scores of which the Michelin X-Ice North 4 and Continental IceContact 3 lead the way.
The Hankook Winter i*Pike RS2 had the best braking in the wet, closely followed by the new Goodyear UltraGrip Arctic 2. Surprisingly, the worn old tyre finished fourth in wet braking, ahead of its new and "better" brother, the Hakkapeliitta 10. This is harder to explain, as the 8 year old rubber should have hardened up, however it's likely the lower tread depth was once again a factor on these very soft and highly siped tyres.
Highlighting the tread depth vs tread compound factor, wet handling had the old tyre second to last, only beating the budget tyre which had disastrous wet braking. The Continental was back at the front.
The Falken Winterpeak F-Ice 1 had the best aquaplaning resistance, and surprisingly the worn older tyre out performed a number of the newer patterns, which was unexpected due to the lower tread depth. This is likely due to the newer tyres prioritising more rubber on the road for improved grip, at the expense of aquaplaning performance.
The budget Goodride IceMaster Spike was the best in snow braking with the Hankook a close second. The older tyre was once again near the back of the back, though confusingly it still managed to beat the Michelin.
Fortunately Michelin jumped back to the front of the group for snow traction, beaten only by the Goodyear. The older Nokian again beat the newer Nokian in what was a very close table.
Thankfully the (new) Nokian was back at the front for snow handling, with the old right at the back.
Ice is key for studded tyres, and really shows where the older tyre loses out. The new Nokian was best in the ice braking tests, and the old Nokian by far the worst.
Michelin snuck ahead of the new Nokian during ice traction testing but the old Nokian remained at the back.
Ice handling had the new Nokian back at the front, but this time the budget Goodride was the slowest by quite the margin.
The Continental proved to have the highest level of subjective comfort.
The Continental was also the quietest.
Lower tread depth favours rolling resistance results which meant the older tyre was the best, with the Hankook the best of the new tyres.
The Finnish winter specialist scores many points for its high level of grip on ice. It is also the best at handling slippery curves on both snow and ice without losing its course. A lightly oversteering rear end helps to rotate the car around corners. This makes the tyre somewhat prone to skidding under pressure, but it remains easy to control at the grip limit.
Its willingness to turn continues on asphalt rounds. However, its wet grip lags behind the best, and the steering feel on dry roads is nonlinear in character.
Nokian is suitable for those looking for the best possible winter grip on snow and ice and who appreciate the joy of driving on curvy roads.
A high baseline performance with peak winter features results in an overall test victory.
The Michelin tyre exhibits short braking distances on all types of surfaces, especially on ice. It also has a high level of initial grip on winter roads. Compared to the best, it has slightly lower cornering grip and slower steering responses. The balance is clearly understeering, which also results in a stable rear that rarely breaks into a skid.
On dry ground, Michelin impresses with a natural steering feel. A shallower tread depth than others and many small studs have previously resulted in low noise, but this time the road noise is on par with competitors.
A good mix of high winter grip and fine asphalt characteristics brings Michelin close to winning a gold medal. This tyre is suitable for those looking for a calm and safe option with good everyday comfort.
The second generation of the UltraGrip Arctic has short braking distances on all types of surfaces.
Despite having class-leading wet grip and the shortest braking distances on dry roads, Goodyear manages to match Nokian and Michelin when it comes to stopping on ice and snow. The initial grip on winter roads is also impressive.
However, the lateral grip is not quite on par with the very best, and the tyre also has vague steering precision, making it somewhat difficult to place under pressure. This applies to both winter and dry roads. Nevertheless, it doesnt cause any trouble and never puts the driver in a tight spot.
Goodyear is suitable for those who often drive on dry roads but want studs for the treacherous black ice that lurks in the shadows.
Last year, the F-Ice 1 was disqualified after losing its studs from the unusually soft rubber. Falken identified a production error and promised new tyres to all customers who received products from the affected production period. Was it just an excuse, or is Falken's claim true?
Upon testing Falken's latest studded tyre, we find that the studs are securely in place. The Japanese tyre has the best winter grip, second only to the more expensive brands. It also has good grip on wet asphalt and resists hydroplaning better than any other.
The downside is a vague steering feel on dry roads and elevated noise levels.
Falken offers a slightly more affordable option with a good mix of wet grip and winter traction.
Continental has failed at the most important aspect for a studded tyre: achieving grip on ice. The stopping distance on ice lags far behind other premium brands. Despite having the highest price, the tyre's braking performance is on par with Goodride and is only marginally better than a used tyre.
However, the IceContact 3 communicates well with the driver about where the grip limit is and remains controllable when traction is about to be lost. This safe and easy-to-control behavior is consistent across all surfaces.
Continental scores the most points in the asphalt categories with a nice driving feel, good stability during evasive maneuvers, and low noise. But with a high price and poor ice grip, it's difficult to recommend the tyre to anyone, regardless of driving type.
The South Korean tyre is one of the oldest in the group. In previous tests, Hankook had prioritized winter road conditions, but this time we find that wet grip has been improved since the last test. It stops better than any other tyre on wet roads and handles hydroplaning well. However, Hankook lags behind in the ice rounds.
Under pressure, Hankook easily breaks into a skid with an erratic behavior that is consistent across all surfaces.
On dry roads, the steering feel is vague and also lacks straight-line stability. However, it rolls more easily than the new tyres and has an acceptable noise level.
At the right price, this is a reasonable option for those who prioritize economy.
Chinese brand Goodride boasts that their latest studded tyre is developed in Finland and features 200 studs per tyre. The studding is also unusually well-executed for a tyre in the budget segment.
However, Goodride performs worst of all the new tyres on ice and is worse than the used tyre in corners. One explanation is that the rubber compound is the hardest in the group. It is also the only tyre with a speed rating of H for higher speeds.
On snow, it performs better, where the tread pattern provides good braking grip, but the cornering grip remains low.
From a harder winter tyre, we would expect good performance on dry roads, but unfortunately, Goodride shows the worst wet grip in the test. This results in a modest overall point score, on par with the used tyre.
How do eight-year-old tyres with a reasonable tread depth hold up? A tyre is said to improve on dry asphalt as it wears, something we can confirm. The used tyre shows the lowest consumption and best stopping distance on dry roads. The rubber also performs reasonably well on wet roads with an acceptable braking distance and is not far behind in cornering grip.
Snow grip is also not far off from the new tyres.
The major downside is a clear deterioration in ice grip. However, in icy corners, it communicates well with the driver about where the grip limit is and remains easy to handle under pressure. In fact, it holds up well compared to the budget tyre even on ice.
Investing in quality pays off for many years to come.