A couple of weeks ago I went to a winter bicycling clinic, put on by the Bozeman Bike Kitchen. Volunteers discussed the many issues facing bicyclists in the winter, including gear, clothing, and bicycle choice. Most of the information was fairly common sense, but the biggest endorsement of the night came on behalf of studded tires.
Previously, I have just been using normal mountain bike knobby tires, which seemed to be working relatively fine until I got on ice or hard packed snow. After a few "close calls" I decided to use my company's annual bike-reimbursement and splurge on some studded snow tires. After much research I ended up with the Schwalbe Winter Marathons.
When you are looking for a specific item, I highly recommend the shopping link on google. It searches for all of the places where your desired product is listed, and then tells you price and what not. Because these tires typically retail between $75-77 a piece, I was definitely on the hunt for a bargain.
With the help of google, I found a retailer called Bike Tires Direct that were selling them for a smashing deal of $61.99 a tire. Awesome savings.
So far, they have performed outstandingly. They are a little bit narrower (1.75") than I'd like - wider tires would provide more float and better traction when running lower PSI. Other than the narrow width, they really grip the road and the studs aren't too bad on rolling resistance. As one commenter noted, on dry pavement they sound like "cooking bacon" which is definitely accurate.
Having these on my bike for the winter has greatly increased my confidence in riding in snow. Stay tuned for next time when I'll discuss some simple steps you can take to making your bike more visible in winter/dark conditions.