At Grease Rag's 2nd Annual Winter Maintenance Skill-Share, Kat explained the difference between tires and the importance of fenders. Here are her thoughts . Add your own knowledge in the comments section!
Everyone has preferences for the equipment they use. Simply ride what you feel comfortable with. During the winter, each tire category has strengths and weaknesses. Give them a try and see what works for you and your bike.
Studded Tires: 32mm- 2.5 inches with metal studs.
Studded Tires are my number one recommendation for winter riding. They are essentially a knobby tire with metal studs, which grab the ice and give superior traction and control in a variety of conditions. They tend to run a bit more expensive compared to normal tires, but they are worth the investment because they perform brilliantly in the snow and on ice. You will be surprised at the conditions you can ride in with studded tires.
Knobby Tires: 32mm-2.5 inches, knobby tires.
If you don’t want to invest in studded tires, your next best bet is knobby mountain bike tires. These have a thick tread, which is ideal for plowing through snow. The shape of the tread is designed to deflect snow away from the tire, thus giving a smoother ride. Wider tires give you more contact with the road, and the lower air pressure makes them less slick on ice. Go with tires as wide as your bike frame will allow for. Make sure to check the rotation direction on the tire before mounting them to the wheel.
Skinny Slicks: 22-28mm, smooth tires.
Some people like these because they can cut through slush and snow with little resistance. However, because they are so thin, they need a higher air pressure in the tire, which results in a smaller contact surface with the pavement. Slicks also have very little traction and are not good for riding over ice.
A full set of fenders on a winter bike is essential. It will keep the snow and slush off your clothes and your bike. A set costs around $40, which is totally worth it. You can use them the rest of the year for when it rains.
Many of the standard fender sets require eyelets on the bicycle to mount on. If your bike doesn’t have the eyelets, you can go with a clip on fender, or make your own.
I used to use a piece of coro-plast (what lawn signs are made of), cut about 4 inches wide. It was zip-tied to the downtube. Simple.