Put otherwise, there's no free lunch. Both personal experience with traction devices and considerable Internet browsing on this subject has convinced me of that fact.
Example: I used to have a front wheel drive Volvo 850 wagon. Great car, but not super in our Oregon snow until I put Blizzak winter tires on it. They're made of a special rubber that stays flexible in cold temperatures and have a mud/snow tread design.
One day I'd driven to Portland in a heavy rain. I was cruising along the freeway at 55 or 60 and realized that I was no longer in contact with the pavement. Super scary feeling.
My brain remembered, "If you start to hydroplane, don't do anything sudden. Just gently reduce pressure on the gas pedal and slow down until you're back in control."
Which I did.
That lesson taught me that winter tires are excellent on snow or ice, but they suck big time when it comes to wet or dry traction. Tire reviews I've read in Consumer Reports support that conclusion.
So here my wife and I are in Oregon's Willamette Valley, where we usually get snow/ice no more than several times a year. It generally doesn't last long, though recently we had over a week of wintry weather.
What to do, traction device-wise? We live about six miles out in the country from the Salem city limits. Getting to town means driving up and over the south Salem hills.
Often our local roads are covered with ice, while in town the streets have been plowed and sanded -- another traction device complication, because I don't like to put tire chains on and off (who does?).
So last December I found myself driving around Salem on mostly clear pavement with chains on our all wheel drive Toyota Highlander. I needed the chains only for the first couple of miles, yet I didn't want to go through the trouble of removing them and putting them back on for the trip home.
And returning to the Blizzak (or similar winter tire) option didn't thrill me either, given my bad experience with hydroplaning.
Since most winter driving in our part of Oregon is on wet or, less frequently, dry roads, why give up so much tire safety for a few days a year of snow tire convenience? And on a hill covered with ice, even all wheel drive and snow tires isn't going to cut it.
Unless you use studs, which are legal in this state. But they're noisy, damage pavement, and aren't a good tire choice for wet or dry braking/handling.
Which gets me to Spikes-Spider. These are a type of chain that, once a drive wheel adapter is fitted, can be put on or taken off a tire in about a minute. (Check out these videos to see how it's done.)
After considerable Taoist tire traction pondering, I concluded that a set of Spikes-Spiders would be a nice fit for our Toyota Prius Touring, which I mostly drive.
It's front wheel drive with traction control. All it needs is better tire traction, and I should be able to get around great on snow or ice. I didn't drive it all in our recent wintry weather, because I only wanted to put chains on our all wheel drive Highlander.
I finished installing the Spikes-Spiders a few days ago.
As noted above, you have to put an hub assembly on each drive wheel. A locking ring then fits on the adapter. This keeps the chains secured without any need to get down on the ground or reach around the back of a tire (as is necessary even with top of the line easy-fit chains).
With Spikes-Spiders, the time-consuming part comes at the beginning, in the comfort of your garage, car port, or driveway.
This needs to be remembered by a buyer of the product, because the installation directions aren't crystal clear and it may take some experimenting to get the right spacers added to the hub assembly so the chains fit properly on the tire.
In addition, the chains themselves can be adjusted, as they have outer and inner links that allow fine-tuning of their tightness.
Spikes-Spiders aren't designed to be put on for the first time by the side of a road as the snow is falling. This positive review describes what can happen if you don't test the fit of the chains before you need them.
Now that they're (seemingly) properly installed on our Prius, I'm ready for some snow or ice. They appear to be a great traction device option, offering the advantages of chains without the on-and-off hassle, and letting regular tires do their thing in wet and dry conditions.
The reviewer gets it right, from the way I see Spikes-Spiders so far.
When properly installed, the Spike-Spiders are a well-designed product that provide an effective solution for tough winter driving. The only negatives are the price, the lame-ass instructions, and the major geek factor the mounting plates project. Otherwise, you're good to snow.
They're manufactured in Switzerland and have a European feel of quality to them. You can see a British-accented commercial here, but I found a German version more enticing. (The video shows the Compact style; I got the Sport style, which have actual chains and are billed as better in deep snow and on hills.)