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Winter tyres/socks/chains for bigger wheels (XC90)?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Decided the trusted Passat Diesel Estate is not big enough for the family and associated gear, so moving to a Volvo XC90.
Thing is, they come with 22” wheels as standard! There seems to be very limited choice in terms of winter tyres, chains etc in this size (275/35 R22).

Chain options also seem limited to the xxl versions of chains that don’t go behind the wheel.

Since I have never had to use chains my entire skiing life I’m a bit reluctant to shell out >£400, also because they are actually quite a big bag, the mechanism looks like it’s more in a big box rather than neatly folded flat like my existing chains.

I see loads of XC90s when driving down to the alps, what’s everyone using?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
we had a XC90 a long time ago. It was not pleasant in snow on normal tyres around The Peak District. Put some winters on it for a trip to Tignes and it was fine. We invested in Spikes Spyders which I still have about 15 years later and have been adapted to fit several cars since. Never used in anger as I'm a huge winter tyres fan, but good to know I have them just in case.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I have a Volvo XC60 and have these: https://www.roofbox.co.uk/scripts/rbvehsel4_tab.php?emulate=snowchains&query=8546&vptype=628215&prodid=36771&TID=1353



I have fitted them in the snow when we lost traction, can't recommend them enough. They certainly work! £335.

Clever fitting design, you only need to push them over so far then they automatically pull themselves on.
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Those are the exact ones I was looking at, was debating those vs 2 pairs of socks so I could do all 4 wheels.
How bulky are they when boxed/bagged up?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
ish303 wrote:
Decided the trusted Passat Diesel Estate is not big enough for the family and associated gear, so moving to a Volvo XC90.
Thing is, they come with 22” wheels as standard! There seems to be very limited choice in terms of winter tyres, chains etc in this size (275/35 R22).

Chain options also seem limited to the xxl versions of chains that don’t go behind the wheel.

Since I have never had to use chains my entire skiing life I’m a bit reluctant to shell out >£400, also because they are actually quite a big bag, the mechanism looks like it’s more in a big box rather than neatly folded flat like my existing chains.

I see loads of XC90s when driving down to the alps, what’s everyone using?


Do you actually have the car yet?

Reason I ask is I'm surprised it's on 22in wheels. They're more like the "gangsta" option. Even the top of the range T8 Recharge comes on 20 as standard, 21 as optional. 35 depth on the tyre is super low profile for an SUV and not the sort of thing most XC90s will be rocking. Most will be on 20s or maybe 21s where getting winter tyres is much easier.

I've got a V60 and went of the low profile option and that's 19in / 40 depth. Getting chains for that was impossible due to arch clearance so socks is the only sensible option for me. That said, Cross Climate 2s in Tignes the other week with proper daft alpine snow was absolutely fine. I'd be bottling the conditions way before the tyres gave out.
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We have a 2018 XC90 - in the summer it's on a set of prettier 21" wheels but when it gets to winter I put it back on the standard 19" wheels which are much cheaper to get winter/all season tyres (or chains) for.
I run the winter wheels with a set of all season Vredestein Quatrac's (with 3PMSF) though this last Alps trip may have been the last one these will be doing as they're getting down towards 4mm tread depth.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@paulhinch, Volvo XC60 and XC90 can be supplied with 22 inch OEM wheels they're notoriously a PITA as they look fantastic but succumb to pot holes being surrounded by rubber bands and the ride can be harsh but each to their own. They're also difficult to source things like winter tyres for (or they were in the past) being such a diameter.

Best option is probably socks and also cost effective as they'll likely never get out the bag and will get you out of trouble unless its up to your knees. Other folks run a separate set of wheels something like a 19 with a winter focussed tyre but most XC90s I see on alps jaunts are on summer tyres.

I also have the same side fitting chains for my XC60 that have never been out the box they were supplied in apart from a test fit at home on the drive.

I like an XC90 if I needed a 7 seater I'd have one but for me the XC 60 suits my needs and is also an epically comfortable cruiser if heavy on petrol.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Mon 22-01-24 13:28; edited 1 time in total
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
The car is not brand new, and I wouldn’t spec 22” wheels myself, but, the car has everything else spec wise we need including retractable tow bar, heated front windscreen, heated steering wheel, heated seats front and back, heated headlight washers etc.

In the current car I have both socks and a set of chains, never needed either of them!

I’m leaning towards the ones king key posted for emergency use. Then might grab a pair of socks off eBay, only because there’s some going unopened for about £40…
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Maybe should have stuck with the Sensible Car! wink
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2024/jan/22/cars-growing-wider-europe-report?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other
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@ish303, As I say I have the same from Roofbox. You may already be aware you can't use traditional chains has to be side fitting as the clearance behind there wheel isn't sufficient for traditional chains which are a lot cheaper.
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ish303 wrote:
The car is not brand new, and I wouldn’t spec 22” wheels myself, but, the car has everything else spec wise we need including retractable tow bar, heated front windscreen, heated steering wheel, heated seats front and back, heated headlight washers etc.

In the current car I have both socks and a set of chains, never needed either of them!

I’m leaning towards the ones king key posted for emergency use. Then might grab a pair of socks off eBay, only because there’s some going unopened for about £40…


Socks are a great cheap option if it's just to get you out of a mess on the last bit up to a resort once a year (that was my criteria - particularly before I needed new tyres and stuck Cross Climates on). Full Volvo Winter Pack makes the trip down to the Alps especially comfy though Happy You'll appreciate things you never ever needed like the Heated Steering Wheel, remote start etc.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 are available in 275/35/R22. Though come at about £400 a pop.

Another alternative would be to get winther wheels, maybe some 19”s with winter tyres. Would be a similar upfront investment to getting 4x big winter tyres. But if you plan on keeping the car for a long time it could be worth it, as the tyres on smaller wheels will be cheaper to replace.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
I have had a v60 twice one after the other, neither of which could take cheaper, round-the-back chains. For each car I managed to get front-fix chains from ebay for <£100 a time. Maggi-Trak first, now Polaire. The latter, I really did have to use in January 22!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I have a V60 which replaced my VW Golf for which I had winter tyres. As the outer diameter of the Golf and V60 wheels are the same I ordered a set of steel rims with the BCD to match the V60 and had the Golf’s winters fitted to them. I now change the wheels myself at start and end of winter and am on my second set of winter tyres, which are a lot cheaper than those I would need to fit the V60’s fat summer alloys. I haven’t driven to the alps but occasionally get heavy snow on the hilly outskirts of Sheffield. The narrower wheels seem to get more traction than fatter tyres would. I do have chains for them but haven’t had to use them yet.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I have Spike Spider EASY Sport front-fitting chains for my BMW and I understand that the EASY Alpine Pro is the SUV version (but you need to check this for yourself). They are as easy to fit as claimed and they're worked well for me.

I also have a separate set of winter wheels and tyres (Pirelli Winter Sottozero™ S³), on the basis that for winter, BMW recommends a smaller winter wheel size for my model than that fitted as standard. It's an expense of course, but as the car goes down to the Alps every winter I bit the bullet on the extra cost. But I'm lucky to have the garage wall space to store them.

One thing I liked about the Spike Spiders is that they're more adjustable than the conventional chains I've bought for previous cars. They seem to fit a wider range of wheel sizes so will probably be more transferable to another future vehicle of a similar spec'. I reckon if I'd bought them in the first place, I wouldn't have three different sets of chains in the garage form my previous cars.

And just a tip - if you get Spiders or similar, you are likely to have to adjust them for your wheel size. Mine came setup for the smallest size in the range, and needed the links to be adjusted for my tyre size. Something you'd want to do ahead of needing them, and not up a mountain, in the dark, cold and snow. It took about 20 minutes per chain to do the adjustments. I also test-fitted them on a flat spare wheel first, which again saved time when I used them later in earnest.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Fri 26-01-24 21:53; edited 10 times in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I've got a set of König K-Summit XXL K66 and having trial fitted them at home was very impressed with them - very easy to fit and designed to fit big wheels too - (although I am using them on 19s they are also designed for my summer 21s and can go bigger as well)

As others have said make sure you adjust to your size. Check out eBay - I saw a K66 set on there starting at £100 which is cheaper than new.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
ish303 wrote:
Those are the exact ones I was looking at, was debating those vs 2 pairs of socks so I could do all 4 wheels.
How bulky are they when boxed/bagged up?
They come in a tidy zip up bag, not too big, I just chucked them in the boot with all the other stuff one carries to a ski trip. Your boot will swallow them no issue.

If you do get them, fit the special fitting that goes over one front wheel nut on each front wheel at home. Far easier than on the mountain when you just want to get them on and go. Incidentally, they don't recommend you put chains/covers on all 4 wheels, only the front, I don't know why though, something in the Volvo wheel drive system it doesn't like?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
ski_free wrote:
Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 are available in 275/35/R22. Though come at about £400 a pop.

Another alternative would be to get winther wheels, maybe some 19”s with winter tyres. Would be a similar upfront investment to getting 4x big winter tyres. But if you plan on keeping the car for a long time it could be worth it, as the tyres on smaller wheels will be cheaper to replace.


I have these too … and they’re great. As I live in Germany (where it’s sort of the law - bit complex) I change to them in late November/early December and then drive through the winter without ever needing any chains/socks. I’ve been over alpine passes in very heavy snow without the slightest issue and mine are super-wide (335) which isn’t usually ideal.
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king key wrote:
ish303 wrote:
Those are the exact ones I was looking at, was debating those vs 2 pairs of socks so I could do all 4 wheels.
How bulky are they when boxed/bagged up?
They come in a tidy zip up bag, not too big, I just chucked them in the boot with all the other stuff one carries to a ski trip. Your boot will swallow them no issue.

If you do get them, fit the special fitting that goes over one front wheel nut on each front wheel at home. Far easier than on the mountain when you just want to get them on and go. Incidentally, they don't recommend you put chains/covers on all 4 wheels, only the front, I don't know why though, something in the Volvo wheel drive system it doesn't like?


Do you have to adjust them for the wheel in advance?

The other chain based versions all seem to need some links/screws adding/removing to get the perfect fit. With these it looks like the circumference is fixed.
I can’t see anything in the manual about adjusting them, do you just have to get the exact size right?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I just ordered them by the tyre size, no adjustments to make. Pretty simple to fit.

If you do get a set try them at home to get familiar, last thing you want to do is to start to read the manual in a howling blizzard. Shocked
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@ish303, …the wheel size is

A Very Important Thing

With winters the recommended thing to do is use steel rims which are

Smaller
Narrower

This makes winters much cheaper.
For example Yeti
Regular alloys 225 50 17
Winter steels 205 60 16

There’s strong evidence and technical rationale for this. Harsh corrugations arise with cleared roads with snow base, and you need the extra compliance of a deeper sidewall for both comfort and traction.

Narrower profile enables the tyre to dig in and grip, not float. This reduces stopping distance.

The rims are cheaper
The tyres are cheaper
The chains fit and are cheaper

The manual will state the winter rim dimension for the vehicle. The figs for the yeti are given in the manual. This retains insurance cover. The rim tyre combo retains speedo accuracy since it preserves tyre diameter.

It’s all about safety and performance in snow. And doing the right thing is cheaper - hurrah!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@valais2 - I agree with the smaller and narrower (although recently there was some tests which threw some doubt on this) but not sure I understand the steel? yes they might be cheaper than alloys but if you can get alloys that will result in a lower sprung weight which I think will improve the handling overall?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Rob_Quads wrote:
@valais2 - I agree with the smaller and narrower (although recently there was some tests which threw some doubt on this) but not sure I understand the steel? yes they might be cheaper than alloys but if you can get alloys that will result in a lower sprung weight which I think will improve the handling overall?


Generally steel for winter wheels because:
1. Steel wheels are cheaper
2. Salt corrodes, better to have that happen to your cheaper steel wheels
3. Winter driving is hard on wheels, with more bumps and scrapes, which steel wheels will handle better than alloy.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Lets be honest, no one is wanting there £70K brand new Volvo to be on small steel wheels, regardless if they are better.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
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Jonny996 wrote:
Lets be honest, no one is wanting there £70K brand new Volvo to be on small steel wheels, regardless if they are better.


I've always felt there's a bona fide mountain dweller vibe going on with steels and winter tyres running on otherwise unaltered vehicles Laughing

True mountainsport chic Very Happy
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Quite a few fancy cars on black steel winter wheels in France, maybe they're less precious about what they look like?
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@ski3, I think you're right!
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@zikomo, spot on - avoids ‘salt spider corrosion’ on lovely alloys

@caughtanedge, Yep much cooler.

Hestra all leather gloves = cool

Hestra all leather gloves with gaffer tape = very very cool
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