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Upgrading Your Bicycle…Tire (Part 2)

Upgrading Your Bicycle…Tire (Part 2)

Tires are the second installment of our “Upgrading Your Bicycle” blog series.

Tires, as we know, are a consumable part on our bicycles, therefore, its a great opportunity to upgrade your bicycle and replace some worn out rubber as well.  Tires also share many of the upgrade benefits with wheels, ie lighter tires lower rotating mass.  Every gram you save in rotating mass is about the same as saving half a gram in static (non rotating) mass.

Tires can one of the most difficult decisions to make when choosing, because tires have become very specialized for different types of riding, road racing, triathlon, durability, weight, recreational, the list goes on and on.  In the post I am going to give you information that you can use to choose the proper tire for you.

I’m going to use a rating scale to give you an idea of how well some tires are 5 being the best 1 being the worst.  I am only rating the tires that I have personally riden and only clincher tires.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t one tire that does everything very well, there are a few tires that do everything quite well but they are quite pricey as well.  My personal favorite is the Schwalbe Ultremo Double Deffense (DD).  This tire retails for about $85.00 each tire.  Weight (4.5), durable (5), rolling resistance (4.5), and comfort (3).  The Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasons fits into this category as well, with a retail price of $75.00.  Weight (4), durable (5), rolling resistance (3), and comfort (3).

Lets get a little more specific: Racing Tires:
Racing tires are designed for one purpose…to go fast.  This means very light weight, ultra low rolling resistance, not very durable and not very comfortable (typically).  Open tubular tires are the only exception to the racing tire comfort.  Open tubular, racing tires, are hand sewn with his quality and high thread count materials making them very supple to they ride very comfortably but generally have a slightly higher price tag.  Here are a couple examples of racing tires: Schwable Ultremo ZX retails for about $80.00.  Weight (5), durable (2), rolling resistance (5), comfort (2).  Challenge Criterium Open Tubular retails for about $80.00.  Weight (4.5), durable (2), rolling resistance (4.5), comfort (5).

Triathlon Tires:
With Triathlons growing in popularity, its only natural that they would get their own specific tire.  Triathlon tires are very similar to Racing Tires with the exception of some brand models come in narrower widths like 21 or 22mm compared to 23 or 25mm.

Training Tires/Performance Tires:
Training or performance tires make up the largest selection of tires on the market. With that being said, you will have the most debate and most controversy between tires among reviewers.  When reading these review make sure that you realize that people will give bad reviews even if the tire is a great tire but they were using it for the wrong application.  Any way, most tires in this category are going to be in the $60.00 price range, they are also going to be middle of the road as far as all of the categories are concerned.  Here are a couple of examples: Vittoria Rubino Pro 3 retails for about $60.00.  Weight (4), durable (3.5), rolling resistance (4), comfort (4).  Schwalbe Durano S retails for about $65.00.  Weight (4), durable (3.5), rolling resistance (4.5), comfort (3).  Continental Gator Skin retails for about $65.00.  Weight (3.5), durable (5), rolling resistance (3), comfort (3).

Recreational Tires:
This tire category is for the novice rider or for the leisurely rider who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on rubber.  These tires are going to focus on comfort and price and should not be used for competitive racing.  Here are a couple of examples: Vittoria Zaffiro Pro retails for about $40.00. Weight (3), durability (3.5), rolling resistance (3), comfort (4).  Schwalbe Lugano retails for about $40.00.  Weight (3), durability (3), rolling resistance (3.5), comfort (4).

After reading through this post and as you digest and think about what tire is going to be your next purchase, I want to give you something else to think about during your tire shopping experience.  Tire companies tend to have certain areas that they focus on, and I will list some of them now.  Schwalbe tends to focus on rolling resistance with a second focus on weight.  Continental tends to focus on durability.  Michelin tends to focus on rolling resistance.  Verdstein tends to focus on durability with a second focus on rolling resistance.  Vittoria’s focus is on everything, being very well rounded for each category of tire.

I hope that the information in this post has been helpful.  For more information feel free to shoot us an email or phone call and we will help answer your questions or order up a set of tires for you.

Bikes 2 You

Upgrading Your Bicycle Part 1…Wheels

Wheels, is the first installment in Upgrading Your Bicycle.  Over the next few weeks I will go through several methods, direction and reasons for doing particular upgrades to your bicycle, I am going to focus on road bicycles throughout the series but more of the information is consistent throughout most aspects of cycling.  Thank you for reading and I hope this is helpful in your research.

Wheels, is the first installment because a new wheelset will make the most dramatic impact on your cycling performance and experience.  It will impact weight, ride quality, durability, aerodynamics, use of energy and speed.  The following will explain how each of these attributes will affect your cycling experience and will hopefully help you make an educated decision on which type of wheels will work best for your riding type.

Weight: Weight is not as straight forward as you may think, because of how it relates with other attributes that we will be talking about.  First off, the pros of a lighter wheelset.  A lighter wheelset will lower the amount of rotational weight that your bicycle has, every gram you save in rotational weight is like saving 2 grams of static weight, the weight of non rotating object.  A lighter wheel will allow you to go faster and climb easier.  The cons of a lighter weight wheelset.  The lighter weight you go with wheels, the lighter their load capacity is, meaning they will have a rider weight limit.  So if you are over 180 pounds, this means you will lose a lot of durability in the wheels and bent rims and broken spokes will become the norm.  Also, by going with a lighter weight wheel you will lose ride quality and you will feel more vibrations, due to the light weight materials used in making the light weight wheelsets.  So, for a person looking for a good all around wheelset, that has a good balance of weight savings, durability and ride quality, check out something like the Fulcrum Racing 5.

Aerodynamics: Aerodynamics is an area that doesn’t get much attention outside of the Triathlon and Time Trial Worlds, but deserves its due in the traditional road cycling world as well.  With wind tunnel testing, we are learning that even a slightly heavier wheel with a deeper rim profile (rim profile is the height of the rim from where the spokes inter the rim to the top of the braking surface) can save us more time in a race than by simply going with the ultra light wheelset.  It is true that super deep rim profiles, over 60mm, should stay in the Triathlon and Time Trial world, slightly smaller rim profiles are very beneficial, especially if they are carbon fiber.  Carbon fiber will help keep the wheelset light and stiff but it will also add a little bit of comfort to your ride compared to an ultra light aluminium rim.  If you are thinking of a wheelset with a deeper rim profile but don’t want to drop a lot of cash check out the Fulcrum Racing Quattro.  If you are thinking of going the weigh of carbon rims check out the VOSS WH-50/50c Wheelset.

Durability and Ride Quality: Durability and Ride Quality typically go hand in hand.  Durability, in general, comes from a wheel construction with more material, and more material leads to a smoother ride.  When a wheel has more material, or thicker materials, it will absorb road vibrations better because of the fact that there is more material to work as an absorbing agent.  The thing that very nice about this category is that the wheels are generally less expensive.  Check out the Fulcrum Racing 7.

Speed and Use of Energy:  Speed and Use of Energy are both byproducts of all the things we have just discussed.  Lighter and more aerodynamic wheels are going to decrease your use of energy and increase your average speed, where more durable smoother riding wheels are going to increase your use of energy and decrease your average speed.

These four categories will hopefully help you to classify yourself and a cyclist and help you determine you wants and needs from a wheelset, and then help you make a more educated decision on which wheels to purchase or give you more specific questions to ask when narrowing down your choices.

Please post your questions and I will answer them ASAP.  Matt, Owner of Bikes 2 You, LLC.

Upgrading Your Bicycle Part 1…Wheels