A Bike for Life: Tyres

The Schwlabe Duranos were wonderful for an 11 day LEJoG. Pretty fast and no punctures. But while a 28mm tyre is a reasonable compromise between speed and comfort/robustness which suits a (for me) sprint up the country at 90 miles a day they do not fit so well with my plans for the future.

Right across the country I found appalling road surfaces. I remember one section just after Penryn in Cornwall, a beautiful sweeping downhill that was an incredible washboard surface. I felt that my hands and feet were going to be vibrated off the rest of my body, the only thing that impressed me was that the bike held together. Sadly this was not alone, after a few days I wished I had kept count of the bell ringing moments. By that I mean the moments when the bike hit a pothole hard enough to make the bell ring on it’s own. There were several of these every day. Not only this but of course cyclists frequently get the worst of the road surface as motorised traffic tries to force us into the gutter where all the debris collects.

The roads are not the only problem. In the UK cycle infrastructure is dominated by bad surfaces with tree roots, loose gravel, badly installed drop kerbs, potholes etc etc.

For all these things it seems to me that a 28mm tyre is the minimum for anyone who is not actually racing, unless you want to spend lots of time in pain or fixing punctures or buckled wheels.

However, for a bit more comfort and a lot more ability to carry loads then tyres with a lot more air make a big difference. For the types of riding I am looking forward to (everyday transport, long day rides, self supporting multi-day rides) comfort, load carrying and robustness/longevity and really important so in a bike for life I am looking for tyres that are more like a minimum of 40mm.

In fact today was a good reminder. I had done a bit of preparation of our full suspension Giant Mountain Bike for a son to take away on a holiday and I thought I had better test it so I used it to get to the Leicester City Cycle Workshop and then Leicester Royal Infirmary. Riding a full suspension bike on Leicester & Leicestershire cycle infrastructure is a reminder that this is the sort of bike that British Cycle infrastructure is designed for – of course it shouldn’t be, but the truth is that big tyres and full suspension do make these terrible surfaces more comfortable.

So I’ll be having 40mm tyres, a suspension seatpost and a steel frame to gain as much comfort as possible. Plus the big gain over the full suspension mountain bike is full coverage mudguards which with all the water about is a big item for me.

So far I am looking at either the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme Road City tyre or Continental City Ride. The Continental is 42mm instead of 40mm and has a nice smooth centre strip so is possibly slightly the current favourite. Anyway I expect to get through a pair of tyres in less than a year I might end up testing them both (plus maybe a pair of studded tyres for the snow).

The Series so far:

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  1. As u know I was mulling things over… I went for 32mm Schwalbe Durano Plus and yup much better roll after Specialized Borough Xc Sport Tyre 700×45. Having to get used to the feeling of less support than the 45mm as u mention the road conditions on a typical suburban commute is often near off-road. http://julesprichards.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/best-cycle-tyre-for-daily-commuting-use/

  2. My friend put some of those Schwalbe Marathon Supremes on his 29er for a circuit of Northumberland a couple of years ago. He was fine riding with me and another friend who were on CX bikes with road tyres (Conti gatorskins 28c in my case) and last weekend we did all the Scottish 4000s, riding between them. I had Schwalbe Landcruisers on this time, a bit more grip but still good rolling. http://www.flickr.com/photos/30189432@N00/7592757594/in/photostream

    • Paul,

      Thanks for sharing that. I have had great experiences with Schwalbe tyres so far, especially inn terms of puncture resistance. Good to hear that your friend found they rolled well on what must have been a very demanding trip!

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  9. A bike for life: Cascading decisions « 42 Bikes - pingback on July 23, 2012 at 6:04 am
  10. A Bike for life: Dependability « 42 Bikes - pingback on July 23, 2012 at 6:05 am

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