26” touring tyres/tires? Are they an endangered species? - CycleBlaze

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26” touring tyres/tires? Are they an endangered species?

Graham Smith

My touring bike is a 2009 model 26” wheeled Thorn Sherpa. When I bought it, I was spoiled for choice when deciding what tyres to fit to its wheels suit whatever terrain I was planning to treadle through. Nowadays there seems to be far less choice of 26” tyres, and those that are being made are hard to buy, even online. 

 I’ve just completed a 3800 km tour (mostly on sealed roads) on 26x1.6” Marathon Supremes which still look remarkably good. My next tour will likely be on more unsealed roads, so today I started to look online for a set of wider, sturdier 26” tyres to replace the 26x1.6” Supremes. I did eventually find some, but they were very expensive and not exactly what I was after.

Are other 26” wheeled tour bike owners facing a touring tyre drought? Or is it just a local shortage in my remote corner of the globe?  Where is your go-to source of 26” tyres in these unusual times?

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1 month ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Graham Smith

My local supplier of Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 2" tyres has been waiting for supplies since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  I resorted to ordering a supply of replacements from St John Cycles, the manufacturers of Thorn bicycles in the UK.  The courier charges were extortionist, although tempered by the fact that I brought a lot of other spares over in the same shipment, but I didn't want to be caught without tyres when I needed them.  SJS provide great service and I suspect the courier fees to Oz maybe less than to South Africa.

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1 month ago
Mike AylingTo Graham Smith

Graham, have you seen this Melbourne shop?

www.commutercycles.com.au/

They have a selection of 26"tyres on offer but atm the only Schwalbe product that I am familiar with are the Supremes which work well for me.

Other Melbourne touring related shops are 

https://www.abbotsfordcycles.com.au

https://stkildacycles.com.au

but I have not looked at their sites recently.

Mike

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1 month ago
Graham SmithTo Mike Ayling

Thanks Mike. Commuter Cycles had exactly what I was looking for. The 2.0” Supremes. Next tour I’d like to include a bit more off-seal and the wider tyre should handle this better than the 1.6” tyres. I also still have an old pair of Schwalbe Smart Sams I used on the Gibb River Rd, but they are a tad too wide for the Thorn Sherpa, and too fiddly to fit. A pity because they are excellent tyres on and off seal.

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1 month ago
Graham SmithTo Jean-Marc Strydom

Jean I actually filled in an order for tyres from SJSC, but cancelled it when the freight cost popped up on-screen. I’d have had to sell a kidney to afford the postage.

SJSC are an excellent shop, but as we have seen, their freight for smaller orders to the antipodes is now extremely high.

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1 month ago
Karen CookTo Graham Smith

Yes, I do think that 26" anything will start getting tougher to find. 

I spent a good part of the last 2 months finding 26" wheels.   I ended up with a pair of custom built wheels (which I have never had to buy in the past) but even that was a challenge, I needed to go to multiple shops.  I managed to get one for the front and back but the shop couldn't even secure matching rims.  The front is wider than the back with a hole for a shreader valve not presta (the back wheel  is presta) so I need an adapter.  But I took them because I called many shops and no one had what I needed.  I feel fortunate to get these.  I won't mention that there was a 2-week delay because they couldn't find the right spokes.

A lot of this is Covid supply line related but the mechanic at the shop where I bought them said that 26" rim brake wheels are not being used much any more, which means choices will be slim down the line, at least for quality products.  He sells mostly 27" and 29" (or the metric equivalent) with disk brakes.

On the bright side, they are great wheels and I am really happy with them.

As for tires/tyres, I ordered one from Schwalbe on Amazon and it was shipped from Australia.  I don't remember the shipping cost but it must not have been crazy because I didn't give it a thought.

As a side note, a friend of mine is a bike mechanic at REI.  He said supply shortages have gotten so bad that they are even out of some tubes.  It got so bad that someone brought in a bike with a flat tire and instead of selling the guy a new tube he patched the tube.  A first for him.




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1 month ago
Victa CalvoTo Graham Smith

Hi Graham,

I've given up on Schwalbe tyres, they are just too costly and too hard to source in 26 inch, at least here in OZ. I've swapped to Maxxis mountain bike tyres. Their Crossmark and Ikon tyres come in kevlar bead and tubeless ready and are easy to mount on most rims. They roll nicely both on bitumen and off road when mounted tubeless ... and they are easier to find and cost a lot less than Schwalbe Supremes and Mondials. They are certainly a viable alternative to Schwalbes. 

Velogear.com.au currently has the Crossmark II for under $65 each. They also have stock of Schwalbe Mondials and Supremes right now for about $100 each.     

Good luck tyre hunting...

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1 month ago
Mike AylingTo Graham Smith

Hi Graham

Would those have been the eye watering $110 AUD ones?

The only criticism that I have seen about the Supremes is the sidewalls are soft and easily subject to cuts but for riding on made roads (pavement for our American  friends.) they are great tyres.

Mike

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1 month ago
Graham SmithTo Victa Calvo

“I've swapped to Maxxis mountain bike tyres. Their Crossmark and Ikon tyres come in kevlar bead and tubeless ready and are easy to mount on most rims.“

Victa thanks for this additional information as it is the answer to what would have been my next question about best, available alternatives to Schwalbe. I’ve been looking for Conti Travel Contacts but they are hiding as well. 

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1 month ago
Graham SmithTo Mike Ayling

Yes Mike I almost had to sell one of the kids and a half a kidney to buy the 2.0” Schwalbe Supreme tyres. I’m a devoted fan of the Schwalbe Supremes because I’ve used them on backroads rides Canberra to Melbourne tour, Canberra to Adelaide and more recently the mostly sealed route Canberra to Perth. 

On all the long rides I found they are durable, comfortable and very puncture resistant. Disbursed over thousands of kilometres of riding, an extra $50+ per tyres isn’t a lot really. It’s only the cost of two meals in a Nullarbor roadhouse. 

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1 month ago