What Tires to Use - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

April 11, 2011

What Tires to Use

In some descriptions of cycle tours, flats play a big role. Others never seem to mention them. Is this because some people do not suffer flats, or is it because flats are so normal they are not worth mentioning?
We don't know the answer right now, but we do anticipate that a flat at the wrong time could be a major problem. How about riding in the rain, pressing on to a distant camping spot, in traffic, with the day coming to an end? A flat in the rear pretty much means unpacking the BoB and the packs that are on the bike, then its all the steps needed to either find and fix the leak or put in a new tube, then repack everything!
So how about Kevlar lined tires, Slime filled tubes, Schwalbe extra thick tires? Yes, we like all these ideas! In practice we bought four new Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and put Slime in the BoB tubes. Locally the Schwalbe tires cost $60 plus tax, so we bought them from Bike Tires Direct and had them shipped to Montana, where there is no tax. The cost was about $40 each.
700C x38 seems to be a bit of a rare size for these Schwalbes, which are normally thinner, but they can be found, We like the wider tires and rims, hoping they will help to ward off broken spokes. (p.s. we are also carrying the FiberFix spoke - because a broken spoke on the drive side would be a real real bug!)
The Schwalbes seem to have found favour at Adventure Cycling, which seems to choose only one industry leading item of each type to stock in their office (in Missoula, anyway). Adventure Cycling also carries the FiberFix spoke, as do a number of online retailers.) There is of course lots of discussion of flatless tires around the internet. For example, have a look at http://ask.metafilter.com/27594/Are-flatfree-bicycle-tires-any-good

$200 of new German tires. Our old VW van should be so lucky!
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Just swapped out the Kenda Kwest tires that came with my bike and put on the Schwalbes. My oh my, these things are motorcycle tires by comparison! In objective terms, the Kendas weighed 1.08 pounds while the Schwalbes came in at 2.10 pounds. That almost twice the weight and over one pound of extra rubber on the road! What's more, the distance from the edge of the rim to the edge of the tire was about 1 1/4 inches for the Kendas and over 1 1/2 inches for the Schwalbes. This could have been an issue for fitting inside the fenders, but fortunately the Schwalbes just fit. I can't yet report if the ride will feel a lot different, and of course the flat resistance will remain to be shown during the trip. Right now, though, the Schwalbes look like a lot of tire and it seems reasonable to have confidence in them.

p.s. Further to that question of whether flats are very common or not, I have been reading the blog of Lauren Frisk's first trip http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?doc_id=4937 On Day 56 by my count, her partner Jared had five flats. Yikes!!

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