So spring has sprung and your bike might need some new shoes… well tires that is. There is everything from fast rolling to slow rolling tires. Ones that can go flat if you look at them wrong or ones you can ride to hell and back.
So what do you want to look for for an everyday tire that you can use rain or shine? Well that is not to hard, but it is not always the cheapest. With initial purchase you will put some money upfront ($35-45 per tire) but the amount you will save on flats will compensate for the price. I am a huge fan of Continental – Gator Skins and Specialized – Armadillos . Both of these tires are comparable and both utilize Kevlar as a protective layer, I have never had a flat yet with them, I’ve even torn chunks out on nasty pot holes that would of otherwise destroyed any other tire. These are both available in a very wide range of sizes, everything from 26inch slick MTB tires to high volume and race/road/training low volume 700c models.
These next tires are also great for commuting and or touring. They incorporate flat resistant protection, have large volumes of air for comfy riding and work great. These two are Continental – Contact and the Panracer – Pasela . Both of these tires are great options for year round use in all conditions. I have a set of the Continental – Contacts on my Surly Cross-Check , they have been great. They are also one of the tires that come on the complete Surly Long Haul Trucker.
Ok, that’s enough plugging for tires now lets talk about why different tires are better for different types of bikes and riding. Skinny road tires, they are great on bikes when you want to go fast but you do pay for the price of comfort, since these tires have a lower air volume you are required to run them at a high pressure. That high pressure translates into a lower rolling resistance since the tire is not making such a large contact patch with the ground, but then the tires cannot absorb a whole lot of the impact from bumps and pot holes causing a rougher ride on anything but the perfect road surface. Using a larger volume model of a similar if not same tire model will result in a smoother and less jarring ride due to it’s increase in air volume and ability to be run at a lower air pressure. Now if we look at the larger volume touring/commuting tires you will notice that they don’t roll as fast or as easily as the road style tires. This is of course due to the increase of the tire patch with the ground and the lower air pressure. The results are a more comfortable experience on uneven surfaces due to the tires absorbing the impact. Here is some more info on tires via Rivendell Bicycle Works , also their Pick a Tire Chart and last but not least the plethora of information from none of than Sheldon Brown – Tires. And as always the best thing you can ever do to avoid flats is to keep you tires pumped to the right pressure, even more important than avoiding tiny chunks of glass.