Tyre Advice

by Pisiform   February 21, 2012  

I'd be grateful for any advice you may have to offer. I'm new to cycling, having bought a hybrid bike last summer, and I'm starting to struggle on rides of more than 30miles or so as I'm training for a 60mile local sportive

I'm probably just unfit but I wondered about the resistance I'm encountering with the tires that came on the bike. They're fairly knobbly (not as much as MTB) 7000*35C tires. The shop where I bought it suggested I could downsize to a 700*28 tire on the rims I have on the wheels.

I wondered how much effect would it have to go to a narrower, slicker and higher pressure tire? Enough to make it worthwhile or shall I save the pennies for a proper roadbike later this year?

If its worthwhile, any suggestions on suitable tires?

Thanks a lot

Dan

15 user comments

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Quote:
I wondered how much effect would it have to go to a narrower, slicker and higher pressure tire?

loads. really.

if your hybrid has a standard 700c wheelset then a 25mm or 28mm tyre should be fine. A 23mm should be okay too, but that might be a bit *too* racy. go for a folding tyre if you can; they're much lighter and that'll make a lot of difference.

http://road.cc/review-archive?tid=10729 for a bunch of reviews on road.cc. many of the tyres in that archive are 23mm but quite a few of them are available as a 25mm too.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7698 posts]
21st February 2012 - 16:31

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Changing tyres will make a substantial difference. Personal recommendation would be Vittoria Randonneurs in the 28 width.

I use them on my commuter road bike, and they offer a great combination of cushioning and robustness without being too heavy or with massive rolling resistance.

As one of the guys in Condor Cycles said "There's not much science in them, but when it comes to bang for your buck they pretty much the best tyre you can buy." They were knocking them out at £16 each.

Having ridden a few thousand miles on them, I would agree with him wholeheartedly.

Another option would be Continental Gatorskins in a 28, but in my experience they are more puncture-prone than the Vittorias.

posted by thereandbackagain [159 posts]
21st February 2012 - 16:35

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If your training on the road then anything thats knobbly is going to slow you down a bit.

If your rims can take 28's then i'd get some on there and you'll notice the difference, What i would suggest it getting some decent ones that are going to last you, but if you can pick up second hand ones cheap enough go down that route.

I'm a continental man, so on that score there are a few

Ultra Sport - What i use for running about on £15-18 each
Gatorskin - can get them in 28's for around £20 each
Gator Hardshell - more for commuting £30 each

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9201 posts]
21st February 2012 - 16:38

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Bez's picture

posted by Bez [478 posts]
21st February 2012 - 16:45

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I use gatorskins on two of my three bikes and swear by them. In my experience they are no more puncture prone than most. BUT you do need to keep them properly inflated at around 100psi which observation has shown a good number of people don't. I have them on my commuter which does 50-125 rural miles a week in all weathers and the full on tourer which gets taken down fire roads and bridleways as well as fully loaded touring. Once they have reached what the tyre considers its' fully worn point the P fairy does become more obvious. I usually get a years commuting plus a winter on the turbo out of a Gatorskin. Oh for the free time to have a guesstimate on the tourer.

Neil

Wooliferkins's picture

posted by Wooliferkins [50 posts]
21st February 2012 - 16:48

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If you really want a road bike then save up for one. It'll be worth it Smile

In the meantime a decent pair of tyres can make a significant difference to both comfort and speed. Generally speaking, the narrower the tyre the firmer (harsher) the ride. Also, although it seems counterintuitive, wider tyres have better rolling resistance.

I would suggest 28mm road tyres - Schwalbe Durano, Continental Gatorskins or Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase (or Conti GP 4 Seasons if you don't mind spending a bit more).

Run them at about 80-90 psi (heavier riders should run higher pressures). These tyres weight a bit more than lightweight racing ones but it's a fair trade-off for good puncture resistance. I don't know much about the Randonneurs. Have a chat with the shop staff and see what they recommend too.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2219 posts]
21st February 2012 - 17:12

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Yes, definitely agree, changing tyres can make a huge difference.
To put it very simply, the 35mm wide tyres you have are 25% wider than 28mm ones, so 25% bigger contact surface and rolling resistance and 25% more weight.
Narrower usually means higher pressure as well, reducing contact/resistance even more, and a less pronounced tread will add to that.
As dave_atkinson says in his post above, the lighter weight of folding tyres makes a difference, and an added advantage is that because they aren't as stiff they are also much easier to fit and remove, making a mid-ride puncture repair far less stressful.
Why not keep training on your 35mm tyres for now so you work hard and build fitness, then switch to some 28mm ones shortly before your 60 mile event to make it go easier on the day?
As for saving for a proper road bike, yes, do that too, but don't rush it. A decent road bike will make a lot of difference compared to your fat tyred hybrid, so if you're still loving riding after the sportive then you'll no doubt be itching to try something more nippy, and by then you should have a better idea of what will suit your needs.

Chris's picture

posted by Chris [116 posts]
21st February 2012 - 17:13

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Chris wrote:
the 35mm wide tyres you have are 25% wider than 28mm ones, so 25% bigger contact surface and rolling resistance and 25% more weight.
Narrower usually means higher pressure as well, reducing contact/resistance even more

I believe that is incorrect. See my comments re. rolling resistance.

Also, running high pressures can be counterproductive, particularly on rough surfaces. The tyre skips instead of the carcass deforming, so does not absorb the shocks so they are transmitted to the rider. Most people are better off running lower pressures.

I would change tyres now and enjoy using the faster rolling ones as soon as you can.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2219 posts]
21st February 2012 - 17:52

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I second the Gatorskins, great tyre. Have the 700x28s on one of my hybrids, they are great and have run them for donkey's at 90psi front and 100psi rear. Very long lasting and reasonably comfy at those pressures loaded up with my rucksack etc etc. They have good rolling properties and I've never had grip issues Surprise

Go for it - you will wonder where all your extra power and distance has come from,,,, and overnight Wink

Regards

Trikeman.

Grunt, puff, pant and groan goes the old man - but he gets there in the end. ;o)

trikeman's picture

posted by trikeman [390 posts]
21st February 2012 - 18:03

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28mm conti gatorskin hardshells get me to work and back

Really, though?

posted by workhard [393 posts]
21st February 2012 - 18:36

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Thanks to everyone for your comments - I'm really grateful to you all for taking the time to post.

So, new tyres it is then, although a bit of me just thinks I should work harder and get fitter!

Thanks for all the links - really useful information.
The article on rolling resistance was excellent and highlights why a road bike would be best overall for the positioning to reduce air resistance, but that's a topic for another day.

I'm off to google some new tyres. Thanks everyone

posted by Pisiform [52 posts]
21st February 2012 - 19:15

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tyres can make a huge difference! I have both a bog standard specialized allez and a top of the range tarmac and both came with terrible tyres, the ones on the tarmac (now specialized has completely reworked its tyres) must have been worth 2-3km/h at full whack, and on the allez I changed to conti 4000s and superlight conti tubes and added at least 5km/h to top speed

on mountain bikes the same, racing ralphs' are amazing, the slicks that come on the boris bikes are awful!

However, I would not say they made a difference on the endurance, I did a 2500m ascent 106km 6/7 hour ride on the bog standard allez yres in spanish winter sun and all was OK, it just meant that i got tired very quickly trying to keep up with other riders, but just plugged away as an endurance ride and the difference was not that noticeable, if at all!

would definitely go with the others on the contis, however I would polorise and either go for conti 4000s if you are just road (never managed to puncture them) or if you want a bit more off road and you can fit them the specialized renegade 29" are amazingly fast rolling and surprisingly grippy, as are the hybrid racing ralphs (but the wear quickly)

roadie come mountain biker come single speeder and back again

posted by cborrman [84 posts]
22nd February 2012 - 12:46

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+1 for the conti 4000s

posted by issacforce [210 posts]
22nd February 2012 - 13:13

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Simon E wrote:
Chris wrote:
the 35mm wide tyres you have are 25% wider than 28mm ones, so 25% bigger contact surface and rolling resistance and 25% more weight.
Narrower usually means higher pressure as well, reducing contact/resistance even more

I believe that is incorrect. See my comments re. rolling resistance.

Also, running high pressures can be counterproductive, particularly on rough surfaces. The tyre skips instead of the carcass deforming, so does not absorb the shocks so they are transmitted to the rider. Most people are better off running lower pressures.


lol, fair enough Simon, I did wonder if you'd come back on that.
I did preface my comment with "to put it very simply", so it was just to get the general idea across.
I've seen those Schwalbe rolling resistance stats you linked to before, and they are very interesting and give a more informed approach to the issue, but are also entirely theoretical as they rely on the different width tyres having the same construction and profile and crucially being inflated to the same pressure, which doesn't happen in practice.
The basic point is the switch from 35mm to 28mm will necessarily involve a higher pressure, narrower tyre with a slicker tread than this guy is currently using and will certainly reduce rolling resistance for all those reasons, which was the question that was being asked in the first place.
You're right to say that narrower doesn't necessarily mean less resistance, and of course comfort and shock absorbtion are a factor, but in practice changing to a narrower tyre also changes more than just the width, which is why you yourself recommend the switch to 28mm, as do I, and everyone else that commented, so I think we agreed on that anyway.
Hurrah!

Chris's picture

posted by Chris [116 posts]
22nd February 2012 - 13:32

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I wanted to update this threat in case anyone in the same position as I was stumbles across it.

Given the unanimity of response to my question I opted to buy new tyres. I bought a pair of Continental GP4seasons 28c + new tubes mainly because they have great reviews and were on a special offer at Wiggle.

Incidentally full marks to Wiggle who received the order on Wednesday pm and delivered the goods on Friday morning on their free postage scheme - very impressive.

Tested them out yesterday on a 25mile ride on lumpyish terrain but no big climbs.

What I found was:

- no difference at all on the inclines, or none discernible anyway. Clearly this is when gravity has the biggest impact on performance and I was in a headwind uphill yesterday so road resistance would clearly have been a very minor factor in performance

- on flattish ground a major difference. On good quality tarmac the ride was very smooth and much more pleasurable. The ride was more responsive. It was much easier to pedal and maintain a cruising speed of 22-23 mph whereas as previously I would struggle to maintain 18mph

- descending was significantly different. Even without pedalling I was 10% faster on descents.

Overall it was a faster, smoother and more enjoyable ride.

If anyone is in a similar position then definitely upgrade those standard hybrid tyres and you'll notice the difference too.

Thanks for the advice again. It really has made a impact on my cycling.

posted by Pisiform [52 posts]
27th February 2012 - 12:42

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