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  1. #1
    Senior Member MulliganAl's Avatar
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    Is it me or just the tires?

    I'm coming from a CF Specialized Tarmac to a Rivendell Sam Hillborne as my main commuter and certainly I didn't expect the Riv to be as fast as my Tarmac but do you think the Schwalbe 40mm tires could be causing a large difference in speed?

    I know we're talking about a bike that weighs probably twice as much as my Tarmac but could the speed be improved significantly with a different set of tires, and if so which tire would you suggest for urban commuting?
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. -Albert Einstein

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. -H.G. Wells

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  2. #2
    Senior Member ciderguy's Avatar
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    I'd give yourself time to adjust to the bike. I don't think tire width matters much when it comes to speed.

  3. #3
    Senior Member TenSpeedV2's Avatar
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    You went from a carbon fiber road bike to a commuter style bike that is probably two times as heavy, and wonder if it is the tires? It is the bike. The geometry, the material, the whole thing can't be compared. They are not similar bikes.

  4. #4
    Senior Member MulliganAl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
    You went from a carbon fiber road bike to a commuter style bike that is probably two times as heavy, and wonder if it is the tires? It is the bike. The geometry, the material, the whole thing can't be compared. They are not similar bikes.
    Thanks TenSpeed, and I understand the difference between CF vs steel, and the weight difference. What I was hoping for was some insight into how the tires could possibly give me a bit more speed, say by putting on 35mm or 33mm even. Since I've mostly ridden on 24mm race tires, commuter tires and all the different types are foreign to me.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. -Albert Einstein

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. -H.G. Wells

    The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew--and live through it. -Doug Bradbury

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulliganAl View Post
    Thanks TenSpeed, and I understand the difference between CF vs steel, and the weight difference. What I was hoping for was some insight into how the tires could possibly give me a bit more speed, say by putting on 35mm or 33mm even. Since I've mostly ridden on 24mm race tires, commuter tires and all the different types are foreign to me.
    Best thing to do is try some different tires. You could likely save 10-20W with a better set of tires. A much bigger factor will be the change in riding position though.

  6. #6
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    40 c is fine for all-around riding but if you don't intend to do that, size down to 35 c. That'll be a reasonable tradeoff between comfort and speed.

    Keep in mind a commuter-specific bike will never ride as fast as a road bike.

  7. #7
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    Schwalbe makes a decent tire, but the quality of the tire also makes a difference in speed. Unfortunately I don't know that much about higher quality fat tires, but I know cheaper ones are definitely slower than faster ones.

    Here's a list of the "fastest" fatter tires from Schwalbe:
    Marathon Racer - Marathon Racer HS 429 | Schwalbe North America
    Marathon Almotion - Marathon Almotion HS 453 | Schwalbe North America
    Kojak - Kojak HS 385 | Schwalbe North America
    Marathon Supreme - Marathon Supreme HS 382 | Schwalbe North America

    Out of curiousity, is it real speed (speedometer or gps) or perceived speed? Tarmac is going to feel incredibly faster no matter what you put on it.

    40c is a slower tire, despite what some people want to believe, but at the same time it's unlikely to be the only source of slowing down.

  8. #8
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulliganAl View Post
    do you think the Schwalbe 40mm tires could be causing a large difference in speed?
    No.

    And......your recent, personal, experience should give you a hint. Stop thinking and ride. Those facts and figures don't make a damn of difference to anyone except to the top 50, maybe 300, riders in the world. How can you tell if you're one of those??? Did your buy your Tarmac with cash.....or was it given to you?? If you paid for it, don't worry....just ride.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member wsgts's Avatar
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    Turn off the computer, or put it in your pannier or whatever. Don't think about commuting as a race, it isn't. It can help you with conditioning, but if you are trying as hard as you normally do, you'll get all the advantages.

    Having said that, my commuter has Schwable Marathon 32mm tires. I can easily add 3-4mph on the road bike, but most days I have no idea how fast I'm going anyway, nor do I care.

    T
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    Why aren't you in a car?? Conform damn-it!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulliganAl View Post
    I'm coming from a CF Specialized Tarmac to a Rivendell Sam Hillborne as my main commuter and certainly I didn't expect the Riv to be as fast as my Tarmac but do you think the Schwalbe 40mm tires could be causing a large difference in speed?

    I know we're talking about a bike that weighs probably twice as much as my Tarmac but could the speed be improved significantly with a different set of tires, and if so which tire would you suggest for urban commuting?
    Yes, tires will make a difference. However, it isn't necessarily the width of the tire that makes the difference ... it's the weight. Google the weight of your Schwalbe and than google the weight of whatever tire you have on the Tarmac. I wouldn't be surprised if the Tarmacs tires weigh 1/3rd or less than the Schwalbe. Spinning weight has a lot more effect on performance than static weight; such as weight in your pannier. The wheels (rims, spokes and hub) also make a difference. I'd bet money the wheels on your Sam Hillborne's are designed for touring and moderate single track. This is a commuter and camping bike, and I suppose it could also be used for touring.

    The Sam Hillborne is a true All Rounder. Many Sam H. owners who don't have a fast bike like the Tarmac will invest in a second set of wheels and tires for the group rides where speed is a priority. It's an easy swap and will transform the characteristics of the bike. But than again there are others who don't. My Bianchi road bike has been hanging on a hook in the garage since the day I brought home my Sam Hillborne. But to each their own. I understand the need for speed. I just don't have it anymore.

    Here are a couple good sites to research tires for your Sam Hillborne:

    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!fo...w-owners-bunch

    https://janheine.wordpress.com/

    Just keep in mind lightweight high performance "wide" tires will cost $$$, durability will suffer and flats may become more of an issue. None of which I'm willing to sacrifice on my commute or recreational rides.

    I hope this helps,

    Matt
    Last edited by Hangtownmatt; 09-12-15 at 11:30 PM.

  11. #11
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    If we're just talking tires, then I have some anecdotal data for you...

    I have two wheelsets for my commuter (an old Cannondale touring bike). Both sets are identical except for the tires. They're Mavic A319 rims laced to XT hubs, if that matters. Heavy duty wheels. One set has Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 700x40 tires weighing 650g each. The other has Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 700x32 weighing 325g each.

    Averaged over many commutes, I've noticed my average speed with the Supreme tires is 5% faster. That's probably due to the weight difference alone. So, yes, lighter tires will make a difference, but it won't be dramatic.

    In my case, sometimes I like the smooth, light feel of the Supremes. For on-road use, I think these are the best commuting tires made. However, the Mondials allow me to take alternate routes that involve long sections of gravel roads and a bit of single track. Terrain that I wouldn't feel as confident on with my Supremes. Either way, it's a bike commute. It's slow no matter what kind of tires I have, so I try to maximize fun, not speed.

  12. #12
    Senior Member mcours2006's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsgts View Post
    Don't think about commuting as a race, it isn't.
    Exactly. A few mph difference might save you a few minutes depending on how long your commute is.

    Here's some more anecdotal evidence though. On the same bike before I converted it had 32mm city tires, riser bars, 3x7 drivetrain. My average speed on this bike was around 25km/h. Post conversion with drop bars, 2x8 drivetrain, and same 32mm tires. Average speed 27km/h. The weight is a pound or two light post conversion.

    Putting 28mm or 25mm on it I don't think would make much of a difference, because even on lighter road bikes with 25mm tires I don't average much more than 27km/h.

  13. #13
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I say yes, the 40mm tires are causing a speed difference, and I do think that with some good 28's you'd be faster on it. I'm normally not one to agree with hide the computer, speed is for sponsors angle, but seriously the Rivendale Hillborne is probably a great bike for reasons other than speed. I'm not sure that trying to make it faster wouldn't in defeat the purpose.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    Why don't any of us think about how much faster we can get to work with different tires on our automobiles? And why are we in such a hurry to get to work? If we need to get there so quickly, why don't we just drive?

    Anyway, I've got Schwalbe Big Apples on my commuter (2.35"). I'm sure they slow me down, but the ride is smooth and cushy and I will never go back to the bumpy-as-hell Specialized Nimbus 1.5's" that got me to work a minute or two faster.
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

  15. #15
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    Why don't any of us think about how much faster we can get to work with different tires on our automobiles? And why are we in such a hurry to get to work? If we need to get there so quickly, why don't we just drive?

    Anyway, I've got Schwalbe Big Apples on my commuter (2.35"). I'm sure they slow me down, but the ride is smooth and cushy and I will never go back to the bumpy-as-hell Specialized Nimbus 1.5's" that got me to work a minute or two faster.
    Think about it, how many cars approach anything close to their top speed while people are driving to work? Motor vehicle speeds are limited by traffic levels, speed limits, and traffic control devices, - not their drive trains, tires, aerodynamics or anything else.

    While traffic control devices and safety considerations do limit cyclist speeds, a lot of the time the practical limitation is the cyclists themselves and to a certain extent their bikes.

    In other words, choosing a different set of tires will not get a driver to work any faster but it can make a difference to a cyclist. For example, studded tires add at least 10 minutes to my commute time. That's pretty significant considering a warm weather commute takes me between 20 and 30 minutes. Driving in rush hour usually takes longer, especially since I have a 5 to 10 minute walk after I park the car to get to the office.

    The other thing is that I enjoy the sensation of moving fast, - especially on a bike.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    Good answer. I'll toss that one around a bit.
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

  17. #17
    Bike Commuter in training Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffpoulin View Post
    If we're just talking tires, then I have some anecdotal data for you...

    I have two wheelsets for my commuter (an old Cannondale touring bike). Both sets are identical except for the tires. They're Mavic A319 rims laced to XT hubs, if that matters. Heavy duty wheels. One set has Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 700x40 tires weighing 650g each. The other has Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 700x32 weighing 325g each.

    Averaged over many commutes, I've noticed my average speed with the Supreme tires is 5% faster. That's probably due to the weight difference alone. So, yes, lighter tires will make a difference, but it won't be dramatic.

    In my case, sometimes I like the smooth, light feel of the Supremes. For on-road use, I think these are the best commuting tires made. However, the Mondials allow me to take alternate routes that involve long sections of gravel roads and a bit of single track. Terrain that I wouldn't feel as confident on with my Supremes. Either way, it's a bike commute. It's slow no matter what kind of tires I have, so I try to maximize fun, not speed.
    Finally, a sensible answer to the OP's question. Even at a verified 5% penalty, your length of commute will vary by what, 1 or 2 minutes? 5% of say a sporty 15 mph commute is 0.75 mph. Not very large difference. I'd rather ride a Hillborne than a Tarmac any day of the week, BTW, assuming that each fits correctly.

    Tires, shmyres. Ride the bike.

  18. #18
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    With tires, it is weigh and suppleness. Weight for acceleration only. Suppleness for the effort to keep them rolling.
    Thick tread, puncture protection, stiff sidewalls all require extra effort. If you are going 20mph or faster, aerodynamics makes a difference, although that will be negligible below 15mph.
    I like 28mm tires for commuting personally, but I like to ride a bit faster than some of the people around here. The difference between a 28mm and 23mm tire is nothing relevant, but the difference between my 28mm 700cc tires and my 26” 50mm commuter slicks (Drifter) is HUGE. Again, it is weight, stiffness of the tread stiffness of the sidewall.

    When you pedal, you are moving a bubble around the tire. This is the bubble (the deflection) between your wheel and the road. The effort to move this bubble is what makes a tire fast. A supple tire with minimal rubber is going to be easiest and fastest.

    (Weight is only important when accelerating – when we do time trials at the velodrome, the weigh of the wheel is not as important as how much resistance it has to rolling – hense the solid wheels for time trials. At a steady 25mph without hills, weight is not important)

    The most important ingredients: Good frame – good tires and wheels (assuming a good rider).

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    If it has just the plain jane Marathons on it, they roll like bricks I've found, like pedaling through a puddle of treacle. Unless you are riding through some real bad puncture territory ditch them and get something lighter with lower rolling resistance. By lighter I mean not such a thick tread with the thick puncture prevention layer. Maybe put a bit of flat proof in as a substitute for the puncture resistance of the Marathons.

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