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  1. #1
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    Those who ride on pure slicks

    Do you ever worry about traction or riding in the rain, sharp or fast turns? On my street mt. bike I have Michelin CiTY semi-slicks (has grooves). The grooves gives me some confidence, yet I worry about wiping out on sharp turns, especially if going downhill where there is a sweeping turn at the bottom. How do you slick guys do it? Reason I'm asking is that some guy is selling two NEW Forte 26 x 1.5 pure slicks for $10. Too good of a deal to pass.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mr. Fly's Avatar
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    See this

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by djork View Post
    How do you slick guys do it?
    It's easy considering that slicks have Better traction than tires with tread.

    Lets put it this way, ever notice how F1 Race cars have slick tires?

    Post a link to the guy selling em, Ill buy em if you won't.

  4. #4
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    I ride regularly in the rain with slicks with probably better traction than my previous treaded tires due to the slick's softer compound, plus there is far less grit build up on my bike since there is no tread to trap and sling extra debris.

  5. #5
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djork View Post
    How do you slick guys do it?
    I do it by riding on roads where slicks give you better traction. The only thing tread does for road tires is give you less traction and more rolling resistance.
    Learn what's a platform pedal.

  6. #6
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    As both Sheldon Brown and Frank Berto have noted tread is useless on bicycle tires other than as a possible wear indicator and is frequently too shallow for that, particularly the tread on narrow high pressure bike tires. Bike tires are too narrow to aquaplane in the wet and if you hit oil nothing helps, including tread. If tread on bicycle road tires was a safety factor then slicks would not even be offered as the lawyers would have a field day.

    Riding in snow, ice or on dirt and mud is a different matter entirely. There treaded tires or knobbies and ice studs are definitely worthwhile and serve a purpose.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
    It's easy considering that slicks have Better traction than tires with tread.

    Lets put it this way, ever notice how F1 Race cars have slick tires?

    Post a link to the guy selling em, Ill buy em if you won't.
    Except in the wet. Slick racing tires are a disaster in wet conditions as they hydroplane easily due to a combination of low vehicle weight, high speed and wide tires that are flat in cross section. These conditions do NOT apply to bicycles.
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  8. #8
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I'd ride michelin CITYs over Forte slicks fer sure. don't even go there (forte!)
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  9. #9
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    Unless there is something else on the road besides water, the accepted wisdom is that slicks will offer the best traction for a given tire size and pressure.

    But to muddy the water here a bit, I couldn't help noticing that a recent rainy stage of the Tour of California was won on a file tread.

    I'm still waiting for some of the tech guys to weight in on that.

  10. #10
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    I remember the Phil Ligget or Paul Sherwin (I am guessing that I butchered their names ) saying that in rainy races the mechanics drop the tire pressure from 110 to 70 to increase traction. I rarely ride in rain due to the fact it hardly ever rains around here. The few times I have ridden in the rain on slicks it has been fine.

  11. #11
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    I'd ride michelin CITYs over Forte slicks fer sure. don't even go there (forte!)
    I use both of them.
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  12. #12
    Non-Spandex Commuter jdmitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatfiend View Post
    Except in the wet. Slick racing tires are a disaster in wet conditions as they hydroplane easily due to a combination of low vehicle weight, high speed and wide tires that are flat in cross section. These conditions do NOT apply to bicycles.
    Yup, there's basically no way on earth that a cyclist is going to get up fast enough to hydroplane.

  13. #13
    Didn't make it Bat22's Avatar
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    A local guy rides a flat bar with slicks in the winter.
    As long as the roads are plowed.
    He allways has and he allways will.
    Ride like a teen machine

  14. #14
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    Agrees with Mr Fly, Sheldon, and a few others here. Also see this thread:

    Do you reduce you tire pressure in rain?

    The only other thing I can say is I had more confidence on my slick Krylions than I do on my current gatorskins with very slight tread. It's to do with the rubber compound, but that's ok, the gs gives me more flat protection.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatfiend View Post
    Riding in snow, ice or on dirt and mud is a different matter entirely. There treaded tires or knobbies and ice studs are definitely worthwhile and serve a purpose.
    This, actually, is the main reason I haven't switched to slicks yet. Yes, I'm sure they're great and all, and I'm sure *IN THEORY* they don't result in any loss of traction. But I just don't see that theory carrying over to the real world.

    If I only ever rode on a slab of clean polished concrete, I suppose treads would offer no advantage. But I don't, I ride on pavement (US pavement, not UK pavement) and occasionally off-road. Asphalt isn't smooth, so if I start to slip some part of my tread will grab some part of the road, and offer at least some traction.


    Sheldon makes note of this himself, in the page Mr. Fly linked to:
    People ask, "But don't slick tires get slippery on wet roads, or worse yet, wet metal features such as expansion joints, paint stripes, or railroad tracks?" The answer is, yes, they do. So do tires with tread. All tires are slippery in these conditions. Tread features make no improvement in this.
    I don't buy his argument. Tires with tread may slip, but they have the tread to grab on to any irregularity that may come up. Let's take a wet expansion joint for example: a slick will slide and just keep going, but a treaded tire will have at least the *chance* of grabbing on to the joint and remaining upright. It may not happen, but it seems to be much more likely to happen with a tread than with a slick.



    I totally buy the rolling resistance argument, but I don't agree that there's no loss in traction.

  16. #16
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjwarren View Post
    Sheldon makes note of this himself, ......I don't buy his argument. .....I totally buy the rolling resistance argument, but I don't agree that there's no loss in traction.
    Dude, you can't go disagreeing with Sheldon around here (revered silence)

  17. #17
    Light Makes Right GV27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjwarren View Post

    I don't buy his argument. Tires with tread may slip, but they have the tread to grab on to any irregularity that may come up. Let's take a wet expansion joint for example: a slick will slide and just keep going, but a treaded tire will have at least the *chance* of grabbing on to the joint and remaining upright. It may not happen, but it seems to be much more likely to happen with a tread than with a slick.
    You do know that makes zero sense from a physics point of view, right?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjwarren View Post
    Let's take a wet expansion joint for example: a slick will slide and just keep going, but a treaded tire will have at least the *chance* of grabbing on to the joint and remaining upright.
    A slick that's not overinflated can deform to fill any available space it rolls across. A treaded tire is limited in what it can grab onto by its shape.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
    It's easy considering that slicks have Better traction than tires with tread.

    Lets put it this way, ever notice how F1 Race cars have slick tires?

    Post a link to the guy selling em, Ill buy em if you won't.
    Not a good analogy. F1 rain tires have grooves.

    The difference, as is pointed out by the Sheldon Brown article someone posted a link to, a bicycle tire has such a narrow contact patch that you will never get up enough speed to hydroplane, unless you're trying to break the HPV speed record, whcih you shouldn't be doing in the rain in the first place.

    That's the purpose of tread in an automotive tire, to give water building up under the treat a way to escape.
    Riding the Ohio MS Central Ohio Challenge tour, July 12th.

  20. #20
    Light Makes Right GV27's Avatar
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    And just to nit-pick since I'm an F1 fan they have run on grooved tires in the dry for the last ten years. But in that case it was a rule put in place to give them LESS mechanical grip and slow them down for safety. Going back to slicks is one of the myriad of rule changes for the 2009 designed to make the cars less dependent on aero grip. Slicks will give them more mechanical grip to compensate some for the loss of aero grip. Nobody's been able to figure out how to make aero downforce work on a two-wheeled road racer.

    The other thing to remember is that the idea with slick race tires is to be able to run a much softer tread compound. I'm not sure how much the bike tire makers pay attention to that. A race slick also typically wears out in less than 100 miles.

  21. #21
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    Wow, the things I still learn about bikes! Very interesting info about slicks. I think I will get them!

    Coming from a mt. bike background, I've always been biased toward knobbies and was always under the impression that treads on road tires is an advantage.

  22. #22
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Just to add another voice to the chorus, based on what I have read in a few articles, the major advantage of tread on bicycle road tires is marketing.

    1) It makes some tires look like it will grip.

    2) it makes a tire with tread look worn out before the rubber is worn down to the threads.

    Point #1 was emphasized for me recently when I put slicks on a bike I built for a friend for riding on rail trails and roads. She almost refused to ride it.

    Before I understood the issue, I replaced a lot of tires based exclusively on point #2. Now, I use it only to indicate that I might be getting close (for my tires that have tread at all)

  23. #23
    Gray Haired Commuter
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    Check out how the folks at Schwalbe weigh in on this subject:

    Tread Info
    Dave Clary
    Corpus Christi,TX
    Home: http://davidclary.com
    Blog: DaveGetsFit

  24. #24
    Senior Member bkbrouwer's Avatar
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    It shows my age, but....I remember when the first slick bike tires were introduced (Avocet in the late 80's?). We were all flabbergasted. I can still sort of see the ad in my minds eye. A picture of the tire from the underside on wet glass. As they claimed at the time, and others have said in this post, the curve of the tire dispurses the water and leaves you with more traction area.

  25. #25
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    I ride slicks year round... including snow and ice. I do go with a wider tire in the winter (35's) than summer (25's) for more surface contact/traction.
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

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