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  1. #1
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    Slicks or knobbies for wet weather

    Hello,

    I'm new to the site. I plan to begin commuting soon in the Portland, OR area. As you all know, it rains here. YES, I know....it's hard to accept, but it's true.

    Anyway, I recently purchased a Jamis Nova cyclocross bike and it comes with knobby tires. My commute would be short in to work thanks to bike-friendly public transit, but about 10-15 miles going home. I'm wondering if, this Winter, I'd be better off to just leave the knobbies on or would I be better off with something like a Specialized (all condition) Armadillo or Conti Ultra Gatorskin.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Long Live Long Rides
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    Welcom to the site! I commute all year and this spring I asked my local bike shop about rain worthy tires. I ended up with some Pannaracer T Serve Messenger tires. He told me he has heard great reviews about them. These are supposed to be the tires used on messenger bikes in NY. I like them so far. Mine are for 26" but you should be able to find any tire you like in either size. I do, however, change these out when it snows for studded snow tires.

    I have a friend in Salem. He tells me it rains quite a lot between mountain ranges. How about snow in Portland? Winter is just around the corner. If it snows a lot you may be better off leaving the knobbies on a while.
    Jharte
    Touring...therapy for the soul.

  3. #3
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    I run Nokian 106 (knobby, with carbide studs) in the winter and Schwalbe Marathon Plus (inverted tread semislick)spring, summer, and fall. I think that slick tires work better than heavily treaded tires in the rain. The only advantages I can find for knobbies is increased flat resistance and better traction in snow or mud.

    Paul

  4. #4
    Cyclocrosser.
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    You don't want knobbies in wet weather. You will slip and fall.
    Woot: 'bLog

  5. #5
    Long Live Long Rides
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    PaulH, Phiber, I don't disagree at all. I change tires on my bike between knobs and street on a whim. I'm a little reluctant to ask someone else to do it, though. I know it's part of commuting. Especially if you don't have a second set of rims. Very true, knobs in rain=danger. Sometimes the new riders I talk to at work don't understand all that we go through for our sport (passion).
    Jharte
    Touring...therapy for the soul.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jharte
    PaulH, Phiber, I don't disagree at all. I change tires on my bike between knobs and street on a whim. I'm a little reluctant to ask someone else to do it, though. I know it's part of commuting. Especially if you don't have a second set of rims. Very true, knobs in rain=danger. Sometimes the new riders I talk to at work don't understand all that we go through for our sport (passion).
    There's my answer. Knobs in rain = danger. That's what I figured, but wanted to just double check. Thanks all!

  7. #7
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    I wouldn't go so far as to consider knobbies dangerous in the rain. Unless you are cornering fast, I'd consider both to be acceptable from a safety standpoint.

    However since 1) there are some very flat-resistant slicks available (Schwalbe Marathon Plus, Specialized Armadillo, etc.), 2) Portland is not known for snow, and what snow you get will be wet and easily handled by slicks, 3) rolling resistance is significantly greater with knobbies, and 4) slicks just stick better in both wet and dry conditions; I would suggest just ditching the knobbies altogether. The only reason those things were developed at all was for off road use, which is not what you are doing.

    Paul

  8. #8
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    I hate knobbies in the rain. Until I switched to slicks I'd always manage to break a tire loose (lose traction) in the rain with my knobbies. Since I switched the only problem I've had is hitting one of the raised reflective lane markers they use down here.

    <note to self> Remember to rent large snowplow to "clean" favorite routes </note to self>

  9. #9
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
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    i just recently test rode a nova as a replacement to my old commuter which died recently in a car accident.

    the first thing i'd change out for pavement riding is the tires.

    not only will it make you faster, those knobbies in particular felt particularly squirrely through the turns.

    any road tire out there (even super skinny slick racer tires) work pretty well in rain but usince your commuting and have room for a nice wide tire on the cross bike, i suggest some touring tires, so you get a lot of happy miles with as few flats as possible.

    both your current tires both come widely recommended though i never tried either but i also suggest looking into my current tread the continental top-tourer's. they take a little while to break in (feel a little sloppy till the treads wear down a little) but have worked well on my noramlly flat-prone ride to work so far.

    good choice on the bike! i hope to get the same one rolling as soon as the f-in insurance company gets there act together and sends me a check!

  10. #10
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    I agree with the consensus here: slicks for wet weather on roads, no knobbies.

    Here's a great link on tires in general: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tires.html..

    It points out that knobbies are, in general, not really good for hard surfaces (roads). And since hydroplaning is not a factor for bike tires, this seems to remain true regardless of the presence of water on the road.

    I wonder if it would make a difference in the case of going through deep standing water? Might it be the case that the uneven tread of knobbies would prove superior at pushing water out of the way? Of course, then you might very well be looking at replacing your bottom bracket anyway!

  11. #11
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    Forgot to mention -- I have been riding a Jamis Coda Elite for about 4 months, and it is great. Seems fairly similar to yours, but more hybrid. I am sure you'll enjoy yours.

    Also, I switched from the light (and therefore fast) slicks it came with - which gave me a flat in the first two weeks - to Specialized Armadillo All Conditions and have been riding with no flats for the last 3 months. Somewhat heavier but worth it to me to reduce the flats on my commute.

  12. #12
    Rebel Thousandaire Ya Tu Sabes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH
    2) Portland is not known for snow, and what snow you get will be wet and easily handled by slicks
    ...BUT, I can say, as a former resident, Portland does get a lot of black ice in the mornings during winter, and slicks are murder on black ice. Knobbies are only a little bit better, but I have found that little bit to be the difference between a scary but controlled slide and an all-out, what-happened-to-the-bicycle-that-moments-ago-was-between-me-and-the-ground?-type fall.

    Either way, ride carefully in the morning.

  13. #13
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    I'll probably opt for riding mass transit or driving the car on days when it's cold enough for black ice. That happens occassionally, but not enough to keep the bike inside all winter.

  14. #14
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aiguy
    I agree with the consensus here: slicks for wet weather on roads, no knobbies.

    Here's a great link on tires in general: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tires.html..

    It points out that knobbies are, in general, not really good for hard surfaces (roads). And since hydroplaning is not a factor for bike tires, this seems to remain true regardless of the presence of water on the road.

    I wonder if it would make a difference in the case of going through deep standing water? Might it be the case that the uneven tread of knobbies would prove superior at pushing water out of the way? Of course, then you might very well be looking at replacing your bottom bracket anyway!

    deep standing water depends. See how you get traction is just your weight and the bike's weight being sidtributed over the tire's contact patch. This, combined with the extremely small contact patch roadd tires make, and you have a tire that gets better traction per square inch than a car tire. The small contact patch makes it so tread is unneeded.

    As far as deep standing water, you have more forces at play...the largest is fluid dynamics.....what will happen is your wheel goes in, then your spokes contact teh water, and producce a heavy decelration force...which can also throw the wheel to a side, causing a wreck. Really, deep water should be avoided if possible, and if not, just ride through it slowly. If your fett get into it, expect some serious difficuly, since at that point, your feet merely going into the puddle will cause drag, altering your direction.

  15. #15
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    If you get any significant amount of black ice, you should look at the Nokkian 106's. The studs will carry you across an ice patch better than any slick or knobbie. They are heavy, so they will slow you down, but they won't slow you as much as wiping out in traffic. I don't know Portland's winter conditions, so you should trust other Portland riders more than some anonymous dude from Ohio.

    But for non-icy wet roads, stay with slicks.
    Last edited by Daily Commute; 10-20-04 at 12:24 PM.

  16. #16
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
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    i just found a complete wheelset someone was selling with nokian 106's already attached. all for less than the tires alone!!!

    THANK YOU INTERNET

    a new cheap wheelset might be just the ticket if you wanna get a set of studded tires. when it gets nasty, switch wheels in 2 minutes: BAMMO, you got studs that will take whatever nature has to dish out (hopefully as this will be my first winter trying).

  17. #17
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    Its agreed that slicks are better than knobbies in the wet, but the rubber composition also affects adhesion in the wet. High hysteresis rubber (soft rubber) is better in the wet than bouncy rubber, which has lower rolling resistance. Does anyone have information on different tires' composition in relation to wet adhesion. How good are tires containing silicone?

  18. #18
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    I ride a Trek 4900 5 miles daily in Maryland to school and work; we get a lot of rain as of late and I ride fast. My favorite tire is the Michelin TransWorld City. It has two deep water-evacuation grooves in the main tread contact area and the rubber itself is very grippy. It also has built in puncture protection and I use the Slime "nail guard" strips. They are only $20 or so.

  19. #19
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    Its agreed that slicks are better than knobbies in the wet, but the rubber composition also affects adhesion in the wet. High hysteresis rubber (soft rubber) is better in the wet than bouncy rubber, which has lower rolling resistance. Does anyone have information on different tires' composition in relation to wet adhesion. How good are tires containing silicone?
    The tires on my Trek are the cheapest ones i could get...$7 each, and they grip just fine. It's when you get to extended duty tires and any other harder than normal (puncture resistant tires) tires that you have to worry about traction issues. At the most I get slip when I run over wet steel at high speeds or get moving in the morning and leaves are under me..other than that, nothing.

    Basically avoid wet steel...it's worse than ice IMO.

  20. #20
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    How right you are about the steel; also avoid wet wood, it is just as bad, if not worse than ice because you don't think it will be as slick as it is. I almost had a major wipe out on a bridge with wooden planks. I don't know the composition of the Michelins but they are the softest that I could find in the shop. The tread life is rated at 3000 miles. The puncture resistant layer is under the tread.

  21. #21
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I would always suggest slicks (as noted above by others)

    However I wonder what others would choose given:

    700x32c Bontranger Jones CX (at 80psi, cyclocross tyre with very low profile knobbies)
    vs.
    700x28c Continental ultra gatorskin (at 100psi)

    It is not totally clear to me which is better for wet: A 80psi fatter tire of softer rubber but some knobbies or a narrower slick with slightly higher pressure, but perhaps harder rubber.

    I had the CX tires on this morning, left over from a weekend trail ride, however rain was forcast today, so I switched the Continental back on the the rear only (I had 10min so I didn't do both). I didn't just put the Conti on the rear for the wet, but also because I don't like to wear out the CX tire and like the smoother ride of the slick.

    Al

  22. #22
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    noisebeam, how do you like the Contis? Are they your commuter tire of choice?

  23. #23
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I like the Contis, but only have 400mi on them and have never used any other tire before on this bike (I used a mtb before) - so I don't have any comparision or history.

    I've never had a flat. I hit broken glass patches at least once every other ride and sharp pavement edges too. I keep them between 100-110psi, the ride is smooth and not harsh on a Lemond Poprad (steel frame)

    If I did it again I probably would go with the 25's instead of the same tire.

    Al

  24. #24
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    I'm a bit torn between the Conti's and the Armadillos. I'll probably opt for at least 28, though, as I'm in Oregon and we get a bit more rain and, thus, dirt/gravel/etc on the roads.

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