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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 03-01-11, 05:27 PM   #1
SurlyLaika
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700x32 knobbies or 700x25 armadillo slicks? The better of two evils

"Tires

I think the ideal width for a commuter tire is 28 or 32, but people disagree on this. Wider tires give you a more comfortable ride and can handle potholes better; narrower tires give you more speed. It's all a trade off and you just have to decide what's important to you. Most would agree that knobbies are a bad idea unless your commute is mostly on dirt trails. Knobbies are less stable on pavement (because less rubber has contact with the road) and they increase drag. "


Found this in the advice for new commuters thread. I've been thinking about switching out my Armadillo's for the stock Ritchey Speedmax tires on my CC, but maybe that isn't such a good idea? It just seems like can take potholes better because they're wider, as well as double duty on light off roads. Are knobbies the worst tires that can go on a commuter? I was thinking about buying some fat Vittoria Hyper Radonneurs, but I already have two sets of tires and I don't want to spend the money of the stock tires will do. What's the best plan for my intended use? What's the best all-purpose tire out there?
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Old 03-01-11, 07:52 PM   #2
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Before somebody blurts out "use search function" - I am very happy with Continental 4-seasons in 700X28 size.

Good Luck

SF
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Old 03-01-11, 08:06 PM   #3
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I run 28 front, 32 rear. Speed drop is less than 0.3 mph over 23 tires. The biggest advantage is the thick rubber at the rear...more puncture resistance, and much longer wear.
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Old 03-01-11, 08:11 PM   #4
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If its mostly pavement then for the love of god stay away from the knobbies. I switched from knobbie cross tires to some Vit Radonnuer Pros and I'm very happy with them. They carry a max psi of 75 and do as good of a job if not better that the higher volume cross tires due to more supple side walls smooth tread.
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Old 03-01-11, 08:51 PM   #5
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Having used knobbies while commuting 20 mi rt on urban asphalt for 5 years w/a hardtail/fork mtb I'm a little biased. They were 1.95x26 and though they may have slowed me down a bit and were a little noisey I had a total of 1 on road flat and 2 slow leaks. Both of which I was able to pump up enough to get home and repair while losing no travel/work time. Schwalbe Big Apples and the like will probably increase one's speed, but they're pricey. I used 2 sets of knobbies. One set came w/t bike and one set I fished out of a dumpster from a walmart bike someone had trashed and thrown away. I rode those tires for 3 years.

Living rural now I've got a 40 mi rt commute on all pretty good surfaces and I use SMP 700x28mm. Over 12,000 commuter/utilitarian miles w/one roadside flat and one slow leak. I've got a drop bar cx bike w/50/40x26-12 gearing. Basically, it's a rural variation of my urban bike. I've got better lighting now in the rural 'need to see/be seen'. Urban just required 'be seen'. The ambient lighting was enough to negotiate 99% of my needs.

So, those are two extreme examples. One needs to decide where thay fall and what tires best suit their needs. Everything's a compromise to a certain degree as the specifics of a given commute become more apparent.

When I first started commuting years ago I used to fill up 2 waterbottles every morning and drink them both on the way in. Same w/homeward. Now I don't even carry one with me as I know my hydration needs and can make both legs of my commute w/normal daily consumption. If it's going to be 100 degrees on the way home I'll make sure I've got water, but that's about the only time, anymore.

All in all in hindsight I'd probably have been better off w/some sort of street tires on my mtb, but I was too poor and dumb to know any better.
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Old 03-01-11, 09:05 PM   #6
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700x25. Works great on paved roads although that's weight dependent - at 180 pounds + 15 pounds of junk I can run a comfortable 90-95 psi front and 100-105 rear. Works fine for packed dirt. Sort-of works for packed dirt+gravel (yuck).
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Old 03-01-11, 10:15 PM   #7
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It's really a preference thing. I have nor back and forth between 32 inch cross tires and 32 inch slicks. I like the knobbies because I can take some trails if I want, but I really don't like the way that they feel on the road, they really do decrease handling, and I feel like they wear out more quickly than slicks (personal opinion, though). I would choose the slicks, but you really need to try both for a week or so and see wha works best for you.
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Old 03-02-11, 11:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sci_femme View Post
Before somebody blurts out "use search function" - I am very happy with Continental 4-seasons in 700X28 size.

Good Luck

SF
Jesus, that's an expensive tire at $70!
But here's the great review for these tires. Unfortunately, I'm looking for something between 700x32 and 700x40. Maybe the lower end actually.

"Tire design and choice requires tradeoffs. Do you want grippy or durable? Light weight or puncture resistant? The Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tire strikes an excellent balance between these competing goals. It is more durable and puncture resistant than most racing tires, and better handling than most heavy duty tires. It's one of the all-round best tires available for my fast hilly club rides and centuries.

Consider also Continental's foldable Gatorskin, which is similar and not quite as expensive."
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Old 03-02-11, 12:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by warnette View Post
If its mostly pavement then for the love of god stay away from the knobbies. I switched from knobbie cross tires to some Vit Radonnuer Pros and I'm very happy with them. They carry a max psi of 75 and do as good of a job if not better that the higher volume cross tires due to more supple side walls smooth tread.
What makes knobbies so terrible for pavement? Does the inverted pattern of Ritchey Speedmax Cross make a difference?

I am partial to Vittoria, though. Their website is for informative and the prices seem fair. I was thinking about the Radonneur Hypers but I'll check out the Radonneur Pro's.
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Old 03-02-11, 12:18 PM   #10
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I do lots of things "wrong" by BF standards. One of those things is riding an old steel race frame on my daily commute that has hardly any clearance for tires. I put a set of these on there:

http://www.specialized.com/se/en/bc/...jsp?spid=58015

I got the 700x25 tires and I honestly have to deflate the rear tire to get it into the dropouts.

They were like 25 or 30 bucks a piece at the local specialized dealer. Wire bead rim. I put in a good 120 or so miles a week on them for the past I don't know, 5-6 months? Anyhow, not a single flat yet. And my previous route was on horribly torn up roads with broken bottles, etc. My current one passes probably like 10 train tracks. Never a puncture or a pinch flat yet. And I don't blow them up to 160 psi, so they are comfy as well.
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Old 03-02-11, 12:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by albertmoreno View Post
Jesus, that's an expensive tire at $70!
I paid $40 each for my pair of folding 700x25 4-seasons. Same sized folding Gatorskins are a little less expensive.

You need to buy your bike stuff on-line from the UK when you're going to ride Continental tires, use Campagnolo components, or replace Shimano components without buying a new bicycle. Other things are also far less expensive.

Shipping is usually pretty fast (I've received shipments on the US west coast in 4 days) and not priced too out of line with domestic companies shipping via UPS.

Also note that $/mile is a better way to look at it than $/tire - the Gatorskins last a long time and ride really well compared to other long-lasting puncture resistant tires.
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Old 03-02-11, 12:58 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by albertmoreno View Post
Are knobbies the worst tires that can go on a commuter?
I was thinking about buying some fat Vittoria Hyper Radonneurs, but I already have two sets of tires and I don't want to spend the money of the stock tires will do. What's the best plan for my intended use? What's the best all-purpose tire out there?
without stating your weight, bike, load and preferences (durability, flat resistance,speed) it's not really possible to say what is best.

I'm a fat semifit 220lb middled aged guy and am quite happy with 700x35 Schwalbe Supreme and Panaracer Pasela TG or T-serv. I've had flats on the Randonneur Pros and Hyper. Knobby tires make no sense on paved roads. If this isn't obvious to you by now just take it on faith that racers who go fast around corners aren't riding on knobbies for a reason.

So what exactly are you riding on, pavement, dirt, both? If you're 135lbs you don't need the same size tire as someone who's 235lbs.
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Old 03-02-11, 01:24 PM   #13
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How about Hybrid Tires? Cheap, durable, cheap and you feel better about going off road or through homeless camps. On my commuter I have a WTB pathway and some Forte Tires, both in 700x32. I think either one was < $15. 0 flats on either
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Old 03-02-11, 03:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
I paid $40 each for my pair of folding 700x25 4-seasons. Same sized folding Gatorskins are a little less expensive.

You need to buy your bike stuff on-line from the UK when you're going to ride Continental tires, use Campagnolo components, or replace Shimano components without buying a new bicycle. Other things are also far less expensive.

Shipping is usually pretty fast (I've received shipments on the US west coast in 4 days) and not priced too out of line with domestic companies shipping via UPS.

Also note that $/mile is a better way to look at it than $/tire - the Gatorskins last a long time and ride really well compared to other long-lasting puncture resistant tires.
google search tends to show only american online shops. Got any good European shop links?
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Old 03-02-11, 04:04 PM   #15
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Just do your search from google.co.uk for more results from across the pond.

Or google.de , google.fr, etcetera if you'd rather go "continental". Some knowledge of those countries' common languages might be necessary there.
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Old 03-02-11, 04:04 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
without stating your weight, bike, load and preferences (durability, flat resistance,speed) it's not really possible to say what is best.

I'm a fat semifit 220lb middled aged guy and am quite happy with 700x35 Schwalbe Supreme and Panaracer Pasela TG or T-serv. I've had flats on the Randonneur Pros and Hyper. Knobby tires make no sense on paved roads. If this isn't obvious to you by now just take it on faith that racers who go fast around corners aren't riding on knobbies for a reason.

So what exactly are you riding on, pavement, dirt, both? If you're 135lbs you don't need the same size tire as someone who's 235lbs.
OKay, I'm 160lbs, 5'11 on a Surly Cross Check. I usually only wear a backpack but I have a Surly Nice rack rear (that adds some weight there). I want comfortable ride over rough pot holes and the ability to go off-road when I want to take a short cut or just for fun while not sacrificing too much speed.

Ritchey Speedmax Cross 700x32 (in the garage)
Specialized Armadillo All-Condition 700x25 (on the bike)
Vittoria Randonneur Hyper 700x37 or 40 (thinking about buying these)
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Old 03-02-11, 06:49 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by WalksOn2Wheels View Post
I do lots of things "wrong" by BF standards. One of those things is riding an old steel race frame on my daily commute that has hardly any clearance for tires. I put a set of these on there:

http://www.specialized.com/se/en/bc/...jsp?spid=58015

I got the 700x25 tires and I honestly have to deflate the rear tire to get it into the dropouts.

They were like 25 or 30 bucks a piece at the local specialized dealer. Wire bead rim. I put in a good 120 or so miles a week on them for the past I don't know, 5-6 months? Anyhow, not a single flat yet. And my previous route was on horribly torn up roads with broken bottles, etc. My current one passes probably like 10 train tracks. Never a puncture or a pinch flat yet. And I don't blow them up to 160 psi, so they are comfy as well.
That's exactly what I'm running. So far, tough as nails, no flats, nothing to complain about but damn they ride harshly over potholes. Specialized Armadillo's All Condition 700x25
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Old 03-02-11, 07:31 PM   #18
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Took off the WTB Allterrainasaurus 32-30 tires and put on Jack Brown 33 slick supple tires
and it was a significant rolling resistance improvement..
But if you got dirt and gravel mix with pavement, on your route they are not bad , and a lot cheaper.
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Old 03-02-11, 08:00 PM   #19
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Jesus, that's an expensive tire at $70!
Yes, it is. Their only shortcoming, really.
Well, you trust your life to two contact patches size of a thumbnail. Make them count. Main problem with size 28 - it is fairly uncommon, and order took nearly 6 weeks to arrive to my LBS. But they wear exceptionally well and puncture-resistant on par with Armadillos.
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Originally Posted by albertmoreno View Post
Unfortunately, I'm looking for something between 700x32 and 700x40. Maybe the lower end actually.
If comfort is driving your decision to run 32 to 40 - sidewalls on 4-season tires are very flexible, ride quality is exceptional for something inflated around 100 psi. If terrain requires wider tire - loose dirt, gravel, etc, then these are really not the best choice.

Good Luck

SF
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Old 03-02-11, 09:03 PM   #20
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OKay, I'm 160lbs, 5'11 on a Surly Cross Check. I usually only wear a backpack but I have a Surly Nice rack rear (that adds some weight there). I want comfortable ride over rough pot holes and the ability to go off-road when I want to take a short cut or just for fun while not sacrificing too much speed.

Ritchey Speedmax Cross 700x32 (in the garage)
Specialized Armadillo All-Condition 700x25 (on the bike)
Vittoria Randonneur Hyper 700x37 or 40 (thinking about buying these)
ok!

play with the combos. Put the more street like tire on the rear and anything good for dirt with grip on the front. I'd be inclined to put a fast 28-32mm tire on the rear with a light flexible 32-35mm tire on the front that would have grip in the dirt. Start with the tires you have. 25mm Armadillo on the rear and the SpeedMax on the front.

Then try a 32mm Specialized CX Borough Pro for the front with the 25mm Armadillo rear tire. Ride that for awhile.
Then get a 28-32mm tire for the rear. Maybe a 32mm T-Serv Protex or Pasela TG. The Borough has a flatter profile that's good for dirt with a slick center for street. The foldable Panaracer is way comfy, light, and fast for pavement. There's nothing about the Vittoria Hyper that would be good for dirt given the nearly slick tread. There are heavier/tougher tires than the Panaracers but if one of your preferences is speed on pavement they're a very good choice.

ok how about this for max comfort street/off road. 32mm Panaracer Pasela TG for the rear and 35mm Schwalbe Extreme for the front?.

Last edited by LeeG; 03-02-11 at 09:12 PM.
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