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Thread: Tires Explained

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    Senior Member LiteraryChic's Avatar
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    Tires Explained

    Could someone please explain to me how tire sizing works? For example, Lola has 700x38 tires. I know a little bit of how it works, but I would just like a more detailed explantion.

    Rims? Tubes? Tires?

    Also, does anyone have any thoughts on winterizing my tires for commuting without buying snow tires? I am just not sure I can stretch my budget for snow tires, but I'll have to wait & see how things go.

    I've heard that you can use zip ties? I've also been told that you can use one snow tire on the front and/or back? What is best? Thoughts?

    Thanks for all of the help!

    p.s. I live in Michigan, so in the winter we get it all - dry conditions, snow/ice, rain etc.
    Last edited by LiteraryChic; 09-30-13 at 09:43 PM.

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    I'd start with St. Sheldon:
    http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html

    Essentially, 700C is a size, with a 622 bead seat diameter. 38mm is how wide the tire is.

    Winterizing, I got studded snow tires. But I live in Minnesota.

    I think the zip ties work if you don't have rim brakes. I've met a lot of folks that just put a studded tire in front, but every fall I've had in winter (there's been a few) the rear tire skids out from under me.
    Quote Originally Posted by shipwreck View Post
    Sure it works in practice, but will it work in theory.

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    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Check out the Winter Cycling forum here. I think that there is a sticky where Sixty-fiver gives tips on doing some DIY studded tires.
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    Senior Member LiteraryChic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gna View Post
    I'd start with St. Sheldon:
    http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html

    Essentially, 700C is a size, with a 622 bead seat diameter. 38mm is how wide the tire is.

    Winterizing, I got studded snow tires. But I live in Minnesota.

    I think the zip ties work if you don't have rim brakes. I've met a lot of folks that just put a studded tire in front, but every fall I've had in winter (there's been a few) the rear tire skids out from under me.
    Okay, that makes more sense! I'll look into St. Sheldon tomorrow! Thanks!

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LiteraryChic View Post
    Could someone please explain to me how tire sizing works? For example, Lola has 700x38 tires. I know a little bit of how it works, but I would just like a more detailed explantion.

    Rims? Tubes? Tires?

    Also, does anyone have any thoughts on winterizing my tires for commuting without buying snow tires? I am just not sure I can stretch my budget for snow tires, but I'll have to wait & see how things go.

    I've heard that you can use zip ties? I've also been told that you can use one snow tire on the front and/or back? What is best? Thoughts?

    Thanks for all of the help!

    p.s. I live in Michigan, so in the winter we get it all - dry conditions, snow/ice, rain etc.
    The 700C designation is a remnant of the French tyre sizing system where tyres were categorized by numbers that had nothing to do with the metric size like 500A, 650B, and 700 which came in a A, B, C, and D where the letter code denoted width with the A being narrowest and D being the widest.

    I wonder if the same was applied to brassieres ?

    Anyways... 700C now refers to all rims with a 622 mm bead seat, the second number denotes the tyre width in mm. The rim width needs to fall within a given range to match the tyre but that is another topic.

    29'r mountain bikes also run 622 rims that are much wider and accommodate very wide tyres.

    Follow the link in my signature for tips on winter cycling and instructions on how to build your own winter tyres... and check the Winter Cycling Forum as it can provide much needed moral support.

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    For the non-DIY tire types, Peter White in New Hampshire has all the studded tires (and lots more goodies, including excellent lights) his sometimes amazingly thorough, sometimes opinionated, sometimes annoying, sometimes wonderfully humorous, sometimes a wee bit out of date website: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/
    They will want the erto number off the side of your current tires when you place an order just to make sure they send the right diameter tire.

    Order tires well before the snow flies to help make sure your order doesn't end up back-ordered. For lights, it's probably already too late to avoid the fall standard time rush for upgraded lights.

    +10 for the winter cycling forum and SixteyFivers links.

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    I made some DIY studded tyres. You need sufficient clearance for a fat tyre + studs + snow accumulation.
    I picked a fairly cheap MTb tyre with large, well spaced knobbles. You are going to put a 3/8" self-tapping screw through every other knobble so bigger is better.
    You need a dremel to cut the screw off on the outside at a suitable length and some ay of patching the head so it doesnt rub the inner tube. I glued on patches of old inner tube using rubber solution craft glue.
    They wear out faster than commercial tyres such as Marathon Winter but the lifespan is good enough for me.
    Having a spare set of wheels for your winter tyres is a great boon so you can switch out when you want. I have hub gears and dyno-hub so have to leave it till the last (cold) minute.

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    Senior Member Slaninar's Avatar
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    A cheap, old (90s) MTB. Some winter tyres on it - under 100 euros per pair. And you're good to go. When snow - use the snow bicycle.

    Cheaper alternative would be to put some mud - off road tyres on the old MTB, but that won't do for ice, just for snow.


    If you have no room for another bike, get some Schwalbe Marathon Winter tyres, they come in 35 width, which should fit Lola with fenders - do check for room. Or Nokian Hakapelita. They come narrow and nice for treking bicycles.


    Rear tyre keeps you moving, while the front one keeps you upright.
    Last edited by Slaninar; 10-01-13 at 06:53 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LiteraryChic View Post
    Also, does anyone have any thoughts on winterizing my tires for commuting without buying snow tires? I am just not sure I can stretch my budget for snow tires, but I'll have to wait & see how things go.
    You could get away with just one studded tire on the front,if cost is that much of an issue. Remember,you only run studs in the snow,so you're not going to wear through them as often as regular tires. My studded tires are several years old.

    When I first started commuting,it was winter,and my first few snow rides were on regular tires. Studs/knobbies help alot,but regular tires are doable as long as you're careful. It would also help to run Kool Stop Salmon pads on at least your front brakes.

    Quote Originally Posted by LiteraryChic View Post
    I've heard that you can use zip ties?
    I wouldn't recommend this. First,if you get a flat,you have to cut all those zip ties to remove the tire. Second,plastic zip ties aren't going to come anywhere close to steel or carbide studs in traction.

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    You can find many accounts from people who have used zip ties in a pinch... because this is what they are good for.

    Commercial tyres are great, I have some 20 inch Marathon winter tyres for my folder and I can pop wheelies on black ice and bring the front wheel down with no worries but they are worth a little over $100.00 a pair and they were a gift.

    The DIY tyres I have been building up and using for the past decade do the same thing at a fraction of the cost and last a really long time, I have only flatted once over 25,000 miles of winter riding and this was on a DIY tyre that probably had 12,000 miles on it. One of the screws backed itself out enough to rub through the liner and after repairing that the tyre was back in use and is still useable and fitted to a spare front wheel.

    Cost to roll your own is all of $5.00 and some elbow grease and does work better with knobbier tyres, if you are only going to use one studded tyre it goes on the front as rear wheel skids are recoverable while front ones usually are not.

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    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gna View Post
    I'd start with St. Sheldon:
    http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html

    Essentially, 700C is a size, with a 622 bead seat diameter. 38mm is how wide the tire is.
    My 700Cx35 Schwalbe Marathon has an ERTO of 37-622 which suggests that the 35mm tire (700Cx35) is actually 37mm tall (ERTO 37-622) which is apparent when you look at the tire because it has a slight aero-shape whereas my Michelin Pilot Sport (700Cx32) appears round and the ERTO bears it out, 32-622.

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    One quirk from using the French name 700C is tha people thing C is a unit of measurement. People say they want a 29C tire when the mean 28mm. I've also heard people say they have 700CC tires, because CC is a unit of measurement, i.e. cubic centimeters. But that's not it, either. 700C refers to a diameter of 622mm, as measured at the bead. 700x28C is really 700C x 28mm.

    Confused yet?
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
    My 700Cx35 Schwalbe Marathon has an ERTO of 37-622 which suggests that the 35mm tire (700Cx35) is actually 37mm tall (ERTO 37-622) which is apparent when you look at the tire because it has a slight aero-shape whereas my Michelin Pilot Sport (700Cx32) appears round and the ERTO bears it out, 32-622.
    The ERTO measurement shows diameter and tyre width, not height, and the width measurement is not always accurate.

    Fitting a given tyre to a wider rim than it is designed for will reduce it's height as this will stretch the tyre across the rim and lower it's profile... tyre do tend to be about as tall / deep as they are wide when they are fitted to the right rims.

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    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Furthermore, if you know the diameter, also known as bead seat diameter, chances are you can fit any tire of that diameter of almost any width. If your bike came with very wide tires, it may have wide rims. With those wide rims, it may be a bad idea to install super narrow tires, because that would splay the tires out too much. If your bike came with narrow tires, wide tires might not fit in the frame or fork because the maker didn't provide enough room. Measuring first may help in this case.

    You probably will have room for wider tires if your bike came with 38mm wide tires, but you may not crave wider tires.
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    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    The ERTO measurement shows diameter and tyre width, not height, and the width measurement is not always accurate.

    Fitting a given tyre to a wider rim than it is designed for will reduce it's height as this will stretch the tyre across the rim and lower it's profile... tyre do tend to be about as tall / deep as they are wide when they are fitted to the right rims.
    OK, thanks for the correction. However, it is weird that, on the side of the tire and on the Schwalbe website, it says both 700Cx35 and 37-622 whereas some other Schwalbe tires say 700Cx35 and 35-622.

    It was because of the 700Cx35/37-622 discrepancy that I (incorrectly) deduced that the 700 measurement is width and ERTO is height.

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    Slight aside
    Lots of tires are a bit less wide than the width number indicates.
    My 1.95 Tires-should be 49.5mm-actually 45mm

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    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    A international convention declared that bike tires should have the actual size written as well as the vernacular. Thus you will see 622x35 at the very least. You will usually also see something like 700Cx35 or 700x35C, but this is not a measurement. The actual measurement is 622x35. Further complicating things is that 35 is not that the inflated width will be. For one thing, rim width affects inflated tire width. In theory, that spec is provided by the maker by measuring the bead-to-bead distance as the tire is flattened out and then dividing by 2.5.
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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
    OK, thanks for the correction. However, it is weird that, on the side of the tire and on the Schwalbe website, it says both 700Cx35 and 37-622 whereas some other Schwalbe tires say 700Cx35 and 35-622.

    It was because of the 700Cx35/37-622 discrepancy that I (incorrectly) deduced that the 700 measurement is width and ERTO is height.
    This is why so many people are confused by tyre sizing... those wider 622 tyres that are produced by Schwalbe (and others) may also have a fractional measurement of 28 inches on them as this is also the standard tyre size on most non British roadsters that may also be labelled as 28 by 1 3/8 & 1 5/8 (Canada) or as 28 by 1 1/2.

    Those British roadsters run a 28 by 1 1/2 inch tyre which actually sits on a 635 mm rim and are not interchangeable with the continental 28 inch tyres.... for this reason they are called English oversize although their height is effectively the same because of a shallower tyre depth.

    In the French system a 635mm rim is a 700B.

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    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    This is why so many people are confused by tyre sizing... those wider 622 tyres that are produced by Schwalbe (and others) may also have a fractional measurement of 28 inches on them as this is also the standard tyre size on most non British roadsters that may also be labelled as 28 by 1 3/8 & 1 5/8 (Canada) or as 28 by 1 1/2.

    Those British roadsters run a 28 by 1 1/2 inch tyre which actually sits on a 635 mm rim and are not interchangeable with the continental 28 inch tyres.... for this reason they are called English oversize although their height is effectively the same because of a shallower tyre depth.

    In the French system a 635mm rim is a 700B.
    My brain hurts!!!

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    Literarychic,

    What type of tread pattern do your tires have now? You may not need a winter-specific tire at all, and certainly studded tires would be overkill for all but 2% of the riding conditions we see around here, and have significant penalties for the other 98%. I'd probably advise against them, in fact.

    Riding in snowy conditions is not that hard-- and we scarcely get snow anymore-- but since we use salt so heavily anyway, the roads are usually clear within hours of a snowfall, and mostly just slushy. Most of the winter, the roads are dry. You may encounter icy conditions on neighborhood streets for a day or two after a snow, but generally the treacherous spots are few. A little practice, good technique, and little bit of tread will get you through some frightful looking conditions pretty easily; the inexperienced are quite surprised by what cyclists seem to ride through, but the reality is that it's just not as difficult as they think it would be.

    I've had great success with cyclocross tires for Ann Arbor winters, and am pretty delighted with Kenda Kwicks in particular, now on my second set and probably 5th winter with those tires. I wouldn't necessarily recommend them for you-- a little more tread would probably give a little more sure-footedness in the worst conditions-- but I mention them to underscore the fact that one just doesn't need a big, heavy, gnarly tire to ride the winter. In a winter tire, I prioritize fast rolling in the dry, and low weight (I don't want to strain when I'm hoisting the bike to hang it in the garage; I've got enough junk on my bike already!) as much as I do traction.

    The short of it is, having ridden virtually every winter in Ann Arbor since '87-- I had a five year interlude while at MSU-- it's pretty easy to get around town on the roads here, and even the sidewalks, particularly around campus and on designated bike route sidewalks, are clear the bulk of the time and don't really require anything too particular in the tire department. A little tread'll do ya!

    EDIT: Oh yeah, if you can afford a second wheel set, that really changes the equations a bit, and reduces the downsides to selecting winter tires for the worst conditions.
    Last edited by chaadster; 10-02-13 at 10:56 AM.
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    I've read on a blog that WTB pathway tires are good in the snow, I can't personally attest to that though:http://bikejerksmpls.blogspot.com/20...hway-tire.html . They come in 700x32 and 700x38. I have the 700x38 and they are a really beefy tire that won't fit some frames and measures closer to 41mm wide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by likebike23 View Post
    I've read on a blog that WTB pathway tires are good in the snow, I can't personally attest to that though:http://bikejerksmpls.blogspot.com/20...hway-tire.html . They come in 700x32 and 700x38. I have the 700x38 and they are a really beefy tire that won't fit some frames and measures closer to 41mm wide.
    Hmm, that's a very tight tread pattern...I'd worry packing up would be a problem. I've learned, though, that I can't divine performance from tread design.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    One quirk from using the French name 700C is tha people thing C is a unit of measurement. People say they want a 29C tire when the mean 28mm. I've also heard people say they have 700CC tires, because CC is a unit of measurement, i.e. cubic centimeters. But that's not it, either. 700C refers to a diameter of 622mm, as measured at the bead. 700x28C is really 700C x 28mm.

    Confused yet?
    This is one of my personal pet peeves, along with the confusion of quantities and units of measure. You know, "what PSI are ya runnin'?" The quantity is PRESSURE, and the units of measure are pounds per square inch (PSI).

    It doesn't bother me nearly as much when it happens among laypersons, but when I recently purchased a nice Panaracer city tire and it had "700x32C" printed on it, by people who make the damned things, I almost didn't put it on the bike.

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    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    Hmm, that's a very tight tread pattern...I'd worry packing up would be a problem. I've learned, though, that I can't divine performance from tread design.
    I've used the 26x1.95" version of these in snow with good results:
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/ftb...res/crossroads

    Pattern's not too different,although my 26's are a good bit wider than the 700 version.

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    Senior Member LiteraryChic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    One quirk from using the French name 700C is tha people thing C is a unit of measurement. People say they want a 29C tire when the mean 28mm. I've also heard people say they have 700CC tires, because CC is a unit of measurement, i.e. cubic centimeters. But that's not it, either. 700C refers to a diameter of 622mm, as measured at the bead. 700x28C is really 700C x 28mm.

    Confused yet?
    Yep.

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