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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 07-09-14, 06:56 PM   #1
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Tales of Terrific Tires

Thought it would be cool to hear from fellow cyclists about their favorite tire. The ones that get you there despite high mileage or road hazards.

Have a pair of Specialized Armadillo's on the road bike commuter. In the heart of goat head country, grew tired of tires that flatted if they came within ten feet of one of these dastardly stickers.

Plunked down the nearly C note on a pair, almost a year ago. (last August in fact) They were horrible at first. Felt like there were lead ingots strapped to my ankles. Eyes became Jell O from vibration over rough roads, blurring vision. Learned to speed up over the rough, to sort of float over it.

But the darn things got me there time and again without fail. About 2000 miles on them now.

Then last night, a stunning thing happened. The rear one got a flat.

After my initial shock, got to work. With the magnifiers riding the bridge of nose, took careful inspection. Many small cuts, and 7 stubs of goat heads just above level of rubber. Plucked 'em out with the ever handy Swiss army knife. I think the chosen tool was made to hook fish livers, but it worked wonders on embedded goat heads.

After deflation, and stripping of tube, the water test revealed only one puncture, with it's telltale steady stream of bubbles.

The seven stubs removed were in addition to the nearly countless noted and pulled out during normal rides, when they looked like a stuck pebble. Never once a hiss of escaping air. Happily patched the tube and am looking forward to future's journey.

Anyway I'm sold on these. Any other stories? Extra points if you reside with goat heads!
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Old 07-09-14, 07:57 PM   #2
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I remember when flat resistant tires finally became available and common. I don't ride with goatheads, but before them it was always the same 2-3 flats/year. Always seemed to manage to get a flat on the ride where I just wanted to relax and ride. Oh, and where it was a remote trail where you got eaten alive by bugs if you weren't moving.

I started using Panaracer TServs on my bike and wow - haven't had a non-stem-failure flat yet in several years. Not saying they "never" flat in general, but they never have for me.
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Old 07-09-14, 08:39 PM   #3
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I got tired (haha) of fixing flats and put Marathon Plus tires on two of my bikes. It's been so long now since I've fixed a flat (almost a year), I may have forgotten how.
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Old 07-09-14, 08:44 PM   #4
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i had a Tioga 26 x 1 1/4" slick once that would JUST NOT DIE!
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Old 07-10-14, 03:52 AM   #5
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On my touring bike I have Schwable Marathon's which are overall great tires with very good puncture resistance, while on my everyday commuter I refuse to have anything other than Maxxis Detonators which are by far the best tires I've ever had with only 1 MAJOR flaw... they have absolutely no puncture protection and will puncture even if you sneeze at them!

Except for repairing 1-2 puncture a month (minimum), the traction and grip of these tires, even in pouring rain is unreal, and they're the only tires I've found that go up to 100psi @ 700x32 range.
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Old 07-10-14, 06:43 AM   #6
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I've been riding on Grand Bois Cerfs for the past few weeks and the ride quality is incredible! I'm a little slower than when I was on 23s (Continental SuperSport Plus), but the ride is so plush and still feels quick, that I don't notice I haven't been hitting my previous top speeds until I check Strava after the ride (my average speeds though, which I count as more important, have gone up). Only have ~200 miles on them so far, so can't personally speak to the flat protection, but I've had buddies ride on them till they've worn out without a puncture.
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Old 07-10-14, 06:56 AM   #7
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here's a list and summary of tires I've used over the last decade for commuting and touring:

Conti Ultra Gatorskins (700x28C) - I first bought the gatorskins because I was tired of flatting on the maxxis (model unknown) tires that came with my first bike. The GS was a huge improvement in flat protection, but they never really beat the small glass shard flat. Also I didn't like the dull ride and feedback they provided, and especially the low confidence provided in wet weather. I probably used these for 2-3 years until I moved on to:

Vittoria Randonneur Pro (700x45C) - I wanted to get into the fat tire game and these tires worked fine. They are burly and heavy and never ever flatted over countless miles, several tours, and riding all across the country. They felt numb and slow however, so just one pair until I moved on to:

Panaracer Pasela TG (700X35C) - Probably my favorite tire to-date. I've had maybe 2 flats on these tires (by now several sets have been replaced) since about 2011 when I started using them. Possibly 5-7,000 miles of riding. They last a long time, don't flat often (for me) but the best part is the ride. Excellent feedback provides huge confidence in all kinds of conditions. Some people freak out about the sidewalls maybe being a weak link but it's a risk I'm willing to take for the riding I do. If I was planning a huge tour or something where a tire failure would be a huge setback maybe I'd bring a spare or 2.

Schwalbe Fat Frank Performance Line (700X50C) - These are fun tires that I commute on occasionally but generally use them for around-town riding. They are nowhere near as heavy as the Vittoria and ride much better - in most respects they match the Pasela. No flats so far (1,000 miles over the past 2-3 years). They provide a good ride and good feedback - not as good as the Pasela but better than anything else I've ridden.
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Old 07-10-14, 12:54 PM   #8
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I don't have to deal with goat heads, but my commute goes over what I estimate to be the second biggest cause of flats -- bike lanes. During the summer the bike lanes around here are usually reasonably clear unless their near a construction site. In the winter they're like riding on a gravel road with various wood debris thrown in for good measure, and there's always a stretch in the spring where people seem to be using the bike lanes to dispose of the all the bottles they've collected over the past 12 months. I've been tracking my flats over the past five years to see if I could spot patterns in where they happen, and during that time I've averaged about six flats a year. So nothing to make you pull your hair out, but enough to separate good puncture resistant tires from bad.

The thing I've found is that a lot of tires can handle my commute for a while, but they eventually get to a point where the tread still looks OK, but I start getting flats pretty frequently. For instance, with a set of Panaracer Ribmos I got one flat 191 miles, which I wrote off as a freak accident. The second came at 1881 miles -- an unusual front tire flat. Then the rear tire flatted at 2001, 2051 and 2147. By the last of those I had lost confidence in the tires and bought something else.

So for me, mileage is the mark of a pleasing tire. I hate slow and heavy tires, so this is a bit of a trick. Finding a tire that feels nice to ride and doesn't get flats and is reasonably durable has proven to be a challenge. Forget the usual trifecta of cheap, strong and light. I'm willing to throw cheap out. For tires, I'm looking for fast, puncture resistant and long wearing. Is this also a pick-any-two?

For a while I thought Conti GP 4 Seasons were hitting the mark. I love the way they roll, and I got 2000+ miles out of my first set without a single flat. Then at 2134 miles the casing split on the rear tire. By then I had picked up a "lightly used" spare, which I put on the rear. The replacement flatted twice over the next 700 miles before at the 2841 mark the casing split on the front tire. I'm not sure if this is a success story or not. I still have a very high opinion of these tires, but I was still looking for something better.

Here's my best "terrific tire" story. I had a pair of 700x50 Schwalbe Marathon Supremes a few years back. They didn't roll as well as the GP 4 Seasons, but they weren't bad. I sold the bike they were on when they had around 1500 miles on them, so no durability data. The "terrific" part came in the one puncture I got with these tires. It was a dark and stormy night.... (No, really, it was.) I had driven to a Park and Ride in the morning and so had just a 7-mile ride back to the car. I got there thinking everything was normal. When I got home and unloaded the bike I saw that the rear tire was completely flat. I ran my hand around the outside to see if there was an obvious cause and I found this:

So I grabbed a screwdriver to minimize damage removing that thing.

Here it is most of the way out.

I have no idea when that happened. For all I know it could have been just as I pulled into the parking lot, but I think more likely it was somewhere back the road. I'm still puzzled how I got back to the car without losing air. My best theory is that as long as I kept weight on the tire there was enough of a seal against the screw to hold in air but once I unweighted it the air came out.

So, moving forward back to the search for the perfect tire after the GP 4 Seasons gave up the ghost...I decided to give Schwalbe Marathon Supremes another try, this time 700x35. Strangely enough, after 947 miles I got a puncture from a wood screw. This time I heard it clicking against the pavement as soon as it happened. It was a nice day, so I unscrewed it and fixed the flat, but again it didn't seem to be losing air very rapidly. Anyway, I've since put a lot of miles on these tires and am still waiting for my second puncture. I rotated the tires at 2500 miles (I know, I know, but I stand by this), and now at 2625 miles they're looking very good. The tread on the tire that began life on the back is just starting to show signs of squaring. I picked a fair bit of glass out of both tires when I swapped them, so they have a bunch of tiny cuts in the tread, but the ridge between the high parts and the low parts of the tread is still quite pronounced. I'd be thrilled to get 3000 miles out of these tires, but I'm starting to think they might go longer than that (knock on wood).

On the flip side, I have since bought a pair of 700x32 Marathon Supremes for another bike and 8 miles into my first ride I rolled to close to a piece of freshly broken construction gravel and cut the sidewall, leaving the tire unusable. Even though this is explicitly not covered by the warranty, Schwalbe's awesome customer support worked with me to soften the blow of replacing the tire.

So to summarize my very long tale, I don't know if I'd recommend them for goat heads, but in any other circumstances I think the Schwalbe Marathon Supremes are terrific tires.
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Last edited by Andy_K; 07-10-14 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 07-10-14, 01:09 PM   #9
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So far cheap tires are winning the day for me. I live south of the Denver metro area and there are trails everwhere, all 100% guaranteed to be chock full o' goatheady goodness, especially in late summer.

My wife and I bought a couple department store bikes with WTB Velociraptor tires one summer. This was before I got back into bikes seriously. One weekend between the two of us, we had EIGHT flats.

Fast forward a few years and now I'm commuting on a '90s rigid MTB. Afraid of constant flats, I went to Performance Bike store and bought a pair of Forte Gotham tires (26" x 1.75") and Forte puncture-resistant tubes. Those tubes come in a box that's twice the size of a regular MTB tube.

When I installed the tubes and tires, I immediately noticed the bike felt heavier. Much heavier. But, I've had zero flats since buying these tires, so I can't complain. The tires were around $13 each or something like that -really cheap!

I also commute and excercise on an older road bike and it's currently wearing $11 tires from Performance Bike - Forte Strava 700x25. I put them on this spring and haven't had a flat yet, despite being very nervous about those teeny little tires (it's my first real road bike). I "tiptoe" (ride slowly and carefully) over a couple short little dirt paths where it's ridiculous to ride the long way around for commuting purposes but it otherwise stays on the pavement and away from the goatheads.

Last edited by Squeeze; 07-10-14 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 07-10-14, 01:31 PM   #10
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My OEM Bontrager H2 700x32 tires were wearing out and letting in more and more flats, so I switched to Gatorskins 700x28.

Pros: Much faster-feeling, much lighter than stock tires
Cons: No confidence in wet, and a flat from a small piece of gravel after 150 miles.

When these start wearing out, I'm leaning towards Panaracer Paselas.
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Old 07-10-14, 01:35 PM   #11
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Geared road bike used for weekend group rides and occasional commuting:

Bontrager Race Lites Came on my bike. These were decent 3,500 mile tires.

Gatorskins I drank the koolaide and put these on next. Couldn't get them off quick enough. Road feel was awful and no better or worse in the flat department.

Continental GP 4000 S I really like these tires. Confidence inspiring road handling and great feel when wet. I rotated them, I know it's a sin, at 2,500 and they show little signs of wear. I currently have ~3100 on this set and I'm thinking I'll see a good 5,000 out of them. They come with wear indicators and I'll ditch them when the indicator goes away.

The above are/were all 700/23. I've noticed zero difference in the flat rate of any of them.

Fixed gear/ Single Speed used primarily for commuting:

Kenda Koncept These inexpensive tires came on the bike. I've only got ~1,500 miles on them but I've got to give them their due. The road feel is way better than the above mentioned Gatorskins. Not as good in the rain as the GP 4Ks, but decent feel otherwise. Flat rate is the same as all the above. At $13.70 each they rate way up there on my tire value scale. Also 700/23

Last edited by bbeasley; 07-10-14 at 01:38 PM. Reason: updated price on Kendas
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Old 07-10-14, 04:42 PM   #12
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Schwalbe Durano I bought these because my old favorite Marathons were not available in sizes to fit my current bike (a recumbent with 20 inch front wheel and 700c rear). They have held up great.
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Old 07-10-14, 04:50 PM   #13
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Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. I've picked many bits of FOD out of them,and never flatted. Have twice had to emergency brake going down a steep hill in the rain with them;was able to stop both times without drama,despite getting air under the rear. Ride really nice,light weight,easy to mount,plus reflective sidewalls.

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Old 07-10-14, 05:01 PM   #14
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Many years ago there was a UK site offering Continental GP 4 Seasons at about half the usual price, so I stocked up and have never used any other commuting tire. Nice traction, though they do wear pretty fast. I do need to pick glass slivers out of the rubber regularly, before they have a chance to work their way through the flat protection belt over time. Traction in the wet is my main concern here, rather than flats.
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Old 07-10-14, 07:07 PM   #15
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I've tried too many different types of tires and it would take me too long to describe every one of them in detail... One of my favourite tires has been 700x32 Continental Touring Plus. They are very flat resistant, have good traction and I like how they feel on the road...
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Old 07-10-14, 10:26 PM   #16
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I got a bunch of Michelin Krylions earlier this year. PBK sale, I think. I have been very impressed with their durability. Great value.
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Old 07-11-14, 04:02 AM   #17
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I've been riding GP4000 on my road bikes since they were first produced, and GP3000s before that. For my mtb/commuter I've got Gatorskins in 26x 1 1/8 size (559x28). I like the Gators and haven't had any flats yet riding in NYC, but I don't think I have more than 500 miles on them at this point. I used Velociraptors and Mich road run'r on my commuter before these and was getting way too many flats.
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Old 07-11-14, 07:14 AM   #18
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I buy whatever high-quality folding tires I can get on sale for a good price, depending on my needs. In narrower tires (23s-25s), I shop around quite a bit. I was a diehard Michelin fan for many years but their quality seemed to decline and prices go up after they moved production to Thailand. For a while Conti GP 4000s and 4 Seasons were reasonably priced, and I used them. Then Contis prices went sky-high and I got "tired" of their narrower widths than spec'd. Then I used Vittoria Rubinos with great results for several years while I could buy them for less than $30 each, but they seem to flat more frequently than other brands I've used. The last time I bought some 25s, I got Vredstein Grand Fondos for an incredible price ($25 each) but haven't used them yet, but I've had good results with other Vreds in the past.

In wider tires, I've also tried various brands. Vittoria Voyager Hyper 32s have been my top choice for commuting for several years but they are fairly expensive and hard to find. They roll nicely, last a long time and seldom flat. They also have reflective sidewalls, which is nice for commuting. Lately, I've tried Panaracer Pasela PT 32s on my touring bike and like them so much that I plan to put them on my cross bike as well. They are very reasonably priced, roll nice and are supposed to be quite durable and flat resistant. I've had mixed results with Rivendell tires, Jack Browns and Ruffy Tuffys. The Jack Browns rolled very nice and seemed to be lasting well until one of them got a sidewall cut that destroyed the tire. However, I don't think they are worth the extra $20/tire they cost more than Paselas and they are also heavier. I've been very disappointed in the Ruffy Tuffys. They are heavy and slow rolling for 28s, and I wouldn't buy them again. Conti GP 4 Seasons are nice rolling and light weight for 28s, but not worth the extra price compared to Paselas and much narrowed than billed. Bottom line, for a larger tire (28-32+), I would recommend Pasela PTs for the best combination of price, ride quality and durability. They also are available in all black or with tan side walls, providing different styling options, and they are super-cheap if you buy the ones with wire beads.

Last edited by tarwheel; 07-11-14 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 07-11-14, 09:18 AM   #19
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Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. 700 x 35. I think I paid $65 apiece. I currently have 8,500+ miles on the set commuting roughly 150-175 miles per week. I've rotated them front to back 3 times. In the first 2,000 miles I had 4 or 5 flats. Can't remember for sure but I was disappointed. At that time I was running them at max psi. For ride quality purposes I decided to lower the tire pressures to 60/60, 50/60, 50/50 and sometimes into the 40's. I have not had a flat for over 6,500 miles. I attribute this to the lower tire pressures. I examine these tires daily and will probably replace them sooner than later, but I am curious to see just how long they will last. I hate flats and will sacrifice a bit of suppleness and speed for durability. These seem to meet that criteria perfectly. However, my next set in waiting are Vittoria Randonuer (.sp?) Cross. Got then cheap from Nashbar.

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Old 07-11-14, 05:38 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
I got Vredstein Grand Fondos for an incredible price ($25 each) but haven't used them yet, but I've had good results with other Vreds in the past.
I have Gran Fondos on my Trek road bike. Got 'em on the cheap too, but you got a better deal!

Flatted third time out from the ever present goat heads. But none since (around ten long rides) and they really have a great ride quality.
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Old 07-11-14, 07:44 PM   #21
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I have a set of serfas inverted tread tires i used on my old cruiser. They were terrible off pavement, but on pavement were amazing and quite flat resistant. I think i had 3 flats with them for the entire 5 years i had them on.

My current ride has stock 26x1.5 freedom cruz with urban barrier on front, and a brand new 26x1.75 kenda blackbelt. It has giant branding on it, which is weird. Both have reflective strip.

I decided to switch the back to a slighty fatter 1.75 after the stock tire blew out (dunno why). I'm glad i made the size switch, and the ride seems better. The current uptown 8 and infinity have 700c wheels and tires, so i may switch to that if i ever get the money together to get 2 wheels built and tire sets and spare tubes.

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Old 07-11-14, 07:54 PM   #22
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I keep hearing goat heads..... Are you referring to these:


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Old 07-11-14, 08:15 PM   #23
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Schwalbe~ and a non-aired tube packed in it as an extra layer of protection!
You'll never patch a tube again, and the ride is so smoooooth :
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Old 07-11-14, 11:25 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I've tried too many different types of tires and it would take me too long to describe every one of them in detail... One of my favourite tires has been 700x32 Continental Touring Plus. They are very flat resistant, have good traction and I like how they feel on the road...
That's what I've got on the Black Knight bike now. Before them I used Continental SportCONTACT. My last puncture was sometime in 2008 on a pair of cheap tires. Once I switched to Contis, the flats stopped. Yes I'm in Goathead heaven lol!

With the quality of puncture-resistant tires from Conti and Schwalbe and other makers, it seems silly to me to buy cheap tires and spend a lot of time on the side of the road repairing flats.
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Old 07-12-14, 04:08 AM   #25
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If you go through this thread and others like it you'll generally find good and bad reviews of just about every tire.
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