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  1. #1
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    New to biking but need help on tires on Carmel

    Hi all. New to biking (after about 30 years). Am riding about 12-15 miles roundtrip and looking for a new bike. I am riding about 2 miles on a paved surface and the rest on a sort of packed dirt/pea gravel type wooded trail. My old huffy does just fine but am looking at a Specialized Globe Carmel - I really like it but not sure which model is best for what I am doing. They make the Carmel 1 with fatter tires and then there is the Carmel 700c with the thinner, bigger tires. Bike store guy says he thinks the fatter tires would be better but I see that Specialized also sells a Crosstail Hybrid with 700c's. If a hybrid has 700c's then why would the fatter tires be better? Will they grip and hold the surface better? What would the 700c's do on that type surface? Will they be smoother, a bit quicker and less heavy. Just really confused over which bike to get (the spouse and I are both getting the Carmel but just not sure which model is best suited for us). Can anyone offer some input? I would really appreciate it.

  2. #2
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Both are quite capable of handing that type of riding. The tires on the Carmel 700 1 aren't exactly thin, they are 1.5" wide, or 38mm.

    And neither are going to be particularly light, given that they have Specialized's armored (Flak Jacket) layer.

    Both models have suspension forks, so those are going to soak up some of the bumps anyone.

    Both are very nice "gravel paved trail" bikes. The fatter tire might be a bit more stable. Some riders would notice the additional stability of their 1.95" tires.

    Neither are designed to be speed bikes, I doubt you would notice much of a difference performance wise. They have the same gearing. Same saddles, same handlebars, etc. The 700 might be a smidgen lighter.

    I say you should buy the one that feels the best to you. If you are perfectly comfortable and stable on both, then it won't make much different. Buy the one that you prefer to be seen on.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  3. #3
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Oh, there is one aspect of these two bikes that is different. While both are comfort bikes with a relaxed geometry, wherein their seats are back and down a bit from a standard bike, thus putting you in a more upright riding position. The 26" models are more relaxed than the 700 models.

    When on the 26" model, you should sense that you are a bit closer to the ground and the crank is a bit further forward than on the 700. You should be sitting a wee bit more upright. This will make the handling feel different too.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  4. #4
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    The only problem with getting the "more comfortable" bike right now is that you may outgrow it as you ride more, get stronger, and begin to lust for a faster, more aggressive geometry. It's admittedly a very tricky and imprecise decision, but you really want to guess at which type of bike will best fit your needs a year from now.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by happycat View Post
    I am riding about 2 miles on a paved surface and the rest on a sort of packed dirt/pea gravel type wooded trail.
    Pea gravel or crushed limestone? To me that makes a huge difference.

    Pea gravel is like 1/4" to 1/2" individual stones. They stay loose and even your feet sink into it as you walk. I've not seen it used commonly on paths intended for bicycle use. If I did ride on it, however, I'd want to use tires that were about 2" wide.

    Crushed limestone is a common bike path surface. When it's firat laid down it has a gravely surface that packs down until it's the next thing to black top only dustier. I live about 2 miles from Missouri's crushed limestone KATY trail so I ride on it quite a bit. 700 X 28c are my tires of choice for it. A little narrower is certainly do-able, a little wider is certainly OK. The 2" wide slicks on my beater bike are a little overkill.

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    We had a section of our local MUP covered with Pea gravel and it is not nice. Tyres sink in a lot and the gravel is mobile as Retro said. Cornering is a bit iffy at the best- and it does sap your energy.

    But as to the best tyre for Pea gravel?--There isn't one. Unless you go down the 26" route and get the widest tyre the forks will take. Then you have drag when it is not Pea gravel. Hardpacked stone and narrow tyres are OK. You will get some sidewall damage to the tyre though- whatever tyre you use- so check them on a regular basis.
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  7. #7
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    It is pretty rare to find a bike trail that is covered in actual pea gravel. I've seen it used to patch holes or washed out areas, but have never come across a trail that used it as the primary stone. I know they exist.

    Usually they use a chipped stone or a very small pebble. And then they use heavy equipment to roll/press the stone into the dirt. These type of trails aren't as smooth as pavement (or even smooth dirt) but pretty easy to ride on with almost any tire. Although I personally prefer tires of at least 32mm, which absorb a lot of the vibration from the surface.

    I've ridden hundreds of miles on our crushed limestone paved trails on a hybrid with 700x38 tires and found the ride very comfortable. Although I would say that about 2/3rds of the bikes I see on those trails have wider tires.

  8. #8
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    The trails are sort of mostly dirt-packed pea-gravel with some loose gravel over the trail and only a couple of tiny areas where it is thick and slushy gravel. I'm really confused on the bike to buy - am ordering a Specialilzed Carmel but wondering if perhaps I should try the Specialized Crosstrail but it still has somewhat of a lean forward ride, I think. Went with the Carmel because of the relaxed seat-post and the fact that I don't like any sort of leaning forward - bothers my shoulders and arms.

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