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  1. #1
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    Should I change my tires?

    I am in my third month of cycling, after 30+ years of absence. I now try to maintain a habit of going for a one-hour every morning, around 10 miles. I noticed that I am exerting much more effort and going much slower than pretty much every one else on the trail. Don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic to be moving and cycling, but I am wondering if the slow and extra effort is because of my being very out-of-shape, or because of the bike (I have a cyclocross Giant TCX 2), or the tires.

    The tires are 700X35 and they are knobby. I like them since the trail I ride on had a lot of cracks, and it is crushed stone in certain reaches. So the tires dampen the bumps a bit, but since I don't have a basis for comparison, I wonder what would happen if I would get thinner tires. Would I be able to go with less energy exerted? or would I end up with a flat every day because of the thinner tires? Would the thinner tires be a disadvantage during rain and snow?

    Many thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexLex100 View Post
    I am in my third month of cycling, after 30+ years of absence. I now try to maintain a habit of going for a one-hour every morning, around 10 miles. I noticed that I am exerting much more effort and going much slower than pretty much every one else on the trail. Don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic to be moving and cycling, but I am wondering if the slow and extra effort is because of my being very out-of-shape, or because of the bike (I have a cyclocross Giant TCX 2), or the tires.

    The tires are 700X35 and they are knobby. I like them since the trail I ride on had a lot of cracks, and it is crushed stone in certain reaches. So the tires dampen the bumps a bit, but since I don't have a basis for comparison, I wonder what would happen if I would get thinner tires. Would I be able to go with less energy exerted? or would I end up with a flat every day because of the thinner tires? Would the thinner tires be a disadvantage during rain and snow?

    Many thanks in advance.
    Like you I started cycling fairly recently: for me since April or May.

    I ride rails-to-trails which are comprised (except for one 4 mile paved stretch) of crushed limestone. They go through forests and fields and so have ruts, leaves, branches, stones etc...

    I started on a road bike weighing about 22.5 Lbs with 700x28 tires then added a 35 Lb hybrid with 700x38 tires to my little stable.

    The hybrid runs about 20 - 25% slower than the road bike plus it's less agile and responsive. it feels like going from a sports car to an SUV. But, the hybrid rolls right over the ruts, sticks and stones almost unfazed. On rough sections (which can come up quickly and unexpectedly) the road bike with it's narrow tires would not be as safe or stable as the hybrid.

    Part of the difference is weight -- but I think a big part of it is the tires.

    In any event, I love them both. They both do what they were meant to do and they do it very well.

    When I'm on the road bike I seldom get passed -- but on the hybrid it happens all the time.

    I think the important thing is: Get out every day, put on some miles, be safe and enjoy it.
    ... Speed only matters if your having a baby...
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  3. #3
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Don't put down the bike. I had a Giant TCX a few years ago. Great bike.

    Try swapping the tires for something like 700x 28 road tires. Something like this if the trail is really as bad as you describe.
    http://www.biketiresdirect.com/produ...700c-road-tire

    Have fun.
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  4. #4
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Knobby tires are not very useful for most cyclist, yet they are found as original equipment on most Cyclocross bikes. Knobby tires provide a benefit on wet mud and sandy soil, but knobby tires can be very slow rolling on firm surfaces since the flexing of the knobs, as they roll against the ground, absorb power. If racing Cyclocross, you might want a knobby tire for traction on a muddy race course, but for limestone bike paths a smoother tire without large knobs will provide better results.

    I would upgrade to a smooth or near smooth tire is a slightly smaller size.

    I use a Vittoria Hyper tire on my two Cyclocross bikes. It is a high-performance tire tough enough for touring. It is a slick, but it provides plenty of traction on dry and firm gravel. However, I avoid soft and wet soil, since the tire has greatly reduced traction in mud or wet, silty soil.

    http://www.vittoria.com/en/product/t.../#product-4702

    If the limestone gravel trail conditions are damp or soaked, a fast touring tire like the following should work well;

    Vittotia Randonneur Pro: http://www.vittoria.com/en/product/t.../#product-4684

    Schwalbe Dureme: http://www.schwalbetires.com/node/2666

    Continental Top Contact: http://www.conti-online.com/generato...tactII_en.html

    Panaracer T serv PT: http://www.panaracer.com/urban.php
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 12-02-12 at 12:43 PM.
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    The width of the tire is far less important than the construction. A tire with thick tread and heavy, inflexible casing is going to be much slower than a tire with thin tread and light, supple casing. And of course, knobby tires are going to have much higher rolling resistance.

    Moreover, a narrow high-pressure tire is actually going to be significantly slower (not to mention uncomfortable and skittish) on rough roads and trails.

    In your shoes I would use something like the Challenge Paris-Roubaix or Eroica. The Grand Boise Cypres is another wide, very fast tire, but doesn't stand up to gravel and rough conditions in my experience.

    Beyond that, you may just suck. When I came back to the sport after a very long layoff I found that I was working really hard to go slow too - and it wasn't my bike's fault!

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    I forgot to mention that my tires are "Kenda Small Block Eight, 700x35". Tanks.

  7. #7
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Don't put down the bike. I had a Giant TCX a few years ago. Great bike.

    Try swapping the tires for something like 700x 28 road tires. Something like this if the trail is really as bad as you describe.
    http://www.biketiresdirect.com/produ...700c-road-tire

    Have fun.
    Ditto to RonH. I'll add that cheaper heavier 700x28 tires seem to me to be as good for durability, but slightly slower.

    It's not really that thrilling to pass everyone up on the MUP, when you realize there'll be a handful of riders who can still zoom past you with relative ease, and then serious racing types can take it up two or three levels over that.

  8. #8
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexLex100 View Post
    ... I am wondering if the slow and extra effort is because of my being very out-of-shape, or because of the bike (I have a cyclocross Giant TCX 2), or the tires.
    .
    Sounds about right!
    --------------------------------------
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  9. #9
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexLex100 View Post
    I forgot to mention that my tires are "Kenda Small Block Eight, 700x35". Tanks.
    There is nothing wrong with those tyres for the riding you described.

    I found the Schwalbe CX Comp to be a very capable tyre on and off the road in the 700:35 and would ride those 100 miles at a shot.

  10. #10
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexLex100 View Post
    I am in my third month of cycling, after 30+ years of absence. <snip> I am wondering if the slow and extra effort is because of my being very out-of-shape, or because of the bike (I have a cyclocross Giant TCX 2), or the tires.
    When I took up cycling again after 35 years of sedentary living, I too was the slowest guy around. Everyone's different, but it was a couple of years before I measured any real improvement in speed, then a couple of years after that before I was keeping up with everyone. (That's at about 4,500 miles a year.)

    The reason it takes so long, as it was explained to me, is that in the beginning year, your body is basically remodeling itself. We generally think of cardio fitness only in terms of the heart, or if you're enlightened, the heart and lungs. But in fact, cardio fitness is a total body experience.

    In the first year or so, your body is busy remaking arteries and veins to provide extra capacity, and making tons of new capillaries to service your muscles. Until that infrastructure is built up, you'll not be building a lot of muscle, hence not a lot of speed. Once existing muscle and new muscle can be serviced adequately with a good blood supply, that's when speed, endurance, and hill climbing power can really be built.

    Folks here told me that just by riding around without a specific "training program", that I could expect to improve for five years or so before reaching a plateau. It's been seven years now, and I still work hard at improvements, and I'm still improving.

    So keep up the good work, and give time time. Soon enough, you'll feel it.

    As for the tires, wait until you wear them out, then reconsider. You probably don't need the knobby, but at this stage of the game, that's not what's holding you back.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  11. #11
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    When I took up cycling again after 35 years of sedentary living, I too was the slowest guy around. Everyone's different, but it was a couple of years before I measured any real improvement in speed, then a couple of years after that before I was keeping up with everyone. (That's at about 4,500 miles a year.)

    The reason it takes so long, as it was explained to me, is that in the beginning year, your body is basically remodeling itself. We generally think of cardio fitness only in terms of the heart, or if you're enlightened, the heart and lungs. But in fact, cardio fitness is a total body experience.

    In the first year or so, your body is busy remaking arteries and veins to provide extra capacity, and making tons of new capillaries to service your muscles. Until that infrastructure is built up, you'll not be building a lot of muscle, hence not a lot of speed. Once existing muscle and new muscle can be serviced adequately with a good blood supply, that's when speed, endurance, and hill climbing power can really be built.

    Folks here told me that just by riding around without a specific "training program", that I could expect to improve for five years or so before reaching a plateau. It's been seven years now, and I still work hard at improvements, and I'm still improving.

    So keep up the good work, and give time time. Soon enough, you'll feel it.

    As for the tires, wait until you wear them out, then reconsider. You probably don't need the knobby, but at this stage of the game, that's not what's holding you back.
    Wow! Thanks! I'm a nurse and have studied cardio related things quite a bit -- and I can generally hold my own.

    But that was not only very well stated, but also very informative. And it even makes sense!

    Again, Thank You!
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  12. #12
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    When I took up cycling again after 35 years of sedentary living, I too was the slowest guy around. Everyone's different, but it was a couple of years before I measured any real improvement in speed, then a couple of years after that before I was keeping up with everyone. (That's at about 4,500 miles a year.)

    The reason it takes so long, as it was explained to me, is that in the beginning year, your body is basically remodeling itself. We generally think of cardio fitness only in terms of the heart, or if you're enlightened, the heart and lungs. But in fact, cardio fitness is a total body experience.

    In the first year or so, your body is busy remaking arteries and veins to provide extra capacity, and making tons of new capillaries to service your muscles. Until that infrastructure is built up, you'll not be building a lot of muscle, hence not a lot of speed. Once existing muscle and new muscle can be serviced adequately with a good blood supply, that's when speed, endurance, and hill climbing power can really be built.

    Folks here told me that just by riding around without a specific "training program", that I could expect to improve for five years or so before reaching a plateau. It's been seven years now, and I still work hard at improvements, and I'm still improving.

    So keep up the good work, and give time time. Soon enough, you'll feel it.

    As for the tires, wait until you wear them out, then reconsider. You probably don't need the knobby, but at this stage of the game, that's not what's holding you back.
    Way to go tsl.

    And, that is exactly the reason why fit runners and bicyclers are so amazed when they first jump in a pool and try to do a lap and are exhausted. More muscles to be fixed up with veins, capillaries, etc. It takes awhile.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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    Very enlightening. I had no idea that one's body can actually generate any new anything after the age of say 18-20! I have to say that I owe a great deal to folks in this newsgroup for not only information, but more importantly inspiration. So a huge collective thanks to all

    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    When I took up cycling again after 35 years of sedentary living, I too was the slowest guy around. Everyone's different, but it was a couple of years before I measured any real improvement in speed, then a couple of years after that before I was keeping up with everyone. (That's at about 4,500 miles a year.)

    The reason it takes so long, as it was explained to me, is that in the beginning year, your body is basically remodeling itself. We generally think of cardio fitness only in terms of the heart, or if you're enlightened, the heart and lungs. But in fact, cardio fitness is a total body experience.

    In the first year or so, your body is busy remaking arteries and veins to provide extra capacity, and making tons of new capillaries to service your muscles. Until that infrastructure is built up, you'll not be building a lot of muscle, hence not a lot of speed. Once existing muscle and new muscle can be serviced adequately with a good blood supply, that's when speed, endurance, and hill climbing power can really be built.

    Folks here told me that just by riding around without a specific "training program", that I could expect to improve for five years or so before reaching a plateau. It's been seven years now, and I still work hard at improvements, and I'm still improving.

    So keep up the good work, and give time time. Soon enough, you'll feel it.

    As for the tires, wait until you wear them out, then reconsider. You probably don't need the knobby, but at this stage of the game, that's not what's holding you back.

  14. #14
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Now 80 years old and still riding 100+ miles a week.
    My suggestion: when you wear those tires out, go for bit narrower tires with some thread, but minimal or no-knobs.
    You're doing fine; keep a pedalin'!

  15. #15
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexLex100 View Post
    Very enlightening. I had no idea that one's body can actually generate any new anything after the age of say 18-20! I have to say that I owe a great deal to folks in this newsgroup for not only information, but more importantly inspiration. So a huge collective thanks to all
    My body is still remodeling at 73yo, which is why I was able to do 130 (35 at a time) body dips today - my most ever in my life.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  16. #16
    West Coast Weenie Esteban58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Don't put down the bike. I had a Giant TCX a few years ago. Great bike.

    Try swapping the tires for something like 700x 28 road tires. Something like this if the trail is really as bad as you describe.
    http://www.biketiresdirect.com/produ...700c-road-tire

    Have fun.
    I did exactly this - went from cx 700x32's to road 700x28's - that change didn't make me any faster (but, I'm still steadily improving), but the ride is better. I went with conti gatorskins with the kevlar bands, so the tires aren't that light, but I was quite comfortable out today riding through post gully washer detritus, including jumping a 2-inch diameter branch that I didn't see till the last second.

    My bike is a trek 7500 fx, that weighs in at a whopping 27 pounds, but as I've lost weight and gotten stronger I've noticed that I can now stick with groups that would easily drop me before. Given where I started, its like the bike weighs 6 pounds now .
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    This is awesome Fox. Way to go

    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    My body is still remodeling at 73yo, which is why I was able to do 130 (35 at a time) body dips today - my most ever in my life.

  18. #18
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    I agree with Rudy, use up the tyres you have on there now, when they are needing replacement look at some slightly narrower street tread tyres. Monica's Trek hybrid has a street tread on it, 700X35 and she wants to go to a lighter, narrower tyre type on it when it is replacement time.

    Bill

  19. #19
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Hi,

    You should get tires that are designed for where you ride. If you are riding on paved trails, then 28mm road tires are going to be fine (and a huge improvement over knobby tires which are silly for the riding most of us do).

    If you are riding on crushed limestone, I'd recommend a wider tire (35mm up to 42mm). I've ridden 28mm tires on crushed limestone and really didn't enjoy it.

    As pointed out earlier, being upright on a hybrid bike is less aerodynamic than being in the drops. That being said, if you aren't comfortable being in a road bike position (and I'm not), then stick with the bike on which you are comfortable.

    And as been pointed out, the most important thing: If you want to ride faster, ride.

    Cheers,
    Charles

    p.s. For your original question, yes, please, change your tires.
    Last edited by cplager; 12-03-12 at 05:56 AM. Reason: Added postscript
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  20. #20
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
    Wow! Thanks! I'm a nurse and have studied cardio related things quite a bit -- and I can generally hold my own.

    But that was not only very well stated, but also very informative. And it even makes sense!
    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    And, that is exactly the reason why fit runners and bicyclers are so amazed when they first jump in a pool and try to do a lap and are exhausted. More muscles to be fixed up with veins, capillaries, etc. It takes awhile.
    Quote Originally Posted by TexLex100 View Post
    Very enlightening. I had no idea that one's body can actually generate any new anything after the age of say 18-20!
    Now to connect that to exercise physiology and athletic training:

    What we've been talking about are "base miles". Everyone says athleticism of any sort on the bike cannot be built until after a goodly number of base miles. Now you know why. Base miles build and maintain the total body cardio infrastructure. Even the TdF guys work on base miles first in every new training season. And they maintain their base miles training throughout the season.

    In my own cycling, I've found I need to maintain 50-70 miles a week of base miles just so I don't backslide on cardio fitness. With that level of base miles, it's fairly easy to seasonally add speed or hill-climbing power.

    That's part of the reason I changed job locations a couple of years ago, so that I could maintain my base miles through the winter just on commuting alone. Come spring, I'm slower than I was in the fall, but it takes only a couple of weeks or so to build up so I can hang with the fast guys again.

    My big climbing ride is in September. Building on my base, I need only four to six weeks of specific hills training--and most of that only on weekends--to build up to a ride that includes more climbing than the entire week I spent in Colorado a few years back--and I trained four to six months for that.

    Back to the beginning cyclist. This theory of cardio infrastructure building and remodeling explains why we build endurance first. It's why we go from a mile to five miles to twenty, fifty, and more in a season, but still at the same speed as whey we first started out. Endurance takes only change in existing muscle function and some base miles. Speed and power takes new muscle, which can't be built until after the infrastructure is in place.

    So especially in the first year, ride your rides. Have fun, and don't worry about keeping up. Build lots of nice, new capillaries. Then put them to use.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

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    Thanks tsl for the thorough analysis.

    Since some have suggested to wait till the tires wears out to change them with thinner ones, I wonder when does one need to change tires?

  22. #22
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    The Kenda Small Block 8 should last 1000 to 2000 miles on the rear. The center knobs will begin to show wear at about 500 miles and will become worn down at about 1000 miles.

    You could keep the front tire on for 2000 to 2500 miles, it will wear more slowly.

    Changing to a smoother tire, like the Vittoria Hyper, on the back first will provide a number of benefits. Most of the rolling resistance is created by the back tire: it carries more weight and needs to transmit power. The new tire (if taken from my list) will also be far more flat resistant than the Kenda, which will begin to flat more easily, once the center knobs are worn thin.

    Keeping a Small Block 8 on the front while using a new tire on the back should not cause any performance problems and should work very well on gravel.
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 12-04-12 at 05:58 PM.
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    Many thanks Barrettsc, this is very useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    The Kenda Small Block 8 should last 1000 to 2000 miles on the rear. The center knobs will begin to show wear at about 500 miles and will become worn down at about 1000 miles.

    You could keep the front tire on for 2000 to 2500 miles, it will wear more slowly.

    Changing to a smoother tire, like the Vittoria Hyper, on the back first will provide a number of benefits. More rolling resistance is created by the back tire: it carries more weight and needs to transmit power. The new tire (if taken from my list) will also be far more flat resistant than the Kenda, which will begin to flat more easily, once the center knobs are worn thin.

    Keeping a Small Block 8 on the front while using a new tire on the back should not cause any performance problems and should work very well on gravel.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    Knobby tires are not very useful for most cyclist, yet they are found as original equipment on most Cyclocross bikes. Knobby tires provide a benefit on wet mud and sandy soil, but knobby tires can be very slow rolling on firm surfaces since the flexing of the knobs, as they roll against the ground, absorb power. If racing Cyclocross, you might want a knobby tire for traction on a muddy race course, but for limestone bike paths a smoother tire without large knobs will provide better results.
    That's what I think too. For all but a very few specialized riding conditions, tread on a bicycle tire is there for promotion rather than for performance.

  25. #25
    tsl
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    Back from morning errands. Thought about this a bit on the ride.

    Putting it in your terms, George,

    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
    Wow! Thanks! I'm a nurse and have studied cardio related things quite a bit
    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    We generally think of cardio fitness only in terms of the heart, or if you're enlightened, the heart and lungs. But in fact, cardio fitness is a total body experience.
    We're looking at cardiology, vs. the cardiopulmonary system, vs. the cardiovascular system.

    The remodeling of veins and arteries and building new capillaries is, of course, called revascularization.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

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