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Thread: Tire decisions

  1. #1
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Tire decisions

    My Continental Grand Prix 4-Season tires (700x25c) have 2700 miles on them and, while there is still some tread, there are also spots where they have gotten some pretty good gauges.

    So, as I consider what to get, I'm thinking about the Armadillos. I have liked the tires I have. They seem to grip well for one thing and I wonder what I might lose with the Armadillos. Also, will they be a lot harder to mount and remove? I've found it fairly hard to change tires. Of course, my present ones have been changed so often, they have stretched pretty good! I believe the Armadillos have a wire bead - doesn't that make them harder to deal with?

    I put Mr Tuffy in the rear wheel of my present tires. Had some trouble with them wearing on the tube at first. Since I last readjusted them, I went 240 miles before getting another flat today. However, it seems something came in just outside the end of the strip so the strip didn't cause the flat. But the strip is a hassle when changing a flat (just hoping it stays lined up correctly).

    Now, besides the question of what tire to get, I'm also considering dropping down to 700x23. This would offset some of the weight difference (even if it isn't enough to really matter). But I also wonder if there will be any difference in speed from the fact they are narrower. I know they should result in a bouncier ride. And what about control? How much do I lose from narrower tires? What if I only put the 23c on the rear?

    If a 25c and 23c tire are both rated for 120 lb pressure, does the 23c really help?

    Oh, if you have tires pumped up to 120 lbs, is a pinch flat still possible?

    Bob

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    Senior Member Inoplanetyanin's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TheRCF

    So, as I consider what to get, I'm thinking about the Armadillos.
    Bob
    Found a pair of great Michelin World Tour tires, they were on sale, for 8 dollars each.
    I hear that Continentals considered to be good.

    They have a nice reflective ring on the outside. That greatly adds to safety at night...

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    Zippy Engineer Waldo's Avatar
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    Armadillos are nice. You might also want to consider the Kenda Kaliente series with their similar flat prevention system (there is the regular Kaliente and that with the flat protection system). I have had good luck with those. You can still pinch flat at 120 psi, as I found the other day when I ended up taking an unexpected dropoff at 20 mph because of some moron in an SUV.

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    Originally posted by Waldo
    Armadillos are nice. You might also want to consider the Kenda Kaliente series with their similar flat prevention system (there is the regular Kaliente and that with the flat protection system). I have had good luck with those. You can still pinch flat at 120 psi, as I found the other day when I ended up taking an unexpected dropoff at 20 mph because of some moron in an SUV.
    As I read over reviews, I find some people talk about the sidewalls on the Armadillo Turbos letting go - in as little as 300 miles - though most reviews are high on them. Another problem is the reviews cover a time period from 2000 to 2003. I suspect there have been changes over that time. But what is really annoying is most reviews don't always specify precise versions. Apparently there is a "turbo A" version and a "turbo lite" version at least but few specify. Then there is the question of tire size. it is possible that someone with a 32c size will have markedly different experiences from those with a 23c.

    Bob

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    Your not going to lose anything with the Armadillos except flats!! But keep in mind the Armadillos are not racing tires, they are a commuting, light touring and perhaps a training tire. The wire beaded Armos can be tough to install SO you can give yourself an edge by getting either the Crank Brothers Speed Lever or a tire lever called the VAR, both cost about $10 and makes installing the last 2 inches of the tire a breeze without worring about damaging the tire, tube or the rim. I use the VAR only because it's shorter in length then the Speed Lever thus it fits into my seat bag easier.

    You could use a 23 in the front and a 26 in the rear. I commute so my requirements may be different than yours, my commute and training rides taked me over worn out and beat up streets so I use the 26 in the front and a 28 in the rear so that my tires will not track groves and ruts easily and the larger rear will provide a bit more comfort; plus pinch flats from jumping a curb at 20mph with only 120psi or less will not occur with the larger tires unless you have less than 60psi and weigh more than 200.

    By the way it's not the wire bead that makes them tough to put on, it's the stiff puncture resistent sidewalls that make it difficult. And the Turbo Armadillo in size 23 is a kevlar beaded tire thus folds and is the lightest of the Armadillos.

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    > But keep in mind the Armadillos are not racing tires, they are a commuting, light touring and perhaps a training tire. <

    Well, I don't know where the line is drawn on what is and what is not a racing tire (I suspect my Grand Prix 4-seasons are not but I don't really know). I see comments from some about being hard to accelerate, but others don't seem to see a real problem

    > The wire beaded Armos can be tough to install SO you can give yourself an edge by getting either the Crank Brothers Speed Lever or a tire lever called the VAR <

    I'm concerned about that. I had the plain Nimbus tires and they were a pain. I'm thinking, if I buy these, to tell the shop I'll install them myself right there but if I can't do it, its no sale!

    I have a Quik Stick myself, plus a regular set when I need a little extra. I think I've seen the speed lever - always wondered how well it would work. Never heard of a VAR.

    > makes installing the last 2 inches of the tire a breeze <

    The last two inches don't seem to bother me. There is a problem with a somewhat larger area and I have to use the Quik Stick once or twice to get more on, then the last bit usually I can push on.

    > You could use a 23 in the front and a 26 in the rear. <

    Hmm, I was thinking the opposite for a couple reasons. Wouldn't having the wider tire in front give better stability?

    More importantly, I figured I'd start with ONE tire and put it on the back since that is where almost all my flats are. Since I wasn't sure if a 23c would be something I would like, this would serve as a test before I buy a second tire for the front. I do wonder if the thickness of the difference size tires varies (making a 23 easier to puncture).

    > I commute so my requirements may be different than yours, my commute and training rides taked me over worn out and beat up streets <

    I walk a whole 1/3 mile to work! But my rides are much like commuting. I ride to Waikiki (12.5 miles each way) about five times a week. I want to get there as quickly as possible. A fair portion of the roads are poorly patched so you get some roughness in the ride. I can only think of one section that is grooved. There are some really bad stretches for glass!

    I had a stretch of 8 flats in 11 rides. Put in the Mr Tuffy strip in the back and got a flat caused by the strip at 175 miles then another about 40 miles later (not sure if it was from the strip) and another about 12 miles later caused by the strip. I made some adjustments with the installation and went 240 miles this time, but it doesn't look like the strip caused it - it was just outside the strip area.

    > By the way it's not the wire bead that makes them tough to put on, it's the stiff puncture resistent sidewalls that make it difficult. And the Turbo Armadillo in size 23 is a kevlar beaded tire thus folds and is the lightest of the Armadillos. <

    Ah, so there is a kevlar version. But it won't be easier to install - drat!

    BTW, for complete clarity, exactly what Armadillo are you using? Nimbus, Turbo, Turbo lite, whatever.

    Bob

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    Pat
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    Originally posted by TheRCF
    As I read over reviews, I find some people talk about the sidewalls on the Armadillo Turbos letting go - in as little as 300 miles - though most reviews are high on them. Another problem is the reviews cover a time period from 2000 to 2003. I suspect there have been changes over that time. But what is really annoying is most reviews don't always specify precise versions. Apparently there is a "turbo A" version and a "turbo lite" version at least but few specify. Then there is the question of tire size. it is possible that someone with a 32c size will have markedly different experiences from those with a 23c.

    Bob
    I had that problem. I had three split along the sidewalls. The split was more than I could jury rig a boot for about 25 cm (10"). So I gave up on them.

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    Michelins. But you seem to have a decent tire now. What not stick with that brand. I had a pair of specialized that lasted 4000 miles. Could not wear them out.

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    Conti Gator skins are my current fave. They work like the amadillos, but I have found they tend to grip the road better and give a smoother ride.

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    Originally posted by samp02
    Michelins. But you seem to have a decent tire now. What not stick with that brand. I had a pair of specialized that lasted 4000 miles. Could not wear them out.
    I've had a lot of flats, especially in the last couple months (perhaps that happens a lot more as they get worn even if they still have tread or maybe just really bad luck).

    So I want to have major improvement in this.

    Bob

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    Originally posted by Chasbo
    Conti Gator skins are my current fave. They work like the amadillos, but I have found they tend to grip the road better and give a smoother ride.
    Are the Gator Skins better at avoiding flats than the Grand Prix 4-Seasons?

    I find more comments from users saying the armadillos are exceptional than any other tire so far.

    Bob

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    Can't ride enough! Da Tinker's Avatar
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    If you like the Conti's, go with the Ultra Gator Skins. There are three kevlar belts under the tread, with one under each sidewall. I weight 220 lbs, use the 25's at 95 psi rear & 90 psi front.

    You culd pinch at 120 psi, but I think a frank blowout is more likely.
    Happiness begins with facing life with a smile & a wink.

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    They are the same as the grand prix 4 seasons as far as the kevlar belts, but seem to wear longer. BTW, I too think the ultra's are the way to go. I run 25C's with 120 psi rear and 115 front at 220 lbs and they ride super nice. No flats and I get lots of miles out of them. The armadillo's last a long time too, but I don't think they ride anywhere near as smooth as the conti's. The difference was quite noticable to me.

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    Originally posted by Chasbo
    They are the same as the grand prix 4 seasons as far as the kevlar belts, but seem to wear longer. BTW, I too think the ultra's are the way to go. I run 25C's with 120 psi rear and 115 front at 220 lbs and they ride super nice. No flats and I get lots of miles out of them. The armadillo's last a long time too, but I don't think they ride anywhere near as smooth as the conti's. The difference was quite noticable to me.
    That's useful info, thanks.

    I'm presently leaning towards trying an armadillo on the rear, where most of my flats are. That way I'm risking less money and, if they work on the rear for minimizing flats, I'll know they work well.

    I am concerned about the ride, though my natural tendency is to sacrifice comfort for speed. That's why my Conti's are pumped up to the full 120 lbs.

    These are my concerns:

    1. How well will they avoid flats
    2. How well will the sidewalls hold up.
    3. How hard will they be for me to get on and off.
    4. How well will they handle turns or wet roads.
    5. How rough will the ride be.

    Bob

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    Pat
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    Originally posted by TheRCF
    That's useful info, thanks.

    I'm presently leaning towards trying an armadillo on the rear, where most of my flats are. That way I'm risking less money and, if they work on the rear for minimizing flats, I'll know they work well.

    I am concerned about the ride, though my natural tendency is to sacrifice comfort for speed. That's why my Conti's are pumped up to the full 120 lbs.

    These are my concerns:

    1. How well will they avoid flats
    2. How well will the sidewalls hold up.
    3. How hard will they be for me to get on and off.
    4. How well will they handle turns or wet roads.
    5. How rough will the ride be.

    Bob
    1) I found they avoided flats very well.
    2) Well I had 3 disintegrate on me at the sidewalls and they all had very little wear. So I gave 'em up as a bad deal. Still some people don't have that problem. Maybe I just got a bad lot.
    3) I don't recall having any particular problem but then again I used to use MA40 rims and it was pretty "challenging" at times to get tires on and off. So with that standard, I wouldn't notice a problem unless it was pretty bad.
    4) As I recall pretty well.
    5) The ones I had seemed wider then my current tires (same size). I wonder why in tires a mm is not a mm. Do all tire companies have their own system or something? The ride was fine but it might have been because the tires were big - bigger tires easier ride.

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    > 2) Well I had 3 disintegrate on me at the sidewalls and they all had very little wear. <

    A couple questions on this. How many miles did you tend to get before this happened? Was this the Turbo Armadillo or some other version? About when was this (I'm thinking in terms of possible improvements since you used them).

    > 4) As I recall pretty well. <

    That's definitely good to know.

    > 5) The ones I had seemed wider then my current tires (same size). I wonder why in tires a mm is not a mm....The ride was fine but it might have been because the tires were big - bigger tires easier ride. <

    I've read some stuff about them being that way - another reason why I'm looking at the 23c size. I have 25c now and the closest size to that in the armadillo is a 26c. Right now I can get the wheels out without releasing the brakes (which on my bike is hard to do for me!). I figure the 26, besides being a bigger size but also because of how Specialized seems to measure things smaller than they are, would be too wide to do this. Hopefully the 23c will allow it.

    What size did you use?

    Bob

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    Wow, I must have set some kind of record today!

    I went ahead and bought the Turbo Armadillo for the rear wheel. It was a bit of a pain to get on, but not as much as I feared - mostly one area would end to slip off as I tried to get another section on.

    Anyway, at that point I had 2732 miles on the bike. I rode home and that put me at 2735. Checked the tire and it was going soft!!!

    When I checked the tube for the hole, it seemed to be in the same general area as where the Mr Tuffy overlapped when they were on the Conti and there was a groove going right across it like I got twice before.

    I'm assuming the problem was with the Mr Tuffy. I had not put it in the new tire, but figure the main damage had already been done to the tube.

    The most likely alternative cause would be that in the process of trying to mount the wheel, I did something to the tube. I've never messed up a tube when mounting so I'm not sure what signs to look for if it happens.

    Well, I put a new one in so I guess we'll see soon enough. I think I'm jinked.

    Bob

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    You aren't jinxed Bob. When we install Tuffy's at the bike shop I work at, we always cuss and whine cause they tend to cause as many flats as they protect against. In the long run, a good kevlar belt tire that's in good shape and inflated properly does more for flat protection than anything else you use. Good luck and keep the rubber side down =)

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    Originally posted by Chasbo
    You aren't jinxed Bob. When we install Tuffy's at the bike shop I work at, we always cuss and whine cause they tend to cause as many flats as they protect against.
    Oh, it isn't just the Mr Tuffy that made me feel jinxed. On my first bike, after getting new tires (Nimbus - had some protection but not like the Armadillo), I immediately started getting flats. The Conti 4-seasons I got with my road bike got some flats, but suddenly started getting lots of them (all from glass) at the very same time that they had finally swept the roads AND I was "taking the lane" a lot more - thus I should have had LESS of a problem. Then there was the Mr Tuffy problem, including the one with the new Armadillo tire (at least I hope it was caused by the Mr Tuffy).

    So I'm probably going to have little confidence until I get at least 500 miles on this tire.

    Bob

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    Hi All,
    When I first started back riding I tried a set of armadillos and they gave way on the sidewall. Very harsh ride also. I went to 700X28 contis and have had very good luck with them. No flats and the are fairly cheap.
    Always change your tires out at home first to get used to having to change a flat on the road. With the contis I can change out a flat without even having to use a tire tool but it is rough on the manicure ! *S*

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    Well, got through my first regular ride on the ARmadillos today (26-27 miles). No flat, but I have a long way to go before that will mean much.

    Now, for a little comparing. These are 700x23 and only on the rear. They are rated at 115-125 lbs. I put them at 120 because that is what my old tires were.

    Frankly, I didn't find the ride to be much different, if any. Sure, sometimes I wondered if it was stiffer, but I was REALLY PAYING ATTENTION and that alone would likely make me notice every bounce more than normal. Heck, sometimes I thought it handled bumps better, which made me wonder if it was going flat again. Fortunately it wasn't.

    Perhaps if both tires were Turbo Armadillos, it would be different. I'm still using my original Continental Grand Prix Four Season on the front (700x25).

    If I have good success at avoiding flats or other problems with the rear tire, I'll replace the front one too.

    Let's see, handling was fine (dry day). I don't deal much with making turns which would tax its grip. Actually, I only have one such turn and I took that more cautiously than normal because I am adverse to risk! Over time I'll get a better feel for this. Even if it doesn't handle fast, sharp turns, that would not be a big deal in my situation.

    So, that seems to mostly leave me with two issues, both of which are time dependent. One is how long I can typically go without a flat (I hope to get 1000+ miles). The other concerns those sidewall problems some people have reported (don't know if the 2003 model has that problem).

    If anyone has had this problem, can you report what I should look for on the tire?

    Bob (26 miles without a flat!)

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    Did my second ride on the Armadillos. I made one change, based on some comments I read here about tire pressure. I set the Armadillo to 110 lbs instead of 120 and my front tire (Conti Grand Prix 4-season) to 105 lbs.

    I didn't push on this ride, since I pushed pretty good on yesterday's. I did sometimes feel like I was dragging, but that might be because of yesterday's ride, or because the temperature was suddenly hotter than normal, or the higher humidity. I will probably kick the rear tire up to 115 though since that is what it says on the sidewall (115-125).

    On both rides now, the first having both tires at 120, I felt the ride was pretty similar to what I had before. IOW, it doesn't seem more uncomfortable. With the lower pressure today, it is probably a bit smoother.

    I made a longer ride than I have in quite some time (56 miles) and so far no flat.

    Bob (82 flatless miles and counting)

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    Added another 48 miles to the Armadillo tire today. So far, no flats - but a long way to go to prove anything.

    Bob (133 flatless miles and counting)

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    RCF; I use the Specialize Turbo Armadillo in 700x26 front and 28 rear (though once the rear wears out I'm going to 26 all the way around since the 28 is no wider); I do not find these too difficult to put on. I purchase the VAR from Rivendell since none of my LBS's carried it or could get it. It is smaller than the Speed Lever which allows to fit in the seatbag better, and it just snaps the last hard 2 inches or so on to the rim without damaging the rim, tire or tube. I did use a 23 the first time I bought the Armadillos and found the Kevlar beaded tire slightly easier to install vs the wire beaded Armos. But where I live the 23 are too narrow and follow the broken streets grooves and ruts whereas the 26 avoids most of that, so I switched to 26.

    One thing to keep in mind though is the weight issue. The Armadillo in a 23 weighs 350 grms plus a 65 grm tube and your total weight is 415 grams; VS my last attemp against flats using a Michelin Axial Pro (260grms) plus a Slime Tube (120grms and the Slime will not work above 65psi) plus a 90grm Mr Tuffy for a total of 460gms; even the Armadillo size 26 weighs 420grms still less than all that other crap and get less flats than all that other crap.

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    Da Big Kahuna
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    Froze,

    > I use the Specialize Turbo Armadillo in 700x26 front and 28 rear (though once the rear wears out I'm going to 26 all the way around since the 28 is no wider) <

    I wonder if there is any difference in how the sidewall are on the different sizes. I'm worried about the reports some make about them not holding up.

    > I do not find these too difficult to put on. <

    I was surprised they weren't harder, considering reports I read. The tricky part seems to be that as you try to put the last part on, it tries to come off at the same time.

    > it just snaps the last hard 2 inches or so on to the rim without damaging the rim, tire or tube. <

    The last two inches don't seem to be the problem for me - it is right when it first starts getting touch (not sure, maybe 10 inches or so) that causes me the problem.

    > I did use a 23 the first time I bought the Armadillos and found the Kevlar beaded tire slightly easier to install vs the wire beaded Armos. <

    Apparently that was the Turbo Lite which I don't think they make anymore.

    > But where I live the 23 are too narrow and follow the broken streets grooves and ruts whereas the 26 avoids most of that, so I switched to 26. <

    Well, so far I haven't noticed any problem with that.

    > The Armadillo in a 23 weighs 350 grms plus a 65 grm tube and your total weight is 415 grams <

    Did you weight it yourself? The website said 315 grams - but I also saw a reviewer who said when he weighed it, it was much more than the company said (this might have been an older version, but it is worth noting). I have no idea how heavy my tubes are.

    I haven't figured out yet whether I'm slower with the Mr Tuffy - either because of weight or rolling resistance. I tried real hard today to go fast and I did make a "top six" time to my destination, but I was really trying hard and thought I would do better. But then, my last couple rides with the old tire were not as good as expected so who knows?

    Bob (133 flatless miles and counting)

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