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Old 06-23-09, 10:30 PM   #1
cz2509
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Road Tire Questions

I have a buddy with a fairly expensive road bike setup. He wont ride if its wet out because he claims the tires wont get any traction. Hes also real picky about riding thru what I would consider normal road conditions - pot holes, rough pavement, sand etc.

I ride a volpe - (with pretty substantial tires) - while I dont like to ride in the rain, Ive never had an issue in the rain or mud with the tires. A side by side inspection of our tires shows them to be fairly different.
Mine are fairly large 700x32, somewhat lower pressure and a pretty heavy tread design, compared to his, small profile, high pressure, no tread at all.

I guess it makes sense, different application, different tires, different behavior.

Im pretty used to my bike just going over bumps, thru water etc. I have been thinking about switching up to a more aggressive bike and Im curious how much functionality Im going to sacrifice by riding something with the little wussy tires.

Am I going to ruin a wheel or tire by hopping curbs, riding wet or riding thru a pot hole if I get a bike with the speedier tires?
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Old 06-23-09, 11:10 PM   #2
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I have a buddy with a fairly expensive road bike setup. He wont ride if its wet out because he claims the tires wont get any traction. Hes also real picky about riding thru what I would consider normal road conditions - pot holes, rough pavement, sand etc.

Am I going to ruin a wheel or tire by hopping curbs, riding wet or riding thru a pot hole if I get a bike with the speedier tires?
Road bikes with 700x23 tires and wheels do not like curbs or deep pot holes. That is better done with a MTB. On a road bike be sure to have spare wheels and tires at home if you insist on jumping curbs and pot holes. Rain is not the problem, I don’t ride in the rain but my bike and tires wouldn’t care. That is just from my limited experience.
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Old 06-23-09, 11:19 PM   #3
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Your buddy is mistaken about wet riding. Tread serves no function as far as traction in wet conditions for a bicycle. Bikes do not run fast enough to worry about hydroplaning.

The main worry on pavement is rain after a substantial dry spell as roads can be very slippery for all vehicles, including cars, until the mixture of water, oil and old rubber is washed off of the road.

Narrow tires are not intended for curb hopping or bad pot holes and wheels can be damaged if the impact is severe. Last time I was at the LBS they were ordering a customer a new Campy deep v rim due to a bad pot hole he inadvertently hit at speed on his road bike. Wider tires, properly inflated, are more forgiving for impacts but do not give better wet traction in my experience.
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Old 06-24-09, 12:11 AM   #4
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Your buddy is mistaken about wet riding. Tread serves no function as far as traction in wet conditions for a bicycle. Bikes do not run fast enough to worry about hydroplaning.

The main worry on pavement is rain after a substantial dry spell as roads can be very slippery for all vehicles, including cars, until the mixture of water, oil and old rubber is washed off of the road.
There is the problem with wet leaves and the dreaded grass clippings some people toss in the street. Still if it rains I tend to stay inside. But if I simply have to ride in the rain I drag out the MTB.
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Old 06-24-09, 08:51 AM   #5
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Wet riding is all rider skill. Bicycle tires, especially on a road bike, are all about low rolling resistance, not traction.
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Old 06-24-09, 09:18 AM   #6
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He wont ride if its wet out because he claims the tires wont get any traction.
Gee, I wish he told me about that before I did that mountain descent hitting speeds of 40+ mph on rain-soaked roads on Gatorskins.
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Old 06-24-09, 09:48 AM   #7
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I have 3 bikes (well, more but let's not go there), a mountain bike with very wide slicks, a converted hybrid with wide slicks, and a regular old 10-speed road bike with high pressure slicks (narrow but not the narrowest you might see). I'm as careful on each bike because potholes aren't good for any bike.

I think your question might better be asked this way: "what would I enjoy with a road bike that I don't have now?" To that I would answer, speed. You might find a road bike more twitchy, meaning the steering is more sensitive - but you'd get used to it. If you keep the same bike but change the tires, like what I did with my hybrid, you'll see an increase in speed as well. I also swapped the straight bar for drops, so my body positioning and thrusting is much better too.

try some new tires. here's what I went to - they are still wide but slick compared to the original hybrid tires.

these are Michelin City Trekking tires from REI
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Michelin City Trekking.jpg (31.9 KB, 6 views)

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Old 06-24-09, 10:16 AM   #8
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Your friend is a poseur
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Old 06-24-09, 10:37 AM   #9
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Your Volpe is more of a cross/touring/commuter bike. You probably have cantilever brakes too, which is good for shedding mud. Your beefier rim and thicker tires absorb a lot more shock than his narrow ones. But your friend is probably just a wuss.
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Old 06-24-09, 12:41 PM   #10
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if I can add my two cents. while traction should not be an issue on concrete or asphalt you do need to be careful paint and metal (grates,manholecovers, bridge joints). as for his skinny tires if he is just recreational riding he may benifit from the softer ride and increased durability of a '28 tire (does anyone make 25s"). he likely will not notice a difference on rollong resistance bit he will not have to slow down to rollover the lines for a crosswalk.

what year is your Volpe? I always wanted one but never did. I got a Project 3 instead.
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Old 06-24-09, 12:44 PM   #11
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The rain water acts like a lubricant. A sharp pebble or object will penetrate a rubber tire no matter what but rain water probably makes it worse. Just last weekend we got some drizzle along the coast here in Southern California. I rode anyways on the road bike with no problems. But after the ride, I had to clean off the bike, tires, wheels, and even spokes. I inspect the gears and usually the rain water and chain lubricant leaves a mess. It is a bit of a hassle to clean the smudged lubricant off and to reapply.

In Europe there's a lot of cobblestone streets. Some of these streets are part of the bike races. But I think the professionals change the wheelsets for these types of conditions.

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Old 06-24-09, 02:30 PM   #12
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Am I going to ruin a wheel or tire by hopping curbs, riding wet or riding thru a pot hole if I get a bike with the speedier tires?

Hopping Kerbs without hitting them hard is not a problem. Potholes and how deep- how fast and how hard did you hit them? Problem would be Snakebite punctures so narrow tyres do have to be inflated for the riders weight and whatever you are going to hit. And that will mean higher than you are used to so a rough ride will ensue.

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Road bikes with 700x23 tires and wheels do not like curbs or deep pot holes. That is better done with a MTB. On a road bike be sure to have spare wheels and tires at home if you insist on jumping curbs and pot holes. Rain is not the problem, I don’t ride in the rain but my bike and tires wouldn’t care. That is just from my limited experience.

All my road bikes have 700x23 tyres and they get used in the rain. Still get enough grip but may be taking it steady on the fast downhills. A tread on this size tyre would be superfluous as it will already cut through the rain to get grip. The width of tyre you will be using is only about 6mm at the contact point and that will be at a low pressure.

What I find is the limiting factor on hitting things is the strength of the wheel. I do have one pair I will take care of- Ultegras with low spoke count- but the hand built 36 spoke on strong rims are bombproof and the Mavic Aksiums may not be every ones favourite- but are a strong wheel that will take a lot more than you expect.
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