RAGBRAI tire suggestions for 26" wheeled tandem...
I would appreciate any tire suggestions for those of you that have perhaps used a 26" wheel size tandem on the road. The ride will be one week long and take place on paved highway across Iowa (about 63 miles per day average). One section will be gravel, but only for a few miles. I am assuming that southern Iowa in July will be rather warm with hot pavement, so take that into consideration for PSI.
We will not be carrying gear on the bike in a touring fashion (outside of a handlebar pack and a small tool seatpack). Total bike weight is 40 pounds. Total rider weight is 255 pounds. The tandem currently has Schwalbe Big Apple 26" x 2.35 city slicks mounted on Sun Rhyno Lite rims run at 50 - 60 PSI. The tires have been doing fine for our training rides and for general commuting around the city. Yes, they are fat tires, but the rolling circumference of this big volume tire puts the diameter rolling surface on par with a 700c sized mounted tire in the 25 - 28mm range. Since we cannot use a suspension seatpost for the child stoker (not enough clearance), having the big volume tires provides a nice cushion of suspension as a trade off. All in all, not a bad tire and it seems to work fine for the training and city commuting we have been doing. However, that's not "out on the road covering 900+ kilometers" type of riding.
Does anyone think such a tire will be sufficient for our needs - or do I need to go with a narrower tire for this week long ride? The LBS has some narrower Specialized (Nimbus, I believe) as well as Continental 1.75 or 1.5, IRC Metro 2.0 and some Hang Chen 1.5 slicks. I could order others as well.
We used the Avocet inverted tread size 1.9 on our 26" tandem to do the one day Seattle to Portland (200 miles) in just over 10 hours. We spent a good portion of that day at the front of pacelines so I doubt there is very much penalty for going with a smaller 26" tire.
We've used it for touring and at tandem rally rides. Gravel and paved roads. Worked well.
I don't recall ever having a puncture with those tires and I don't believe they were the Kevlar belted either. Excellent high mileage durability.
Good luck on RAGBRAI! I live here in Iowa, ride a Cannondale tandem and have ridden RAGBRAI several times although only single days on the tandem. On the tandem, we usually wound up with an unsafe draft if we ran fast and had to stop to break them up. (lots of in-experienced kids liked to jump into a draft at 21-22mph) Usually the ride is fairly relaxed and your fat tires would be just fine. That said, I'd still recommend the Specialized tires. The rolling diameter makes little difference, but the rolling resistance of a higher pressure tire does. The roads should be pretty smooth except for that bit of gravel and you will appreciate the reduction in effort.
Thanks. I will probably experiment with a narrower tire to see how it rides compared to the 2.35 before making my final decision as to what to use across Iowa.
We've had a previous discussion with regard to the drafting that could possibly take place in such a large group ride and how to possibly be an advocate of safe tandem riding without tarnishing the image of tandems. Your routine of breaking up the draft line probably is much appreciated by the organizers. I don't expect to be leading any draft lines with a child as my stoker. She'll probably contribute the most when I announce an upcoming stop for a Dove bar. ;-)