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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 12-08-08, 01:22 PM   #1
clint262
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Tires

I am replacing the tires on my Burley Tamburello. It has 700x28c on it now. I am fairly new to cycling and even newer to the world of tandems. I am looking at Gatorskin tires in the same size. Looking for suggestions on what is the correct tire for road riding. I will be riding with my 9 year old son. We have a couple multi-day rides planned for the summer. Dalmac here in Michigan and 1 self supported ride into Wisconsin.

Last edited by clint262; 12-08-08 at 02:35 PM. Reason: needed more info
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Old 12-08-08, 01:52 PM   #2
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Correct tire? Depends on team weight, your style of riding, goals, priorities, and price sensitivity. Do you care more about going fast, or avoiding flats?

All that said, a lot of people find Gatorskins to be a pretty good all around tire for tandem use.
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Old 12-08-08, 09:54 PM   #3
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As merlin stated above, depends upon your needs and $$.
Have been tandeming for over 3 decades (including a few years in Michigan) and have run all sorts of road rubber with varying results.
Currently on (and happy) Maxxis Re-Fuse (kevlar beaded/folding) 700x 25s on our Zona tandem for the last few years. Decent price, mileage and flat protection for us.
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Old 12-10-08, 03:51 AM   #4
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Greater than 25mm necessary?

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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
As merlin stated above, depends upon your needs and $$.
Have been tandeming for over 3 decades (including a few years in Michigan) and have run all sorts of road rubber with varying results.
Currently on (and happy) Maxxis Re-Fuse (kevlar beaded/folding) 700x 25s on our Zona tandem for the last few years. Decent price, mileage and flat protection for us.
Hi Zona!
Can you see any need to run a tire width of greater than 25mm, with a team weight of less than 300lbs, and no supported touring bags on the bike? I知 just wondering if I really need 28mm tire clearance on the Calfee I知 having built.
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Old 12-10-08, 04:34 AM   #5
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One thing that is not mentioned above is that the road surface matters. On perfectly smooth pavement with a light team you may indeed be able to use 700 X 25's with no problems. On rough secondary roads in North Texas, a wider tire may be a better idea. I remember a fit, medium-weight team that tried to do Hotter'n Hell with the stock 700 X 26's that came on their Santana. They had five pinch flats over the course of the day. Of course, in a tight pack, your choice of lines around surface irregularities is greatly restricted, and sometimes you have to go straight and hope the tire volume and pressure are enough.
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Old 12-10-08, 05:30 AM   #6
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Hi,

For non-loaded, relatively fast riding 25-28mm tyres with an experienced team that scans the road for potholes you should be OK. My priority is always to get a tyre that grips well in the wet and rolls nicely over anything else as this will feel nicer to ride and avoid crashes by giving you extra grip when braking and cornering. Currently I ride 25mm Michelin Pro Race IIs, which are much more comfortable and grippy than the 28mm Bontrager Racelite last forever unpuncturable tractor tyres that our T2000 tandem came with.

Potholes shouldn't be a deciding factor as they will kill pretty much any tyre if you hit them hard enough. You just need slightly more pressure in a narrower tyre to get through the bumps. While I don't know how much pressure SDS' team mentioned above had in their tyres, my guess would be that it wasn't enough, particularly if they were pumping the tyre up after their first puncture with a hand pump. I'm not familiar with Texus roads, but my guess is that they're unlikely to be much worse than London. We use 125psi in my 25mm tyres and have had no problems so far. However I ride carefully, and call out bumps if I can't go round them and unweight the saddleas the stoker otherwise complains loudly.

I would definitely get your Calfee with at least 30 mm tyre clearance at the rear, though tell them you will run 25-28mm 99% of the time, so only need 28mm clearance at the fork as you can easily change that if you plan on touring.

Asking for 28mm clearance in the fork allows use of a lightweight Alpha Q carbon fork, which is nice and comfy as well as improving performance of the tandem by being lighter than alternatives. To my mind there is very little downside to having a bit of extra clearance at the rear.
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Old 12-10-08, 06:24 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Geocyclist View Post
I知 just wondering if I really need 28mm tire clearance on the Calfee I知 having built.
What are you running into with the Calfee that makes 28mm tire clearance undesireable?
- Wound Up vs Alpha Q fork?
- Rear brake bridge clearance issue / need for standard reach caliper?
Has Calfee finalized the design and started fabrication?

For what it's worth, IMHO and as a sub 300 lbs team your tire size will be dictated by your road conditions more so than anything else I can think of. We've been running 145 psi 700x23c Vredestein Fortezza tires on our tandems -- including the Calfee -- since day 1 back in '97 when we're on home turf as our roads here in Georgia as well as up in SE Tennessee tend to be very smooth. When we've headed to places where we knew we'd encounter extensive chip seal roads or up north where expansion joints and/or frost heaving makes for busted up roads I've fitted the 25mm version of the Fortezza tires and, if it's really bad, I'll knock the air pressure on the 25mm tires down from 135 psi to 120 psi.

To us, the 25mm tires feel pretty cushy coming off of the rock hard 23mm tires but, then again, on the Calfee tandem everything feels pretty cushy. Moreover, about the only time we'll get a pinch flat is AFTER we've already had a flat where hand pumps have made it hard to get the narrow 23mm tires back up over 100 psi and then encounter a sharp break in the road. I've started to stuff a C02 cart. in our seat back to use for "topping off" as a way of eliminating the rim hit / pinch flat problem now that we're running the more pricey 'boutique" wheels that don't lend themselves to home rim replacement. Nicking a Deep-V rim was never a big deal as I always have a spare rim around and can cross lace a new rim to an existing wheel in about 30 minutes.

Anyway, you're about the only one who can draw on your own experiences with tire size to determine what you'll really want or need for your tandem. 28mm is the 'default' on most non-racing tandems so dropping down to 25mm for a lightweight team really isn't that big of a stretch.

Of course, if Calfee has already fabricated your rear triangle and set the rear brake bridge....
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Old 12-10-08, 06:38 AM   #8
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I would definitely get your Calfee with at least 30 mm tyre clearance at the rear, though tell them you will run 25-28mm 99% of the time, so only need 28mm clearance at the fork as you can easily change that if you plan on touring.

Asking for 28mm clearance in the fork allows use of a lightweight Alpha Q carbon fork, which is nice and comfy as well as improving performance of the tandem by being lighter than alternatives. To my mind there is very little downside to having a bit of extra clearance at the rear.
Maybe Geocyclist can comment, but I want to say Calfee tends to recommend going to a standard reach rear brake caliper once you hit 28mm for the rear triangle. It's not really a big deal since rear rim brakes don't work all that well on a tandem anyway; however, a lot of folks don't like having two different models of caliper hanging off of their uber tandem, i.e, a Shimano BR600 in the rear and DuraAce up front.

I'll have to check my specs as I want to say that I may have asked for 28mm rear tire clearance but stuck with the compact caliper / lower brake bridge.... and it's tight back there. Somewhere in the back of my mind I want to say that Craig and I went back over this and reconciled that we'd never use anything bigger than a 25mm rear tires.

As for the Alpha Q and tire clearance, here's a photo of a 25mm tire that measures 26mm passing under our 'new' Alpha Q fork crown, noting the newer Alpha Q's have longer aluminum drop-outs vs. the older models which was their solution to creating a bit more tire clearance.



I've heard said that the Alpha Q can now handle a 28mm tire with this slight change, however it REALLY looks tight and can only remember one of the list members saying they we using a 28mm tire on their fork. Again, I don't doubt 28mm tires that truly are 28mm will fit; however, I'd be concerned about how much wear and tear the fork would see from any debris that the tire carried into the crown opening given the minimal clearance.
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Old 12-10-08, 11:41 AM   #9
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Wow! Lots of information back on this issue!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
What are you running into with the Calfee that makes 28mm tire clearance undesireable?
- Wound Up vs Alpha Q fork?
- Rear brake bridge clearance issue / need for standard reach caliper?
Has Calfee finalized the design and started fabrication?

For what it's worth, IMHO and as a sub 300 lbs team your tire size will be dictated by your road conditions more so than anything else I can think of. We've been running 145 psi 700x23c Vredestein Fortezza tires on our tandems -- including the Calfee -- since day 1 back in '97 when we're on home turf as our roads here in Georgia as well as up in SE Tennessee tend to be very smooth. When we've headed to places where we knew we'd encounter extensive chip seal roads or up north where expansion joints and/or frost heaving makes for busted up roads I've fitted the 25mm version of the Fortezza tires and, if it's really bad, I'll knock the air pressure on the 25mm tires down from 135 psi to 120 psi.

To us, the 25mm tires feel pretty cushy coming off of the rock hard 23mm tires but, then again, on the Calfee tandem everything feels pretty cushy. Moreover, about the only time we'll get a pinch flat is AFTER we've already had a flat where hand pumps have made it hard to get the narrow 23mm tires back up over 100 psi and then encounter a sharp break in the road. I've started to stuff a C02 cart. in our seat back to use for "topping off" as a way of eliminating the rim hit / pinch flat problem now that we're running the more pricey 'boutique" wheels that don't lend themselves to home rim replacement. Nicking a Deep-V rim was never a big deal as I always have a spare rim around and can cross lace a new rim to an existing wheel in about 30 minutes.

Anyway, you're about the only one who can draw on your own experiences with tire size to determine what you'll really want or need for your tandem. 28mm is the 'default' on most non-racing tandems so dropping down to 25mm for a lightweight team really isn't that big of a stretch.

Of course, if Calfee has already fabricated your rear triangle and set the rear brake bridge....
Okay, first off I have a MTB tandem with 26 x 1.25 road tires and no experience with 700 c road tandems. With no experience on road tandems, I was interested in other people痴 opinion on tire width. On Calfees website there is an option for 28 mm tire clearance, and they state that the Alpha Q fork has 25mm tire Clearance (I assume this is maximum). I am purchasing the bike through Precision Tandem, so I guess I should call Mark and clarify this point. The frame is not in production yet, so I have time to make a few changes if needed. I did request both disc and brake bridge rear break mounts; as my main wheels with be rear disc, and I might dabble with the Topolino carbons on special occasions. To date all I have ordered is the frame / fork, and I plan to finalize my wheel and component selection once the frame nears delivery. So, you all can look forward to more inquiring mind wants to know questions from me!

Thanks for all the info!
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Old 12-10-08, 02:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
Moreover, about the only time we'll get a pinch flat is AFTER we've already had a flat where hand pumps have made it hard to get the narrow 23mm tires back up over 100 psi and then encounter a sharp break in the road. I've started to stuff a C02 cart.
Topeak Road Morph G

Supposedly pumps to 160 psi. Definitely pumps better than anything else I've ever used. Plus it has a hose, so no worry about ripping out another valve stem. Bought mine after a pump failure on a brevet, when a young lady with just this pump stopped to give me a hand. I was impressed.

I carry ours on a bracket from a mountain pump that attaches under a bottle cage, not the bracket that comes with the Morph.
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Old 12-10-08, 02:25 PM   #11
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Topeak Road Morph G. Supposedly pumps to 160 psi.
Yes, I've got one of those, plus about 5 Blackburn frame pumps and a couple Zephals... all of which cite 160 psi. I actually believe you 'could' get upwards of those pressures in the tires with those pumps; however, to do so takes a heck of a lot of work and time given the very small volume of the pump vs. the volume of full-size bicycle tires. Even the Topeak stuggles above 100 psi, as we purchased that pump to take along with us on trips as our 'psuedo floor pump'. However, it's really a poor substitute for the real thing.

Again, they're all very good and very effective at getting to about 100 psi... which will get you home on skinny tires.
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Old 12-10-08, 02:37 PM   #12
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On Calfees website there is an option for 28 mm tire clearance, and they state that the Alpha Q fork has 25mm tire Clearance (I assume this is maximum). I am purchasing the bike through Precision Tandem, so I guess I should call Mark and clarify this point.
Mark should be able to address the Alpha Q sizing as well as anyone as he's lived through the early models and has probably fitted a wide variety of tires to the current models.

Early on, when Alpha Q was owned by AME they marketed the X2 tandem fork as being suitable for a 28mm tire; however, in practice it just didn't. After True Temper acquired the Alpha Q line from AME they eventually changed the spec. to 25mm. However, about 2 years ago they started to make the aluminum drop-outs a little bit longer to increase the available clearance so that 28mm tires could be used.

Again, I have three Alpha Q X2 folks at the house -- an '02 model based on the original AME molds, an '07 model that has the longer drop-outs and an '08 model that I picked up as a spare "just in case" -- and it still looks like it would be pretty tight with a 28mm tire in those newer forks. I say looks only because I simply haven't had a tire any larger than a 25mm in my shop except for the OEM tires that came on our '96 Santana... and which were quickly replaced with 23mm Vredestein's.

Keep us posted.
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Old 12-10-08, 04:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geocyclist View Post
Hi Zona!
Can you see any need to run a tire width of greater than 25mm, with a team weight of less than 300lbs, and no supported touring bags on the bike? I知 just wondering if I really need 28mm tire clearance on the Calfee I知 having built.
We've run both 25's and 28's on our Comotion. One problem with the 25's seems to be that you need to run a higher pressure to prevent pinch flats and this can be uncomfortable ( we are a 260lb team). Still the Comotion feels faster with the 25's.


Frank
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Old 12-10-08, 11:24 PM   #14
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A 25 mm tire whould be sufficient if you are sub-300 lbs total weight.
But as stated, road surfaces do play a part in comfort; however a c/f tandem soaks up much of the road vibes.
Many stokers have abandoned shock absorbing seatpost when they got a c/f tandem.
For years we ran 23mm tires front and rear on our tandems.
As for pumps, we use the Topeak Mt. Morph and have no problems inflating our tires to the desired
pressure.
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Old 12-11-08, 09:17 AM   #15
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Done deal!

Frame order went into Calfee yesterday, so all choices are now final. I went with the 28 mm tire clearance option, and the Alpha Q fork. I spoke with Mark, at Precision Tandems, and the new Alpha fork has clearance for 28 mm tires. I did have lugs added for a rear rack, so I do have the option to add some light touring bags if I later decide to tour with this bike.
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Old 12-11-08, 10:00 AM   #16
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Our Robusta, with an Alpha Q fork came with 28mm Continental 4 Seasons.

At a team weight of 340lbs we are running 25mm Continental 4000's with no problems.
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Old 12-11-08, 10:36 AM   #17
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Does anyone run paired, "optimized" front/rear tires like http://www.schwalbetires.com/node/1382 Stelvio Front & Rear HS 347 ?
(Continental has a similar concept with their "Attack/Force" 22mm/24mm pairs)

To quote Schwalbe, "Different rubber compounds specially developed and optimized for front and rear wheels. Maximum cornering grip and stopping power for the FRONT wheel. Energy loss minimized on the REAR wheel."

Bike Tires Direct has these for a very attractive price for a pair right now.

Last edited by moleman76; 12-11-08 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 12-11-08, 11:52 AM   #18
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I did have lugs added for a rear rack, so I do have the option to add some light touring bags if I later decide to tour with this bike.
The 'lugs' are actually a slick little modification they made to the 'spud' bolts that join the seat stay to the rear drop-out. You can read more about 'spud bolt' evolution HERE; however, here's a photo that shows an M4 bolt partially threaded into the 'special' $18 spud bolt upgrade for racks and fenders.

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Old 12-11-08, 12:44 PM   #19
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As usual great comments and pics by Tandemgeek.
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Old 12-11-08, 01:22 PM   #20
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I like the Gatorskins 700x28.

I feel like the weight of the vehicle should have an impact on what tire width you run. Same as with cars.

For controlling 300 lb of body and 40lb of equipment coming down a mountain at 30+ mph with sharp curves and rough roads, I trust the 28s. More grip yields better braking and handling. The larger volume of air also has slightly more heat capacity (for those with rim brakes). I will gladly sacrifice the extra couple watts we would have to generate to run the 28s versus a 23/25. I mean, ours are pumped to 120 psi F&R, so it's not like running MTB tires or something.

PS - For those thinking that running a smaller tire up front, might be a way to cut rolling resistance and drag, consider that the weight distribution for tandem teams is often close to 50/50.

See this excellent Excel spreadsheet:
http://tandem-fahren.de/Mitglieder/C...stribution.xls
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Old 12-11-08, 03:01 PM   #21
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PS - For those thinking that running a smaller tire up front, might be a way to cut rolling resistance and drag, consider that the weight distribution for tandem teams is often close to 50/50.
The Schwalbes are the same listed width for front and rear, and are the tire I'd be interested in; the Conti's are just another product with the similar concept of having different tires for front (steer and brake) and rear (motive power).

great link to the weight distribution spreadsheet, thanks.
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Old 12-12-08, 03:59 AM   #22
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Used the Attack / Force on my single

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Does anyone run paired, "optimized" front/rear tires like http://www.schwalbetires.com/node/1382 Stelvio Front & Rear HS 347 ?
(Continental has a similar concept with their "Attack/Force" 22mm/24mm pairs)

To quote Schwalbe, "Different rubber compounds specially developed and optimized for front and rear wheels. Maximum cornering grip and stopping power for the FRONT wheel. Energy loss minimized on the REAR wheel."

Bike Tires Direct has these for a very attractive price for a pair right now.
I used the Continental Attack / Force paired tires on my single bike last summer during a trans Pyrenees trip. These tires have a really great feel, and do stick to the road. I cycled a lot of kilometres in the rain during the Pyrenees trip, and the tires held the road really good. Only down side to the Attack tires is the lifespan was a bit short; l cycled about 2000 km before the back tire squared off significantly. I can usually get about 3000 km out of my Mich Pro Race tires before the rear tire starts to square off.
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