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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 07-27-09, 10:40 AM   #1
clint262
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Tire Choice

I am wondering about changing out the 700x28 tires on our Burley Tamburello to something smaller. I am 190 lbs my son is about 70 lbs. I was thinking of putting Gatorskin 700x25 on. Is there a point where the bike looses control or other issues with going to a smaller tire? thanks
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Old 07-27-09, 10:42 AM   #2
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We ride 25mm with a team weight of 340lbs, without any problem. You should be fine.
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Old 07-27-09, 10:48 AM   #3
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Main concern is increased potential for pinch flats. Keep the pressure up and watch for potholes and you should be fine considering that you're a pretty lightweight tandem pair.
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Old 07-27-09, 11:22 AM   #4
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So far so good on a pair of specialized mondo pro tires 700 X 23 (though they actually measure 24.2ish with a set of calipers). We run them around 125psi captain 130-135, stoker 125-130.
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Old 07-27-09, 02:52 PM   #5
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Maxxis Re-Fuse 700x25, tandem team weight sub-250 lbs.
No issues. Used to run 700x23s; before that 27" x 1-1/8s.
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Old 07-27-09, 02:57 PM   #6
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I use Conti GP4000 and Michelin Pro Race tires in 700x23 and 25 on my Calfee with no more problems or no higher flat frequency than my single bike. I run them around 125psi. I do replace them earlier than on the single bike though. Better safe than sorry. btw I'm 220lbs and the stoker is as high as 150 (depending on whose back there).
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Old 07-27-09, 03:22 PM   #7
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Is there a point where the bike looses control or other issues with going to a smaller tire?
Biggest issue with tires is making sure the rim width is appropriate for a given tire width.

Based on a quick look, it appears your Burley may have come with a Weinmann ZAC2000 rim


With an interior bead with of 18.5mm, 25mm is close to the lower-end of the size range for that rim but still within the range. While I have made mention of a sizing chart that appears on Sheldon Brown's website, I've always thought it looked a bit off. More recently I discovered this chart and it's more in line with what my experience suggests:



You can find it and some other pretty good general info on tire sizing at the following commercial site:
http://www.bicycletires.com/a_49/tire_width/article.htm

If you go too narrow you can have problems with the hook bead seating properly and sidewall punctures, never mind a very harsh ride and poor handling which, if you got a flat while riding through a rough patch of road while cornering could create a control problem.... but that's a stretch. It's just not prudent to go too narrow.

Likewise, it's also not prudent to go too wide as having a fat tire or a narrow rim makes for awful handing and if the tire uses fairly high psi ratings, it could also over-stress the rim's sidewalls.
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Old 07-27-09, 04:37 PM   #8
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Lot's of an excellent points!!! Thanks TandemGeek. It's just like many other issues where what works well for me may not be such a good idea for someone else. Don't know how many times I've mentioned that to others...
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Old 07-27-09, 04:40 PM   #9
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Just out of curiousity why are you considering changing tire size? The threads on tire size versus performance are legion and assuming the truth is in the middle of the controversy why not stick with the 28's? On the other hand if you believe 25mm tires are faster the placebo effect will probably kick in and make you faster.
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Old 07-27-09, 07:07 PM   #10
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Just out of curiousity why are you considering changing tire size?

[Just out of curiousity why are you considering changing tire size?
I am planning to ride the Dalmac here in Michigan with my son. I had a torn miniscus and scope surgery that has all cut into my training. I am back up to riding 40 and 60 milers on my single. Simply looking for every little advantage to make this trip easier.
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Old 07-27-09, 08:13 PM   #11
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As was mentioned above, you're not going to see any significant advantage switching, in fact if you were blindfolded I doubt that you could even tell the difference between 25s and 28s of the same tire make. There just isn't that much of a difference. I switch between 23's and 25's all the time and can't tell.
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Old 07-27-09, 09:53 PM   #12
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We run 25's and have run 23's [once] and we are at almost 400 lbs without any issues with tires [Conti 4000].
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Old 07-28-09, 12:50 PM   #13
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I defer to TG and Zona since they are the tandem guru's. We just rode the STP on my Calfee with Michelin Pro Race 700/25 @ 125lb. pressure and a 360lb team (two guys) with no problems, even on less than perfect pavement at pretty high speeds. Other than TG's observations on rim width, you should have no problems. There are numerous posts on tires and sizes on this forum. Read through them to ease your decision.
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Old 07-28-09, 03:24 PM   #14
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I defer to TG and Zona since they are the tandem guru's. We just rode the STP on my Calfee with Michelin Pro Race 700/25 @ 125lb. pressure and a 360lb team (two guys) with no problems, even on less than perfect pavement at Extreme high speeds. Other than TG's observations on rim width, you should have no problems. There are numerous posts on tires and sizes on this forum. Read through them to ease your decision.

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Old 07-29-09, 12:29 PM   #15
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While many on this forum will argue strongly otherwise, I believe it is worth checking out what Continental has to say about wider tires...

"The new Grand Prix marks the trend toward wider tires in performance cycling. Wider tires roll easier, yield higher mileage and offer more comfort and grip, therefore the new Grand Prix profile is 24mm. Wide enough to exploit the advantages of wider tires, but still light and slim enough to improve the performance of any racing machine."

Keep in mind that the new Grand Prix is for lightweight racers, not club sized tandem riders. Just something to consider.
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Old 07-29-09, 01:08 PM   #16
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While many on this forum will argue strongly otherwise, I believe it is worth checking out what Continental has to say about wider tires...
If memory serves, Continental's tires have always measured out wider than their labels anyway. So, are the 22mm and 24mm tires really "new" or did they just change the labeling on the 21mm and 23mm tires to reflect the actual OML?

Seriously, Continental also hearlded-in their off-set tires sets a few years ago in an effort to sell more tires. I don't see the 24mm being anything more than a marketing innovation vs. a performance statement.

Selecting tires is all about assessing your riding style, road conditions, handling preferences and threshold for pain associated with cost and durability. I've watched nearly identical tandem teams use the exact same tires under the exact same conditions with completely different results: one loved 'em the other hated 'em. Go figure....
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Old 07-29-09, 01:59 PM   #17
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Yes, Tandem Geek, marketing and fashion certainly do influence purchasing decisions.

On the other hand, when the editor of Bicycle Quarterly, Jan Heine who finished with the fastest mixed tandem time on the 2003 Paris Brest Paris, on an antique (1948 built) Rene Herse no less, recommended wider tires I tried a set. Based upon my experience I would agree with Continential's marketing pitch that wider tires do roll easier, yield higher mileage and offer more comfort and grip.

We rode Grand Bois 30's on Paris Brest Paris in 2007 to a successful finish, despite the worst weather and highest DNF rate in 50 years. After averaging 200 miles a day for 3.75 days in the wind and rain my opinion is that the wider tires were helpful.

On the other hand, as you point out, your results may vary.
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Old 07-29-09, 02:48 PM   #18
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On the other hand, when the editor of Bicycle Quarterly, Jan Heine who finished with the fastest mixed tandem time on the 2003 Paris Brest Paris, on an antique (1948 built) Rene Herse no less.
IMHO, Jan and Jaye Haworth would have finished with the fastest mixed tandem time regardless of what they rode... so long as it was in good shape and properly outfitted for PBP.

There's no question that wider diameter tires are superior in many different conditions and PBP is clearly one of those events where tire volume and durability trump the lesser alternatives given the roads and conditions. Texas with it's chip-sealed roads is another place where a larger volume tire would be preferable (even 25mm was sub-optimal when we visited) and I suspect the weather in the Pacific Northwest and related road conditions may also favor a more voluminus and robust tire.

Again, everyone who considers themselves a serious cyclist owes it to themselves to remain open-minded about all of the various tire and wheel options so that they can find what suits their various needs and intended uses. At the same time, it's also worthwhile for mortal cyclists to cast a wary eye on 'innovations' or trends that are designed more to extract dollars from their wallets under the guise of increased performance.

Finally, and as I've mentioned to Jan when we were corresponding on the subject of tandems and steering trail a few years back, I some day hope to find a classic French tandem outfitted properly that I can ride with my wife to gain a better appreciation of the differences afforded by 650c, large volume tires and the far more conservative geometry as compared to contemporary machines.

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Old 07-29-09, 08:02 PM   #19
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IMHO, Jan and Jaye Haworth would have finished with the fastest mixed tandem time regardless of what they rode... so long as it was in good shape and properly outfitted for PBP.
Jan in a very talented cyclist and you are probably correct. I think that sometimes blinds him to the trials of the "average" cyclist. I've suggested to him that he take the time one of these years to ride at the back during PBP. I think it would be an eyeopening experience for him.

Personally I take Bicycle Quarterly's results with a small grain of salt since they sell Grand Bios tires...btw, if you left in the 80 hour group at PBP you would have gotten very little if any rain! I don't know if that was the worst weather in the last 50 years? Back in 70's and 80s they had some really ugly years. Rain and wind is the norm for PBP if you look back in the history books.
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Old 07-29-09, 08:35 PM   #20
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The smaller tire will generally have less rolling resistance when properly inflated. Comparing different size tires at the same PSI is silly. I have a 30mm tire with 70psi max and a 25mm with 120 psi max. Would you compare these tires using 70 psi in both?
Keep in mind there is a lot of variance in tire sizing. My 28mm Gatorskin measures an actual 26mm and my 25mm ProRace measures 27mm. This are the smallest we can use without major problems with pinch flats, cuts, and punctures. With our less expensive winter tires the bike feels like a slug, so I think the premium tires (like the Gatorskin and ProRace) are worth the extra money.
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Old 07-29-09, 08:41 PM   #21
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Personally I take Bicycle Quarterly's results with a small grain of salt since they sell Grand Bios tires...btw, if you left in the 80 hour group at PBP you would have gotten very little if any rain! I don't know if that was the worst weather in the last 50 years? Back in 70's and 80s they had some really ugly years. Rain and wind is the norm for PBP if you look back in the history books.
You are on target with the Grand Bois and BQ. I just tried the Grand Bois and I like them, although I am open to other options.

The 50 years quote came from the RM website. I figured that they were a reliable source. Besides, if you are who I think you are, what makes you think that being a two time RAAM finisher, a 508 record holder, a PBP finisher, a Gold Rush Finisher and a Rocky Mountain 1200 finisher gives you any creditability anyway
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Old 07-29-09, 09:40 PM   #22
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You are on target with the Grand Bois and BQ. I just tried the Grand Bois and I like them, although I am open to other options.

The 50 years quote came from the RM website. I figured that they were a reliable source. Besides, if you are who I think you are, what makes you think that being a two time RAAM finisher, a 508 record holder, a PBP finisher, a Gold Rush Finisher and a Rocky Mountain 1200 finisher gives you any creditability anyway

Can't be me, since I'm a three time RAAM finisher. I don't know who that impostor is that you're thinking of! Oh, yeah, I did that 1200k up in Seattle too... I don't know about the 50 year thing either. Those kind of things always make me wonder. It was certainly bad though and the DNF rate was extraordinary.

I got my new tandem so I thought I should join your fun here. There is lots of great info here! I guess I should post a picture of my new steed too.
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Old 07-30-09, 01:43 PM   #23
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Can't be me, since I'm a three time RAAM finisher.
I apologize for missing a few of your completed rides. Stop riding so much so I can keep track.

Also, if you were in France rather than Scotland in 2007 I would bet that you would have a different view of the weather conditions on the last PBP. (You better watch out now that you have a tandem, I know several riders who would love to ride stoker for you on PBP 2011.)

As I recall we had this conversation about tire width on tandems while riding the Fleche in April. How do you know what a 30 rides like - you can't even put one on your Calfee?

I would like to make one point. We, with all our crap for the weather etc. on PBP probably weighed as much as you and Jerry did on RAAM. We did not have a single flat. Not one flat for 1200 kilometers - in the rain - on cobblestone roads, places and conditions that one would think that you would have an increased probability of having a flat. How many did you have on RAAM? How miles per flat was that? I don't think I am totally out to lunch for thinking that there are some advantages to wider tires.

I can see that I am definitely in the minority regarding wider tires and that is fine. I just would like to put out there that going with the narrowest tires possible is not necessarily the best option. Especially when the weight of the wider tire is comparable or less (as is the case with a 28 Continental Gatorskin Vs a 30 Grand Bois). Then again, your results may vary. My only request is to keep an open mind.

By the way Homeyba, I hope to see you for at least for the 300k that is coming up. We would be very happy if you could join us for the pre-ride on the tandem or your single. I am sure you know that you are welcome to stay at our place before and/or after the ride.
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Old 07-30-09, 02:44 PM   #24
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Also, if you were in France rather than Scotland in 2007 I would bet that you would have a different view of the weather conditions on the last PBP. (You better watch out now that you have a tandem, I know several riders who would love to ride stoker for you on PBP 2011.)
I might! I know it was pretty miserable. hmm, you'll have to introduce me to your potential stokers. I'm interviewing. They've got to be fast though, I've got some long races coming up on the calendar.

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As I recall we had this conversation about tire width on tandems while riding the Fleche in April. How do you know what a 30 rides like - you can't even put one on your Calfee?
I guess recently I don't since 25's won't fit on my newer Colnago and 25's are as big as I can go on the Calfee. My point was not whether the larger wheels had a better ride than the smaller one. It was that I doubt that anyone can tell the difference between two tires of the same make that are only 2-3mm difference in size. I certainly can't and I've got a pretty food feel for what the tires are doing.

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I would like to make one point. We, with all our crap for the weather etc. on PBP probably weighed as much as you and Jerry did on RAAM. We did not have a single flat. Not one flat for 1200 kilometers - in the rain - on cobblestone roads, places and conditions that one would think that you would have an increased probability of having a flat. How many did you have on RAAM? How miles per flat was that? I don't think I am totally out to lunch for thinking that there are some advantages to wider tires.
We had two flats. Both front and both at over 40mph. The first was in the rain. We hit something (?) really hard, maybe a pot hole or road debri, whatever it was we knew it right away. The second one was a big rock in W.V.. I don't think what tires were on the bike really mattered they would have been shredded. I had to replace the second tire. I have no idea how many miles that was. I agree with you that larger tires do have advantages but they also have disadvantages (they look funny ).

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I can see that I am definitely in the minority regarding wider tires and that is fine. I just would like to put out there that going with the narrowest tires possible is not necessarily the best option. Especially when the weight of the wider tire is comparable or less (as is the case with a 28 Continental Gatorskin Vs a 30 Grand Bois). Then again, your results may vary. My only request is to keep an open mind.
There is nothing wrong with being in the minority. You may even be right.

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By the way Homeyba, I hope to see you for at least for the 300k that is coming up. We would be very happy if you could join us for the pre-ride on the tandem or your single. I am sure you know that you are welcome to stay at our place before and/or after the ride.
If I do the 300k on Aug 29th what would be the possibilities of catching a ride with someone from your place back up to SLO???? Do I need to look for a stoker or should I bring the single bike?
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Old 07-30-09, 03:20 PM   #25
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I can see that I am definitely in the minority regarding wider tires and that is fine. I just would like to put out there that going with the narrowest tires possible is not necessarily the best option. Especially when the weight of the wider tire is comparable or less (as is the case with a 28 Continental Gatorskin Vs a 30 Grand Bois). Then again, your results may vary. My only request is to keep an open mind.
Actually, I'm pretty sure the foldable 26mm - 30mm Grand Bois' tire offerings are 30g - 40g lighter than the wire-beaded 28mm Continental Gatorskins that you'll often see spec'd or used a lot of tandems. The foldable Gatorskins are probably on par.

Let me be the first to confess that I'm partial to narrow tires because I'm partial to the handling and road feel that I get on hard cornering with a very hard, high-psi tire with a soft tread compound. It's a cheap thrill to be sure, but I live for those moments when you find yourself diving through a corner or negotiating a series of switchbacks descending into a valley and have never been able to get comfortable with the sidewall deflection you get on a 28mm tire, never mind anything larger.

Like the earlier poster, I can't tell the difference between a 23mm Vredestein Fortezza @ 140psi and 25mm at 140 psi, but then again... that's not how I use them. The 25mm tire is only used when the roads will be crap and the 25mm at 120 - 130 psi is downright plush on less than ideal roads compared to our 23's @ 145 psi which we use exclusively on very smooth and well maintained asphalt roads. Moreover, given that we're not Randoneers and are, instead best characterized as recreational-sport touring riders, our road tandems reflect that intended use and were never intended nor built to accommodate a tire wider than 28mm in the rear triangle and currently fit forks that have a practical limit of 25mm and relatively short rake (44mm) and long steering trail (> 6.25") for a tandem.

But, then again, my wife and I are smallish, me at 5'7" (yes, I've discovered I'm getting shorter) and Debbie at 5'2" with a combined weight of under 275 lbs. Therefore, it's reasonable to assume that our needs for tires are quite different from a team that may find itself riding on chip-seal or even back country roads where even a 32mm tire on a tandem would be borderline imprudent. Likewise, if we were to balloon up to 350 lbs an equipment change would be in order... not just tires, but even a different frame. After all, our Ericksons and Calfee were designed for two smallish riders of some 280lbs.

So, at a certain level it's all relative and, frankly, if you don't find yourself leaning too far towards one discrete and specialized end of the cycling spectrum or the other where options start to become limited by design constraints, then you can enjoy a lot of flexibility in the selection of your tires. After all, a dead stock Santana, Co-Motion or Cannondale with standard wheels and cantilever brakes will allow teams to easily run anything from a 25mm tire to a 32mm tire and, in doing so, to discover what tire size and psi truly suits their preferences. As for this forum, there's just a disproportionate number of folks here in the vocal majority whose preferences run towards the sport-end of the spectrum.

Now, would you like to talk about our full-suspension off-road tandem and the pros and cons of 2.1" vs. 2.5" tires, tubes or tubeless and the size and shape of tire tread as they relate to wet and dry hard pack, sandy, loam or granite trails? Yes indeed, there will always be trade-offs and options no matter what you ride, how you ride and where you ride it... and then there are those pesky preferences and biases to deal with.

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