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Old 08-09-09, 08:06 AM   #1
bobthib
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Recommendation on a "road" tire size

Want to tap the cosmic BF universal knowledge base on a good compromise for a tandem road tire. Our bike came with some cheap Kenda 700 x 35 tires (85 psi max.) They are very comfortable but a bit slow. I put on some 700 x 25s (Specialized Armadillos) (125 pis max) but while fast, the ride is quite harsh.

What has been your experience and recommendations? In So. Fla. the roads are generally quite good (no pot holes to speak of) and no hills.

Thanks in advance for your collective wisdom. I know there is no one "right" answer, but its good to learn from other's experience.

BTW, our team is about 350 lbs (father and son) and 320 lbs (Me and wifey)

X + Y = 350, X + Z = 320. Solve for X DO NOT SOLVE for Z. Please.

Last edited by bobthib; 08-09-09 at 03:12 PM. Reason: Add team weights.
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Old 08-09-09, 09:35 AM   #2
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After a blow out many years ago I had to walk about 10 miles to get home. So I look for something different that how a tire rides.

You might want to read what the "Family on Bikes" has to say about tires. It is posted in their 26 of July entry.
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Old 08-09-09, 10:29 AM   #3
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rfutscher, thanks for the link. Looks like a great lifestyle and life education. And good advise on a great tire.

I guess I was not real clear. While I am ultimately interested in model and brand recommendations, I intended to as for recommendations on size 700 x ? based on a mix of handling, comfort, speed, etc. The stock 35's seem too wide and heavy, but 25's seem awful harsh.
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Old 08-09-09, 11:24 AM   #4
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A lot of tandem riders use Continental Gatorskins 25 or 28c because they don't get a lot of flats and they last pretty long. I find they ride a little harsh but not bad. I am trying a Vittoria Rubino Pro and it does does ride smoother, but can't comment on the durability yet.
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Old 08-09-09, 11:35 AM   #5
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AS mentioned, the Gatorskins are very good. We use both 25 and 28, but I prefer the 28's. Fewer flats and more comfort with a minimal loss in performance.

Frank and Terry
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Old 08-09-09, 02:30 PM   #6
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A lot of tandem riders use Continental Gatorskins 25 or 28c because they don't get a lot of flats and they last pretty long. I find they ride a little harsh but not bad.
The Continental Grand Prix 4-Season also comes in 25 and 28, and is more supple than the Gatorskins, but quite so robust.
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Old 08-09-09, 03:00 PM   #7
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Armadillos are known for a harsh ride, primarily because of the very stiff sidewalls from the puncture resistant Kevlar belts. This also results in relatively high rolling resistance. Gatorskins are said to be better in that regard, but I haven't tried them. Paselas are smoother riding, as are the Continentals mentioned above, and for a tandem I'd go for at least the 28 mm width unless you're a pretty light team.
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Old 08-10-09, 09:25 AM   #8
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Have been using Maxxis Re-Fuse 700x25s, foldable. 120 psi, for the past several years.
Good ride, very good flat resistance.
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 08-10-09, 09:49 AM   #9
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700x 25 Continental 4000's would work fine for your team weight. They'll have less rolling resistence than the Gatorskins, and substantially less than the Armidillo's

The ride harshness issue is largely a function of inflation. To avoid pinch flats, you'll likel need 110lbs or more of pressure in a 25mm tire. Go to a 28mm and you can drop it 10lbs, increasing your comfort, but at the price of being maybe just a tad slower.
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Old 08-10-09, 12:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by bobthib View Post
...
What has been your experience and recommendations?

...
X + Y = 350, X + Z = 320. Solve for X DO NOT SOLVE for Z. Please.
No worries, it is impossible to solve two equations for three unknowns!

I like Panaracer Pasela tires, 700x32, the non-Tourguard version because the lack of kevlar belts means that they have very low rolling resistance. On my single bike, they're definitely a faster tire than the Conti GP4 700x28's that I used to use.

For two otherwise-identical tires, a wider tire has less rolling resistance at a given pressure than a narrow one, because less deformation of the tire casing occurs as it is rolling. But of course, the narrower tire has to be pumped to a higher pressure to avoid pinch flats (thereby making the ride harsher). Higher pressure does not necessarily lower rolling resistance. Imagine riding on a solid steel "tire". Every tiny bump in the road forces the whole wheel (and bike and you) up and over the bump, absorbing energy in the process. Some of that energy is returned as you roll back down off the bump, but never quite all. By contrast, a tire just deforms around the bump, with measurably-lower energy loss (see articles in Bicycle Quarterly for details). The biggest factor determining how fast a tire rolls is how much energy is lost in the contact-area deformation. High-thread-count, low-resistance fabric (like cotton or silk) tires with thin rubber have the lowest rolling resistance (and lifetime). Thicker rubber &/or anti-flat belts increase rolling resistance. But of course, they may last longer and have fewer flats. But in 3000 miles of riding the tandem over the last year with Panaracer's we've had only one flat.
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Old 08-10-09, 08:08 PM   #11
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No worries, it is impossible to solve two equations for three unknowns!

I like Panaracer Pasela tires, 700x32, the non-Tourguard version because the lack of kevlar belts means that they have very low rolling resistance. On my single bike, they're definitely a faster tire than the Conti GP4 700x28's that I used to use.

For two otherwise-identical tires, a wider tire has less rolling resistance at a given pressure than a narrow one, because less deformation of the tire casing occurs as it is rolling. But of course, the narrower tire has to be pumped to a higher pressure to avoid pinch flats (thereby making the ride harsher). Higher pressure does not necessarily lower rolling resistance. Imagine riding on a solid steel "tire". Every tiny bump in the road forces the whole wheel (and bike and you) up and over the bump, absorbing energy in the process. Some of that energy is returned as you roll back down off the bump, but never quite all. By contrast, a tire just deforms around the bump, with measurably-lower energy loss (see articles in Bicycle Quarterly for details). The biggest factor determining how fast a tire rolls is how much energy is lost in the contact-area deformation. High-thread-count, low-resistance fabric (like cotton or silk) tires with thin rubber have the lowest rolling resistance (and lifetime). Thicker rubber &/or anti-flat belts increase rolling resistance. But of course, they may last longer and have fewer flats. But in 3000 miles of riding the tandem over the last year with Panaracer's we've had only one flat.
To all who have posted, or will continue to post, I want to thank you for sharing your knowledge. It will be invaluable in planning my next tire purchase. "Thebulls" scientific answer especially spoke to the engineer in me. Thanks, and by all means, continue to post your thoughts and opinions for posterity.
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