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  1. #1
    Guadzilla JayC's Avatar
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    Tires..... again

    Ive gone through about 8 pages of old threads looking for opinions and didnt really find a whole lot so I thought Id start a new thread and get some current advice.

    We have a Cannondale Road 3 that came with Conti Gatorskins. One thing Ive noticed since we got this bike (We're both pretty strong riders) is that this bike is SLOW. We both have to kill ourselves on the tandem to even get close to what we can do on our singles.

    This got me to thinking yesterday about my one and only experience with Armadillos on my single. I put a set on my single bike, went out and rode 10 miles and felt like someone had tossed an anchor out behind me. Im starting to wonder if the rolling resistance of the Gatorskins is whats causing our tandem to feel like we're riding in quicksand.

    We ride on crappy roads. Theyre not heavy with debris, they're just old and we're a pretty heavy team. I weigh in around 270 and my stoker is around 190. We both ride Conti Attack Force tires on our singles although Ive dabbled with 4000S's, Pro Race 2s and some other tires. Flats have never been an issue for us.

    So.. can anyone recommend a tire that has less rolling resistance than the Gatorskins but still have some puncture resistance? Id even be willing to go up in size provided it will fit in the frame. The Cannondale has a pretty beefy fork so I dont think getting a larger tire in would be that tough.

  2. #2
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    We've always had good luck with the GP 4000 (either S or non-S) in 700x25 (feels more solid in the corners than 23s).

    Also make sure your disc brakes are not rubbing.

  3. #3
    Guadzilla JayC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uspspro View Post
    We've always had good luck with the GP 4000 (either S or non-S) in 700x25 (feels more solid in the corners than 23s).

    Also make sure your disc brakes are not rubbing.
    The brakes seem to be okay. I give the wheels a spin before we take off and adjust the caliper distance if there is any rubbing.

    I guess we could give the 25s a try. That worries me a little with our weight but I really believe those tires are killing us given the weight we're pushing and the condition of the roads.

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    Friends of ours ride a Co-Motion and recently switched from 28mm Gatorskins to the Conti 4seasons in 700x28 and claim less rolling resistance and better ride feel due to the high thread count.

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    I am running 700 X 28 Continental Ultra Gatorskin on my Co-Motion and 2 weeks ago when we road with 8 other tandems I was braking on the downhills to keep from running them over. I have some nice wheels on my Co-Motion and the wheels make a huge difference on rolling efficiency.

  6. #6
    Guadzilla JayC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CoMotionRider View Post
    I am running 700 X 28 Continental Ultra Gatorskin on my Co-Motion and 2 weeks ago when we road with 8 other tandems I was braking on the downhills to keep from running them over. I have some nice wheels on my Co-Motion and the wheels make a huge difference on rolling efficiency.
    Whats your weight like compared to the other teams? We fly downhill.. it just on flats we feel like we are working our butts off to really not go anywhere. My single feels that way when Im on a really crappy road. The tandem feels that way all the time unless youre on super new, smooth black top.

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    We have always found the Gatorskins to be good for rolling resistance. I don't think you will find anything significantly better.
    Are you saying that the speed you average on a flat ride is slower on the tandem than what you could both do on singles? It certainly shouldn't be, but I can't see how it could be because of the Conti's.

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    Bizarre... even with 32mm touring tires, our tandem is quite a bit faster than a single on the flats.

    Also, I second the recommendation for 25mm GP4000S.
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

  9. #9
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayC View Post
    We ride on crappy roads. Theyre not heavy with debris, they're just old and we're a pretty heavy team.
    Are you riding on chip-seal or some other type of road surface that's less than smooth? If so, what PSI are you running?

    Have you experimented by letting a little air out of the tires during a ride to see if you can smooth out the road feel? Or, conversely, increasing your tire pressure by 10 to 15 psi over normal to see how that might effect road feel?

    I only ask because we tend to run very high PSI tires since we typically ride on very smooth roads. However, the minute we hit chip seal we experience the same massive increase in rolling resistance that comes from having a tire that's trying to ride up and over all those bumps instead of comforming to it.

    Not knowing where you live, my gut tells me that you may do better to ride on 32mm or even 35mm tires at something like 80 PSI if you spend most of your time riding on 'rugged roads'.

    Again, more details regarding the road, any experimentation you've done with different tire pressures, etc. would help.

  10. #10
    Guadzilla JayC's Avatar
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    The roads arent chip seal thankfully. Just asphalt thats out in the country and well used.

    We run the Gatorskins right at 120 PSI. I figured given our weight we needed to keep them at the max pressure. I could try dropping them back some and see if its any better. But yea, the tandem just beats us both down. Ride a century on the singles? No problem. Even as out of shape as I am right now, I wouldnt hesitate to go out and ride a century. 35 miles on the tandem and we're both ready to get off.

    The issue with the tandem is we both feel like we're killing ourselves and going considerably slower. Its been that way since we've had this thing and one of the reasons we havent ridden it more than we have. Its just slow and not as much fun as the singles which kind of stinks because we do enjoy the time together on the tandem.

  11. #11
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    If you aren't predisposed to dropping $100 to experiment with a set of some larger volume tires like the Jack Browns , you could do a short experiment by riding your C'dale's Gatorskins inflated to something like 105 psi in back and 100 up front for a test ride. Just do your best to avoid the obvious snake-bite hazards just to see if there's any difference in road feel.

    This is probably the best bet since I'm not sure how wide the bead seat in on the rims that came fitted to your C'dale R3. I would think they should be wide enough for a 32/33mm tire, and if it has cantilever brakes then you should have more than enough tire clearance. Ultimately, the larger volume and lower PSI tires are what 'should' give you a much improved ride without putting you at risk of a pinch flat short of nailing a train rail or some other type of road hazard.

  12. #12
    Tandem Vincitur Ritterview's Avatar
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    We looove our Conti GP4000S 25 mm tires. They are light, supple, have low rolling resistance, and with its VectranBreaker belt (the yellow), it has pretty good flat resistance. We haven't had a flat yet, since we got them last fall.



    However, our team weighs 295 lbs, and if we were a lot more it might be a different story. Neither are our roads particularly rough. So 25 mm GP4000 may be too light for you, and they don't make a 28. The 25 mm weighs 230 grams.

    You could try using the GP4000S 25 mm, and if it doesn't work out on your tandem it would be great on one of your half-bikes.

    The do-everything tire is the Grand Prix 4-Season, of which there is a 28 mm version. It has a double VectranBreaker belt. The 25 and 28 mm weigh 240 and 260 grams respectively. These would be a nice improvement from the Gatorskin.



  13. #13
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    Could this possibly be a fit issue and not really tire related?

    Just a thought..................

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    +1 on the Continental GP4000S in 25mm. We switched to these last year since we had such good experiences with them on our singles. Over 1000 miles and they hardly look worn. Great handling tire. No flats so far,actually my wife and I have ridden over 8000 miles without a single flat on Continental GP4000 and GP4000S on our singles . We ride very bad roads too.

    Our combined weight is just under 300lbs.
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  15. #15
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    JayC; you never mentioned the size tires you presently have on the tandem. With your team's wieght; you need some thing in the 32mm width range. The teams that are less than 300lbs can get away with the skinny tires; 450+lbs is a whole different ball game.

  16. #16
    Senior Member wheelspeed's Avatar
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    I wasn't going to respond because I haven't tried many tires, but then I saw that you're using 700x28 Gatorskins at only 120psi with a 460# team. I agree with nfmisso that this seems too low. My wife and I come to about 320#, and the tire-pressure suggestion graphs I found suggested that we use 700x28 at about 130psi. (!) I've since tried lower pressures and settled on 120psi each. It seems nice enough to me... certainly feels as good as when I ride my single.

    EDIT- I realize I should elaborate on "certainly feels as good as when I ride my single", I mean, the tires seem to feel as good as on my single. My stoker isn't as avid a rider as I, so on short rides we can use all our energy, and the tandem feels fine going up hills on these rides. On longer rides, I remind her often to save some for the later hills, or "it's a long ride", etc. She eases up, which is good, but it puts a little more effort on me so we use a bit easier gears. The bike feels as I'd expect for the two of us to mix our abilities and get it up a hill.
    Last edited by wheelspeed; 06-18-11 at 06:33 AM.

  17. #17
    Tandem Vincitur Ritterview's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelspeed View Post
    ...the tire-pressure suggestion graphs I found...
    Here is an example, from Bicycle Quarterly.

    Optimizing Your Tire Pressure for Your Weight



    Quote Originally Posted by Caption in Bicycle Quarterly
    Tire inflation for 15% wheel drop in relation to wheel load and actual tire width.

    Example: Rider and bike weight: 100 kg. Weight distribution: 45%/55%. Wheel loads: 45 kg/55 kg. Tire pressures for 20 mm tires: 125 psi/155 psi. Tire pressures for 37 mm tires: 45 psi/53 psi.

    For heavy riders/bikes, narrow tires require very high inflation pressures, and wide tires are a better choice...
    Assuming a 50/50 distribution for your 270/190, 460 lb. team = 230 lbs. per wheel. This graph only extends up to 154 lbs. per wheel. It seems safe to say, however, if this article has any merit, and you wish to have your tire pressure within the manufacturer's recommendation, that the choice isn't between 25 and 28 mm, but between 28 and 32 mm.

    Here are unsourced formulas from a post on the BF:
    Quote Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
    Use the following formulas to determine proper tire pressure as a function of rider weight and tire section:

    Tire Width=20: Pressure(psi) = (0.33 * Rider Weight in lbs) + 63.33
    Tire Width=23: Pressure(psi) = (0.33 * Rider Weight in lbs) + 53.33
    Tire Width=25: Pressure(psi) = (0.33 * Rider Weight in lbs) + 43.33
    Tire Width=28: Pressure(psi) = (0.33 * Rider Weight in lbs) + 33.33
    Tire Width=32: Pressure(psi) = (0.17 * Rider Weight in lbs) + 41.67
    Tire Width=37: Pressure(psi) = (0.17 * Rider Weight in lbs) + 26.67
    Front Pressure = .9*Rear Pressure

    For example, the OP weighs 185 lbs and uses 23mm wide tires, so Rear Tire Pressure = 0.33 x 185 + 53.33 = 114 psi. Front Tire Pressure = 0.9 x 114 = 103 psi.
    This works out for the 460 lb tandem team as:

    25 mm 195 psi
    28 mm 185 psi
    32 mm 120 psi
    Last edited by Ritterview; 06-13-11 at 11:06 PM.

  18. #18
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    We are a 305 lb. team. We tried Gatorskins and also thought they were really slow. We also think that Conti 4000s in 25c are very fast and reasonably durable tires, better than most. However! At 460 lbs., your experience with tires will be different than ours. I'm not real big on exceeding the pressure that's written on the tire. I'm also not real big on exceeding the max tire pressure suggested by the rim manufacturer for a particular tire width. Perhaps others can comment on their adventures in this regard. We've never had to do that.

    28c Gatorskins have a max pressure of 116 lbs. Very few 28c tires have a recommendation this high or higher. The only other high pressure 28c tire I've used is the Vittoria Rubino Pro Tech which has a max of 115 in 28c. It's not a terribly fast tire, but decent.

  19. #19
    PMK
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    Not to sound like a Mr Smarty Pants, if it is tire or pressure related, are you confident in the accuracy of the gage when inflating to 120psi?

    In other words, is it possible the gage reads higher than actual pressure.

    Another thing I notice is that if the spokes are not tight, not so much real loose, but just low on tension the bike feels dead.

    We are no where near as light as many posting here, but round off close to 350 currently. Our roads are mostly smooth, but some do have a bit of wear and much exposed grain to the asphalt. Some roads do feel fast and others feel slow. The gadgets tend to back this up when comparing MPH vs HR.

    !20 psi rear, 115 psi front, UltraGatorskins in 28.

    The bike fit comment could be considered, also, on some rides I have a stoker that is peddaling, but not killing it to "keep up", not saying she is not pedaling, but sometimes the scenery is more important. As she states, "no lying now" with her HR playing on my bars.

    I doubt I have the answer, just some other ideas.

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  20. #20
    Guadzilla JayC's Avatar
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    Great stuff here.....

    My stoker puts in the work. I know she isnt back there phoning it in. I can feel when she's taking a rest and thats not very often.

    Fit is an interesting point. What we did on fit is have the guy from the bike shop who fit us on our singles fit us on the tandem. I am convinced my fit is somewhat off. I dont feel great on the bike and am exhausted in the upper body after 30 miles. Supposedly the cockpit measures the same as my Pinarello but I just dont see it. I was thinking we needed to take the bike to a tandem-centric shop and have them fit us on it. It doesnt help that we're both around 6 feet tall.. thats also made finding a tandem we can both fit on tough.

    As far as tire width, we have disc brakes on the Cannondale so brake clearance isnt an issue at all. I just dont know how wide the rims are and what they can accommodate. At this point tho, Im willing to try about anything. We both ride 23s on our singles and flats have never been an issue for either of us.

  21. #21
    Guadzilla JayC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PMK View Post
    Not to sound like a Mr Smarty Pants, if it is tire or pressure related, are you confident in the accuracy of the gage when inflating to 120psi?

    In other words, is it possible the gage reads higher than actual pressure.
    I dont think so. Im using a Joe Blow Pro pump and its pretty much the only one I have left that is accurate. I have 2 Air Tower 5s that the gauges have both broken on and I also have a Joe Blow Sport that the gauge is broken on. Im reasonably confident that the JBP is right.

  22. #22
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    IMHO -- either your partner is loafing, or you aren't getting your efforts synchronized well.

    Now I have very little experience riding with adult stokers, but what riding I have done with them has gone well. Steady effort is the key on a tandem. If you're frequently going into your "red zone" to charge up a hill or close a gap, you're probably going to suffer a lot, because the tandem responds only about half as much to your anaerobic efforts as a single would. So you burn up all your matches and don't really have anything to show for it.

    BUT -- if you can keep a steady sub-maximal effort going, you can cruise at 20 mph into a headwind for hours...
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

  23. #23
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Cadence can also play a very bid role. On my single I'm never under 90, but my wife's "power" (mine as well - we're both seniors) diminishes rapidly above 90, so I'm frequently pedaling at a lower than natural cadence. We'll start to spin out, I'll shift and find myself straining a bit in the next higher gear so I've either got to try a different chain ring or accept going slightly slower in the prior gear. And those last 50 yards at the top of a small hill where you just grunt a bit or stand on your single; well, until you're really communicating well the only one doing the grunting is the captain and standing takes some practice. Doing that 20 times on rollers does take a toll.

    Doesn't seem like much, but it can wear one or both of you out very easily in 20-30 miles
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    Wondering why no-one has mentioned the Schwalbe Stelvios. Roll pretty good, fairly puncture resistant. So I'll throw them out there.

    Personally I find the 700X28mm gatorskins the best all round tire for tandems, although there is a trade off between suppleness and toughness.

    I'm with the guys who think comfort is affecting performance. If you start with your road position you often will go up 1-2cm and use a 1cm shorter stem and improve comfort. You need to be extra comfy on the tandem because it's harder to get up and move around.

  25. #25
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Ritterview put up a very useful post that illustrates the tire pressure problem for tandems, which is that tires and rims are only designed for so much circumferential pressure in the case of tires, and so much lateral pressure in the case of rims. If you look at the 143 lb./wheel value in the BQ chart, you'll see that line pretty much intersects the highest recommended inflation pressure for the very best tires of each width.

    Here's Mavic's chart of maximum tire pressures for each tire width:
    http://www.mavic.com/sites/default/f...echart_eng.pdf
    From their chart:
    23c = 138 lbs.
    25c = 131
    28c = 117
    32c = 103

    One can exceed these rim pressures, but they'll bow out sooner from brake track wear. I don't know of a 32c tire with a max pressure of over 100 lbs. Also, wide tires with high pressure ratings are usually slow, because they have heavy casings. Your C'dale probably came with 19mm wide rims. You shouldn't fit tires over 28c on such rims. If you want to go wider, put on 24mm rims, Velocity Dyads being popular for tandems.

    However IMO, the what-tire-to-run problem is a separate problem from the why-does-our-tandem-feel-slow problem. Your bike will feel and get faster with more practice. It's the tiny differences in pedaling style between captain and stoker that have by far the largest effect. That's what makes your legs feel tired and the bike feel slow. What makes your arms and shoulders feel tired is not fit, it's that you're working too hard to control the bike. All that gets better with team practice. Our team has mostly given up riding our singles in favor of riding the tandem. This has made a huge difference in our speed and endurance as a team. Different teams will have different results, depending on how easily the team synchs up. We solve the effort difference between captain and stoker by both wearing coded HRMs so we can keep our HRs synched up, too. That makes a big difference over a long day, both in speed and emotional climate, as one team member doesn't get more tired than the other.

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