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  1. #1
    Junior Member Biker Bob's Avatar
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    Tires: wide/narrow slick/tread?

    Hi,

    My Fuji Touring came with 700x30 slicks and I have done a couple of trips with them and think they are fantastic for touring, yes, even on dirt roads. Lately I have been commuting on 700x28 tires by rationalising that the lighter load I carrry when commuting can be handled by a smaller and higher pressure tire with less rolling resistance. So far so good. So, if this is working for me, why are "touring" tires so darn wide and covered in treads? Am I just lucky that my tires haven't gone flat and my rims buckled, or is it just tradition to use a a wider treaded tire? Thoughts? Experiences?

    Thanks,

    -BB.

  2. #2
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biker Bob
    Hi,

    My Fuji Touring came with 700x30 slicks and I have done a couple of trips with them and think they are fantastic for touring, yes, even on dirt roads. Lately I have been commuting on 700x28 tires by rationalising that the lighter load I carrry when commuting can be handled by a smaller and higher pressure tire with less rolling resistance. So far so good. So, if this is working for me, why are "touring" tires so darn wide and covered in treads? Am I just lucky that my tires haven't gone flat and my rims buckled, or is it just tradition to use a a wider treaded tire? Thoughts? Experiences?

    Thanks,

    -BB.
    More volume, smoother ride. You are already traveling at a pretty slow speed while loaded so why not opt for comfort instead of speed?
    Stuart Black
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  3. #3
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    More volume, smoother ride. You are already traveling at a pretty slow speed while loaded so why not opt for comfort instead of speed?
    So why the tread? At what width do treads on road bike tires start to become useful?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Rogerinchrist's Avatar
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    I really used to enjoy my high pressure Continental slicks at 700 x 28 & 120 lbs, but wanted a bit more comfort and gravel road stability. So I am currently on Schwalbe Marathons 700 x 32, the biggest that I can get under the fenders of my Trek 520. Very Smooth! Took about 500 miles to stop looking down at the rear tire to see if it was going flat, it just rides that nice! Yes it's lower pressure, but 85 lbs is still enough to carry a heavy load. Another interesting thing about the Marathons that is discussed in other threads is that even though it is 32c wide (or wider), it sort of rises up in the center to leave less tread contacting the pavement for less rolling resistance. Yet it also has a wider shoulder for when you are off pavement. I must say, for me the Schwalbe Marathons are "fast" enough, plus they are the most stable tire dry, wet, on road, or off that I've riden on 700c rims.

  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfspeed
    So why the tread? At what width do treads on road bike tires start to become useful?
    I think it's a hold over from cars. People get kinda wiggy when they see a bald tire. Me included. Probably something our pappys taught us.
    Stuart Black
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    Slicks are great, never had any problems with them, other than the obvious fact they will skid out under some condition, but on the road, that condition Would have to be something like Stuart Black like downhill speeds, in the rain. Normaly the more rubber for road contact, the better.

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    A lot of tourists take their bike on tracks and trails and a little tread can be useful. I find that with a hostel-touring load, my Conti Top Touring 32mm can tackle any mountain trail I care to ride.

  8. #8
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    I use 32mm Specialized Nimbus EX. The threads are so shallow you might call them slicks. 100psi. I like them.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  9. #9
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    Slicks are great, never had any problems with them, other than the obvious fact they will skid out under some condition, but on the road, that condition Would have to be something like Stuart Black like downhill speeds, in the rain. Normaly the more rubber for road contact, the better.
    What, sir, are you implying? Ummmm...kinetic energy.
    Stuart Black
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    This summer, I went to other way... from 700 x 28 to 700 x 35. My trip included many bad dirt road, loads of 'sand dust' trails and a some paved roads. My partner who drove with a very light load fell twice with her 700 x 32 treadless tires while I was usually able to escape those losse gravel patches with my very heavy bike equiped with treaded 700 x 35 tires.

    My Marathon XR were slow on paved roads but not so much that I would want to change for something else. My partner was not a very fast cyclist anyway so I opted for comfort. So far I have made about 3000 km on a variety of surface (including singletrack) without much problem. I really like the idea of being able to ride my bike wherever I want.

    P.S. It is also interesting to note that I broke my distance record on those big knobby tires this summer...

  11. #11
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    Tread of any sort is useless on ashphalt. People, however, balk at baldness. The wee bit of tread on most road tyres certainly doesn't hurt.

    I'm not convinced that narrow tyres make for a significantly faster ride on a loaded tourer. I used 37cc conti top touring tyres for a 4000km tour and over 1000km of training this summer, and found they smoothed out the ride on my famously-rigid cdale t800. They are more round than flat, and don't seem to have a much greater surface of road contact compared to my friend's 32cc's. One difference: He had over ten flats on the tour, and I had zero in the entire 5000kms.

    I was extremely pleased with the tyres, contrary to some negative opinions in this forum.

  12. #12
    Junior Member Biker Bob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by klaas
    Tread of any sort is useless on ashphalt. People, however, balk at baldness. The wee bit of tread on most road tyres certainly doesn't hurt.

    ... I used 37cc conti top touring tyres for a 4000km tour and over 1000km of training this summer ...
    So, if treads aren't really necessary, a conclusion I have come to as well, does anyone make a nice fat slick tire? I've eyed the Top Touring tires at my local shop and they are certainly not treadless, not anywhere!

    -BB.

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    Specialized Nimbus Armadillos have some very small grooves in them but are otherwise slicks. They come in a 700x38 size. I use the 26" x 1.5" version on my commuter and they've been great for that purpose (0 flats in the 1500 miles so far this year). Plus you come put up to 100 psi in them.

  14. #14
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biker Bob
    So, if treads aren't really necessary, a conclusion I have come to as well, does anyone make a nice fat slick tire? I've eyed the Top Touring tires at my local shop and they are certainly not treadless, not anywhere!

    -BB.
    We have Schwalbe Marathon slicks, 700x35mm (622 37) on the tandem. (There are slick and treaded versions of the Marathon.) Ride great, no tread to speak of. Ordered them from Schwalbe's US website. Sizing's a little odd. They're actually 37mm wide.

  15. #15
    Junior Member Biker Bob's Avatar
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    Looks like I will have to start educating my local shop that touring doesn't mean treads and that slicks can be wider than 23s!

    -BB.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    I think it's a hold over from cars. People get kinda wiggy when they see a bald tire. Me included. Probably something our pappys taught us.
    I believe that is correct. If I recall correctly, Sheldon Brown wrote an article to that effect. Treads on car tires serve the primary purpose on paved roads of pushing water out of the way. With their relatively huge contact patch, road tires cannot push water out of the way fast enough, resulting in a tendency to hyroplane at speeds above 50 mph. Indy 500-type race cars, for example, use slicks, but switch to treaded tires when it rains.

    Bicycle tires, on the other hand, have a small contact patch and don't have any trouble pushing water out of the way. Conversely, slicks may provide greater traction because the smooth surface conforms to the natural imperfections in the road pavement to grip the road when a lateral force is applied, as in a turn. Treads become necessary, though, when riding on loose dirt or mud.

    Psychologically, most folks believe that if car tires have treads, they want to see treads on their bike tires as well.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    Specialized Nimbus Armadillos have some very small grooves in them but are otherwise slicks. They come in a 700x38 size. I use the 26" x 1.5" version on my commuter and they've been great for that purpose (0 flats in the 1500 miles so far this year). Plus you come put up to 100 psi in them.
    I have the 700 x 38 Armadillos on my 520 and they are indestructible. They ride well, seem to cruise along pretty efficiently and have great traction on dirt roads, which is why I put them on. The only drawback is that the large size slows the steering a bit - stable would be an understatement for this bike. I will be replacing them with Conti Top Tour 700 x 32 next time around since I am no longer riding dirt as much.
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  18. #18
    Bag it baby
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    I agree.... armadillos are the only way to go for touring tires.... they can stop a bullet.

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    Narrow/Wide?

    Medium wide - Most road bikes these days don't like tires wider than 25 mm and a lot don't like them wider than 23 mm. On the bikes that will handle it I like 28 mm and since I used these on a tandem with almost 400 lbs of people without problems I don't see the need for anything larger.

    Slick/Tread?

    Where are you riding? On paved roads ALWAYS use slicks. I can ride them on unimproved roads as well but you have to remember that your brakes will work poorly except on real pavement. On really steep and slippery downhills you must walk your bike. Or else keep the phone number of your dentist handy.

    If you ride on gravel/dirt roads a lot then opt for a tread such as http://www.biketiresdirect.com/produ...il.asp?p=VRCAM

    This gives you the ability to stop when the brakes are applied.

    Remember that slicks corner better on pavement and universal tires corner better off pavement. If you are really pulling up off-road hills you must have a universal tread as well.

    Too bad that I don't know any manufacturers that are selling tires with a good univeral tread but the Vredestein I cited is pretty good.

  20. #20
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    My Schwalbe Marathons 700x37 suffered a radical failure in the outside bias ply. The tire had a significant diagonal lump. The tire was about 1500 KM old at the time, and the minor groove pattern visible on the slick had been worn away. I can't pin down exactly what happened, but there might have been a rock impact involved, however nothing sunbstantial enough to harm the wheel. Even with this damage, the tire probably would have finished out the last 100 K, I got about 60 out of it, then took a brake and swaped in a cheapo I picked up on route.

    Not sure what to make of this, but I will probably try some other tires in the future. The Schwalbe handled road conditions, and about 100K of smooth dirt, so I sure felt I was on to something.

    Only one puncture in the 1600K, and there was a fair bit of visible glass through the tour. The puncture was nasty, and left a 2-3 mm slit in the tire, however it was on the opposite side to the lump so I don't believe it is implicated.

  21. #21
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Just received my set of Marathons (26x1.5) today from Nashbar, among other items. I'm anxious to try them out......sooo....my next short, 3-day SoCal coastal tour is in the works already...
    Last edited by roadfix; 09-26-05 at 10:34 PM.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Rogerinchrist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    My Schwalbe Marathons 700x37 suffered a radical failure in the outside bias ply. The tire had a significant diagonal lump. The tire was about 1500 KM old at the time, and the minor groove pattern visible on the slick had been worn away. I can't pin down exactly what happened, but there might have been a rock impact involved, however nothing sunbstantial enough to harm the wheel. Even with this damage, the tire probably would have finished out the last 100 K, I got about 60 out of it, then took a brake and swaped in a cheapo I picked up on route.
    2 things;
    First, This is the first time I've read of anything close to tire failure with a Schwalbe that could be anywhere near the tire's fault.
    Second, I'd contact Schwalbe see what they say or what they might do for you.

    Let us know if you do, or how it works out.

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    Thanks, I probably won't go to Schwalbe since I am still at the destination for my tour, and will have to lug rather a lot of gear onto the train etc...

    The only thing I can think of that would have damaged the tire, out of the ordinary, was I did hit a rock about the size of an axe head, partially sticking up in the path. It wasn't all that big a wack, but something I would have avoided if I could. The problem didn't show up till later, when at first I thought I had some tar on my tread, and examined it to find the surface of the tire itself was distorted, so I don't know what caused the tire to go off like that.

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