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Old 03-29-14, 08:35 AM   #1
MAK
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Gatorskin question

I'm replacing the tires on a 520 that I just bought used and I'm considering the Conti Gatorskin or Gator Hardshell. Most of my riding will be on pavement (90%) with some packed trails and some gravel. I do plan to do a 400 mile ride that is largely on crushed packed limestone. I'm looking at inn to inn touring and perhaps some fully loaded tours in the future. FYI, I'm about 220 lbs. I know that there are a lot of good tires out there but puncture resistance is a key priority. I'd also prefer folding beads. Are 700x32s a good fit for my needs? I know that Contis run narrow so 32s are probably 30s. Is that a problem? I currently run Conti 4000s tires on my road bike and I love them so I'm leaning heavily towards the Contis. I look forward to hearing from the experienced riders. Thank you.
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Old 03-29-14, 08:52 AM   #2
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MAK, I tend to buy Continental tires and recently mounted some 32 mm Touring Plus tires on my primary T bike. I'd have no qualms using them, or the Gatorskins on a groomed trail.

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Old 03-29-14, 10:28 AM   #3
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I've had good luck with gatorskins on a variety of surfaces. They do run narrow, but I never considered that a problem.
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Old 03-29-14, 10:34 AM   #4
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Gatorskin question

I run regular Gatorskins as fair weather commuter tires and Hardshells on tours for the extra sidewall protection. The difference in ride feel is negligible in my opinion.
28's pumped hard gives me the rough hard feel I prefer. On gravel or chipseal 32's may be better.
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Old 03-29-14, 10:37 AM   #5
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Continental Travel Contact is a gator skin sidewall 622-37 wide tire design they intended for adventure touring.

I had their 559-47 , 26" version ..fine tire .. even when the pavement ends.

for unpaved roads a knobby fringe flanks an easy rolling durable slick center band.

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-29-14 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 03-29-14, 12:11 PM   #6
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My wife and I have used Continental Gatorskins almost exclusively for the last 12 years. During those 12 years we have covered about 14,000 miles of loaded touring. We've used everything from 25 mm for some lightly loaded trips to 32 mm for a loaded tour across British Columbia, and a portion of Alberta last summer. We used the 28 mm Ultra Gatorskins for a ride across the U.S. We rode them in a variety of road conditions: gravel, "Iowa frost cracks", and some plain bad roads.

I switched to 32 mm Schwalbe Marathons for a 3 month tour a few years ago, because 32 mm Gatorskins were not available in the U.S. at that time. As soon as the 32 MM became available, I switched. The Schwalbe Marathons are really heavy. Where I might consider using the Scwhalbe tires again is if I thought I'd be on a lot of crushed stone bike trails. The more aggressive tread of the Marathon tires seem to have better traction in those conditions.

IMO- The 32 mm Gatorskin is a good compromise between weight, durability and comfort.
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Old 03-29-14, 12:36 PM   #7
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I agree with Doug and other posters regarding the 32mm Gatorskins.

I've enjoyed Gatorskins on my around town light bike but always avoided them for loaded touring thinking them to be too narrow and flimsy. That all changed when they started making them in 700x32. I used a set on a 2 week trip from NH to VA and really enjoyed their lively feel. I had just given an early retirement to a heavy new set of Schwalbe tires in the same size and the Gatorskins made me smile again. They measure exactly 32mm at the widest spot, the Schwalbe 32's look a bit wider.

My trip involved several gravel/dirt bike paths and 15 miles of the C&O into DC. I felt confident on the paths but if I were embarking on a 400 mile un-paved trip as you are planning I might choose a wider model as suggested by fietsbob. You may find the 32's a bit bouncy and harsh for 400 miles unless it's really smooth limestone. They're fine for paved roads and short stretches of dirt or construction zones. I weigh 165#. Your 220# may require more width.
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Old 03-30-14, 04:12 AM   #8
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Gatorskin question

The only tour I had Marathon Plus's was in the SoCal deserts where goatskins and other desert nasties were a concern. Bombproof slow 'n heavy tractor tires, but the puncture protection is unequalled as far as I know.
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Old 03-30-14, 04:53 AM   #9
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I've toured on Gatorskins - Prague to Copenhagen in 2012 - and they were great... but for the sidewalls. I lost half a day riding around Gust÷w looking for a shop that would sell me a 32c (or smaller) tire.
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Old 03-30-14, 05:54 AM   #10
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I have been riding the Travel Contacts for several months now. While they haven't been load tested as yet I do ride on fire trails with them. The puncture resistance has been out standing. I to gave up on Schawabe tires. They are bombproof but ride like a tractor tire. I like the travel contacts because they have nobs on the outer edge and they really help in mud snow and packed sand.
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Old 03-30-14, 07:04 PM   #11
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I have used Gators for a few years. I just recently replaced them with a set of 700 x 32 Vitoria Voyager Hyper. These tires roll very well, have great ride quality and have puncture protection. They will be my tire of choice now.
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Old 03-30-14, 08:17 PM   #12
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Hello Mak,

I run conti gators on my spec roubaix, 700x25 with liners. A few months ago I bought a new surly, it came with conti contact 700x37, I put liners on the tires also. Although I love my gators on my road bike on a touring bike I'm not sure about the lack of tread on gators you might run into with some of the roads you plan to ride. But I have no direct experience.

I do have over 1,000 miles on my new surly LHT with about 600 loaded touring miles. For me tires with liners are a must as I hate flats like anyone else. I've hosted a lot of touring cyclists that have toured the world and they typically swear by Schwalbe Marathon tires of some type....but some of them literally carry the kitchen sink on their bikes...well you understand what I mean. Imagine a 100 pound touring bike, yes I've hosted several cyclists from Europe like that.

Once I wear out my conti contacts on my new surly I'll have to decide which route to go but so far they have been fine. Might just stay with them.
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Old 03-31-14, 07:20 AM   #13
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I consider gatorskins more intended for fast riding than for loaded touring where you may encounter all kinds of road surfaces. I like to run a wider tire that has tread like the conti contact or vittorio randonneur.
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Old 03-31-14, 10:18 AM   #14
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My experience with Gatorskins is quite different than most I've seen. I'm a long-distant commuter and weekend tourer, so most of my miles are on city streets.
I was always a fan of my Specialized Armadillo tire (singular because I only use on the rear -- I've only once had a front flat). In 2008, I got a new Fuji Touring and the bike shop didn't sell Armadillos. However, they had Gatorskins so I upgraded to them. I averaged 1 to 2 flats a month, on them. Eventually, I switched out the rear one for an Armadillo and the flat streak ended.
Lots of folks love their Gatorskins, so you may have better luck with them.

My Fuji Touring died in an accident a few years ago. My current ride is a Jamis Aurora Elite and it came with Vittoria Randonneur Pros. I was fully prepared for needing to invest in an Armadillo, but these have performed perfectly.
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Old 04-02-14, 07:59 PM   #15
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I used to run Gatorskins and thought they were great. Then I got a bike with stock Vittoria Hypers on it. Now I know what a great tire really is. Graduate to Vittoria. They have a significantly better ride quality, are a little faster and are more durable. I do suggest you get advice from folks that have ridden many tires though to see what they say. Also if you search the forum for best or favorite tires you hill get a much more varied answer.
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