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Do tires with softer sidewalls affect ride or handling?

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Do tires with softer sidewalls affect ride or handling?

Old 07-18-16, 08:32 AM
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Do tires with softer sidewalls affect ride or handling?

Do you think tires with softer more pliable sidewalls affect ride or handling, with all other things being equal? In what ways?
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Old 07-18-16, 08:51 AM
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There's a range of tire pressure where pliable sidewalls are likely to make a difference in the ride. If you pump the tire up too much, it can't absorb the road shock; if you run it too low, handling gets squirrely, like when you have a slow leak. In the sweet spot, which depends on tire side and bike load, a tire with pliable sidewalls will be much more comfortable on roads that aren't freshly paved.
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Old 07-18-16, 08:56 AM
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Yes, generally it will give a more supple ride and the tire can conform to the road better giving more traction. Also it can make the tire roll faster since it can roll over deviations in the road rather than slamming (for lack of a better term) into every little irregularity slowing the speed and even then it is a very, very small improvement over something with slightly stiffer sidewalls.That is of course all other things of the tire being equal. Pliable sidewalls are only part of the equation and by themselves don't make a tire always better than one that may have slightly stiffer sidewalls but has other qualities.
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Old 07-18-16, 04:47 PM
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Of course they will....
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Old 07-19-16, 01:10 PM
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Jan Heine (who runs Compass Tires and Bicycle Quarterly) makes a big deal out of sidewall flexibility. According to his opinions and testing, supple sidewalls do make a difference to rolling resistance.

I own a pair of Compass tires and subjectively can say that they do roll very nicely but also get squirrely at very low pressure (ie. below normal low pressure - more like slow leak but you're hoping to make it home without pumping type pressure).

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Old 07-19-16, 02:59 PM
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Racers on fancy tubulars also liked supple sidewalls since forever. Everyone with fancy bikes has always liked supple sidewalls. Jan's point was more that you can't just have a fat tire and expect superior comfort, or that a skinny tire goes faster, like some other people say. It still needs to be a high quality skinwall, and not a cheap thick rubberwall cruiser tire.
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Old 07-19-16, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by 2lo8
Jan's point was more that you can't just have a fat tire and expect superior comfort, or that a skinny tire goes faster, like some other people say. It still needs to be a high quality skinwall, and not a cheap thick rubberwall cruiser tire.
I don't think he's even considering 'cheap thick rubberwall cruiser' tires. His comparisons have always been with other good quality and well regarded tires, including tires made by Panaracer who also make his branded tires (eg. Panaracer Nifty Swiftys, which apparently have high rolling resistance, due to their rather stiff sidewalls).
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Old 07-19-16, 03:40 PM
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There are other advocates of fat tires that say just having fat tires is good enough, possibly including the seller of the poor rolling Nifty Swifties you mentioned. Even though that guy and Jan often superficially seem to be hawking similar things, they really aren't sometimes.

Supple sidewalls are only a Jan issue in as much as supple sidewalls apply to fat tires.
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Old 07-19-16, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by flanso
Do you think tires with softer more pliable sidewalls affect ride or handling, with all other things being equal? In what ways?
They provide less rolling resistance and more comfortable ride at the same level of "deformation". That is: if you take two tyres of the same width, pump them to a pressure that makes them "drop" about 15% when you load the bike, the softer, more pliable tyre will roll faster, be more comfortable and probably provide better grip with similar rubber compound on the contact side of the tyre.
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