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Tire questions - 800 choices

Old 11-20-23, 08:35 PM
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Tire questions - 800 choices

So I went to a bike parts site, looked at 26" tires for my bike and found over 800 different tires. This blew me away because 26" isn't even cool anymore.


So I put together some tire choice related questions. if you have any wisdom, do feel free to chime in. I'm not necessarily interested in specific choices - more interested in the selection process.


1. Do you get what you pay for? Is a more expensive tire typically better? How much better? How do you know? How does the mileage you will get out of a tire relate to the initial price?

2. What percentage of those tires are really good? What percentage are crap?

3. What attributes make the biggest difference in tire performance? How many riders notice these differences?

4. Do tires react differently on different wheels, bikes, or riders? I mean many would put a sketchy tire on a loose wonky wheel and a good tire on a good wheel, right?

5. What is the right amount to spend on a tire?

6. How can you narrow a selection of 800 down to a reasonable number and make an informed choice? Why are there so many options?


For reference, my commute to work is 16 miles.
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Old 11-20-23, 09:12 PM
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For my own commuting needs, I value freedom from flats above just about anything else. I've had good experience with Schwalbe "Marathon Plus" tires. They aren't terribly expensive, and I get several thousand miles from a set. I've had only one flat from a puncture (see below) in approximately 15,000 miles. Some say the rolling resistance is higher than other tires, but that doesn't matter to me. I'm a dentist, and a flat on the way to work is a big pain in the rear.


This is the unimpressive appearance of the outside of the tire.



Here is the damage inside the tire. I never found the object that caused it.



This is a cross-section of the Marathon Plus showing the blue gel layer that helps prevent punctures and also is blamed for increased rolling resistance.
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Old 11-20-23, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
1. Do you get what you pay for? Is a more expensive tire typically better? How much better? How do you know? How does the mileage you will get out of a tire relate to the initial price?
2. What percentage of those tires are really good? What percentage are crap?
3. What attributes make the biggest difference in tire performance? How many riders notice these differences?
4. Do tires react differently on different wheels, bikes, or riders? I mean many would put a sketchy tire on a loose wonky wheel and a good tire on a good wheel, right?
5. What is the right amount to spend on a tire?
6. How can you narrow a selection of 800 down to a reasonable number and make an informed choice? Why are there so many options?
For reference, my commute to work is 16 miles.
Very good questions, many of which do not have "answers", only opinions. That said:

1. I would say "No", you do not necessarily get what you pay for. At the same time, expensive tires are /typically/ better -- emphasis on the second-to-last word. They are not always better, but your odds do increase with price. A better predictor, in my opinion, is the manufacturer. The top tire-makers -- companies like Continental, Pirelli, Schwalbe, and a few others -- make exceedingly few low-quality tires, and most of their product is top-notch. Mileage is only one factor in tire quality, however. Many people, myself included, would much rather have a tire that provides outstanding traction for 2,000 miles than one which provides mediocre traction for 10,000. I can much more easily afford to replace tires than bikes or body parts following a crash.

2. That's a very difficult question to answer.

3. The design and quality of the rubber, carcass, and tread all are the factors that determine performance. Also, outside the control of the tire-maker, is the customer selecting the right tire for their usage. A particular tire might be fantastic on a mountain, but obviously, a road-racer is not going to find its performance acceptable.

4. Yes, tires will react differently in different situations. Even apart from your example of being mounted on a crooked wheel, tires will perform differently when mounted on a skinny wheel versus a wide one. And, of course, a rider who spends a lot of time over 25 mph is going to demand more traction than one who rarely cracks 15 -- all else being equal. Same is true for a 300 pound rider versus a 150 pound one, and lots of other potential differences.

5. There's no answer to this one -- but as alluded to above, the results of running out of traction are typically more expensive than any tire. I, personally, am a tire snob and always try to buy the grippiest tires that I can, without regard to cost. Bicycle tires are simply not expensive enough for me to care about the price -- but I raced cars for about 25 years, and was fairly accustomed to spending $1k on a set of tires that didn't last a hundred miles, so my perspective will differ from most.

6. I would start by ignoring everything not made by one of: Continental, Pirelli, Schwalbe, Vittoria, Panaracer, Donnelly, Maxxis, Surly, Specialized, Teravail, Challenge, WTB, or Rene Herse. That's my personal list, and obviously people will have reasonable disagreements over it, but I don't see any reason to buy tires from anyone else. This is a product that I am trusting my life to, so I'm not interested in saving a few bucks buying from people who are just learning the craft.

Next, I would make a list of your priorities. What is most important to you? Flat resistance, as previously mentioned? Rolling resistance? Wet traction? Dry traction? Price? Etcetera. Many tire makers publish the priorities that they had when they designed a tire, so you can try to match yours with theirs -- as done here, by Schwalbe.

As far as why so many options exist, it's not clear from your post whether you found 800 different tire models, or just 800 different variations. The latter explode quickly, because of the variety of sizes, and now even rubber compounds and sidewall colors. Schwalbe alone offers 11 different rubber compounds for different usage profiles, so when you multiply 11 times each size times each model, the resulting product list gets long, quickly ( in reality, not every tire is available in every compound, but the point still stands ).
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Old 11-22-23, 08:47 PM
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Different people have different criteria.

- longevity
- puncture resistance
- ride comfort
- efficiency (usually called rolling resistance)
- traction (but different tread patterns are optimized for different surfaces)
- price
- etc

I am an ace at fixing flats, and I value comfort and efficiency over puncture resistance. Traction isn't much of a concern, but if a tire is said to be bad in the rain, I won't buy it. I don't care all that much about longevity, either, and I'm willing to sacrifice it for a nice ride. Last time I bought tires, I paid $50 each, and that's more than some are willing to spend. I got Continental GP5000 tires, and they are reputed as not lasting very long.

These criteria are tradeoffs with each other, which I hope is clearer to you.

Check out https://biketiresdirect.com if you're in the US.
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Old 11-23-23, 12:30 AM
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I believe you can have both puncture resistant and decent performance. I ride on the rode and have been using the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires for nearly 10 years. I have had 2 punctures with them, one through the tread and one a defective tube. They have stopped manufacturing the Marathon Supreme. I have one new set left and will then need to find a replacement that hopefully works as well. I like Continental and Schwalbe tires and always use tubes that are the largest that fit the tire.
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Old 11-23-23, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick
I believe you can have both puncture resistant and decent performance. I ride on the rode and have been using the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires for nearly 10 years. I have had 2 punctures with them, one through the tread and one a defective tube. They have stopped manufacturing the Marathon Supreme. I have one new set left and will then need to find a replacement that hopefully works as well. I like Continental and Schwalbe tires and always use tubes that are the largest that fit the tire.
Yes, you can have both, but that is a compromise. You can balance them but you cannot optimize one without sacrificing the other, at least a little.

@ScottCommutes asked how many people notice the difference. To be frank, only a minority. When I change tires, I often think about how amazing the improvement is, but I've been riding a lot for many years. Less experienced people don't notice most of the time.
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Old 11-23-23, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes

6. How can you narrow a selection of 800 down to a reasonable number and make an informed choice? Why are there so many options?
What site are you looking at? AMZN?

Sites like that have a LOT of repeat listings for the same item.

Then you can eliminate all the fatbike tires and knobby MTB tires.
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Old 11-23-23, 12:46 PM
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I honestly don't remember
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Old 11-25-23, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
So I went to a bike parts site, looked at 26" tires for my bike and found over 800 different tires. This blew me away because 26" isn't even cool anymore.


So I put together some tire choice related questions. if you have any wisdom, do feel free to chime in. I'm not necessarily interested in specific choices - more interested in the selection process.


1. Do you get what you pay for? Is a more expensive tire typically better? How much better? How do you know? How does the mileage you will get out of a tire relate to the initial price?

2. What percentage of those tires are really good? What percentage are crap?

3. What attributes make the biggest difference in tire performance? How many riders notice these differences?

4. Do tires react differently on different wheels, bikes, or riders? I mean many would put a sketchy tire on a loose wonky wheel and a good tire on a good wheel, right?

5. What is the right amount to spend on a tire?

6. How can you narrow a selection of 800 down to a reasonable number and make an informed choice? Why are there so many options?


For reference, my commute to work is 16 miles.
1. yes you get what you pay for otherwise it was free or you stole it. In other words there are too many variables for definitive answers. How do I know? I bought them and used them. Mileage and price are not related. More often high prices are for tires that promise “performance” and the opposite characteristics of durability and puncture resistance. In otherwords heavier mid priced tires designed for durability and puncture resistance cost less and last longer than lighter tires that are designed for less rolling resistance and some degree of durability beyond racing tires.

2. “really good” based on what criteria? How about 60% are really good for what they’re designed for, 5% are crap, 10% are mediocre 10% are amazing but they don’t make them anymore and they were overpricced anyway, 5% came in the color you wanted and 10% feel funny.

3. The right pressure, Lots but if you don’t notice it doesn’t matter.

4. A little. Don’t use sketchy tires. Just don’t. That’s like riding with a loose stem. Once it’s sketchy replace it.

5. The amount you want to spend. $30-$75 will get you a lot of very different tires. You can spend $100 just like you can buy $25/lb domestic cheese. Tire prices can vary according to inventory and size of production so you may not necessarily get a “better” tire for more money.

6. Don’t start with 800. That’s like saying you can’t figure out whether to get a racing slick or a super heavy off road touring tire. So pick the size and type and your choices are less than a dozen. Then just buy one. If you really want to have fun and you’re getting two get a heavytire for the rear and a nice light one for the front. Front tires last almost three times longer and have fewer flats.

Last edited by LeeG; 11-25-23 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 11-25-23, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick
I believe you can have both puncture resistant and decent performance. I ride on the rode and have been using the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires for nearly 10 years. I have had 2 punctures with them, one through the tread and one a defective tube. They have stopped manufacturing the Marathon Supreme. I have one new set left and will then need to find a replacement that hopefully works as well. I like Continental and Schwalbe tires and always use tubes that are the largest that fit the tire.
Supremes were also my favorite. I bought two 20”x 1.6” for a Bike Friday and was disappointed to discover a warp in the casing that made one totally unacceptable and one tolerable. The 26” and 700c were perfect. But when the tire pressure was a bit low the combo of the narrow flexible sidewall and stiffer puncture layer made for an odd squirm in turns. One of those tires that pulled off good puncture resistance with good rolling. Panaracer protec TServs made a good front tire with the Supreme in the back.
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Old 11-25-23, 06:09 PM
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Thanks for the responses. I have learned that performance, durability, and price are not a choose two proposition. Instead, performance and durability are a choose one proposition. Personally, I would come down on the side of durability over performance.

I will adopt the idea of putting a lighter tire in the front and a more flat-resistant one in the back. I hardly ever get flats in the front.

My recent tire journey has been about 7,000 miles commuting since last September. I started on a 90's mountain bike with 2" treaded tires. I moved to 2" slick tires and noticed an improvement. I rode those for almost a year and replaced them a few times. The road conditions actually got better this year, so I decided to move to skinnier tires in hopes of going faster. I again noticed an improvement.
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Old 02-23-24, 10:30 AM
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Tough Choices

I bought a pair of Specialized Armadillo tires several thousands of miles ago, they were great tires and I wore them out. So, when I decided to replace them, I bought a cheap pair of puncture resistant Schwinns last week. The ride isn't as smooth and the air pressure is different (Specialized-max 90 psi, Schwinns max. 70 psi). My main goal is to resist punctures, so only time will tell. But I, like you, almost felt overwhelmed on the choices.
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Old 02-26-24, 01:39 PM
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I love my Maxxis DTHs and when, after several hundred miles, I started to get flats in the back I put a tire liner in the rear and no more flats! The bike rides just fine.
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Old 02-28-24, 04:16 PM
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I’m a wuss. I’d rather deal with occasional glass/wire punctures but have a magic-carpet flowing machine than be puncture proof but always feel like the brakes are dragging and the bearings are binding

with 700c there is only one choice: GP5K, aka the Continental Gran Prix 5000

with 26”, the Panaracer T-Serv & Pasela are as wuss-proof as you’re going to get till you spring for allegedly very fragile Rene Herse Extra Lights.
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Old 02-29-24, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by MattoftheRocks
I’m a wuss. I’d rather deal with occasional glass/wire punctures but have a magic-carpet flowing machine than be puncture proof but always feel like the brakes are dragging and the bearings are binding

with 700c there is only one choice: GP5K, aka the Continental Gran Prix 5000

with 26”, the Panaracer T-Serv & Pasela are as wuss-proof as you’re going to get till you spring for allegedly very fragile Rene Herse Extra Lights.
Finally, someone who feels the same as I do. My commuter bike currently has GP5Ks on it, though if they don't last long, I might change my mind. I love how they ride, and flat tires don't inconvenience me too much.

Though honestly, I have ridden on Paselas, and I liked them. They're not as fancy, but I think they're nice.
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Old 03-07-24, 10:36 AM
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My next tires will be the new Panaracer Gravel King slicks. The old/current GK are pretty good but a little thick in the sidewall. The new ones are said to be more supple -- poor man's RH.
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Old 03-16-24, 05:29 PM
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Anyone looking for a good fast rolling 700c all-road tire should do themselves a favour and look at the Michelin Power Adventure. I was looking for a good tire for my commuter a couple of months ago and looked at all the usual suspects, and then I discovered this tire. I've put a couple of thousand kilometres on them now and they've been perfect - quick rolling, good grip wet and dry, decent puncture protection, and good looking with a brown sidewall. Love them, even if they are a bit on the pricey side.
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Old 03-19-24, 07:45 AM
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After having ridden 50mm Schwalbe Big Bens/Big Apples for thousands of miles without any troubles, I wholeheartedly recommend them for not only that, but they have VG life and they are just plain rather fun to ride. Sure, they don't last as long as a Marathon, but there's nothing magical about that as they only last longer because the tread is thicker, plus they have the goo which makes them a whole lot heavier thah the BB/BS's. The 26" versions are listed as 55m though, which may be closer to 52, I can't say for certain.

I've used many other brands, Specialized, Vittoria, Continetal and Michelin ...... sorry, these Schwalbe's are the best for ride and quality of the build that I've seen. Of course I'm biased
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