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23mm tires, potholes

Old 12-21-13, 10:39 PM
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GaryinLA
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23mm tires, potholes

crashed, hit pothole, blew out front tire, using 23mm continental ultra (not gatorskin) tires. wonder what people think. do u avoid 23 and 25mm tires to avoid risk of tire blowout from pothole? wondering if safer tires i should use are 28 or maybe 32mm. i have some tires ie tserv 28 and 32mm, and marathon plus 28 and 38mm, and pasela tg 32mm and none of them have blown out on pothole. so im thinking 23mm and maybe 25mm are a bad choice if biking on city roads with potholes. wondering if 28mm is ok.... what do you think? reason i was on 23mm was got it with used wheels off cl and liked the speed, light weight, for group rides.

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Old 12-21-13, 11:11 PM
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23's are great for perfect conditions which are pretty rare.

This time of year I use 35's and feel much safer, especially in the dark. My summer bike has 25's and I will not go any smaller.
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Old 12-21-13, 11:15 PM
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I use 28mm+ and ride around potholes whenever I can.
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Old 12-21-13, 11:34 PM
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It's not just tire width. Rider weight and inflation pressure are equally important.

There's also how you ride. Skilled riders either hop over potholes, or do a maneuver quickly swinging the wheels around the hole, while their body barely moves off line. If you must hit a pothole, a loose grip lets the front end float over the hole, and lifting your seat off the saddle so the bike can float up and down without moving your weight makes a world of difference.

Lastly there's speed. Many newer riders jam on their brakes trying to scrub off speed when facing an unavoidable pothole. This shifts weight onto the front wheel and drives it deeper into the hole so the tire hits the opposite lip as it would a curb. OTOH with enough speed the wheels don't drop as deep and only have to bounce back up a tiny bit at the opposite lip. The more speed, the farther across the wheel reaches and the less it drops, minimizing the impact.
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Old 12-21-13, 11:57 PM
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On my city's streets, even when trying to miss potholes and cracks, some are just unavoidable due to traffic and conditions. I use 32 mm wide tires. If anything, I might go wider at some point. My only wipeout was from catching my front tire in an unsealed, wide concrete joint. Riding after dark is another good reason to go wider - obstacles are harder to miss when you don't see them as well or as far away.

It's a personal choice and depends largely on your commute route. Wider tires give you a little more factor of safety on the really rough stretches of pavement.
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Old 12-22-13, 01:00 AM
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I commute on 25 mm and weekend ride on 23 mm.

+1 to FBinNY's post. If you "ride light", 23-25 mm is fine for urban riding.
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Old 12-22-13, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by GaryinLA View Post
crashed, hit pothole, blew out front tire, using 23mm continental ultra (not gatorskin) tires. wonder what people think. do u avoid 23 and 25mm tires to avoid risk of tire blowout from pothole? wondering if safer tires i should use are 28 or maybe 32mm. i have some tires ie tserv 28 and 32mm, and marathon plus 28 and 38mm, and pasela tg 32mm and none of them have blown out on pothole. so im thinking 23mm and maybe 25mm are a bad choice if biking on city roads with potholes. wondering if 28mm is ok.... what do you think? reason i was on 23mm was got it with used wheels off cl and liked the speed, light weight, for group rides.
I have 25 mm gatorskins... have hit some ugly pot holes with no problems... and I still have that "spritely" feel...
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Old 12-22-13, 10:43 AM
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Want to ride on skinny tires?, Look where you are going, In LA the potholes wont be full of rainwater
since the city is on the western edge of the Desert.

in case of surprises get off the saddle, your legs as springs will be better than dead weight in the saddle.
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Old 12-22-13, 04:07 PM
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I commute on 23s when there's no possibility of ice - but I have to be very careful to avoid sharp bits in the road (potholes, very large cracks). When I first got the road bike in the spring, I had about 4 or 5 flats until I figured this out. Once I got used to avoiding the hazards, AND I got used to pumping the tires up to full pressure every 2 days or so, I didn't have any flats for the remaining few months of the season.

Certainly with 32s you'd be very unlikely to have this problem and the ride would be nicer. I've heard that 28s are a good compromise. But in my experience you can commute on 23s if you are able to avoid the potholes. If your conditions are very bad and it's just not possible, then you may need to move up.
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Old 12-22-13, 09:59 PM
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I use 23s and try and avoid potholes. I sometimes use 25s on the rear but they just barely fit. As long as you keep the pressure up 23s should be fine.
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Old 12-23-13, 08:06 AM
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I ride 23x700 on my rural road commute and I hit potholes everyday. I had a few pinch flats but never a blowout. I check the tire pressure at least twice a week and keep them at 115 psi minimum.
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Old 12-23-13, 08:48 AM
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interestingly enough, I checked my hybrid wheels and I am also running 23 mm on it...
bontrager (can't remember the model). I remember trying to make it more of a road bike but
am surprised I went with 23's rather than 25's...

oh and never had a pinch flat in my life... broken spokes, but never pinch flat...
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Old 12-23-13, 09:23 AM
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The first time I put 25mm tires on my road bike I was surprised. It made a big difference, especially on the commute (compared to weekend rides on country roads).

City streets have a lot of edges. The extra volume of the 25mm is a good cushion.

I no longer use 23mm tires. My preferred size for the road bike is 28mm.

Currently, however, riding with 25mm up front, 28mm on the rear.

My full-blown commuter bike has a 32mm tire on front, a 35mm on rear, but I could never fit them on the road ride.

Personally, I don't know why 25mm tires are not more popular. Still hard to find in local shops, but more common than in the past.
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Old 12-23-13, 09:24 AM
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I was using 23mm for some time and had flats, blow outs, pinched tubes...I had it all for about 6 months. I was fed up with commuting because I was always fixing my tires and tubes. A fellow cyclist turned me on the Continental Super Sport + tires. They changed my commuting life completely. I have been running the SS+ 700x25 for 1500 miles now and not a single problem. I am 225 pounds and ride every morning in the dark...might want to read into those tires. They work for me but that doesnt mean they will work for you
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Old 12-23-13, 12:18 PM
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I have 23mm Conti Gatorskins, and have hit my fair share of potholes, cracks, construction plates, etc. without a flat. I do always make sure to keep my pressure up to avoid a pinch flat, sacrificing a bit of ride quality. One time I forgot to put air in the tires after the bit was sitting for a bit, the ride was definitely softer but I did fear a flat, maybe not justified as I didn't get one.

I have been thinking bout trying to put 25mm on the bike, but even those will be a bit tight, particularly clearing the brake taking the front wheel on and off.

I am looking for a new commuting bike, more of a cyclocross/touring bike then my roadie, and plan to try wider tires, 28 or 32, but more for comfort then for fear of flats.
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Old 12-23-13, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
It's not just tire width. Rider weight and inflation pressure are equally important.

There's also how you ride. Skilled riders either hop over potholes, or do a maneuver quickly swinging the wheels around the hole, while their body barely moves off line. If you must hit a pothole, a loose grip lets the front end float over the hole, and lifting your seat off the saddle so the bike can float up and down without moving your weight makes a world of difference.

Lastly there's speed. Many newer riders jam on their brakes trying to scrub off speed when facing an unavoidable pothole. This shifts weight onto the front wheel and drives it deeper into the hole so the tire hits the opposite lip as it would a curb. OTOH with enough speed the wheels don't drop as deep and only have to bounce back up a tiny bit at the opposite lip. The more speed, the farther across the wheel reaches and the less it drops, minimizing the impact.
This.
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Old 12-23-13, 03:17 PM
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Learn to bunny hop... even just unloading the bike a bit will save you a ton of problems.
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Old 12-23-13, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by e0richt View Post
interestingly enough, I checked my hybrid wheels and I am also running 23 mm on it...
bontrager (can't remember the model). I remember trying to make it more of a road bike but
am surprised I went with 23's rather than 25's...

oh and never had a pinch flat in my life... broken spokes, but never pinch flat...
ok, I checked on the bike. I have bontrager hardcase lite tires 23mm... they are supposed to be
puncture resistant as well...
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Old 12-23-13, 09:00 PM
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when I first got a new bike and started commuting the 23s felt like they'd pop on every little bump. after a solid for months straight the same exact tires felt perfectly suited for just about any asphalt road I was on, I just learned how to unweight my wheels when I couldn't avoid a pothole. learning the roads helps a lot, too.

but jumping up in size definitely lends some piece of mind, and you don't have to be as vigilant. two solid years on 700x23 and I'd still recommend it. the main reason I like thicker is for the smaller bumps that turn into vibrations. a nasty pot hole on even 42s is still pretty bad if you hit it wrong.
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Old 12-24-13, 05:22 AM
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40+mm tyres with 36+ spoke wheels can endure almost any pothole - no sweat. Not indestructable, but nearly so.

23 mm is the opposite side.

28 mm is the thinnest tyre that allows for 6 bars (or lower) pressure for my weight and that prevents at least most sharp objects from puncturing tyres - like sharp small rocks, pieces of broken glass etc. So I wouldn't recommend going below 28 mm for commuting. 28 bare minimum, 32 OK, 37+ safe but thick and heavy, so you do have a penalty.

I see people "commuting" on 23 mm tyres, just like I see people traveling on RR motorcycles. It is possible, but if I could (afford to) choose - that would not be my first choice.
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Old 12-24-13, 01:55 PM
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Glad to see I am not the only one on 700x23 only. I have no touring bikes, and I commute on all my bikes except the Litespeed and the R700. All my bikes have 700x23 performance tires.. I always carry a spare tube, hand pump and levers..I keep a pump and spare tube at work too. So far, just counting last year, about 3 flats..Pressure I keep above 100, but I try to avoid pot holes, and bad streets.
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Old 12-24-13, 02:07 PM
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I was gifted four 700 X 20 Continental Grand Prix 3000 tires.

Put about 1,000 miles on them.

Good ride for 20's.

Had a few flats as they are not flat protected.

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Old 12-24-13, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by cehowardGS View Post
Glad to see I am not the only one on 700x23 only. I have no touring bikes, and I commute on all my bikes except the Litespeed and the R700. All my bikes have 700x23 performance tires.. I always carry a spare tube, hand pump and levers..I keep a pump and spare tube at work too. So far, just counting last year, about 3 flats..Pressure I keep above 100, but I try to avoid pot holes, and bad streets.
It's not a question of tire width. It's more one of bike handling and what's suited to each person's individual needs. Other than my commuter bike, all of my 45 years of road riding was/is on 25mm tubulars, including plenty of miles in NYC (when streets were in worse shape than today). I've never let pavement keep me from riding anyplace interesting, and have logged many miles on Maine's corduroy roads, gravel road roads, blue stone roads, and the type of single track mtn bikers love.

OTOH- my commuter has massive 2" wide tires that free me from worrying about concrete road seams, sewer grates, plates over trenches, etc. This is very handy for my nightly ride home where I can't see road hazards clearly.
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Old 12-24-13, 02:12 PM
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Another vote for 700x23, on a fixie (that I use for eveything else). I don't worry about potholes; I just steer around them, or unweight the bike over them. Rims today, especially the deeper section rims, are way stronger (and heavier) than what we used to use when I first started riding back in the 70's. In those days, performance tires were tubulars mounted on a heavier tubular rim, such as a Fiamme Red Label. "Heavier" was relative; I doubt if the rim was even 350 grams. We had to use 36 spokes to keep the wheel straight, and one good pothole would noticeably dent the rim! Modern rims are much stronger. At 170 pounds, I have to inflate the tires (I've found Vredestein Fortezza Tri-Comps to be the best for puncture resistance and sidewall durability in the wet Pac NW) to over 120 lbs to avoid pinch flats.

But I like the lively feel of narrow highly-pressured tires on a steel bike! The afternoon commute gets stretched out to a training ride, so I want to be riding the bike I most enjoy riding!

Luis
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Old 12-24-13, 02:20 PM
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23s are not good for cold and wet weather - because they are more prone to punctures, I hate changing tyres when it's cold and raining. Also, they are more prone to snake bite flats or wheel damage from unseen potholes - the ones beneath water puddles, or dark, unlit stretches of road. When riding in bad weather, at night, tired - I feel a lot more relaxed on fatter tyres. 23s are for sunny, warm time. Nice, quick, fun, but lots more flats even when being careful.
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