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Need a little advice :)

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Need a little advice :)

Old 10-30-14, 12:50 AM
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Need a little advice :)

Hello all! This is my first post on bikeforums...I came here for a reason! But I'm not sure I'm posting in the right section. If that is the case please let me know.

Basically, I'm thinking about changing my tires for the first time on my Kona Dew 2012, since I've been getting a lot of flats riding in Metro Vancouver and want something more durable and, hopefully, faster. But I'm not sure what my options really are. Here are some relevant points:

-I do all my errands and "commuting-like" activities by bike, which for me involves going on all of nice pavement, uneven pavement, bumpy sidewalks/curbs, crappy pavement (sometimes with glass), and often hard-packed gravel/dirt trails. I only go off-pavement when I have to, but I like the flexibility of the Dew in being able to take, say, dike trails without attempting anything truly rocky/downhill (the Lochside trail on Vancouver Island is a good example of the type of trail I'm talking about).

-In addition to pre-empting flats, I really would like to switch to some tyres that are smoother and, perhaps, skinnier, so that I will be less tired and get places faster on paved routes. Continental Gatorskins have been looking really good to me, since they seem to combine smoothness, durability, and grip in rain. Would you recommend them? If there are any other tires that combine these advantages that you would recommend, I'd love to know.

-My bike came with 700cx35 Kenda tyres, installed on "Shining MT-20" rims. And right now I'm not sure whether the 28" or 32" Gatorskins (or slimmer tyres in general) can be fitted onto these rims. Is this possible? If so, how difficult is the process if trying to do it correctly on my own without taking it in to the shop?

-Which of 35, 32, and 28 inch thickness would you recommend, for the type of usage I'm doing (mostly pavement but many kms on hard-packed trails)? I really want the extra speed but I don't want to be sliding around or damaging my tyres or, worse, avoiding trails altogether.

Any help on this would be much appreciated!

Edit: the forum censored the correct spelling of 'dike' lol.
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Old 10-30-14, 01:33 AM
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If you plan to ride on dirt, don't get Gatorskins since those are road tires. I mean you can ride them on dirt, but you might not enjoy it because it'll slide around especially in turns. I recommend you get some kind of touring or trekking tire instead. Road tires are ok in hard pack rocky dirt going up or if it's flat, but I don't dare go down those trails on my 28mm road tires.

I have Schwalbe Marathon Supreme on my commute/all-arounder which is very nice tire for street use, rolls quick and handles very nice on pavement, highly puncture resistant, and light for it's size, but at $80, it's also very expensive. Rides decent on dirt, but cornering is still a bit sketchy. I have dropped the pressure to 30 PSI and taken it up and down single tracks dirt roads that are nothing but rocky dirt and handled ok as long as my lines were very clean, but high speed corners are still sketchy.

A less expensive option might be Schwalbe Marathon Racer wire bead or Panaracer Tserv at around ~$45.

My thought is that a narrower tire won't change your top speed very much unless those Kendas have knobs, but they look smooth. Going with one of the smooth tires I mentioned will make the ride easier and they are lighter so they will accelerate faster and that will be the most noticeable effect.
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Old 10-30-14, 03:54 AM
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Everyone "Need a little advice ". It helps to be a bit more specific in your title.

"Hello all! This is my first post on bikeforums...I came here for a reason! But I'm not sure I'm posting in the right section. If that is the case please let me know."

Your first paragraph shows up as you mouse over the title. make it a precis, not a back-story.

Personally, I like 32mm Schwalbe Marathon, or Marathon Plus for extra protection at the cost of some weight.
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Old 10-30-14, 04:12 AM
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you can buy tire liners to help increase your flat resistance. You can put them inside any tire you choose. Mr.tuffy is one brand that Ive had good luck with.
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Old 10-30-14, 06:01 AM
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Yes, there are tons of options in tires, and while there are real differences between tires, they can be quite hard to discern depending on how and where you ride, bike setup (e.g. tire pressure) and how attuned you are to the feel. I wouldn't fret over the selection too much, but since you bothered to register on a forum to ask, I'll assume you're more interested than most and try to give you some tips.

For urban utility duty, volume is really nice. Larger tires roll faster over uneven pavement, make the ride more comfortable, and provide a measure of freedom and security in traveling where you want, when you want, by which I mean you don't have to worry as much about damaging the wheel if you slam an unexpected pothole or whatever.

That said, as mentioned above, there is the trade-off with feel. Bigger tires can feel slower and less responsive, whereas narrower ones can feel direct and spry. At the sizes you're looking at, though, I think that's a minimal effect; 28c or 32c will feel about the same. Takeaway: go a little bigger for utility riding.

Tread and compounds... I think a little siping is nice to have for all-weather/multisurface riding. You don't need or want big channels or blocks/knobs (too much drag), but some grooves are welcome. I don't pretend to understand how tread works, and while I don't have any issues riding slick tires in the wet or on dirt roads myself, I also have grooved tires, e.g. Vittoria Randonneur, that seem to work just as well, and have no apparent downside, so if they provide some benefit, why not? I'm talking tread patterns along these lines:

Tread like that will get you around quickly, and afford some peace of mind in wet and loose conditions, but really I think tread compound is most important.

Compound can be thought of as a range from soft n sticky, on to hard n durable. Soft and sticky is great for traction, but wears faster. Harder compounds roll faster and last longer. Dual or triple compounds is probably what you want to look for if you don't like compromising; harder in the center for speed, soft on the shoulders for cornering grip. I suggest to err on the soft side in any case, as health protecting traction is more precious than the cost of tire.

Now, casing construction. Look at TPI, or threads per inch. Higher numbers mean a more flexible casing, and in turn, better ride feel. This is one of those things that can be hard to discern, but if you want to stack the deck in your favor and all else is equal, take 127tpi over 67tpi. Next, look at weight. You don't want an 800gm tire when you can get what you need in a 600gm (or whatever) one. Yeah, more rubber usually means more durability and puncture resistance, but factor in compounds, TPI, and protection layers, and I think you can get a great urban tire in the 400gm range. Light is right. Mostly.

Other features I like in a utility tire are things like protection belts, folding beads and reflective sidewalls. Bead type, folding or wire, isn't a deal breaker either way, but folding bead models are usually lighter and can be easier to install/remove, which is nice if you're inclined to fixing on-road flats yourself.

I wouldn't say there are any brands to avoid, but the aforementioned Schwalbe tires are well regarded for their city/urban/trekking tires and always a good choice. Continental, Panaracer, Vittoria, Michelin, Kenda...lots of options. I'm looking at Michelin's ProTek Urban for the next set on my commuter.

I've prattled on quite a bit here, so just a couple of quick hits: 1) yes, you can do it yourself pretty easily, and it's a great skill to have. Check out some YouTube vids, 2) 32 is a good, multipurpose width, 3) yes, you can use your existing wheels, 4) don't worry!

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Old 10-30-14, 06:35 AM
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@large cat Welcome fellow Vancouver commuter.
@chaadster Provided an excellent synopsis and I will provide local experience and preference.

I am a strong supporter of normal Schwalbe Marathon tires.

I have used them on my daily commuter for the last 10,000+ km and I only got one flat (I am not counting an overpressure blowout, my fault not the tires). I ride all around the city, this has been from Burnaby to Richmond, now Vancouver to Richmond almost 40 km a day. I go over the Knight street bridge almost everyday and that I think is a great tire tester. It is dirty with all sorts of debris and where I got my flat a moth or so ago.

The flat was caused by a piece of hard and sharp plastic from some vehicle housing and was the size of a nickel. It sliced through the worn rear tire.

I used 700x32
Schwalbe Marathon tires until my new ones where I got 700x35. I ride with a lot of weight, about 275 pounds of gear, me and my son on a not so light (35 pound) long haul trucker. I would almost feel comfortable putting 28's on with my load but decided to go with the 35 for comfort.

With my 700x32 on I average about 22 km/h +/- 2 km/h on my commute so I feel speed is a non issue, that is engine dependent. I have not had issues keeping up on normal group rides.

I feel comfortable on most every surface also. I have used them on dirt, mulch, gravel (hard pack and loose) pavement. Unpaved roads around Gulf Islands have been fine, the Kettle Valley Railroad, the dike out to Steveston.

The regular Marathon seem to be great tires to me and I highly vouch for them. I have not had installation problems and I have not to worry about removing them very much anyway since they do not flat. I think 28 or 32 would be the best utility size choice also.

Last edited by joeyduck; 10-30-14 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 10-30-14, 09:40 AM
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I have nothing bad to say about Schwalbe Marathons, hence, I give it my highest recommendation.

The Michelin City is a good buy for the $$, but I don't like the ride quality.
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Old 10-30-14, 09:54 AM
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If money is no object, Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. Try Biketiresdirect for slightly better prices. The best commuting/touring tire hands down. My commute is a mix of dirt, rocks, paved MUPs, roads, curb hopping, sharp cornering, rain, etc. Pretty much every condition. They handle it all exceptionally well.
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Old 10-30-14, 10:23 AM
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I am also a big fan of the Marathon supremes or pluses. If you want a cheaper option the panaracer pasela with tourguard is a great tire. It's faster feeling than the marathons, but not as good flat protection. The flat protection is still very good and it can often be found for half the price of the marathons.
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Old 10-30-14, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by large cat
Edit: the forum censored the correct spelling of 'dike' lol.
No it did not. In U.S. English, the spelling, d-i-k-e, is indeed the standard one for the earthworks that you described. The other spelling in both British and U.S. English is a pejorative and not politically correct. I am not surprised it was censored. As for tires, you got plenty of good advice. FWIW.
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Old 10-30-14, 02:16 PM
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Dikes on bykes with tired tyres
sorry, couldn't resist. Will delete in 24h if mods don't pre-empt me.
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Old 10-30-14, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by large cat
Edit: the forum censored the correct spelling of 'dike' lol.
Just be glad you don't ride a Kona ***** Tonk.

Originally Posted by MichaelW
Everyone "Need a little advice ". It helps to be a bit more specific in your title.

"Hello all! This is my first post on bikeforums...I came here for a reason! But I'm not sure I'm posting in the right section. If that is the case please let me know."

Your first paragraph shows up as you mouse over the title. make it a precis, not a back-story.
And welcome to Bike Forums!


Now to be helpful (which I actually do think was MichaelW's intent, BTW)....

You have two opposing goals. You want something faster and you want something with good flat protection. You can get both of these, but you'll have to spend more on the tires. If you also want to ride on unpaved roads it gets trickier still. My point is that there are a lot of factors that trade-off against one another in tire design. Puncture protection, durability, rolling resistance, weight, grip (on and off-road) and cost are some of the most important. You need to have a pretty good idea how important each factor is to you before you can really find the perfect tire for you.

That said, take a look at the Schwalbe Marathon Almotion. They seem to align well with the factors you've mentioned. You didn't mention cost, however, and these things are crazy expensive. I haven't used the Almotions and most searches turn up more people looking for reviews than people offering them. I have used the Almotion's cousin the Marathon Supreme and they're great. The Almotions look slightly better for dirt roads. If you want even more off-road capability, the Marathon Mondial might be an option.
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