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Put the fastest tire on the slowest bike – Wow – fat tires can be fast

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Put the fastest tire on the slowest bike – Wow – fat tires can be fast

Old 09-07-17, 03:04 PM
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Put the fastest tire on the slowest bike – Wow – fat tires can be fast

I usually ride 28-40mm tires. I like a fast tire. But I am shocked at how fast a 60mm tire can be. Its one thing to read that the G-0ne 60mm tire is schwalbie’s fastest tire (based on rolling resistance), but it is another thing to actually ride a cheap mountain bike that is as easy to ride as a high end road bike and moderate speeds. The bike (GF’s inexpensive diamondback from Dick’s) will never have a high top end speed or be able to climb or accelerate. But for cruising around at a moderate pace, its hard to beat. I did a 300 mile trip last year on a mountain bike – rather wishing that I had some 28-32mm tires to help speed things along. But after riding the Fat G-One tires, I’m thinking these would be great for randonnering, trekking, and gravel grinding. Great combination of comfy and fast when I am not in race mode.

My GF was shocked at how fast her bike became. Normally she goes through a speed trap at 18mph when she is pushing it. Suddenly she was doing 24mph – fastest ever for her. I did some mountain biking on the tires. Obviously they were not great in the slippery stuff, but on rail trails and straighter single track, I was having a hard time going slow enough to stay with the pack. I even set a personal record on a straight stretch beating my mountain bike and my cross bike – all because of the tires.

Now I’m thinking I need a set of G-ones for my cross bike…
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Old 09-08-17, 08:43 AM
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Schwalbe Big Ones have lower rolling resistance than Conti GP4000S IIs, if you can believe it.
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Old 09-08-17, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by athrowawaynic
Schwalbe Big Ones have lower rolling resistance than Conti GP4000S IIs, if you can believe it.
at the same tire pressure?
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Old 09-08-17, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by motorthings
at the same tire pressure?
Even better pressures.

Big One is 11.8 watts at 55psi.

Conti is at 12.2. watts at 120psi.
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Old 09-08-17, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by motorthings
at the same tire pressure?
Schwalbe@55, Conti@120
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Old 09-08-17, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by keg61
Schwalbe@55, Conti@120
that is insane.
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Old 09-08-17, 11:13 AM
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I know, I have them both (conti GP4000S IIs and big one). its weird (in a good way) riding a 60mm tire that has less rolling resistance than continental's best tire.
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Old 09-08-17, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by motorthings
that is insane.
It's expected that a high-performance slick in that width would do around that well.

The drum test is measuring hysteresis in the tire, energy lost to the deformation of the tire as it rolls. Increasing a tire's width means that it needs to be squishier in order to experience as much deformation; as a very rough visualization, a 2" tire needs to compress by around 10mm at the contact patch to be just as deformed as a 1" tire that's compressed by 5mm. So, while wide tires can't be pumped as stiff as narrow ones, they also don't need to be pumped as stiff to produce similar numbers on the drum.

The idea that width makes a tire roll poorly is mostly a combination of tradition, and the observation that most wide tires do roll poorly. The thing is, most wide tires roll poorly because they're MTB or bombproof touring tires, not because they're wide. A 2" Marathon Plus rolls like a sack of potatoes, but so does a 25mm Marathon Plus.

I really hope that super-wide high-performance road tires continue to gain... uh... traction. Their drawbacks are much, much smaller than people think.

Last edited by HTupolev; 09-08-17 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 09-08-17, 06:30 PM
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A friend has been running tubeless Schwalbe Big Ones on his gravel bike all year. He gets a kick out of watching the reactions of roadies to his speed on those fat tires.

The Big Ones had shallow file tread and were designed for beach sand racing, little or no puncture shield. But he's had relatively few punctures over a lot of miles, including RAGBRAI. He had one during a casual group ride just after returning from Iowa but only needed a pump to top off the tire. Tubeless worked well for him.

Kinda wish I'd snagged a set of Big Ones from Jenson last fall when they were blowing 'em out for $15 each. But I did snag a pair of Schwalbe One V-Guards for $15/ea this summer from Jenson. Outstanding road tires, but too skinny for gravel.
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Old 09-08-17, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
It's expected that a high-performance slick in that width would do around that well.

The drum test is measuring hysteresis in the tire, energy lost to the deformation of the tire as it rolls. Increasing a tire's width means that it needs to be squishier in order to experience as much deformation; as a very rough visualization, a 2" tire needs to compress by around 10mm at the contact patch to be just as deformed as a 1" tire that's compressed by 5mm. So, while wide tires can't be pumped as stiff as narrow ones, they also don't need to be pumped as stiff to produce similar numbers on the drum.

The idea that width makes a tire roll poorly is mostly a combination of tradition, and the observation that most wide tires do roll poorly. The thing is, most wide tires roll poorly because they're MTB or bombproof touring tires, not because they're wide. A 2" Marathon Plus rolls like a sack of potatoes, but so does a 25mm Marathon Plus.

I really hope that super-wide high-performance road tires continue to gain... uh... traction. Their drawbacks are much, much smaller than people think.
I'd like to check those out. But yea..I've got 40mm voyager hypers. They are PLENTY fast at 50psi. They're not quite as fast as gp4000s, but they're close.
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Old 09-08-17, 08:56 PM
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I don't understand the fascination with rolling resistance to the exclusion of every other aspect of a tire's performance. To read bike forums one would think that it is all that matters.

Durablity, grip especially in the wet, how a tire responds (nervous vs predictable) at or near the limits when cornering all matter as well. Some of these are subjective, not easily measured but they still matter.

I'll give up a little rolling resistance for lots of grip and predictability any day.


-Tim-
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Old 09-09-17, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
I don't understand the fascination with rolling resistance to the exclusion of every other aspect of a tire's performance. To read bike forums one would think that it is all that matters.

Durablity, grip especially in the wet, how a tire responds (nervous vs predictable) at or near the limits when cornering all matter as well. Some of these are subjective, not easily measured but they still matter.

I'll give up a little rolling resistance for lots of grip and predictability any day.


-Tim-
It's a good question...and one I used to worry about more than I do now. Most of my cycling miles are commuting... so I used to stress about getting flats. But the fact of the matter is...even the thinnest, least effective puncture protection dramatically improves protection. I don't need to go multiple years between flats (10k on my last set with no flats).

The fact of the matter..depending on where you live..

Many people ride little or not at all in the rain
Most good tires have more than enough flat protection
Durability..well I guess lifespan is something to consider. But tires are relatively cheap.
On the road...all slicks are pretty predictable. How many people actually test the limits of grip while cornering?

So for most people, most of their time spent riding is in a straight line, on dry pavement, on tires that don't need a puncture fixed. It makes sense that the biggest concern is rolling resistance. Also...many of the fastest tires ALSO tend to be the most comfortable and most grippy.
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Old 09-11-17, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
I don't understand the fascination with rolling resistance to the exclusion of every other aspect of a tire's performance. To read bike forums one would think that it is all that matters.

Durablity, grip especially in the wet, how a tire responds (nervous vs predictable) at or near the limits when cornering all matter as well. Some of these are subjective, not easily measured but they still matter.

I'll give up a little rolling resistance for lots of grip and predictability any day.


-Tim-
I agree with Abe.

There are tons of durable trekking and off road tires out there. There is only one fast large (50-60mm) tire like this on the market. I like the option of having race level performance on tires bigger than 28mm. Its good to have choices.

I don't have a problem with flats, 90% of the people I ride with don't ride in the rain, most people don't wear tires out very often. But yeah there are options for people who need that.

I tend to have a tougher longer life "training" tire on the rear of my commuters (Conti 4-season or gatorskin), but my front tire tends to be more racy to reduce weight, and improve cornering. Front tires don't really wear out, and we tend to get flats on the rear. But with my fun tires (not commuter) I like to play.

This is a race tire, so it is very stable and sticky (if not riding off road in wet conditions). And you can buy this tire in very very many configurations, from race, to recreation, including the G-one race tread, regular tread, and mud tread. If you want more of a touring tire, this is the basic construction used for the big apple and big ben. Schwalbe has so many choices sometimes its hard to find what I want...
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Old 09-11-17, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58
I agree with Abe.

There are tons of durable trekking and off road tires out there. There is only one fast large (50-60mm) tire like this on the market.
If you count a relatively normal road tread, Panaracer makes a few that are in or very near that realm, sold through smaller brands: Soma's Supple Vitesse is available in 700x48, Compass has a 48mm 650b tire and a 53mm 26er. I'm not sure of any others that I'd lump into the same boat... it's a very sparse market, but there are a few options as of the last couple years.
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Old 09-11-17, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
If you count a relatively normal road tread, Panaracer makes a few that are in or very near that realm, sold through smaller brands: Soma's Supple Vitesse is available in 700x48, Compass has a 48mm 650b tire and a 53mm 26er. I'm not sure of any others that I'd lump into the same boat... it's a very sparse market, but there are a few options as of the last couple years.
Thanks for the reminder. I may need to go to compass to get tires for my 26" bike, as many of the major brands have given up on that size for any performance tires. Heck, even my local REI doesn't even carry 26" tires any more.
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Old 09-11-17, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman
On the road...all slicks are pretty predictable. How many people actually test the limits of grip while cornering?

"Theshold braking" is a technique I learned early in my riding life - riding deep into an approaching turn, braking late and hard with the front brake, often approaching the tire's limit of adhesion. Anyone who has ever raced has practiced this.

I can tell you from experience that tires vary wildly in how predictable they are near the limits.

By way of example, Michelin Pro4 tires have prodigious grip but give absolutely no warning before they loose traction. If you are near the limit with Michelin Pro4 and feel them start to slide then it is likely too late and you are probably going down. Nervous and twitch are two words I've heard used. It is difficult to commit to late braking and hard cornering because of this behavior - you never know when you are going to get bit.

Vittoria Rubino Pro on the other hand, don't have as much grip but they gradually transition from into a smooth slide in a very predictable, easy to control way. If you are near the limit with Vittoria Rubino Pro's and feel them start to slide then simply turn toward the outside of the turn or adjust your weight and they regain grip and recover very smoothly. This inspires great confidence. Supple is an adjective used very often with these tires.


Originally Posted by chas58
This is a race tire, so it is very stable and sticky (if not riding off road in wet conditions). And you can buy this tire in very very many configurations, from race, to recreation, including the G-one race tread, regular tread, and mud tread. If you want more of a touring tire, this is the basic construction used for the big apple and big ben. Schwalbe has so many choices sometimes its hard to find what I want...
I understand this completely and it is why I run 35 mm Schwalbe G-One Evo Allaround on my gravel bike.

They are an amazingly light, supple and predictable tire, similar in behavior to the Vittoria tires described above. Very fast on pavement and smooth non-paved surfaces. The tradeoff is price and service life. They wear very fast.

My point was how some fixate on rolling resistance almost exclusively. If they were to practice threshold braking and hard cornering then they might find out that a tire with slightly more rolling resistance actually has more inspiring behavior on twisty descents and when riding hard. It isn't only about the ability to pedal fast in a straight line. Sometimes the limit is a riders willingness to push a tire to its limits.

I get what you are saying in the first post and understand the excitement. Was just expressing a thought about other aspects of tires which are never mentioned, that's all.


-Tim-

Last edited by TimothyH; 09-11-17 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 09-13-17, 08:43 AM
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The 60mm weighs a pound and won't fit my tricross frame. I would love to see a 40mm version @330g. only the 60mm uses LiteSkin, the similar 700x38C uses a MicroSkin, TLE, V-Guard and is advertised at 480 g (17 oz)
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Old 09-13-17, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
"Theshold braking" is a technique I learned early in my riding life - riding deep into an approaching turn, braking late and hard with the front brake, often approaching the tire's limit of adhesion. Anyone who has ever raced has practiced this.

I can tell you from experience that tires vary wildly in how predictable they are near the limits.

By way of example, Michelin Pro4 tires have prodigious grip but give absolutely no warning before they loose traction. If you are near the limit with Michelin Pro4 and feel them start to slide then it is likely too late and you are probably going down. Nervous and twitch are two words I've heard used. It is difficult to commit to late braking and hard cornering because of this behavior - you never know when you are going to get bit.

Vittoria Rubino Pro on the other hand, don't have as much grip but they gradually transition from into a smooth slide in a very predictable, easy to control way. If you are near the limit with Vittoria Rubino Pro's and feel them start to slide then simply turn toward the outside of the turn or adjust your weight and they regain grip and recover very smoothly. This inspires great confidence. Supple is an adjective used very often with these tires.




I understand this completely and it is why I run 35 mm Schwalbe G-One Evo Allaround on my gravel bike.

They are an amazingly light, supple and predictable tire, similar in behavior to the Vittoria tires described above. Very fast on pavement and smooth non-paved surfaces. The tradeoff is price and service life. They wear very fast.

My point was how some fixate on rolling resistance almost exclusively. If they were to practice threshold braking and hard cornering then they might find out that a tire with slightly more rolling resistance actually has more inspiring behavior on twisty descents and when riding hard. It isn't only about the ability to pedal fast in a straight line. Sometimes the limit is a riders willingness to push a tire to its limits.

I get what you are saying in the first post and understand the excitement. Was just expressing a thought about other aspects of tires which are never mentioned, that's all.


-Tim-
Well that is sort of my point. How many people with road bike race road races? I'm sure some do (obviously...), but it is a small fraction of the people with road bikes that ride.
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Old 09-13-17, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by chas58
Thanks for the reminder. I may need to go to compass to get tires for my 26" bike, as many of the major brands have given up on that size for any performance tires. Heck, even my local REI doesn't even carry 26" tires any more.
I'm looking for 26" tires for my winter commuter bike too. But, TBH...I have ZERO interest in trying to change a flat when it's slushy and 15 degrees outside. That's a different can of worms for me....will probably get a set of marathon supremes.

5-10 minutes in nice weather to change a flat is actually enjoyable for me...mid commute when it's snowing, and I'm rapidly cooling down while possibly damp from sweat and hands are freezing from taking gloves off to futz with a tire...no thank you. I'll take the slower tire in that scenario to know I'm not flatting unless I run over a pile of razor blades.

Last edited by Abe_Froman; 09-13-17 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 09-13-17, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
My point was how some fixate on rolling resistance almost exclusively.
Pro Ones are fantastic tires. They roll like ceramic bearings on a polished floor. I did a ride this summer that was going to take me by Squire Creek and Swede Heaven, as soon as I left the pavement, I got a sidewall cut. Pro Ones are known for their lack of protection and their common flats. The sealant didn't hold, and I had a four mile walk of shame back to the car. Was sore the next day, road shoes are no fun to walk in. I'm with Timothy 100 % on this. Rolling resistance is important, but it's one of a bunch of important things.

Originally Posted by Abe_Froman
Many people ride little or not at all in the rain
God willing, we have fire ending rains coming this weekend. The rain will continue until May. For a lot of people, it's ride in the slop or not at all.
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Old 09-13-17, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest
Pro Ones are fantastic tires. They roll like ceramic bearings on a polished floor. I did a ride this summer that was going to take me by Squire Creek and Swede Heaven, as soon as I left the pavement, I got a sidewall cut. Pro Ones are known for their lack of protection and their common flats. The sealant didn't hold, and I had a four mile walk of shame back to the car. Was sore the next day, road shoes are no fun to walk in. I'm with Timothy 100 % on this. Rolling resistance is important, but it's one of a bunch of important things.



God willing, we have fire ending rains coming this weekend. The rain will continue until May. For a lot of people, it's ride in the slop or not at all.
You crazy Pacific Northwesters are your own category

edit: although...is your rainy season only in the winter months? If so, I actually envy you guys...come november/december...decent bikes get put away here...if you're out riding, it's on a beater that's going to get trashed anyway in the salt that gets thrown down. I buy a used MTB every couple seasons. I've got a Trek 850 that actually held up pretty decently over last winter...but a decent bit of rust on the headset/derailleurs. New chain/grease/tires and I should get another year out of it .

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Old 09-13-17, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman
Well that is sort of my point. How many people with road bike race road races? I'm sure some do (obviously...), but it is a small fraction of the people with road bikes that ride.

The problem is when the average rider bases tire choice on rolling resistance to the exclusion of other aspects of tire behavior because rolling resistance is all they ever hear about.

The tires don't last long, get flats, wear through to the cords with one accidental skid and they blame the tires. Durability isn't the only trade off however. Worse case is that their low rolling resistance tire suddenly looses traction when pushed over the limit, especially in marginal conditions, and they blame the tires.

Everyone buys into rolling resistance as the metric by which all tires should be judged and sites like rollingrestance.com don't help. I'd like to see a site named suppleandpredictablebiketires.com
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Old 09-13-17, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
The problem is when the average rider bases tire choice on rolling resistance to the exclusion of other aspects of tire behavior because rolling resistance is all they ever hear about.

The tires don't last long, get flats, wear through to the cords with one accidental skid and they blame the tires. Durability isn't the only trade off however. Worse case is that their low rolling resistance tire suddenly looses traction when pushed over the limit, especially in marginal conditions, and they blame the tires.

Everyone buys into rolling resistance as the metric by which all tires should be judged and sites like rollingrestance.com don't help. I'd like to see a site named suppleandpredictablebiketires.com
Ironically enough...had one of those today First fall on a bike in ~10 yrs. My own damn fault though...road over the painted line in the rain without realizing it. Think I may have jacked up my back pretty good

I'm not as young as I used to be. Stronger rider.....but definitely am not going to bounce back from this as quick as I used to. Could have fell off a house 10 years ago and felt about the same I think.
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Old 09-13-17, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman
I'm looking for 26" tires for my winter commuter bike too. But, TBH...I have ZERO interest in trying to change a flat when it's slushy and 15 degrees outside. That's a different can of worms for me....will probably get a set of marathon supremes.

5-10 minutes in nice weather to change a flat is actually enjoyable for me...mid commute when it's snowing, and I'm rapidly cooling down while possibly damp from sweat and hands are freezing from taking gloves off to futz with a tire...no thank you. I'll take the slower tire in that scenario to know I'm not flatting unless I run over a pile of razor blades.
agreed. I use Nokian studded tires. 160 allows me to run rubber or studded on the ground based off the tire pressure I use. 295 allows me to do anything, but boy are they heavy.
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Old 09-13-17, 01:20 PM
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I don't see how low rolling resistance means a tire that isn't predictable. The lowest rolling resistance is on race tires, and I (and others) depend on them being predictable when racing. going sideways racing is not unusual (especially in damp conditions). Continental, Schwalbe, Michelin put a very high value on good predictable traction in all conditions the tire is designed for.
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