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Who thinks that bike tires are getting better?

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Who thinks that bike tires are getting better?

Old 06-30-17, 06:29 AM
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Who thinks that bike tires are getting better?

Lots better.

I'm thinking that I used to get lots more flats than I'm getting recently. Don't see as many other folks pulled over to fix a flat either. My wife and I are riding Catrikes, both came equipped with Schwalbe Marathon Race tires. Marathon Race have the lowest level of puncture protection that Schwalbe offers and the tread is a little thinner so they still ride pretty good. I can remember riding with some early versions of Specialized Armadillo tires. They were pretty puncture resistant (though not puncture proof) but they rode like ox cart wheels.

I think that bike tires are getting better. (Disclaimer: I don't live in the goat head thorn zone. YMMV)
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Old 06-30-17, 06:36 AM
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Old 06-30-17, 07:25 AM
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I agree that across the brands, bicycle tires are getting better. Plus, we have more choice in terms of sizes, tread types and puncture protection. The down-side, of course, is that tires now cost more than ever before (at least in my memory).

Regarding Schwalbe, I'm not impressed since I had a huge number of flats with their Marathon Plus on my folding bike, i.e. one flat per every 13 commutes to work. The folder now has Kenda tires which work better and are a whole lot less expensive.

My road bikes are all Continental equipped (different model tires depending on bike usage) though my recumbent is still Kenda equipped.

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Old 06-30-17, 09:11 AM
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I think they're improving little by little. Nothing really earth shattering, just more choices, so you can pick your favorite compromise between ride quality, puncture resistance, grip, and durability.
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Old 06-30-17, 09:47 AM
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I agree. At least compared to 25 years ago.

Just to put it a number. I've ridden over 2,000 miles on stock Giant SL tires on my Defy, and have yet to have a single flat. Not one! Unthinkable going back to the 90's or so.

As a qualifier, I mostly ride on fairly quiet roads, not that I haven't seen and ridden over my share of debris.
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Old 06-30-17, 10:43 AM
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I don't know if tires are getting better or not but I am getting much fewer punctures. I am, though, inspecting my tires every few weeks and picking out glass and clam shell shards that are always embedded in the rubber. Actually, come to thing of it, I've not had a puncture in over a year but I've had several faulty valves in that time.
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Old 06-30-17, 10:49 AM
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I started in '82 and tires are much nicer today. Less flats, better handling, and roll very well. That's why I used tubulars in the 80s but switched in the early 90s when clincher tires seemed to make a leap in performance and are still getting better.
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Old 06-30-17, 01:32 PM
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I am having far fewer punctures than back in the 1970s, although the worst problem is goat head thorns, which I discovered the hard way when I moved here (north coastal San Diego County) in 1981. The city and various volunteers are doing a pretty good job of keeping the Russian thistle at bay, but it is still a big problem around here.
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Old 06-30-17, 01:35 PM
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It's certainly not absent, but seems there is significantly less glass on suburban and urban streets than in the past.
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Old 06-30-17, 07:29 PM
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Tyres are getting better, especially as far as puncture resistance goes. Tubes are still poor - I've had the spare carried in my saddle bag develop leaks over an Australian summer and recently had another valve break free. With the tyres I use, my punctures in recent years have all been tube failures.
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Old 06-30-17, 07:46 PM
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The tire that changed it all for me came out 15 years ago, the Bontrager Select K. It was a revelation: Riding through the nasty streets of Everett, Charlestown, Malden, Waltham, Quincy, Mass and not getting any flats. Since then, I've ridden on quicker, nimbler and lighter tires.., but none better.
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Old 06-30-17, 08:06 PM
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Back in the '70s and early '80s, we just expected that someone would get a flat on a typical 100 km training ride, even if there were only three of us. Then along came kevlar belts and flats became much less common. It seems like improvements were incremental, with some hitches, until very recently.

Now, with wide, supple, low-pressure tires becoming more and more the norm, flats are just not something we ever expect to deal with. With all but the worst road debris, and we really should be able to avoid that, the tire just deforms around it and fails to puncture. (I don't know about goat-heads; we don't have them yet.)

I ride anywhere from 8000-18000 miles per year, depending on the year. Most years I have zero or one flat tire, and that is usually caused by some road debris that I should have avoided. (I claim innocence as the stoker on some of those occasions.)

As tubeless come into their own, I expect that flats will become more of a historical discussion than something people actually deal with.
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Old 06-30-17, 08:21 PM
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Agree that kevlar and similar puncture resistant layers have made a big difference in recent decades.
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Old 07-01-17, 01:35 AM
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I don't know if they are getting better. I've had a schwalbe marathon plus on the front for nearly three years without a flat. I had a tear in the one on the back about 2 years ago and the bike shop didn't have a marathon plus to replace it with. So, I got a specialized armadillo, haven't had a flat on that tire yet. I guess I don't know what the improvements are over the past 3 years... and I guess I'm fine with that as long as my tires keep performing (without any, or many, flats) for several thousand more miles.
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Old 07-01-17, 05:49 AM
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Does anyone else get the feeling that this thread is just waving a red flag at the puncture fairy?
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Old 07-01-17, 06:37 AM
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Over many decades all tires have gotten much better. We used to go through car tires like a hot knife through butter. But, like others, I have noticed a marked decrease in flats over the last few years. I assumed it was a fluke since I haven't read about advances in manufacturing that would account for the change. I hope the change is real since being out of practice will make changing a flat seem like a bigger hassle when it inevitably happens. I wouldn't like to go back to frequent flats.
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Old 07-01-17, 08:02 AM
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Tires used to have no grip in the wet. Used to fall frequently in the wet. This is one big difference due entirely to rubber compounds. Another odd thing that used to happen in the 70s was rocks and pebbles spitting out of the tires like watermelon seeds with a ping-ping-ping sound, and sometimes a loud bang on a nearby car, now that never happens. Supple, wide, low pressure, super light tires that nearly never flat even with carpets of goats heads, truly amazing.
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Old 07-01-17, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by europa
Does anyone else get the feeling that this thread is just waving a red flag at the puncture fairy?
Yes. That's why I said they were better, not less flat-prone. I'm not mentioning out loud anything about flat resistance.
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Old 07-01-17, 12:40 PM
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I don't know about overall, but I know that my tires are getting better. Better ride, better grip, faster.
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Old 07-01-17, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by europa
Does anyone else get the feeling that this thread is just waving a red flag at the puncture fairy?
Yup. Trust me, I thought about that before starting the thread.
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Old 07-01-17, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by donheff
Over many decades all tires have gotten much better. We used to go through car tires like a hot knife through butter. But, like others, I have noticed a marked decrease in flats over the last few years. I assumed it was a fluke since I haven't read about advances in manufacturing that would account for the change. I hope the change is real since being out of practice will make changing a flat seem like a bigger hassle when it inevitably happens. I wouldn't like to go back to frequent flats.
When I was in college, I figured I'd get 1,000 miles of tread wear for every dollar that I spent on a car tire. When I bought my first set of radial tires, they were $40.00 each but they lasted 40,000 miles so I was happy with that. Today I'd feel gypped if a set of car tires wore out after only 40,000 miles.
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Old 07-01-17, 01:12 PM
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Heck, yeah, bike tires are better than ever.

Who'd have guessed 30+ years ago when I last rode bikes that I'd see anything like the Continental Speed Rides on my hybrid? Great all purpose tires -- grippy on gravel and grass, smooth rolling on pavement. I might have learned to enjoy riding off pavement years ago if such a tire had existed.

And the many choices among cyclocross influenced tires? And folding tires? Amazing.

First time I saw a folding tire was the late 1970s-early '80s, and it was intended only as a backup tire. I'm still adjusting to the notion of a folding bead tire being *better* in some uses.

I dunno about road bike tires, I've ridden only the set of Vittoria Zaffiros that came with my Centurion and they seem okay if not particularly quick.
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Old 07-01-17, 08:57 PM
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Tires of all types have made huge strides in the last 50 years. I started driving big trucks in 1971, and for at least the first decade, I considered a day without a flat to be a good day. A 20 ton jack, hand wrench and hardwood blocks were standard issue in every truck.
For the last 25 years or so, before I retired, flats were so infrequent, we didn't even carry a spare any more. It would have just been dead weight.
On my bike fleet, I run mostly Schwalbe Marathon and Marathon plus. Couldn't tell ya how many years it's been since I had a puncture flat.
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Old 07-01-17, 09:12 PM
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Plastic bottles and aluminum cans make a big difference, too. It's pretty rare to see broken glass on the road.
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Old 07-01-17, 09:22 PM
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I've been considering starting a thread on this subject. 20 or so years ago, I'd flat with sidewall damage if I ran over angular gravel around 3/8" while leaned over. Tire designs and materials have improved, and the acceptance of wider tires has helped. I used to think narrower was better, the resulting tire profile meant vulnerable side walls. I now run mostly 25MMs on not so modern narrow rims, which give a profile that appears to protect the side walls.

Breaker layers of space age materials seem to be quite effective at flat protection without losing lots of tire suppleness or adding weight.
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