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Impact of Tire Quality on Ride Comfort

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Impact of Tire Quality on Ride Comfort

Old 08-30-21, 06:52 PM
  #26  
kfried
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I recently went from 28 GP5000s to 32 Rene Herse Extralights. I know the 32s are tooo big for your wife's frame, but I definitely noticed a marked increase in comfort in moving to wider, suppler tires. On the GP5000s , there were some sections of road that really beat me up. With the Rene Herse, those cracks in the asphalt aren't nearly as jarring. Instead, there's more of a cushioning effect and a bit of bounce. They were ~$80/piece but well worth it so far.
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Old 08-30-21, 07:14 PM
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Throw away he skinny tires in the garbage and upgrade to bigger tires.
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Old 08-30-21, 07:41 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
A higher quality tire will feel better than a lower quality tire.
A higher quality wider tire will feel even better than either of the above.

Tire width trumps tire quality when it comes to comfort. A cheap 2" MTB tire will provide more cushion/comfort compared to a high quality 23mm road tire.

What he said.

OP..you can limit the discussion all you want, but there just isn't that much difference between a 25mm and 28mm tire. Spend as much as you want. Of course, a good-quality 28mm tire at a little lower pressure will help, though if you want/need a significant difference, you're going to need a different bike. I have and ride a number of bikes that run 25mm, to 28mm to 38mm to 50mm good-quality tires. A significant difference happens with 38mm tires and a significant improvement again happens at 50mm. The 50s offer a very nice cushy ride.

I'd visit the "show your mountain bike to hybrid conversion" thread..you'll find what you need there.
Vintage MTB To Upright Bar / Urban Bike Conversions
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Old 08-31-21, 10:00 PM
  #29  
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Minority report here:

The difference between cheap heavy tires and expensive light supple tires is not subtle. I swapped out the old, hard, dried-out 700x25s that were on my Fuji when I bought it for 180 gram 700x23 Schwalbe Ultremo R.1s. (The best road tires that my co-op had in their bin-o'-tires.) I couldn't go wider because of the 30 mm fenders.

Night and day difference in hand comfort on my terrible roads. Plus, the supple casings are way rounder in cross-section and corner so much better it's unreal.

This has been my experience every time I've ever bought better tires, going back to my first pair of sewups in the late 80s: better tires really are better. So much so that I'd rather ride a light, supple 23 than a heavy, stiff 25... or even a 28, if the casing is bad enough. (Specialized Armadillos, Conti UltraGatorskins, etc.)

That said, I'm accumulating parts for a 650B conversion. If her frame can take a 700Cx28, 650Bx38s should fit. It's not cheap though... even though I can buy wholesale through the co-op I volunteer at and I'll be building the wheels myself, I'm looking at around 500 bucks when it's all said and done. New wheels and tires, plus brakes, cables, and housings unless it's a disc bike... paying retail and having a shop do the work would be at least $750. And even then, better tires will be better than cheaper tires.

--Shannon
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Old 09-01-21, 11:39 AM
  #30  
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I haven't gone from 25 to 28mm, but as the owner of a Redshift Shockstop stem, I would say that the difference it makes (for vibrations) is much more than my experience of going from 23 vs. 25mm tires. The amount of travel in the bars can be up to 2 cm, and you can adjust the stiffness using the elastomers. That said, stacking the effects (stem and tires) would be even better.

Another suggestion for carpal tunnel is to get some handlebars that distribute the weight over a larger area. On my gravel bike, I got Shimano Pro PLT Ergo carbon bars, and really like them due to the wide surface on top.

Even with those improvements, if the fit is wrong such that she is putting too much weight on her hands, I would guess that she'll still have issues.
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Old 09-01-21, 11:41 AM
  #31  
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this may be the way to go this would do more then a change in tire. suspension stems can really help

https://www.amazon.com/KINEKT-Suspen...49933359&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/Redshift-Shoc...a-349390933134
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Old 09-01-21, 11:51 AM
  #32  
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I doubt changing tires is going to help with the issues are felt in the wrists. If the bars don't allow your wife to keep her wrists straight, then you need to change the bars.

Or are we still supposed to only address tire quality?
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Old 09-01-21, 11:57 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Or are we still supposed to only address tire quality?
That's my preference. All of the "other" stuff is -- or will be -- in play in the future but, for now, it's information about tire quality that I seek. My marching orders are:

1) Do what I can with the existing bike and drop bars.

2) Do what I can with the existing bike and flat bars.

3) Consider different bikes.

It seems to me that the most popular two hand positions of the three available with drop bars basically put all of the hand pressure right where you don't want it for CTS. It's a problem.

I almost wonder if somebody couldn't develop a special glove to help with this. The sketch below is atrocious but I'll toss it out there anyhow. I'm seeing a handle bar ridge of sorts at the base of the fingers.


Last edited by Harold74; 09-01-21 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 09-01-21, 12:03 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Harold74 View Post
That's my preference. All of the "other" stuff is -- or will be -- in play in the future but, for now, it's information about tire quality that I seek. My marching orders are:

1) Do what I can with the existing bike and drop bars.

2) Do what I can with the existing bike and flat bars.

3) Consider different bikes.
Well I didn't see change tires listed in your marching orders. Though if I extrapolate a little, then maybe item 1 covers that. However going to narrower bars on my drop bar bike instantly let my wrists stay straight. That eliminated the numbness I was getting on long rides.

Get the fit correct on the bike. Tire quality isn't what is making your wife's wrists numb.
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Old 09-01-21, 12:12 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Well I didn't see change tires listed in your marching orders. Though if I extrapolate a little, then maybe item 1 covers that. However going to narrower bars on my drop bar bike instantly let my wrists stay straight. That eliminated the numbness I was getting on long rides.
Yes, changing the tires is one of the things that I can, and may, do to improve matters without abandoning the bike or the drop bar setup. That is most definitely within the scope of my "marching orders".

That's interesting about the narrower bars. And unfortunate as we plan to go the other way. My wife is quite buxom. I didn't know this until she told me on our last weekend ride but it seems that her arms compress her chest in a way that constricts her breathing. A vintage bike that I refurbished for my wife recently has the randonneur bars that flare out at the drops. Apparently she really enjoys the drop position on that bike because it allows her to breathe better. But, then, non straight arms adds to the force carried through the hands which tracks well with your experience.
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Old 09-01-21, 12:22 PM
  #36  
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Possibly the reach to the bars is too much also forcing her to keep her arms stretched out and that is what is compressing her chest.

You might could shorten the stem, but I doubt that would be enough to allow a decent bend in the elbows which might help her not feel constricted across her chest.
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Old 09-01-21, 01:30 PM
  #37  
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It would be well worth your while to find a good professional bike fitter (and preferably someone independent who isn't also selling bikes/parts). Things such as front-back saddle position and angle affect the pressure on the hands as well, more than a tire change will help.

A good fitter is going to be able to account for all factors involved and guide you much better than anyone can here, and will be able to recommend equipment changes also.
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Old 09-02-21, 09:25 PM
  #38  
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When I went from Armadillos to Continental 4000s tires it was like I had a new bike. I also agree with RSBOB that double wrapping the bars will make a big difference.
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Old 09-02-21, 11:07 PM
  #39  
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You could change out the bars for carbon, if it’s a modern bike and they aren’t already. Or maybe something like Vibrocore. If we are chasing diminishing returns on the tires.
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Old 09-03-21, 01:49 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I'd go with the fattest tires that will fit. Measure the gaps around the tire at the chain stays and fork crown and guestimate how fat you can go.
Everyone seems to have started doing that in the last 10 years or so. They just blindly stuff the fattest rubber their bike will take. But you should take into account tire pressure and how low you want to go. The only advantage of a bigger tire is the ability to run lower pressures without pinch flatting. But the lower the pressure is the squishier the tire gets. When the tire is squisher and has more deflection the bike will feel less responsive and more sluggish, especially when climbing and sprinting. And the handling will be slower. If someone goes from a 28 to a 38 but hardly changes the pressure then all you're doing is adding rolling weight.
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Old 09-03-21, 07:32 AM
  #41  
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I don't think a wider tire and/or lower tire pressure are going to do too much to relieve hand pain.

Assuming that the bike fit is good (i.e., the saddle height and fore/aft position are such that they don't force too much of her weight on the bars) and that she's using some padded gloves, the next step for hand comfort is putting gel pads under some good bar tape. This eliminated the numbness in my hands.

For me, the gel padding does two things - it cushions the hands and, in addition, the larger effective bar diameter spreads out the pressure on my hands (e.g., visualize the difference between doing a pull-up while hanging onto a pencil-thick bar versus hanging onto a large diameter pipe).

Jean
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Old 09-03-21, 08:56 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by jayp410 View Post
I haven't gone from 25 to 28mm, but as the owner of a Redshift Shockstop stem, I would say that the difference it makes (for vibrations) is much more than my experience of going from 23 vs. 25mm tires. The amount of travel in the bars can be up to 2 cm, and you can adjust the stiffness using the elastomers. That said, stacking the effects (stem and tires) would be even better..
That is good to hear as the shockstop stem is the latest modification to the bike. In testing it myself, I noticed something interesting with drop bars and I'd be curious to know if your experience is the same. It seems that the system is "tuned" to have the maximum effect in the hoods position and much less effect on the tops and in the drops. As I see it, that makes sense given that:

1) In the tops, your hands exert less leverage on the system than they do on the hoods.

2) In the drops, you exert a rotation about the stem that nearly counters the "normal" gravity rotation.

3) In the instructions, they have you use only one of the two elastomers for flat bars. I'm guessing that this is why.

I still like the system but, on drop bars, it seems to predominantly benefit the one handlebar position: the hoods. This should work fine for my wife as that's where here hands are much of the time. And I assume that the other hand positions still benefit, just a bit less drastically.
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Old 09-03-21, 09:02 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by MAK View Post
When I went from Armadillos to Continental 4000s tires it was like I had a new bike.
That information is more useful to me than you know. I've got a 2000 Titanium Airborne Zeppelin that is:

a) Set up as a faux triathlon bike and;

b) Probably a couple of centimeters too small for me at my current level of fitness & flexibility.

It's a cool bike but horribly uncomfortable for me, particularly given that the frame is notoriously compliant. Before I sell the bike, I'm attempting everything that I can, within reason, to make it comfortable. And one of those modifications is switching from 23 Armadillos to 25 GP5000's. Obviously, based on this thread, the GP5000's get mixed reviews.
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Old 09-03-21, 09:09 AM
  #44  
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I've received some great advice on tire quality here and I've been grateful to have that. This thread seems to have run its course on that specific topic so I figured that I'd post a pic of the bike in question for those determined to veer off topic into other methods of generating hand comfort.

- It's a 48cm Norco Valence X6. It's a cool bike for a very recreational rider and my wife did get a great deal on it from a coworker. However, my wife does mistakenly think that it's a good deal more high end than it really is.

- Frames don't come much smaller than this.

- As you can see the bars are already fairly upright. In hindsight, I do wish that I'd gotten the 30 deg version of the Shockstop stem.

- The bike has a carbon fork but not carbon handlebars.


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Old 09-03-21, 09:17 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Jean_TX View Post
...the next step for hand comfort is putting gel pads under some good bar tape. This eliminated the numbness in my hands. For me, the gel padding does two things - it cushions the hands and, in addition, the larger effective bar diameter spreads out the pressure on my hands (e.g., visualize the difference between doing a pull-up while hanging onto a pencil-thick bar versus hanging onto a large diameter pipe).
That will indeed be the next stop. I recently refurbished a vintage bike for my wife and this is what I did there. I got some quality gel inserts and wrapped them with plush tape. In hindsight, I can now see that I've botched my experimentation in that I've attempted some things on one bike and other things on a different bike. That's made it a bit difficult to isolate what are the best interventions in general.

In researching the thick & soft bar setup extensively, you find two opposing takes on that:

1) Bigger effective bar = less pressure. Good.

2) Very soft & thick bar = inability to get pressure off of the bad parts of the hand and onto those that don't hurt. The tape kind of conforms to the hand shape and puts pressure everywhere. Bad.

It will be interesting to see how that pans out for my wife. It may be the case that the setup works better for certain kinds of hand problems than others.

My wife does have some good gloves and they've helped quite a lot.

Another place where my wife struggles with her hands is in doing yoga (think plank). To get by, she'll try to squeeze her palms together a bit to get the weight onto the pads of the heels of her hands rather than the soft spots in between. You'd think that spreading the weight over the whole hand, which is quite easy to do in this situation, would solve the matter. Apparently, however, almost any weight on the part of her hands between the pads is a problem.

Last edited by Harold74; 09-03-21 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 09-03-21, 10:10 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
Everyone seems to have started doing that in the last 10 years or so. They just blindly stuff the fattest rubber their bike will take. But you should take into account tire pressure and how low you want to go. The only advantage of a bigger tire is the ability to run lower pressures without pinch flatting....
Incorrect. A fatter tire rolls over softer ground much more efficiently, is less susceptible to cracks in the road, and has overall less rolling resistance at a given pressure.

The recent increase in tire size is hardly a "blind" process - people like Jan Heine have documented their experience and analysis of increasing tire size. Pro racers have increased the size of their tires over the years and they haven't done so "blindly".
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Old 09-03-21, 10:11 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Harold74 View Post
That information is more useful to me than you know. I've got a 2000 Titanium Airborne Zeppelin that is:

a) Set up as a faux triathlon bike and;

b) Probably a couple of centimeters too small for me at my current level of fitness & flexibility.

It's a cool bike but horribly uncomfortable for me, particularly given that the frame is notoriously compliant. Before I sell the bike, I'm attempting everything that I can, within reason, to make it comfortable. And one of those modifications is switching from 23 Armadillos to 25 GP5000's. Obviously, based on this thread, the GP5000's get mixed reviews.
I have never used the 5000's, only the 4000's, so I can't comment on the mixed reviews other than saying the much like Bontrager, Trek and Specialized, etc., SOME PEOPLE simply criticize big companies. Some other people also bad mouth anything other than what THEY ride, wear or use.

I am positive that you'll feel a big difference. Good luck.
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Old 09-03-21, 10:47 AM
  #48  
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I haven't read all the posts here but I do know two 28c tires well. The Paselas (from all I've read very close to Gravel Kings with possibly more comfortable tread though that matters little) and the much more expensive Vittoria G+. Both are comfortable tires, but the G+ far more so - in fact, like riding on a cloud. Yes, your wife will have to put up with excellent rolling resistance, excellent cornering (and very decent in the wet), light weight and a few more flats.

Paselas have been my city tires for years. I used to ride Vittoria Open Paves for good tires. (Like the G+ except before the graphene and the tread was formulated for super wet grip - I live in Portland.) A lot of flats with that grippy tread that attracts all road debris. The graphene has been a game changer.

The secret to comfortable tires is the casing. The ultimate is silk or a synthetic equivalent. (I used to race silk sewups.) Tires that come new with sidewalls that feel like fine fabric are almost certainly going to be comfortable. There are rubber "gumwall" coated tires that are very comfortable but the gumwall hides a lot. Until you ride them you do not know. (And a caution re: those sidewalls - don't let curbs, brake shoes or fenders touch them! Treat them like women's nylons. Beautiful until a "run" but those runs are blowouts. Another "comfort plus" of both these tires - not hard to mount! Yes, some rim combos are a little tougher but I've never needed special tools or gone through some of the ordeals I've read about. )
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Old 09-03-21, 11:01 AM
  #49  
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Rene Herse 28's

Originally Posted by kfried View Post
I recently went from 28 GP5000s to 32 Rene Herse Extralights. I know the 32s are tooo big for your wife's frame, but I definitely noticed a marked increase in comfort in moving to wider, suppler tires. On the GP5000s , there were some sections of road that really beat me up. With the Rene Herse, those cracks in the asphalt aren't nearly as jarring. Instead, there's more of a cushioning effect and a bit of bounce. They were ~$80/piece but well worth it so far.
I'm a big Rene Herse fan, and have them on quite a few bikes. That said, I might be one of the few that does not find the 28's overly plush....they are fast, they do better on wet pavement than the Vittoria's I have on another road bike, but for me are not as cushy feeling as the GP4000's in the same size on another road bike. I initially had the RH's mounted on this bike as I though it would be the bomb when combined with the future shock stem, and they worked well, aside from the flats I got using them on local highway shoulders, so switched to the GP4000's. For me, the 4000's feel smoother. I'm disappointed to hear at least a few here not finding the 5000's to be plush.

I put the RH 28's on another road bike I was building up, and I like them fine...I'll probably try to stuff the 32's on there when I wear them out though.

I love the 35's, and run the knobby 42's on my gravel bike, which I really enjoy.

To the OP, going up to 28's will be a help. I've significantly lowered the psi I ride even 25's on....I mostly air them up to 65'ish any more, and that works for me at 150. 28's a hair less at 60.
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Old 09-03-21, 12:09 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by Harold74 View Post
My wife has terrible hands, truly. She's already had carpal tunnel surgery on both... what effect does tire quality have on ride comfort? Are there certain tires that should be avoided or sought when one wishes to optimize comfort?
Try a supple tire with true skinwall (not just a painted on gumwall -- skinwalls are translucent when held up to the light, while some gumwallls are just a strip of tan rubber glued onto the outside of a thick sidewalled tire) like the Continental GP Classic, or Soma Supple Vitesse, and some latex tubes from Vittoria, Silca (rebranded Vittoria) or other. At a minimum try this on the front wheel where it will make the most difference for the hands, upper body, neck, etc.

Tires and tubes can matter as much as saddles, handlebars and bar wrap or grips. All of those matter more to me than the frame material -- steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, etc.

The C1 & C2 vertebrae in my neck are permanently damaged from being hit by cars, twice. That's my single biggest factor in riding comfort. Other than the right frame size and overall bike setup, tires and tubes are a huge factor for me.

For the past couple of years my road bikes have been set up with either Continental GP Classics (700x25 only, reddish/brown skinwalls) or Soma Supple Vitesse. For the past year I mostly rode with latex tubes, which significantly cushion the ride on the coarse chipseal that's become the new normal in my area --- basically railroad ballast glued down with epoxy. Even at higher pressure latex tubes feel better than butyl tubes at reduced pressure.

A month or so ago one of the latex tubes developed a leak around the base of the valve stem. Not a puncture. I got lazy and didn't set up the wheel as recommended by Silca and Vittoria. They recommend tubeless rim tape, no pre-cut holes for valve stems. I just used the stiff, heavy duty plastic rim strip that was already on the wheelset. It's stiff enough to prevent tubes from extruding into the spoke holes. But I neglected the over-sized pre-cut hole for the valve stem. The latex gradually extruded into the hole around the valve and weakened, causing a leak.

So I rode with butyl tubes for a few weeks, and re-ordered new latex tubes. By the time I finally installed the latex tubes my neck was in agony toward the end of longer rides, 40-70 miles. But I immediately felt the improvement in comfort after installing the latex tubes. Even at or near full pressure (100 psi) my 700x23 Soma Supple Vitesse feel more comfortable than the Conti GP Classics with butyl tubes at around 65 psi front, 85 psi rear.

And we can't really duplicate the feel of good tires by running stiff tires with rigid sidewalls at lower pressure. I've tried that with my hybrid tires. Currently one hybrid has Conti Sport Contact II tires, which aren't very sporty at all. They ride about like heavy duty Gatorskins, with thick tread, a thick puncture shield and rigid sidewalls. At full pressure it feels like lead filled garden hose. At reduced pressure it bounces like a mushy basketball. The ride is never "supple," just mushy and imprecise. The ride is so awful I haven't ridden that bike in months.

I expected the lightweight, thin Soma Supple Vitesse SL tires to be fragile and wear out quickly, but they've been as durable as the Conti GP Classics, with an even better ride. I've had a couple of punctures, not bad for the terrible roads in my area. There's a version of the Supple Vitesse with thicker tread that I plan to try next.

There are many other tires that could accurately be described as supple, but those are the two I've settled on for my road bikes. I plan to try some better hybrid tires from Soma, Panaracer or other for my old Univega hybrid.
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