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xenologer 02-25-09 07:13 AM

Tire Tread Causes Flats?
I use Panaracer Pasela tires. They're a road tire, basically smooth except for a decorative tread pattern on them.

Anyway, I know the tread is pretty useless for traction on such a road tire, and its purpose is only for marketing since people don't know better...
doesn't bother me, except I'm starting to think it may actually make the tire vulnerable.

I just noticed recently...
Of all the flats I get, I'd say on about 3/4 of the time the sharp piece of glass or whatever debris has been found to have punctured the tire in the groove of the tread pattern. Of the total surface area of the tire this area is rather low, so if the majority of punctures are in this place I'm thinking its a vulnerability.

Maybe because the rubber is a millimeter thinner in the treads? Or maybe because the groove provides a foothold for debris to wedge into where it would otherwise slide out to the side?

Anyone else have a theory, or notice a similar pattern of weakness due to treads?

I haven't tried slicks before, so I dunno if they get fewer punctures... might be something to try switching to...

jgedwa 02-25-09 08:08 AM

I have wondered that too. It makes sense, for the reasons you mention.

On the other hand, I might guess that those variable are very minute compared to the overriding variable of just where the sharp things happens to hit your tire.


werewolf 02-25-09 01:44 PM

I've been thinking these same thoughts. I recently switched from Schwalbe Marathons with kevlar belt to Schwalbe Kojak slicks. I switched because I was getting too many flats in the so-called flat-resistant Marathons, but I've been delighted by the ease of the new slicks, the first I've ever had, and so far anyway no flats. I'm a slick convert now.

Another thing I've been thinking (I even made a thread on this) is that narrow tires might be more flat resistant than wider tires, especially if the thickness of the rubber is the same, since the wider tires have a greater chance of running over a piece of glass.

So here's my plan for the best bike tire: very narrow high pressure slick tire with strong thick rubber. Who makes that?

Velo Dog 02-25-09 07:06 PM

Originally Posted by werewolf (Post 8425583)
very narrow high pressure slick tire with strong thick rubber. Who makes that?

FWIW, I love Paselas. I discovered them six or eight years ago and have them on all three of my road bikes now, in sizes from 28 to 37mm. I've had a few flats, but flats are common here in Big Thorn country. Never noticed where they were on the tire, but the Pasela TGs (with the Kevlar belt) are about as flat resistant as any tires I've tried.

Re the second post, on narrow high pressure slicks, Specialized used to make (may still; I haven't checked) a tire called the Armadillo that had only a token tread, just a kind of stylized Specialized "S" barely etched in, with thick rubber and a supposedly bulletproof belt. You could buy them narrow and run them hard, but I tried a pair and they were AWFUL. It was like riding on wooden rings or something. I did one century on them and gave them away. Narrow high pressure tires have a number of disadvantages, and I've found that most people I convince to try larger ones a little soft don't switch back. I run my 37mm Paselas at 75 psi, and I weigh 240 pounds.

werewolf 02-26-09 12:29 AM

Velo - The Armadillo tire was something different, some new super heavy duty kevlar reinforced tire that was supposed to be almost totally flat proof. I'm thinking of something more conventional but slick and narrow, not that stiff and heavy. What we really need is some kind of rubber material that's more resistant to punctures and just as lively as regular rubber.

EatMyA** 02-26-09 01:08 AM

I have made the same observations as you OP. Too bad thats all I can contribute, sorry.

stapfam 02-26-09 12:22 PM

We all get flats- but I get less than I used to. After each ride I wipe down the tyres with a damp cloth. I can then see the glass- thorns- flints etc that are in the rubber and prise them out before they penetrate deeper and cause a flat on the next ride.

But I ride slicks and am wary of any thing with tread. I used to have a slight tread on the Tandem and carried out the wiping and cleaning of debris on that. Never noticed more bits in the tread- but that Tandem did get a lot of flats. Perhaps the tread was masking them.

cachehiker 02-26-09 03:58 PM

The tread on my Michelin Transworld City's used to pick up, hold on to, and throw tiny pebbles and bits of glass but I only ever got one flat and that was from a tiny bit of wire from a steel belt. I currently ascribe to the theory that it was because I usually ran them around 60 psi and the additional flexing of the tread pattern allowed the tire to drop whatever it had picked up before it could work its way through the casing and cause a flat. Maybe if I'd run them really hard the bits of glass would've stayed stuck in the tread long enough to work themselves through it.

DArthurBrown 03-01-09 01:12 PM

I too am suspicious of this. After the economy tanked, they started running the street cleaners around here less often. I live in a college town with plenty of broken beer bottles for the sunday morning long ride.

I have never had a puncture anywhere but in the tread. I have had some nasty bits actually cut the kevlar, but that's a different issue.

I think this may be why continental gatorskins and other reputable brands have better records with avoiding flats. They have tread patterns designed that wouldn't trap debris but are still marketable.

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