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View Poll Results: Should I give solid tires a try?
Yes 1 50.00%
No 1 50.00%
I don't know or I don't care! 0 0%
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Old 06-24-11, 02:18 PM   #1
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Worry free bird watching by bike - recommendations needed

I'm an inexperienced cyclist but fell in love with the freedom on a vacation to Belize (rust bucket one-gear cruisers from the resort). My husband and I wore a harness with binoculars and cameras and rode pretty slowly (or you miss the birds!) over gravel/dirt roads.

I'm interested in getting bikes for us and I can get a good price on these (or other Novara bikes)
For me:
For him:

The problem is that hubby HATES dealing with tires. He had bad experiences as a bicycle commuter and sees it as work that would ruin his weekend (even if I did it!)

I've researched solid (airfree) tires and find nothing but confusion. Aside from the clear signal that you need to order from a reputable place, I'm not sure if they would meet our needs. We're looking at these solid hybrid tires.

Some factors that might influence your recommendations:
  • We need low maintenance/no flats
  • Handle gravel, packed dirt, bike paths - possibly rutted or loose gravel or sandy dirt
  • Ridden weekly for up to 10 miles, less during poor weather
  • Ridden pretty slowly
  • Want to sit upright and be comfortable (would ride slowly for up to 4 hours)

Am I crazy to consider solid tires considering all the controversy? Do you think the bikes mentioned would meet our needs? On the trails I described, would a full-on cruiser bike do OK vs. the comfort bikes above?

I'd appreciate any views. I realize that bringing up airless tires can ignite rage in those ripped off by a certain reseller... I'm not trying to stir up trouble, but maybe our light-use scenario fits the solid tire sweet spot .
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Old 06-24-11, 02:40 PM   #2
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I have no experience with airless tires, but I would like to comment on what I have heard, and my opinion of standard pneumatic tires.

Airless tires have a reputation for being extremely sluggish and slow, and while you might think "but I will ride slowly anyway,' maybe you will be working as hard to move along at 10 mph as others will be to move at 15 mph. This is because the 'rolling resistance' of tires is realy the energy needed to compress the tire under your weight as the wheel turns... air takes little energy to compress, but microcellular polymer balls likely take a significant amount of energy.

Also, the nature of airless tires, the micro-cellular ones you linked to included, is that they do not have the shock absorbtion of a standard pneumatic tire, so they will not be as comfortable, and may lead to increased fatigue and discomfort over longer rides. THere3 is a very similar reason for this as above - a standard pneumatic tire will absorb shock like a light spring, while microcellular balls will absorb shock like... well, like a tire full of tiny balls

Lastly, if decent quality tires are used, and they are properly mounted and inflated, standard pneumatic tires simply don't get that many flats! And after a few tries, a flat tire can be fixed in a minute or two. Unfortunately, a lot of regular cyclists have repeated flats for any number of preventable reasons and don't know that this doesn't have to happen.

All that being said, if you can find some airless tires to fit your bike, they will most certainly fill your requirements for flat free riding. Just be aware that there are trade offs that many people do not consider acceptable. By trying the airless tires for your purpose, you are being a guinea pig for the rest of us! If you do get them and use them, please report back on how well they work. Like I said, I have no personal experience with them, but rely on the opinions of others who have tried them.
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Old 06-24-11, 02:54 PM   #3
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If it's flats that he is worried about, I think it's worth considering ( Schwalbe Marathon Plus ) tires. I have never heard anyone mentioning support for solid rubber tires.
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Old 06-24-11, 02:55 PM   #4
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Thank you!
The good news (for solid) is that I haven't ridden for many years other than in Belize, so I don't have much to compare it with. In fact, working harder might be a good thing, since I sit at a computer all day and don't go to the gym .

But the fatigue would certainly be an issue. I assume some of this could be compensated for with a high-quality seat. I tease my mom for having a bike seat so large it reminds me of a tractor seat. You folks are witnessing me becoming my mother.

Depending on other responses, I'm not against being a guinea pig if the payoff (no flats ever) is worth it. And I think it is to the husband!
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Old 06-24-11, 05:35 PM   #5
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No experience with solid tires and have never seen any bike equipped with them in any shop here myself so don`t know what replacement availability would be like.

Do have personal experience with balloon style tires and would recommend them for what you have have in mind.

Flats come from two causes - perferation by sharp objects from the outside and pinch flats caused by tire-rim contact through the tube caused by low tire pressure on skinny tires. Balloon tires with anti-flat protection address both issues. Their larger size lets them run lower pressures safely. A wider tire at lower pressure still has a contact patch large enough to support a 200lb rider while giving excellent performance on unpaved surfaces. On top of that - a wider contact patch means less pressure per square inch on the road and therefore less chances of perferation from the outside.
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