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Old 11-13-17, 12:42 AM   #1
surak
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Tires for Seattle's roads?

I don't have experience with many different tires, but I know they can feel very different depending on terrain and conditions. Seattle's roads are not... good, and half the year they are damp. For those who ride in the area, do you have a trusty set of tires for some/all the typical conditions? I'm considering getting a road bike next year, but wonder if I need something with decent tire clearance to handle all the potholes and cracked pavement. FWIW, my bikes currently use 700x37 (Conti Contact), 700x35 (some puncture-resistant Kenda), and 26"x1.75" (Schwalbe Delta Cruiser) tires, but they don't feel particularly fast nor comfy.

Last edited by surak; 11-13-17 at 03:58 PM. Reason: Correct Contact width
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Old 11-13-17, 11:22 AM   #2
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I also live in Seattle, and I agree that a wider tire helps. I typically use 32mm tires on my road bikes and those work fine for me, but I want to try 35s once I wear out a set.

I use different tires depending on their use. For riding pleasure I love Compass tires, but Panaracer Paselas are a good (less expensive) choice. I use Gatorskins for durability. They are not as pleasant to ride but tend to shrug off debris better than the Compass and Pasela tires do.
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Old 11-13-17, 04:08 PM   #3
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I also live in Seattle, and I agree that a wider tire helps. I typically use 32mm tires on my road bikes and those work fine for me, but I want to try 35s once I wear out a set.

I use different tires depending on their use. For riding pleasure I love Compass tires, but Panaracer Paselas are a good (less expensive) choice. I use Gatorskins for durability. They are not as pleasant to ride but tend to shrug off debris better than the Compass and Pasela tires do.
Good to know that I'm not being overly paranoid with widths, thanks.

I actually have a pair of 32mm folding bead Gatorskins that I bought on a coworker's recommendation, but haven't put on anything. Looked up the weight difference between them and Contact, wow bigger than I expected. I ride through some gravel littered with assorted fallen tree matter, would the Gatorskins be able to handle that, or should I stick with the treaded Contact?
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Old 11-13-17, 04:21 PM   #4
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Yes, the Gatorskins should be fine with gravel and smushed up tree bits. :-)
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Old 11-14-17, 08:36 PM   #5
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I never had a problem on 23 mm Grand Prix 4000. But then I don't consider occasional flats a problem. I'm riding 28 mm tires (IRC Formula Pro Tubeless) now on rims that stretch them out to about 32 mm. Much more comfortable, better grip too.

I've always used a smooth tire (like Gatorskin, but not Gatorskin, ever) on dirt and gravel, same size as on pavement. We don't have that much deep, pea-sized gravel here, where you need bigger tires. We mostly have dirt roads, with all kinds of stuff in/on them. Wider is better on gravel but 28 mm is sufficient.
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Old 11-14-17, 10:52 PM   #6
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I ride plenty of potholed and cracked pavement year round on 700x25 GP4000s II. Work fine for me. Good wet grip. My next set I'll probably switch to 28's for a little better comfort.
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Old 11-15-17, 03:48 PM   #7
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I never had a problem on 23 mm Grand Prix 4000. But then I don't consider occasional flats a problem. I'm riding 28 mm tires (IRC Formula Pro Tubeless) now on rims that stretch them out to about 32 mm. Much more comfortable, better grip too.

I've always used a smooth tire (like Gatorskin, but not Gatorskin, ever) on dirt and gravel, same size as on pavement. We don't have that much deep, pea-sized gravel here, where you need bigger tires. We mostly have dirt roads, with all kinds of stuff in/on them. Wider is better on gravel but 28 mm is sufficient.
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I ride plenty of potholed and cracked pavement year round on 700x25 GP4000s II. Work fine for me. Good wet grip. My next set I'll probably switch to 28's for a little better comfort.
Nice, good to know. By the way, are folks riding aluminum, cf, steel, ti frames/forks? I'm wondering about the tradeoff for a sub $1k road/gravel/cross N+1: should I target more tire clearance or upgraded material? I'm too chicken to go fast around here, but do want to be comfortable while going faster and farther than what I can do on my commuter.
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Old 11-15-17, 04:32 PM   #8
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Nice, good to know. By the way, are folks riding aluminum, cf, steel, ti frames/forks? I'm wondering about the tradeoff for a sub $1k road/gravel/cross N+1: should I target more tire clearance or upgraded material? I'm too chicken to go fast around here, but do want to be comfortable while going faster and farther than what I can do on my commuter.
All my bikes are steel. For what it’s worth, good wheels and tires will make more of a difference in your comfort and speed than anything else.

Oh wait. I do have one carbon fork in the batch. :-)
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Old 11-15-17, 06:31 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
Nice, good to know. By the way, are folks riding aluminum, cf, steel, ti frames/forks? I'm wondering about the tradeoff for a sub $1k road/gravel/cross N+1: should I target more tire clearance or upgraded material? I'm too chicken to go fast around here, but do want to be comfortable while going faster and farther than what I can do on my commuter.
Mine personally is carbon. But I say more clearance. If you can't have both, then wider tires will make more difference in comfort, and also in safety.
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Old 11-15-17, 09:46 PM   #10
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Mine is a Ti Cross Bike with a carbon fork. Upgraded material AND more clearance. I get to have my cake and eat it too!
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Old 11-16-17, 04:22 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
All my bikes are steel. For what itís worth, good wheels and tires will make more of a difference in your comfort and speed than anything else.

Oh wait. I do have one carbon fork in the batch. :-)
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Mine personally is carbon. But I say more clearance. If you can't have both, then wider tires will make more difference in comfort, and also in safety.
On my self-imposed (but not yet spouse-approved ) budget, there are definitely options for more tire clearance, but I have no idea what to look for in good wheels. Is there even such a thing as good wheels on a ~$1k bike? In this bucket are typically wheels that I look up and find few, if any, comments that would make it possible to compare.

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Mine is a Ti Cross Bike with a carbon fork. Upgraded material AND more clearance. I get to have my cake and eat it too!
Haha, I can afford to have my cake and eat it too, but then I would feel the guilt of spending well beyond what value I'd extract from my purchase. I'm realistic and know that no purchase is going to make me go from a recreational cyclist to a die-hard.
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Old 11-16-17, 05:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
On my self-imposed (but not yet spouse-approved ) budget, there are definitely options for more tire clearance, but I have no idea what to look for in good wheels. Is there even such a thing as good wheels on a ~$1k bike? In this bucket are typically wheels that I look up and find few, if any, comments that would make it possible to compare.
Well, think of it this way. Wheels are made up of hubs, rims, spokes, tubes, and tires. Given what you are looking for - durable yet comfortable and speedy commuting and city riding - you would want to find a wheel made with a decent hub that is compatible with your existing bike. For example, if your bike has Shimano you can look for a wheel made with a good Shimano hub or a compatible hub from a good maker, such as Phil Wood or White Industries. (Those can be expensive so they are just examples; there are others.) Then look for a rim that is fairly wide - at least 19 mm - so they can easily fit wider tires. Some of the brands that people here like are Velocity, H+Son, and Mavic, but again there are more.

I will be honest and report that although I have some really nice wheels, I also have several sets of wheels that I built using old hubs that I had lying around. The hubs were cheap but sturdy parts back in their day, nothing special. They ride well, as nicely as my modern wheels. Their deficiency is going to be durability. I sometimes cannot adjust the bearings as well as I would like, leading to a bit of slop. But with the rims (usually Velocity Aero or Aeroheat) and Compass tires, they are delightful.
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Old 11-18-17, 02:36 PM   #13
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Compass Tires are 'fast' , but you sacrifice puncture resistance to get there.
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Old 11-22-17, 08:30 PM   #14
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I put the 32mm Gatorskins on my Onyx this weekend and had a chance to try them out on Monday. Noticed some loss of grip around a traffic circle, no doubt exacerbated by riding over a manhole. I pumped them well below the max pressure, just a tad over the 15% drop chart, so I don't think I overinflated the rear. Upside is that they are noticeably faster than the 37mm Contacts on flat surfaces. Thinking about trying out 28mm GP 4000s II, maybe the reflex ones. Planet Cyclery has them for $37.95, which seems like an OK price. But would I be going in the wrong direction, tire width-wise?
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Old 11-25-17, 06:57 PM   #15
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When I lived in Seattle I rode a steel Davidson, and used 700x19 tires. Talk about rough. But that's all we knew back then, in the 80s. Now I live in NYC and ride 700x23 GP4000s on my road bike and 26x1 1/8 Gatorskins on my commuter. Some would want wider tires but I don't see the point. I don't get flats and I'm plenty happy.
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Old 11-29-17, 12:39 PM   #16
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I’ve been using Compass EL or the predecessor Grand Bois tires exclusively for the last decade or so and love them. No puncture issues riding all over Seattle and surrounding areas for my wife and me. We typically get about 6000 miles out of a tire (3K in front, then another 3K when I move it to the rear), but I haven’t yet spent enough time on the 38’s, which I expect will be much longer, with even fewer punctures thanks to the low pressure.

The old and rough concrete slabs throughout the city, and the chip seal in rural areas, feel much nicer with wide tires - 28, 32, or for something really plush, 38x650B, all at appropriately lower pressures. And I’d recommend using wider rims - 22mm or greater - to maximize the benefit.

Paselas and Gravelkings are decent if the cost of Compass puts you off, but life is too short to spend it on cheap tires.

Last edited by Dfrost; 11-29-17 at 12:44 PM.
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