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How dangerous is it to ride slick tires in the rain?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

How dangerous is it to ride slick tires in the rain?

Old 06-08-16, 10:50 AM
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RetroDork
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How dangerous is it to ride slick tires in the rain?

Long story short, I have a race on Saturday, and it looks like it will be raining. I have slicks on my bike now and was going to buy some new tires for the race.
Do I need tread for he rain? Or can I just run the slicks and be OK? I hit 30MPH+ pretty easily on a short downhill and there's a sharp turn at the bottom of that hill...
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Old 06-08-16, 10:52 AM
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They should be fine. If anything they're probably better in the rain.

Tires with Smooth Tread by Jobst Brandt
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Old 06-08-16, 10:55 AM
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A race race? Or a t-shirt "race"?
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Old 06-08-16, 10:56 AM
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I'm assuming we're talking about road tires, 23-25 or so? If that's the issue then the answer is not very. Bicycles are not very prone to hydro-planing so treads or lack thereof is not that significant. I've heard some say tread on road tires is strictly for sales appeal. I do't know about that but ending up on the pavement due to hydroplaning is not a concern.

Of course a road at the beginning of a rain tends to be oily but treads won't help you a whole lot there either.
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Old 06-08-16, 11:03 AM
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Just be careful on paint and you'll be fine.
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Old 06-08-16, 11:07 AM
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A much bigger factor is the rubber compound. Some rubbers are grippy when wet, some are very slippery. In my experience: Vittoria Open Paves are an excellent wet road tire, even when worn. Panaracer Pacelas are mediocre. The Vittoria Rubinos of 10-15 years ago were treacherous. (I believe they are far better now though the Rubinos I rode the 2010 Cycle Oregon on were just so-so. But excellent re: goatheads; the reason I was riding them.)

In my racing days many years ago, I rode my first real race on the orange treaded ribbed Vittoria sewups. That race was as wet as it gets. I felt like I was riding on ice even though the tires were not worn.

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Old 06-08-16, 11:12 AM
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Always loved this article by Sheldon.

Bicycle Tires and Tubes

A longish read but pretty interesting. Scroll down to "Tread Patterns". Rubber compound and make-up will always make a difference, but the bit about slick tires v treaded tires always amazed me.
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Old 06-08-16, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by RetroDork View Post
Long story short, I have a race on Saturday, and it looks like it will be raining. I have slicks on my bike now and was going to buy some new tires for the race.
Do I need tread for he rain? Or can I just run the slicks and be OK? I hit 30MPH+ pretty easily on a short downhill and there's a sharp turn at the bottom of that hill...
It can be a good idea to let a little air out of your tires...
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Old 06-08-16, 11:57 AM
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I'm always amazed how many first time road bike customers are thoroughly convinced they'll go careening off the road at the slightest provocation unless they have ample tread and tire volume.
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Old 06-08-16, 11:59 AM
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Tread is pretty meaningless on a bike tire. Regardless, take it easy on your 30mph downhill turn on wet pavement.
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Old 06-08-16, 12:27 PM
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Switch to pro 4 grip
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Old 06-08-16, 12:32 PM
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Also be careful on manhole covers and the like. They get slippery as **** in the rain.
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Old 06-08-16, 12:35 PM
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Run lower pressure than normal, about 10 lbs down to get a bigger contact patch.

And attack. Many people don't like to race in the rain, and are timid. Go hard from the gun and make them pay. It also ends up being safer because you thin the race.
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Old 06-08-16, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Run lower pressure than normal, about 10 lbs down to get a bigger contact patch.
unless you run pressures just above where pinch flats start
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Old 06-08-16, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by dbf73 View Post
unless you run pressures just above where pinch flats start
One more reason to race on tubulars
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Old 06-08-16, 02:01 PM
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get Schwalbe Durano plus .... they grip well in wet and dry, (and you won't get punctures)
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Old 06-08-16, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Clipped_in View Post
It can be a good idea to let a little air out of your tires...
Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Run lower pressure than normal, about 10 lbs down to get a bigger contact patch.
I don't think this will help...
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Old 06-08-16, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
One more reason to race on tubulars
Here we go...
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Old 06-08-16, 03:01 PM
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Like other people said, tread is fairly useless for rain. You definitely do not want knobby tires.

However, rubber compound makes a pretty big difference. I know the Continental gp4000's have a pretty good reputation for staying grippy on the road in the rain. You will need to be a little more cautious in handling than usual no matter what the tire, but a slick tire with a good rubber compound for rain is what I would do.
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Old 06-08-16, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by rmfnla View Post
Here we go...
At every opportunity.
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Old 06-08-16, 03:08 PM
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You've gotten some good advice.

- Treaded tires offer no more traction on solid surfaces in wet conditions than do slicks of the same size.
- A slight reduction in pressure or going one size larger in tire (like 23 > 25 or 25 > 28) will give you a larger patch size which may help some in cornering, but not much.
- Avoid metal surfaces, painted stripes and the oily center of roadway lanes as they offer much less traction when wet. If you must cross them, avoid cornering or braking if at all possible.
- No matter how fast you are, you WILL NOT HYDROPLANE on a roadbike tire. You may hit a slick surface but you cannot hydroplane, there is simply too much weight over too small of an area, at too low of a speed. If I recall correctly, a 150-pound rider on 25mm tires would have to exceed 120 mph to be at risk of hydroplaning.
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Old 06-08-16, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by GravelMN View Post
If I recall correctly, a 150-pound rider on 25mm tires would have to exceed 120 mph to be at risk of hydroplaning.
Very possible if you're truly laying down the watts.
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Old 06-08-16, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
Very possible if you're truly laying down the watts.
This. Just don't drope the hamer.
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Old 06-08-16, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
Very possible if you're truly laying down the watts.

I did that yesterday.
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Old 06-08-16, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by rmfnla View Post
I don't think this will help...
Have you raced in the rain?

Reduced air pressure is the time honored approach to racing in the rain. It's been the accepted wisdom for at least 50 years.
http://www.active.com/cycling/articl...re-in-the-rain

http://trainright.com/trainright-now...t-safely-rain/

And as for blowing off the tubular comment, there is a decided advantage to racing on tubulars in the rain. In addition to all the reasons to prefer racing on tubulars in general, the ability to run low air pressure without pinch flatting is particularly advantageous in the rain.
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