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How to make road bike more comfortable for sidewalks and commuting

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How to make road bike more comfortable for sidewalks and commuting

Old 02-24-20, 01:16 PM
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josephpiano
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How to make road bike more comfortable for sidewalks and commuting

Hello everyone. Is it possible to ride with tires any wider than 28mm? I have a Giant Contend 3.

I do a lot of riding in Atlanta metro area suburbs. I don't always ride on the roads due to safety, so the sidewalks can be a bit rough and bumpy. I love my bike and its speed. I'm just wanting to try tires that are a little more comfortable for commute riding.

If it could also do some gravel, like for bikepacking, an added plus. I'm wanting to get into that, but want to make the most of the bike I already have.

I would love to hear your suggestions. Please let me know. Thanks!
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Old 02-24-20, 01:29 PM
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You can measure your current tires and measure how much space is available. The chainstays by the bottom bracket is usually the tightest place.

Also, you might be able to probably can use less air pressure - keep lowering it until the rim gets close to bottoming out on bumps, and/or the handling gets too squirmy. Consult a tire pressure calculator (I can't recommend one I just go by feel, maybe someone else can recommend one).
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Old 02-24-20, 01:44 PM
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Ride your road bike in the road. Way smoother.

(O.C.G.A. Sec. 40-6-296(a). It is unlawful to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk for anyone who is over the age of 12. (O.C.G.A. Sec. 40-6-144).

Just plan routes to avoid the majority of traffic. Plus you get a longer ride in, which is great.
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Old 02-24-20, 04:25 PM
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Agree with the sentiments to ride on the road especially if you increase your speed. Cycling Savvy is a good source for information on how to safely ride on the road.

I wish there was some sort of standard that actually worked to indicate how a given size tire would fit on a given width rim. I've been fiddling with this for quite a while and I've found that tire sizes can be all over the map when inflated on my HED rims and trying to fit them in my road bike frame that should max out at 28mm.

All that said, I found that 28mm Schwalbe Pro One's tend to be a lot pudgier than their sizing. 28mm wound up pretty close to 30mm wide. 25mm turned out to be pretty close to 28mm wide. Vittoria tires tend to run slightly smaller than their sizing by about a millimeter on the same HED rims.

So the short answer is you probably need to experiment. Another reason to have a good relationship with an LBS.

Once you get the biggest tire you can fit, then start fooling with tire inflation dropping 5psi at a time until you hit the sweet spot where it feels smooth and fast.

Last edited by JohnJ80; 02-24-20 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 02-24-20, 06:52 PM
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Joseph:

1) look at the Strava heatmap for the Atlanta area: link , That'll show you where other cyclists are more comfortable riding. You might find you can string together streets that'll get you where you need to go while avoiding the heaviest and fastest Atlanta traffic. You can get all over the city itself, for instance, while staying almost entirely on residential roads. It'll be more hit or miss for you in the suburbs depending on which suburb you're in.

2) for recreational riding, at least, look at the path east from Atlanta to Stone Mountain, the Silver Comet west from Atlanta to Alabama, the belt line around Atlanta (very congested in better weather) and other places where you can ride for miles on paved paths while avoiding traffic.
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Old 02-24-20, 06:57 PM
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I ride sidewalks a lot. Tubeless tires are the way to go for comfort. One of my bikes will only take a 25mm on the front and a 28mm on the rear. Gained comfort by going Tubeless (Continental GP 5000 tubeless). I liked it so much that I put 32mm GP 5000's on my gravel bike and they are fantastic. Tubeless for comfort all the way.

Also, what year model is your Contend 3? We can look up your maximum tire size with that information.

Last edited by Gconan; 02-24-20 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 02-24-20, 07:01 PM
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Sidewalk and speed don't mix. I ride both on the road and sidewalks, but the sidewalks are in a more industrial/commercial area where very, very few pedestrians use. I use the sidewalk for a few hundred meters, intermittently. Slow right down. I sacrifice speed for safety in this case, as I don't feel the road is safe in these sections.

Lowering your pressure is really the only thing you can do to make the ride more cushy. The wider your tires the more you can lower the pressure. On your Giant, you can check to see how much room you have on the brake caliper and/or the fork, and decide if you have room to run larger tires.
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Old 02-25-20, 01:22 PM
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Don't try. Seriously.

If you want to ride on sidewalks, get a bike that will be better for that. Possibly a what I call a cruiser type bicycle with those old fashioned handlebars that point back at you.... not the flat bar hybrids that point outwards. They'll be more comfortable for the slower speeds you'll need to ride on sidewalks and easier for stop and go moments........ all IMO.

As for gravel and bike-packing, get a cyclocross bike or something that will have tires for the gravel you will be on.

So now you just need to have a place to store these three bikes.

Trying to make a bike perform multiple tasks just makes it mediocre at all or some of those tasks.
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Old 02-25-20, 02:53 PM
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nope

"A 27.2mm seatpost helps reduce road shocks and vibrations, and there’s enough frame and fork clearance to run wider tires (up to 28c) to further smooth out the ride"


https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/contend-3
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Old 02-25-20, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
nope

"A 27.2mm seatpost helps reduce road shocks and vibrations, and there’s enough frame and fork clearance to run wider tires (up to 28c) to further smooth out the ride"


https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/contend-3
Agree with the notion that the seatpost will have minimal impact on the ride quality. I went through all of this with a super stiff frame a few years ago. All the money I spent on component changes (fork, seat post, handlebars, tape) had a tiny almost unnoticeable impact on plushness of ride until I changed tires from 23mm to 30mm and adjusted the tire pressure accordingly from 100psi on the 23mm tires to 62psi on the 30mm tires. Fortunately, I wanted to make some of those changes for other reasons, but vertical compliance was also something I wanted. At any rate, all the changes I made besides tires were probably good for 1-2% improvement in compliance compared to the giant difference with change to wider tires and proper pressure.

Two great articles on tire inflation:

https://cyclingtips.com/2017/05/what...re-pressure-2/

https://blog.silca.cc/road-to-roubai...lete-story-1-0

Rule of thumb that comes out of the latest on tire pressure thinking from Silca's Josh Poertner is to keep dropping the tire pressure until the high frequency buzz we typically associate with "fast" goes away and that should be the correct tire pressure that is both fast and plush. Apparently, we associate the road buzz with fast but it really isn't because we're having to use the energy to go up and over a pavement imperfection instead of absorbing it with the tires. Incidentally, that is exactly the issue that the OP is actually seeking to correct.
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Old 02-25-20, 07:43 PM
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this is what helps me https://cirruscycles.com/products/bo...ber-bonus-pack
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Old 02-26-20, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Agree with the notion that the seatpost will have minimal impact on the ride quality
well my "nope" was meant for the OP not being able to go larger than 28 mm. personally I thought it was funny they said the seat post would do anything for shock absorption. I don't get what mechanism or feature would provide that benefit. the diameter alone?
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Old 02-26-20, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
well my "nope" was meant for the OP not being able to go larger than 28 mm. personally I thought it was funny they said the seat post would do anything for shock absorption. I don't get what mechanism or feature would provide that benefit. the diameter alone?
there are seat posts that provide better vertical compliance which is what I was referring to. They’re all pretty expensive but the effect is not all that noticeable at least in comparison to what tires can provide. But diameter alone? Nope.
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Old 02-26-20, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
well my "nope" was meant for the OP not being able to go larger than 28 mm. personally I thought it was funny they said the seat post would do anything for shock absorption. I don't get what mechanism or feature would provide that benefit. the diameter alone?
Goodly flex would help smooth everything out.



Did you forget about this thread? stem length. what's too long?
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Old 04-15-20, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Gconan View Post
I ride sidewalks a lot. Tubeless tires are the way to go for comfort. One of my bikes will only take a 25mm on the front and a 28mm on the rear. Gained comfort by going Tubeless (Continental GP 5000 tubeless). I liked it so much that I put 32mm GP 5000's on my gravel bike and they are fantastic. Tubeless for comfort all the way.

Also, what year model is your Contend 3? We can look up your maximum tire size with that information.
Thank you so much for the comment and my apologies for delay- My Contend 3 is a 2018. Where do you find maximum tire size? Spent have the day looking for, including calling up my LBS, but they didn't know.
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Old 04-15-20, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Agree with the notion that the seatpost will have minimal impact on the ride quality. I went through all of this with a super stiff frame a few years ago. All the money I spent on component changes (fork, seat post, handlebars, tape) had a tiny almost unnoticeable impact on plushness of ride until I changed tires from 23mm to 30mm and adjusted the tire pressure accordingly from 100psi on the 23mm tires to 62psi on the 30mm tires. Fortunately, I wanted to make some of those changes for other reasons, but vertical compliance was also something I wanted. At any rate, all the changes I made besides tires were probably good for 1-2% improvement in compliance compared to the giant difference with change to wider tires and proper pressure.

Two great articles on tire inflation:

https://cyclingtips.com/2017/05/what...re-pressure-2/

https://blog.silca.cc/road-to-roubai...lete-story-1-0

Rule of thumb that comes out of the latest on tire pressure thinking from Silca's Josh Poertner is to keep dropping the tire pressure until the high frequency buzz we typically associate with "fast" goes away and that should be the correct tire pressure that is both fast and plush. Apparently, we associate the road buzz with fast but it really isn't because we're having to use the energy to go up and over a pavement imperfection instead of absorbing it with the tires. Incidentally, that is exactly the issue that the OP is actually seeking to correct.
This is super helpful. Thanks!
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Old 04-15-20, 09:29 PM
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Posted only yesterday in a thread asking if road suspension is a gimmick:

Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
If you're showing 8" or more of seatpost, and it's non-proprietary, ie round, get a really light carbon post in there. On an old Tarmac, with 23mm tyres, I went from an ally post, which felt pretty firm hanging off the 1.2kg carbon frame, to a flexy FSA post, and it was a while before I learnt to stop checking if my tyre was flat. Felt like 28s at 60 pounds.

On the front end, a light aero bar has the same effect; 230g of carbon in that shape is going to have appreciable vertical compliance. It'll feel like a noodle when you stand on it if the stem is also flexy, but with something beefy connecting it to the bike, it's a great balance.

Considering the amount of complexity and extra material involved in doing it the MTB way on a road bike requiring a degree of magnitude less give, IMO the lightweight elegance of strategically underbuilding at the contact points wins hands down. It's still a road bike, instead of some tainted mutant
A seatpost can make a pretty big difference, but I'm not sure how available sufficiently flexy ones are.
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Old 04-16-20, 12:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Posted only yesterday in a thread asking if road suspension is a gimmick:


A seatpost can make a pretty big difference, but I'm not sure how available sufficiently flexy ones are.
What’s one you’ve seen that makes a big difference?
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Old 04-16-20, 04:13 AM
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Originally Posted by josephpiano View Post
What’s one you’ve seen that makes a big difference?
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Old 04-16-20, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by josephpiano View Post
This is super helpful. Thanks!
glad to help.

BTW, Silca came out with a tire pressure calculator in the last month or so. This takes into account all their experience with World Tour riders and Poertner’s experience with wheel design. Sign up for the pro version for the full effect. I’ve found this to be pretty accurate for both my wife and I.

https://info.silca.cc/silca-professi...ure-calculator
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Old 04-16-20, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by josephpiano View Post
Thank you so much for the comment and my apologies for delay- My Contend 3 is a 2018. Where do you find maximum tire size? Spent have the day looking for, including calling up my LBS, but they didn't know.
I could not find it on the website. They did not list it. I would take the bike to your LBS in person and let them measure.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by josephpiano View Post
Thank you so much for the comment and my apologies for delay- My Contend 3 is a 2018. Where do you find maximum tire size? Spent have the day looking for, including calling up my LBS, but they didn't know.
actually a complicated question.

Tire dimension depends on the tire, tire construction, interior rim width and inflation pressure. Some tires fit fine and then stretch too. Bottom line is the tire size, both as marked on the tire and as specified by the frame mfg are general guidance and the only way to know, when near the limits, is to try them on your rims and see.
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