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Why so much hate for Gatorskins?

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Why so much hate for Gatorskins?

Old 09-01-20, 09:59 AM
  #1  
Chuckles1
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Why so much hate for Gatorskins?

I've seen so many derogatory comments on these. What are the qualities that they exhibit that are so horrible? Not saying they're good or not, just curious.

I put a 700x28c Gatorskin on rear of my cyclocross bike and a 28 Vittoria Ziffiro IV on the front to turn it into a road bike this year. The Ziffiro was a little more than half the price of the Gator, and has lower rolling resistance in reference charts. My flats are almost always on the rear, so I wanted something tough back there.

I like that the Gator doesn't pick up grit; a quick wipe with a paper towel after a ride to look for cuts or embedded objects and it looks like new. The Ziffiro has enough tread that it picks up enough grit that I have to scrape bad spots with a plastic tool to make sure there's no glass or metal in there.

I realize I'm running inexpensive tires (the Gator is the most expensive tire I've ever bought), but what's so bad about the Gatorskins that they inspire so much hate?

Last edited by Chuckles1; 09-01-20 at 10:01 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 09-01-20, 10:14 AM
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They ride very harsh compared to many other tires. For some people, they provide way more flat protection than needed so the trade of is not worth it.
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Old 09-01-20, 10:23 AM
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I dont want to feel like I am riding on frozen hoses. They are slow, heavy feeling, and hard. Those are the opposite of what I want in a tire.
Tires that cost the same(or less) and ride nicer are readily available. I get like 1 flat a year, so that is about 6th on what I care about for tires, and I only care about 4 things...
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Old 09-01-20, 10:30 AM
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I used them in the pre-tubless days when I had a long, lonely, commute and knew for certain that my fingers would lose function in the cold before I could change a tube, but I could also complain about their heart-stopping tendency to let go on corners.
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Old 09-01-20, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
They ride very harsh compared to many other tires. For some people, they provide way more flat protection than needed so the trade of is not worth it.
Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I dont want to feel like I am riding on frozen hoses. They are slow, heavy feeling, and hard. Those are the opposite of what I want in a tire.
Tires that cost the same(or less) and ride nicer are readily available. I get like 1 flat a year.
+1

I used to get 10-12 flats a year with Michelin Pro4 Endurance vs 4-5 with Gatorskins. The ride was so much better with the Michelins that I didn't mind the increase in flats.

Since going tubeless 18 months ago, I've had one flat(in about 20k miles).
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Old 09-01-20, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Chuckles1 View Post
I've seen so many derogatory comments on these. What are the qualities that they exhibit that are so horrible? Not saying they're good or not, just curious.
Horrendously slow. Riding decent tires in a 100 mile ride, you could get a flat and change it and still be finished before someone riding at the same effort on gatorskins.

Also, horrendous handling and feel.

Also, quite expensive for how slow they make you.

Also, ugh.
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Old 09-01-20, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
I used them in the pre-tubless days when I had a long, lonely, commute and knew for certain that my fingers would lose function in the cold before I could change a tube, but I could also complain about their heart-stopping tendency to let go on corners.
Gatorskins have a really hard compound, the opposite of what you want in cold conditions. Something like the GP4S or Michelin Power All Season probably would serve better in your situation. Similar if not same durability but a softer compound.

I used to be a champion of Gators, back when I was mainly commuting (good weather) and going on short, slow, solo rides. But it makes almost no sense to use them if you ride for fun in a group within civilization. They totally disincentivize aggressive riding. You can’t corner hard, you can’t throw your bike around, and you can’t run them at comfortable pressures for long rides. Plus you’re at a distinct disadvantage compared to your “competition” in a group. I facepalm when I see a $10,000 bike fitted with Gators.

I do wish there were tires as durable as the Gator but with a race compound. Anyone know any?

Last edited by smashndash; 09-01-20 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 09-01-20, 10:49 AM
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I like Gatorskins. I don't have a problem with how they handle and they do a good job of preventing flats. Plus they're reasonably light weight.
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Old 09-01-20, 10:53 AM
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I hate the threads that come loose from the casing, don't really like the ride feel, and I've had some crappy sidewall issues with them before.
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Old 09-01-20, 10:55 AM
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i haven't had any issues with gatorskins.
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Old 09-01-20, 11:00 AM
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Too expensive, heavy, and stiff
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Old 09-01-20, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Chuckles1 View Post
I've seen so many derogatory comments on these. What are the qualities that they exhibit that are so horrible? Not saying they're good or not, just curious.

I put a 700x28c Gatorskin on rear of my cyclocross bike and a 28 Vittoria Ziffiro IV on the front to turn it into a road bike this year. The Ziffiro was a little more than half the price of the Gator, and has lower rolling resistance in reference charts. My flats are almost always on the rear, so I wanted something tough back there.

I like that the Gator doesn't pick up grit; a quick wipe with a paper towel after a ride to look for cuts or embedded objects and it looks like new. The Ziffiro has enough tread that it picks up enough grit that I have to scrape bad spots with a plastic tool to make sure there's no glass or metal in there.

I realize I'm running inexpensive tires (the Gator is the most expensive tire I've ever bought), but what's so bad about the Gatorskins that they inspire so much hate?
A lot of the hate comes from a few years ago when people were still over-inflating their tires. If you over-inflate the Gatorskins, you're gonna have a bad time. But if you keep them inflated to less than max pressure, they actually ride really well and handle great. The rolling resistance is not really different enough that anyone with even a beginner's leg strength would be able to tell, but that doesn't stop people from claiming the tires are "slow". Some people are just silly and like to complain about the tiniest, most imperceptible things.
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Old 09-01-20, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
...

but I could also complain about their heart-stopping tendency to let go on corners.
+1 I'm getting old enough that crashes hurt too much and I take too long to heal. Sliding out on corners means wounds on top of old wounds and 12-18 months of improvised foam padding to sleep well. I will happily ride grippier and more expensive, shorter lasting and much more flat prone tires just for that reason. That the bike has a sweet ride and feel? Well that's quite nice also! (Currently on Vittoria G+ tilres.)

I do ride the slipperier Paselas as rain/Portland winter/city tires. Use larger tires, less air and ride a little more carefully around corners. I havene't ridden Gatorskins but from all I hear, the Paselas I consider slippery are "grippy" vs Gatorskins.

Ben
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Old 09-01-20, 11:27 AM
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A buddy of mine rides on non-pnematic tires. They use plastic pins to stay in the rim or something like that. He swears by them and says they are just as fast as his gatorskins...which i raise an eyebrow at and let pass. Anyways, if I were getting flats left and right, I would look into those foam tires as they are probably about the same efficiency. It would take a lot for me to look into those though.
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Old 09-01-20, 11:27 AM
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Depends where you ride. And how your luck is going that day. I'm a fan of the tire, find it 'just fine' at 80psi. loved the vittoria corsas that were stock on my 'newest' bike, but I was flatting on those every 4th ride till I changed them (welcome to the Garden State). Today I also ride GP4k, I like them better, but it's not radically different for me. Maybe I'm just insensitive.
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Old 09-01-20, 11:40 AM
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I ran over a busted whiskey bottle. Pulled over, plucked the broken glass from the tread. Kept going. Next time I was at my LBS I profusely thanked my mechanic.
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Old 09-01-20, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by BoraxKid View Post
A lot of the hate comes from a few years ago when people were still over-inflating their tires. If you over-inflate the Gatorskins, you're gonna have a bad time. But if you keep them inflated to less than max pressure, they actually ride really well and handle great. The rolling resistance is not really different enough that anyone with even a beginner's leg strength would be able to tell, but that doesn't stop people from claiming the tires are "slow". Some people are just silly and like to complain about the tiniest, most imperceptible things.
You love to just make crap up, huh?
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Old 09-01-20, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by BoraxKid View Post
The rolling resistance is not really different enough that anyone with even a beginner's leg strength would be able to tell, but that doesn't stop people from claiming the tires are "slow". Some people are just silly and like to complain about the tiniest, most imperceptible things.
If we assume that the crr difference between a Gatorskin and a GP5000 in steel drum testing is comparable to the difference on an actual road, for an average bike+rider the Gatorskin is going to cost somewhere on the order of a mph when riding a flat road at 20mph. For a non-fit-related bicycle change, that's pretty huge.
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Old 09-01-20, 12:35 PM
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Gatorskins are pretty old tire tech at this point and yet they're not cheaper than some really excellent alternatives that have a better balance of comfort, speed, and durability.

Everyone prioritizes those dimensions differently, but Gatorskins are so extremely one-dimensional that they aren't the right tire for the vast majority of avid cyclists. Yet many people, myself included, once used Gators because they were commonly recommended by others based on outdated knowledge of the tire landscape. The critiques stem from us trying to steer others away so that they don't waste their time and energy like we did.
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Old 09-01-20, 12:37 PM
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The only impressive property of Gatorskins is that they are extremely long-wearing. They last just about forever.

For the user, this is also one of their biggest flaws.
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Old 09-01-20, 12:41 PM
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I'm not 100% sure, but I think the rental Bianchi Infinito I rented for the 2018 Levi's Gran Fondo was fitted with Gatorskins - I remember asking the shop about the tires, and they were adamant that rentals could only go out on the puncture resistant tires that were mounted. I was doing the metric century route (Medio), and the 8am start was in the 50s (Fahrenheit), meaning that the beautiful Sonoma roads were still damp and dewey. About 12 miles in (or thereabouts), the group hits the first climb - not steep, but definitely enough to feel it - Strava tells me 3 miles at 3%. The other side of the climb is a descent into Occidental with a handful of sweeping turns. The Infinito was fine going up the hill, but going back down... yikes. I let the bike gain speed after cresting the climb, and I add brake pressure as I approach the first bend in the road - locking up both wheels. I had never locked up my tires on my own bike before (on Vittoria Rubinos), so this was terrifying.

Did the same ride in 2019, on my personal Bianchi on Rubinos, and had no trouble avoiding lockups.

I'm pretty sure I'd try tubeless and sealant before I try Gatorskins again - at least, on anything aside from warm, dry, and flat roads.
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Old 09-01-20, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I dont want to feel like I am riding on frozen hoses. They are slow, heavy feeling, and hard. Those are the opposite of what I want in a tire.
I headed off to a week-long supported tour on a pretty worn set of tubeless tires. On maybe the third day, just as I was about to pull into a rest stop. I rolled over a very sharp piece of rock and put a big hole in the rear. (There was a gravel pit near by.) Couldn't get the tire to hold more than 60 lbs. despite having good sealant, and the mechanical support for tubeless back then (2014) was not good. Ended up putting a Gatorskin on the wheel. Man. Was the ride slow and harsh. I could not help thinking about all the people on BF who rave about them and them reminded myself that some people love Ragu and Prego pasta sauces.
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Old 09-01-20, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I headed off to a week-long supported tour on a pretty worn set of tubeless tires. On maybe the third day, just as I was about to pull into a rest stop. I rolled over a very sharp piece of rock and put a big hole in the rear. (There was a gravel pit near by.) Couldn't get the tire to hold more than 60 lbs. despite having good sealant, and the mechanical support for tubeless back then (2014) was not good. Ended up putting a Gatorskin on the wheel. Man. Was the ride slow and harsh. I could not help thinking about all the people on BF who rave about them and them reminded myself that some people love Ragu and Prego pasta sauces.
Just pointing out that it is quite possible to love making your own pasta sauce and riding gatorskins without suffering from cognitive dissonance,
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Old 09-01-20, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
If we assume that the crr difference between a Gatorskin and a GP5000 in steel drum testing is comparable to the difference on an actual road, for an average bike+rider the Gatorskin is going to cost somewhere on the order of a mph when riding a flat road at 20mph. For a non-fit-related bicycle change, that's pretty huge.
Well, no, steel drum testing is not actually relevant to real road conditions. That is the lesson we've learned over the last few years, and it's why many, many cyclists have reduced their tire pressures. We now know that if the road surface has any sort of roughness, then a hard, high-pressure tire will cause a loss of speed from bouncing over the irregularities on the road.

So now that people are using anywhere from 60-90psi in road tires, as opposed to the 100-130psi that used to be commonplace, tires like the Gatorskins have a real advantage. The "rolling resistance" factor gets swamped by better grip, better durability, and better puncture protection. All of those claims of people having a "harsh ride" on Gatorskins was just from user error: they were running higher than optimum pressure.

Also, a 1 mph change in speed is not that much. It's something that an actually fit rider would never notice, especially when riding solo. The ONLY time a change like that might matter is during some competitive event, but no one is using Gatorskins for competiton (but they will use them for training).
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Old 09-01-20, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox View Post
I let the bike gain speed after cresting the climb, and I add brake pressure as I approach the first bend in the road - locking up both wheels. I had never locked up my tires on my own bike before (on Vittoria Rubinos), so this was terrifying.

Did the same ride in 2019, on my personal Bianchi on Rubinos, and had no trouble avoiding lockups.
So you changed the bike AND tires (and had experience for your second run) and yet you're concluding it was ONLY the tires that caused you to lock up the wheels during the descent? That's not how robust testing works. Your story sounds like you might have simply under-estimated the braking power on the rental bike, and that is why you locked up the wheels. There is nothing to indicate that the tires are what caused the lockup.
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